FA105 Volunteer Faculty Policy and Procedures




Approval Body: FAWG

Effective Date: 02/01/1977

Category: Faculty

Last Review: 10/03/2013

Next Review: 09/01/2020

Contact: Cynthia Russell, Associate Vice Chancellor

Faculty Affairs Office

 901.448.6158




Faculty Handbook, §6.2.6: Volunteer Appointments


The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) recognizes and values the important contributions of volunteer faculty who play a major role in educating our students in their chosen professions. These faculty members provide our students with a broad range of clinical/professional/research experiences necessary for their success as health care professionals/researchers with little or no monetary compensation or benefits from UTHSC. Colleges provide faculty appointments to such individuals with the expectation that they will be responsible to the chair of the appointing department for his/her activities as a faculty member in that department and to the appropriate course coordinator/program director for educational expectations and outcomes.

Volunteer faculty members are not eligible for tenure, but are eligible for appointment and promotion to the various faculty ranks with the prefix of “Clinical” for those with a professional degree and, typically, licensure and/or certification, or “Adjunct” for those not eligible to treat patients (e.g., Clinical Associate Professor or Adjunct Associate Professor).

Volunteer faculty members should be evaluated for renewal of their appointments no less frequently than every 3 years. A Volunteer faculty appointment that is not renewed within 3 years after being granted is deemed terminated without the need for notice or other action by UTHSC.



Volunteer faculty positions do not follow the usual recruitment procedures. A department chair typically nominates an individual for a volunteer appointment after consultation with the faculty members of the department.

For all volunteer appointments, the qualifications and potential of the individual for supporting at least one of the missions of UTHSC must be used for evaluating appointments. Volunteer faculty may have limited oversight and contact with students or they may have more regular contact with students. The definition and extent of service rendered on behalf of UTHSC is determined by mutual agreement between the department chair and the volunteer faculty member and should be specified in writing by the chair and approved by the appointee.

When appointing volunteer faculty to a specific rank, it is not the amount of contact with students that should be used to determine faculty rank, rather it is the possession of specific criteria (as outlined in the Faculty Handbook, Section 6) that determines an appropriate rank for volunteer as well as tenure track and non-tenure track faculty. As indicated in the UTHSC Faculty Handbook (Section 6.2.6), criteria for appointment of volunteer faculty differ by discipline. Thus, discretion is left to each academic unit as to the appointment, continuation, and promotion of volunteer faculty members in order meet the individual needs of the unit while conforming to established guidelines for faculty appointments and titles.

Titles and general criteria for appointment of volunteers are as follows:

Instructor – The title of Instructor is used for individuals with expertise/work experience related to the discipline being taught who contribute to the education of UTHSC students. This title may be employed for individuals with a variety of backgrounds, e.g. for residents who are active participants in education, for employed physicians who are not yet board certified, for nurses with experience but without a terminal degree, and for other health professionals with extensive work experience in the discipline. Clinical volunteer faculty at the rank of instructor are expected, except under extraordinary circumstances, to hold and maintain an active professional license.

Assistant Professor – Depending on their role, a volunteer faculty member with the rank of Assistant Professor is usually expected to possess a terminal degree (or equivalent) in the discipline and:

For basic science faculty members: have postdoctoral experience or equivalent experience (adjunct volunteer faculty)

For faculty members with professional degrees: except under extraordinary circumstances, hold and maintain an active professional license and board certification in the discipline (clinical volunteer faculty) demonstrate an interest and participate in the goals of the division/department and/or college.

Associate Professor – Depending on their role, a volunteer faculty with the rank of Associate Professor is usually expected to possess credentials exceeding those required of an Assistant Professor including:

    • continued interest in and commitment to the division/department or college and to UTHSC prior to consideration
    • exceptional leadership qualities and achievements so as to be valued highly by colleagues at the local and/or state level.

The campus Office of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs provides assistance with specific matters concerning faculty appointments.

The department desiring to make the appointment of a volunteer faculty member forwards the following materials to the appropriate dean:

  • Faculty Appointment Agreement (FAA) signed by the department chair and dean. Faculty appointments must meet collegiate requirements.
    • In the instance of a joint appointment (simultaneous appointment to two departments in the same or different college) both department chairs and both deans must indicate approval.
  • Appointment Letter. Letter must agree with FAA in rank and effective date. Letter must have the signatures of the department chair and dean, along with a space for the faculty candidate’s signature.
    • For a joint appointment involving simultaneous appointment to more than one department, signatures of the all appropriate chairs and deans are required.
  • English Language Competency Form if the candidate’s native language is not English.
  • Current curriculum vita, with a date last updated clearly indicated as having been updated within the last 6 months. The CV must be typed.
  • Two letters of reference. The reference letters may be from UTHSC faculty members or external peers.
    • Letters should be signed and on institutional letterhead.
  • Documentation of highest degree earned and, if relevant, postgraduate training.
    • For clinical volunteer faculty, a valid professional licensure will serve as evidence of the relevant degree.
    • For adjunct volunteer faculty, an official transcript for the highest earned and relevant degree is required.
    • NOTE: In the event that a clinical volunteer faculty member provides non-clinical (i.e., research and/or administrative) experiences that are not covered by professional licensure, an official transcript for the highest earned and/or relevant degree is required for credentialing purposes.
  • For healthcare professionals, documentation of current professional licensure and, if relevant, board certification in the discipline.
  • Any other documents required by the college.

