Faculty Handbook

Adjunct and Clinical Appointments

Last updated: 7/1/1996


The following policy was issued by the Office of the Provost in 1975 and was revised on July 1, 1996.

These are appointments of persons whose primary responsibility and income is outside the unit in which the appointment is made. Primary responsibility or source of income may be in another unit of the university or may be outside the university. The appointments are usually without salary and for a maximum period of three years. Reappointment is at the discretion of the administrative unit. Successive reappointments do not confer tenure or other continuing employment status.

Adjunct and clinical appointments may be made at any level from instructor to professor and also are applicable to other titles such as librarian, specialist, lecturer, etc. Persons holding such appointments are expected to have the educational background and/or experience required for the rank, and they must be interested in providing some degree of service to the unit even though they are not available for a regular appointment. Appointments are usually made on an "adjunct" basis unless the appointee holds a professional medical degree, in which case a "clinical" appointment is used.

The number of adjunct and/or clinical positions in each college will be recommended by the dean and established by the Provost. Permission to use the "clinical" title for individuals who do not hold a medical degree may be requested of the Provost by units if this title is more appropriate than the "adjunct" title in terms of the functions performed. The proposal to use the "clinical" titles rather than the "adjunct" titles must be made through regular administrative channels prior to any offers to individual appointees.

Certain benefits and activities are extended to individuals appointed as adjunct or clinical faculty members. Most of these privileges require an MSU Identification Card. Further information and assistance can be obtained from the appointing department.

1. Areas in which the adjunct or clinical appointment carries faculty status:

2. Areas in which the adjunct or clinical appointment does  not  carry faculty status:

3. Arrangements which are to be made on an individual basis at the unit level:

4. Emeritus status for adjunct or clinical appointments

a. Be 62 years of age and have served as a clinical/adjunct faculty member for fifteen years, or

b. Have served as a clinical/adjunct faculty member for twenty-five years at any age

Based on an appropriate record of contribution as a clinical/adjunct faculty member, an individual may be recommended for emeritus status by the appropriate chairperson/director and dean to the Office of the Provost for final approval. The emeritus status is appended to the highest clinical/adjunct rank achieved by the faculty member, e.g., associate adjunct professor emeritus.

Emeritus clinical/adjunct faculty are not designated as official retirees of Michigan State University. Adjunct or clinical faculty appointments with an emeritus designation are limited to the following privileges:

5. Malpractice insurance coverage in teaching CHM and COM students   2

The general principle of such coverage is that the University will participate with the physician and his/her own attorney and malpractice insurance carrier in the defense of a legal suit and be responsible for the payment of any award that should be made against the physician, if all the following conditions are met:

  1. The lawsuit is premised upon the negligence of an MSU student, including MSU residents and fellows, and the liability of the physician is derived from the student's negligence, i.e., is vicarious or secondary;
  2. The student's participation involved a level of delegated responsibility which could be reasonably expected of medical students at a similar level of training and experience at the time of his/her assignment;
  3. The negligence occurred during the course of an MSU-sponsored educational program in which the physician and/or patient was participating.

Such coverage is extended to all physicians involved in teaching MSU students and trainees in an approved experience, not only those who are members of the on-campus clinical faculty.

The University is generally not responsible for such coverage for residents or fellows who are supported by individual hospitals or a hospital-medical school educational corporation, nor does coverage extend to instances where an MSU student, resident or fellow is "moonlighting." Professional liability coverage is provided by these organizations. As is the case with all such coverage, it is important that every incident involving an MSU student, resident, or fellow that may potentially develop into a malpractice suit be brought to the attention of the University as soon as possible and that the University be notified within 5 days after the physician is notified that a suit has been initiated. Notification should be sent to the Office of the Dean, in writing, including all details that are known at the time. It is essential that physicians cooperate fully with the University Office of Legal Affairs and Office of Risk Management.

The contribution that clinical faculty make to teaching programs is highly valued. MSU is committed to provide medical liability coverage for participation in such educational activities and will continue to assure such protection. The appropriate dean should be contacted for questions or additional information.


MSU Identification Card required.

2   Memorandum distributed to clinical faculty in the Colleges of Human and Osteopathic Medicine from Deans W. Donald Weston and Myron S. Magen on October 31, 1983.

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