The University of Utah
Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Utah

Research Opportunities



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Instructional Ranks Policy

Department of Physics & Astronomy

Policy For Auxiliary &Irregular Faculty

Instructional Appointments

Adopted On March 30, 2007


This document sets forth Departmental policy for the review of all instructional appointments in the Department of Physics other than in the Regular Faculty ranks of Professor, Associate Professor, and Assistant Professor. A review is to be conducted for all Department members in this category who are instructors of record.


The Physics Department makes auxiliary and irregular faculty instructional appointments in the following ranks:

1. Professor (Lecturer), Associate Professor (Lecturer), Assistant Professor (Lecturer), Instructor (Lecturer)

2. Visiting Professor, Visiting Associate Professor, Visiting Assistant Professor, Visiting Instructor

3. Adjunct Professor, Adjunct Associate Professor, Adjunct Assistant Professor

4. Research Professor, Research Associate Professor, Research Assistant Professor

5. Graduate teaching assistant

If an instructor has other duties in the Department and therefore a different job title, for purposes of reviewing teaching performance, the Department must still classify the instructor according to the appropriate category above. “Retention” in an instructional capacity then signifies permission to continue as an instructor. If the instructor holds an auxiliary research appointment in the department, the review of instructional activities may be conducted in conjunction with the review of research activities. The criteria and procedures for judging the teaching performance of those Adjunct Faculty who teach in the Department will be the same as those used for judging Visiting Faculty of the same rank.

I. Policy for the Lecturer Ranks


Lecturer ranks are appropriate for those non-tenure-track faculty who receive Departmental support to teach regularly (averaged over a few years) at the rate of one or more courses per academic year. The primary role in the Department of a lecturer faculty is teaching. A research-rank title is more appropriate for those whose primary role involves research. [See “Physics Department Policy for Research Rank Appointments”.]

Lecturer rank faculty enhance the ability of the Department to offer more courses, particularly during the summer semesters when most regular faculty members do not teach. These courses usually include (but are not limited to) larger lower-level service courses, which frees up regular faculty members to teach more advanced and specialized courses geared to their research interests.

Lecturer faculty are encouraged to take part in the functioning of the Department. Participation in Departmental affairs includes, but is not necessarily limited to, participation where appropriate


in faculty meetings, retreats, Departmental committees, outreach efforts, and other faculty functions.

Departmental support for a lecturer faculty member must reflect the perceived importance and excellence of his/her teaching contributions, both intrinsically and to the Department. However, a lecturer rank appointment is not eligible for tenure. It is possible that changes in Departmental teaching priorities or Departmental resources may result in termination of existing lecturer faculty appointments, regardless of performance.


In establishing qualifications for the lecturer ranks, it is the principal objective of the Department to assure and reward excellence in teaching. The Department also intends that the lecturer faculty ranks carry the same prestige as the parallel research faculty ranks. The following are guidelines for the standard expectations for each lecturer rank.

• Instructor (Lecturer): Has an MS in Physics or equivalent. This rank is considered terminal, i.e., advancement to Assistant Professor (Lecturer) is not anticipated. Promotion to Assistant Professor (Lecturer) from Instructor (Lecturer) would require a new appointment, as well as satisfactory completion of the necessary degree requirements.

• Assistant Professor (Lecturer): Has a PhD in Physics or related field and prior teaching experience. Shows demonstrable promise of teaching excellence.

• Associate Professor (Lecturer): Consistently applies effective teaching methods and material. Has developed innovative and original course material. Regularly earns excellent student and faculty course evaluations. Has visibility as an excellent teacher outside the Department.

• Professor (Lecturer): Is an exemplary teacher, respected by students and peers, must have an established record of developing effective course material and teaching methods, as appropriate. Regularly earns excellent student and faculty course evaluations. Has visibility as an excellent educator outside the University, as indicated by, invited conference presentations, educational grants, publication of pedagogical articles, service on state and national committees and panels, etc.

Term of Appointment

Legally, all non-tenured appointments are made on a year-to-year basis, subject to funding and University approval. Within these restrictions the permitted number of renewals at any level of appointment is unlimited. Procedures and criteria for Departmental formal and informal review for retention and promotion are specified below. In order to maintain year-to-year flexibility in light of changing teaching priorities, student enrollments, and Departmental resources, the Department generally discourages long-term implied commitments in the lecturer ranks. However, there may be individual cases in which the value of a lecturer to the department and his or her career goals justify a longer-term or open-ended commitment.