The dean’s office forwards the approved FAA along with all other items listed above to Office of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs for approval.

When approved, the Office of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs transmits the FAA, the appointment letter, and a Personal Data Form (PDF) to the faculty candidate.

The candidate signifies acceptance of the appointment by signing the FAA, retaining one copy and returning the original and other copies to the Office of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs along with the completed PDF. The Office of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs forwards a copy of the signed FAA and appointment letter to the appropriate department(s).

Campus Police issue ID Cards to volunteer faculty with verification of appointment from the Office of Faculty Affairs. A NetID is generated as one of the last steps in the process. General information on obtaining the actual NetID and logging into UTHSC electronic resources is provided by the Office of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs. Specific information on electronic resources that are of most use to the faculty is provided by the appropriate department(s).


The performance of each volunteer faculty member is reviewed on a regular periodic basis by the chair. Annually, each college will reaffirm volunteer faculty appointments and transmit to the Office of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs a verified listing. Formal letters of reappointment must be rendered every three years, but can be issued annually if desired.


Promotions are recommended by the chair, approved by the dean and processed by the Office of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs. The impetus for such recommendations should be provided by the chair and be based on the needs of the department and the candidate’s desire and ability to advance the teaching, research/creative and other scholarly activities, clinical care, and service/outreach missions of UTHSC. Specific areas of review for promotion shall include an assessment of the candidate’s success in accomplishing his/her assigned duties. The magnitude and the quality of the contributions, and/or specific services rendered shall be considered, and the evaluations of students, residents, patients, and peers shall be taken into consideration when applicable. General UTHSC rules apply to these faculty members so that, for example, the interval between promotions in the volunteer faculty track should be at least the same as full-time paid faculty members, and promotion should be based primarily on accomplishments since appointment or last promotion.


In general, volunteer faculty appointments are renewed every three years so long as continued association is mutually agreeable to both UTHSC and the faculty member. If UTHSC wishes to end this association, notice will be provided to the volunteer faculty member in a timely manner.

Process for Review of Volunteer Faculty

A centralized process, effective June 1, 2013, has been developed to assist in the review of volunteer faculty. This process will assist colleges and departments to readily identify volunteers who require reappointment, who may be candidates for promotion, or who no longer contribute to their programs. The process will also identify potential issues related to nonrenewal (e.g. effects on joint appointments and/or appointments to the College of Graduate Health Sciences).

The process includes the following steps:

  1. Campus Office of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs:
    1. On or before March 1 of each year generates a list of all volunteer faculty in each department and sends the list to the Department Chairs.
  2. Department Chair (or designee):
    1. Reviews list of volunteer faculty to determine who requires reappointment (every 3 years), who may be candidates for promotion, as well as who is no longer active.
    2. Generates a list of volunteer faculty who:
      1. Require reappointment (and complete the needed steps for reappointment)
      2. Are candidates for promotion (and complete the needed steps for consideration of promotion)
      3. Need to be purged from the active roster of volunteer faculty (and complete the needed steps for termination)
    3. Sends list of volunteer faculty to the Faculty Affairs Dean of the college for review and concurrence on or before April 1.
  3. College Faculty Affairs Dean:
    1. Reviews list for concurrence.
    2. On or before April 15, sends list of volunteer faculty to the Office of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs.
  4. Campus Office of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs:
    1. If reappointment: Processes paperwork, sends reappointment letter to volunteer faculty member, and places a copy into the faculty member’s permanent file.
    2. If promotion: Processes paperwork through the system as required for consideration of promotion per the process in the Faculty Handbook and college bylaws.
    3. If termination: Reviews volunteer faculty information in IRIS and in personnel file to determine:
      1. Whether the volunteer faculty has any other primary or secondary appointment in another college/department.
      2. Whether the volunteer faculty is appointed as a member of the faculty of the College of Graduate Health Sciences
      3. If the volunteer faculty to be terminated has an appointment in another college/department, the Office of Faculty Affairs will alert the Faculty Affairs Deans for all affected areas to determine if other appointments need to be adjusted or if the termination decision from the initiating department should be reconsidered.
      4. On or before May 1, if there are no confounding issues, sends termination letter to volunteer faculty with effective date of termination June 30 of the current year.
      5. Places a copy of termination letter into the faculty member’s permanent file.
      6. Notifies department administrative personnel to process termination in IRIS.
  5. Department Administrative Personnel:
    1. Shortly after July 1, department administrative assistant processes promotion (if applicable) or termination in IRIS.


Effective: February, 1977

Revision: September, 1996

Revision: October 3, 2013, Faculty Affairs Work Group (FAWG)

FA105 Volunteer Faculty Policy and Procedures
Version: 1 // Effective: 06/14/2022
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