2.4.F. Duration of Appointments

Tenure Line appointments are made either for a term of years, or “without limit of time” (commonly referred to as “with tenure”).  The total length of time spent in untenured term appointments in the UTL at any rank may not exceed seven years, except in specified circumstances such as those described in the guidelines below.  The usual duration of an appointment (subject to relatively rare exceptions granted by the Provost for good cause and on a case-by-case basis) for each rank is:

Rank Initial Appointment Reappointment or Promotion
Assistant Professor Normally 4 years Normally 3 years; not to exceed a total of seven years without tenure
Associate Professor With tenure, or for a term of generally 4 years With tenure, or for a term of years not to exceed a total of seven years without tenure
Professor With tenure, or for a term of up to 6 years when special circumstances warrant an appointment for a term of years With tenure, or for a term of up to 6 years when special circumstances warrant an appointment for a term of years; not to exceed a total of seven years without tenure.

1. Term Appointments

Although term appointments are frequently made with the clear possibility of reappointment or promotion, there is no entitlement to such action at the end of the term and it is by no means automatic.  Instead, decisions on reappointment and promotion, like decisions on initial appointment, are subject to the exercise of professional and scholarly judgment and discretion by the School’s departmental faculty and the School’s academic leadership.

Deans and department chairs are reminded that consideration of reappointment and promotion cases (especially those with term appointments) should include an account of the future of the department/division and/or School, which may include consideration of programmatic need (including budgetary considerations).

Reappointment and promotion reviews are generally (but not always) initiated one year in advance of the appointment end date. (For further information on the timing of reviews, see Section 2.4.G.)  At such time, the faculty member will receive a communication from the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs that confirms the initiation of the review and includes information regarding criteria for the reappointment or promotion action, along with a general description of the process.  Departments are then responsible for following up with more specific information, and it is the faculty member’s obligation to provide materials that are requested, such as an up-to-date curriculum vitae and candidate’s statement. The Office of Academic Affairs will work with departments to create a schedule so that the reappointment or promotion review is conducted in a timely manner.

Term appointments may be extended under certain circumstances; see below (4. Tenure Clock Calculations).

2. Tenure

Tenure is security of appointment which continues to the date of academic retirement.  Security of appointment is defined as the right not to be dismissed, involuntarily retired early, or subjected to discriminatory reduction of salary before the expiration of the term of an academic appointment except on the basis of situations outlined in Chapter 4.4.2 of the University Faculty Handbook.  (See also Chapter 4.4.6)

Appointments, reappointments and promotions without limit of time automatically carry tenure.  Candidates for these actions are evaluated against the standards set forth in Sections 2.4.H. and 2.4.I.  Material to aid in this evaluation is accumulated and prepared during the appointment, reappointment or promotion review process; documentation that explicitly and tangibly supports both the quality of performance and quantity of contributions is required.

3. Tenure by Length of Service

Tenure may also be acquired by length of service.  (The rules concerning tenure by length of service can be found at Chapter 4.4.4. of the University Faculty Handbook.)  Since a comprehensive review process is integral to the appointment, reappointment or promotion of faculty at Stanford University, situations in which tenure may be awarded on the basis of length of service should be strictly avoided.  As a result, it is important for departments and schools to closely and accurately track and calculate both the seven-year tenure clock and ten-year appointment clock deadlines by keeping in mind that:

Full-time service in the UTL at Stanford at the ranks of Professor, Associate Professor, or Assistant Professor (or a combination thereof) beyond seven years without the initiation of a review for tenure normally confers tenure by length of service.

Untenured service in a UTL rank may not normally exceed ten years, irrespective of the circumstances that might extend the seven-year tenure clock deadline as described below.  Accordingly, untenured service in a UTL rank beyond ten years normally confers tenure by length of service.  The ten-year appointment clock deadline can only be extended by a Provostially-granted exception for extraordinary personal or institutional circumstances.

4. Tenure Clock Calculations

In determining tenure by length of service, both the seven-year tenure clock deadline and the ten-year appointment clock deadline must be calculated.  The following should be taken into consideration:

Service in the Tenure Line:  Only periods of service in the UTL as an Assistant Professor, Associate Professor or Professor (or a combination thereof) count toward tenure by length of service.  Persons holding acting or visiting appointments or “Subject to Ph.D.” appointments, or appointments in the Medical Center Line or Non-Tenure Line do not accrue time toward tenure by length of service.

Breaks in Tenure Line Service:  Periods of service in the UTL at Stanford University need not be continuous to count toward acquisition of tenure by length of service.  For a faculty member who departs Stanford University and is subsequently rehired, all service at Stanford in the UTL counts toward the seven-year tenure clock and the ten-year appointment clock deadlines.

Service at Other Institutions:  Academic service at other institutions does not count toward acquisition of tenure by length of service at Stanford University.

Initiation of Tenure Review:  Periods of service after the initiation of the tenure review process do not count toward tenure by length of service.

Circumstances that may stop the tenure clock and extend the seven-year deadline include part-time appointments, administrative appointments, leave without salary, childcare leave, New Parent Tenure Clock Extension, and (with the approval of the Provost) some personal circumstances that may significantly disrupt teaching and scholarly activities for an extended period.

Circumstances that do not extend the seven-year tenure clock deadline include sabbatical leave, leave for periods of pure research, short-term disability, and pregnancy disability leave.

Untenured service in a UTL rank may not normally exceed ten years, irrespective of the circumstances that might extend the seven-year tenure clock deadline described above.  The ten-year appointment clock deadline can only be extended by a Provostially-granted exception for extraordinary personal or institutional circumstances.