Academic Specialist Handbook

1.0 Disclaimer

The Academic Specialist Handbook contains employment policies specifically related to employment as an Academic Specialist in the Academic Specialist Continuing Appointment System and as an Academic Specialist in a fixed term appointment. This document does not replace or modify other existing University policies, which remain in effect for all University employees. In circumstances where the Academic Specialist Handbook is silent on an issue, the applicable policy contained in the Faculty Handbook prevails.

For fixed term Academic Specialists covered by the Union of Non-Tenure Track Faculty (UNTF) bargaining unit, the terms and conditions of employment are governed by the collective bargaining agreement between the University and the UNTF. In cases where only a portion of the Academic Specialist's work duties and responsibilities are covered by the UNTF collective bargaining agreement, the specific facts of the individual case will determine the appropriate process to be used for investigations, discipline, and grievances. In these cases, and in situations where the UNTF agreement is silent on an issue, the Office of Employee Relations or Academic Human Resources should be contacted to determine the appropriate course of action.

1.1 Roles of Academic Specialists in the University

The principal responsibilities of the academic specialist fall into one or more of three functional areas:

  1. Academic advising/teaching/curriculum development
  2. Research
  3. Service/Outreach

The academic specialist normally is identified with the one functional area into which the majority of duties fall. Characteristically, the academic specialist performs activities in one or more functional areas in addition to the primary area. The academic specialist has a collegial relationship within the academic community by fostering an exchange of ideas, views, and perspectives. The academic specialist has a responsibility to the University to strive for academic excellence and to be held accountable for academic integrity. The evaluation criteria for a particular position and the individual who fills that position will reflect an appropriately weighted combination of the functional areas that apply. An extensive description of the functional areas and associated duties of the academic specialist is found in Appendix A.

1.2 General Definition

The Academic Specialist Appointment System consists of individuals appointed to one of two ranked levels: senior academic specialist or academic specialist. Appointments are made in units reporting directly or indirectly to the Provost or the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. Academic specialists may be appointed on a fixed term or continuing basis, full-time or part-time, with either an academic year (nine-month) or an annual (twelve-month) duty assignment. The fixed term academic specialist is appointed with an end date on an academic year or annual basis or for shorter periods. Generally, repeated fixed term appointments should not be used as a mechanism to by-pass the continuing appointment system. However, positions funded with grant or other non-general funds normally are fixed term in nature. The continuing system academic specialist is initially appointed to a probationary appointment. In unusual cases, a senior academic specialist may be granted continuing appointment status from the date of appointment see Section 4.8. Excellent performance during the probationary appointments may lead to the award of continuing appointment status for the individual. Continuing academic specialists are appointed at 50% time or greater.

Continuing appointment status assures that the academic specialist will not be dismissed due to capricious action by the University nor will dismissal be used as a restraint of academic freedom or other civil rights. As in the tenure system and librarian continuing appointment system, continuing appointment status does not guarantee employment if positions are not funded, if gross misconduct occurs, if the academic specialist refuses to perform reasonable assigned duties, or fails to fulfill contractual obligations, or if the academic specialist is no longer able to perform satisfactorily in his or her professional capacity at the University.

Assignments for all academic specialists involve applicable assigned duties (academic advising/teaching/curriculum development, research, and service/outreach responsibilities) and related professional development activities. For academic specialists appointed on an annual (AN) year basis, salaries are paid in twelve monthly installments on the last working day of each month except for individuals appointed on an annual basis for less than 12 months who receive salaries on a monthly basis during the stipulated period. The academic specialist appointed on an academic year (AY) basis is normally assigned duties during the period August 16 to May 15; salaries are paid in ten installments on the last working day of the month over the duty period, August 16 through May 15.  There is no vacation entitlement apart from official University holidays for academic specialists with an academic year appointment.  The academic specialist appointed on an annual basis is assigned duties for a full calendar year or the specified period of appointment and is eligible for stipulated vacation periods and official University holidays.