McGill, News

Tribune Explains: Academic appointments

The intricacies of professors’ career paths often goes unnoticed by busy students. Yet, students interact with professors daily, and a positive or negative relationship with one may change a student’s life. One of the most substantial milestones a professor can achieve is academic appointment, but the process that guide appointments is complicated. By digging through the Secretariat’s website, any questions about academic appointment are answered.

What does “academic appointment” mean? 

To be academically appointed is to receive tenure as a McGill professor. This is a contract between McGill and its professors that guarantees the tenured professor’s employment. McGill’s guidelines for tenured staff explains that professors can either be “tenure tracked” for a definite term, in which they are then considered for re-appointment, or tenured indefinitely. 

In 2017, there were 1,664 tenure-tracked and tenured professors at McGill according to the McGill University Staffing Report. While almost half of the academic staff employed by McGill are women, they are underrepresented in the university’s tenured population. In the same report, 45 per cent of academic staff reported that they were women; In contrast, women made up 32 per cent of tenure-track and tenured professors.

What are the benefits of tenure?

Achieving tenure allows professors the freedom to explore areas of scholarly interest without the stress of an immediate deadline or fear of exploring controversial research topics. At the same time, the tenured professor cannot be employed by a different university or employer and must maintain the same quality of work as when they were appointed. This allows McGill to attract high-achieving professors that can produce valuable research under the university’s name. 

What are the responsibilities of tenured staff?

Academically appointed professors are responsible for three major tasks at McGill. First, they are required to teach either lectures, seminars, or supervise individual students. Second, they must participate in research. Research can take many forms, but McGill professors are required to produce and publish academic work throughout their appointment at McGill. Third, professors must commit time to other communities at McGill, such as by participating in clubs, speaking at events, or sitting on academic committees. 

How does one become appointed? 

Achieving tenure starts with being nominated by their academic department head. If the nomination is approved by the dean of their faculty, the professor’s name is submitted to the Provost, who decides if the professor should be appointed or not. If they are successfully appointed, the first position that they hold is that of Associate Professor. Associate professors are on tenure-track for between three and four years. The professor is then considered for full tenure by the Departmental Tenure Committee, the University Tenure Committee, and the Principal. The group evaluates the dossier of material compiled by the professor and external evaluators to decide if the professor meets the standards for full tenure or should be given deferred tenure consideration.

Share this:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Read the latest issue

Read the latest issue