Participation in Faculty Meetings

Lecturer faculty members are encouraged to participate, as appropriate, in faculty committee activities and faculty meetings at the invitation of the Department Chair. Lecturer faculty members are not eligible to vote on matters relating to appointment,


retention, tenure, or promotion in the regular faculty ranks, but they may participate and vote on matters relating to retention and promotion in the auxiliary ranks.

Retention and Promotion

For the lecturer ranks, the standards of teaching excellence are generally the same as they are for all other teaching faculty. Tenure does not apply in the lecturer ranks. Except as noted below, lecturer rank appointments and promotions follow the same procedures as those used for regular faculty. [See “Physics Department RPT Procedures and Criteria for Tenure Track Faculty”.]

Auxiliary Review Advisory Committee Membership and Voting

In matters of retention all tenured regular faculty members of a rank equal to or higher than the candidate may participate and vote. All tenure-eligible regular faculty members of a rank higher and all auxiliary faculty members of a rank higher than the candidate may participate and vote. In matters of promotion any regular or auxiliary faculty member of a rank higher than or equal to that proposed may participate and vote.

Formal and Informal Reviews

All appointments in the lecturer ranks must normally be reviewed on an annual basis. The Department conducts an annual formal or informal review according to the same schedule as for other auxiliary faculty ranks. [See “Physics Department Policy for Research Rank Appointments “.] As permitted by University Policies and Procedures PPM 9-2 Section 4.D.1, after a probationary period of at least seven years with satisfactory teaching reviews at any lecturer rank, the Department may schedule subsequent formal reviews at five year intervals with the interim reappointment at the discretion of the Department Chair, subject to available resources. A Departmental action recommending non-retention or promotion always requires a formal review. A formal review can be initiated by the candidate, the Departmental Auxiliary Review Advisory Committee, or the Department Chair in any year. Ordinarily, termination prior to an agreed term requires a formal review.

Auxiliary Review Subcommittee for Lecturer Ranks

The Auxiliary Review Subcommittee may include any member of the regular or auxiliary faculty of rank eligible to participate in deliberation on the candidate, even though he or she may be ineligible to vote on auxiliary review matters.

Date for Auxiliary Review Advisory Committee Meeting

The dates for Departmental Auxiliary Review Advisory Committee meetings will be set in consultation between the Departmental chair and the chair of the Auxiliary Review Advisory Committee. Whereas the RPT meetings for regular faculty are typically held in early October, those for auxiliary faculty, including the lecturer ranks, are usually held in February.

Internal and Outside Letters of Reference

The file for a formal review should include at least two letters of reference [three, in the case of promotion to Professor (Lecturer)] from senior faculty in the Department who are familiar with the candidate’s teaching performance. As per the following guidelines, for formal reviews of lecturer rank faculty, letters of reference outside the department or university should be obtained if possible, although it is understood that in many cases this may not be practical. In the case of appointment to the Associate Professor (Lecturer) rank, referees from outside the Department are desirable. For promotion to Professor (Lecturer), referees from outside the candidate’s home institution(s), qualified to judge national visibility, are desirable. The candidate should provide a list with no fewer than two possible referees [three, in the case of promotion to 3

Professor (Lecturer)]. If possible and practical, at least one of the referees chosen should not be from the candidate’s list.

Requests for letters from referees for formal reviews are sent under the Department Chair’s signature. They should go out as early in the fall as is practical, but in no case later than the December 1st before the formal review. The letter should indicate the nature of the review, i.e., progress and retention review, possible promotion, and to which rank. Copies of the Departmental criteria and procedures, as well as a curriculum vita, course evaluations, course syllabi, and a statement of teaching philosophy should accompany the request. Reviewers will be requested to evaluate the candidate on the basis of the criteria in this document to the extent that they have knowledge. Reviewers will be requested to respond by January 15th.

Peer Teaching Reviews

As the essence of performance in the lecturer ranks is teaching, at least two peer teaching reviews are required for formal reviews in the lecturer ranks. These are to be done by faculty members eligible to vote for the retention or promotion under consideration. The reviewers are ordinarily chosen by the Associate Chair.

Auxiliary Review File

The file for a formal review should include:

1. A formal Physics Undergraduate Student Advisory Committee (SAC) report. A Graduate SAC report is to be included if the candidate’s teaching responsibilities have included graduate-level courses.

2. A current CV provided by the candidate, including the following:

a. Education and employment histories.

b. A statement of goals and accomplishments.

c. Honors and awards.

d. Departmental, university, or community service.

e. Publications and/or grants received, if applicable.

3. A statement of teaching philosophy.

4. The list of referees provided by the Auxiliary Review Subcommittee.

5. The letters from the referees as detailed above.

6. Signed waiver form provided by the candidate.

7. Peer teaching reviews solicited and provided by the Auxiliary Review Subcommittee.

8. Copies of available peer teaching reviews from the past five years.

9. Copies of available student evaluations for the past five years.

10. The report of the Auxiliary Review Subcommittee assigned to the candidate.

11. Summary reports from past reviews and recommendations.

12. Any unsolicited letters provided by the authors.

13. Any statement from the candidate.

14. After the Auxiliary Review Advisory Committee has completed its deliberations, the summary report (drawing from the subcommittee report, including the summary of discussion and recommendations made by the Auxiliary Review Advisory Committee) shall be added to the file.

The file for an informal review should include items 2, 3, and 8 through14.


In evaluating the candidate’s teaching contributions, the guidelines set out under the same category in “Physics Department RPT Procedures and Criteria for Tenure Track Faculty” should be followed, with the following changes to items 1 and 2 in the list:


1. Experience: As a guideline, promotion to the next lecturer rank may normally be considered after 8-10 semesters at the current rank with satisfactory reviews, provided the criteria described above in the section on Qualifications are met.

2. Competence: A candidate is expected to be qualified by virtue of knowledge, temperament, and skill to teach a wide variety (but not necessarily all) of the undergraduate courses offered by the Department.

Service and Research

Normally, the review criteria for a lecturer rank will not include research or service contributions to the Department, College, or University. However, if the individual has made special, significant research or service accomplishments, these accomplishments should be noted by the Departmental Auxiliary Review Committee, and these accomplishments may provide additional evidence of the unique benefits of the individual to the Department, College, and/or the University.

II. Policy for the Visiting Professor Ranks

Appointments to the Visiting Professor Ranks are approved by the Departmental Policy Board. Also with the approval of the Policy Board the visitor may be assigned to a course as the instructor of record.. If the teaching assignment is to be extended beyond the first year, an annual Departmental review is required.

Procedures for Review

The review follows the same procedures as an informal review in the Lecturer ranks.

III. Policy for the Adjunct Professor Ranks

Appointments to the Adjunct Professor Ranks are approved by the Departmental Policy Board. Usually the appointment is made to support departmental research or service. For that purpose the review procedures are described in the document, Physics Department Policy for the Research Ranks. However, with the approval of the Policy Board an Adjunct faculty member may be assigned to a course as the instructor of record. If the teaching assignment is to be extended beyond the first year, an annual Departmental review is required.

Procedures for Review

The review follows the same procedures as an informal review in the Lecturer ranks.

IV. Policy for the Research Professor Ranks

Appointments to the Research Professor Ranks are approved by the Departmental Policy Board. Also with the approval of the Policy Board a Research faculty member may be assigned to a course as the instructor of record..

Procedures for Review

The review procedures for Research Faculty are described in detail in the Physics Department Policy for Research Rank Appointments. For those Research faculty who teach, there will be


additional evaluation of the teaching that will involve procedures that are similar to those used for the comparable Lecturer ranks.

V. Policy for Graduate Teaching Assistants

A graduate teaching assistant typically meets a lab or discussion section under the supervision of the faculty member in charge of the course, who is consequently responsible for monitoring and reviewing the instructional activity. Only in rare and exceptional cases does the Department ever place a graduate student in charge of a class as the instructor of record and only then with the approval and review of the Departmental Policy Board.

VI. Revision of Policy

Every five years the Department Chair will appoint an ad hoc committee to review this policy.


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