Alphabetical Glossary of Terms Related to Faculty 

Last revised 2.10.2021
By the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost
Questions or requests for additions or revisions? Please email


Academic Areas / Academic Units:

Schools and units reporting to the executive vice president and provost.

Academic Employment:

All faculty positions classified as academic, including tenured and tenure-track faculty members, as well as non-tenure-track faculty engaged primarily in teaching or research activities and faculty wage employees hired in accordance with policy PROV-026, Faculty Wage Employment.

Academic Dean (Dean):

The chief administrator of an academic school at the University and the University Librarian.

Academic Department:

Department offering academic, for-credit programs of study, usually leading to a degree. For the purposes of this policy, academic department also refers to the department or school in which the faculty member holds an academic tenured appointment.

Academic Faculty:

All tenure-track and tenured faculty members, as well as non-tenure- track faculty members whose teaching or research responsibilities constitute at least 50% of their position.

Academic General Faculty Members: 

General Faculty Members whose primary responsibilities include teaching, research, professional practice, or clinical service without encompassing the full scope of responsibilities expected from tenure-track faculty positions (e.g., an academic general faculty member could have primary responsibilities for research with minimal or no responsibility for classroom instruction, or have primary responsibilities for teaching and/or clinical practice without research obligations).

Academic Year Appointment (vs Annual Appointment): 

The academic year runs from the time classes begin in the fall term (usually late August) through the end of classes in the spring term (usually early to mid May). “Academic year appointments” usually refer to nine-month appointments, meaning faculty members receive their annual salary over the nine months in which they are working. Even though 9-month faculty are not being paid during the summer, they remain employed with the University and receive benefits through the summer. The University’s payroll system collects sufficient fringe rates during the academic year for 9-month faculty to continue paying their benefits during the summer. This means there is no break in service when a faculty member on a 9-month appointment is renewed for another year. 

Administrative or Professional General Faculty Members:

General Faculty Members whose primary responsibilities (at least 50%) are to provide services to faculty, students, and staff in order to support the institution’s primary missions of instruction, research, and public service (see policy HRM-003, Employment of Administrative or Professional General Faculty Members). Effective January 3, 2017, the University no longer hires Administrative or Professional General Faculty Members. Although tenured faculty holding administrative positions are classified as “Administrative Faculty” for HR purposes for the duration of their administrative assignment, they are not hired as A/P faculty and will not retain that status once their administrative assignment ends.

Administrative General Faculty Members perform work directly related to the management of the educational mission and general activities of the institution, department, or subdivision thereof, and whose position is normally within three reporting steps of the president (e.g. the dean of a school).

Professional General Faculty Members perform work requiring advanced learning and experience acquired by prolonged formal instruction and/or specialized work experience, normally limited to professional positions serving education, research, medical, student affairs, and other such activities.

Administrative Salary Supplement:

The supplement that may be added to a faculty member’s salary during his or her service in an administrative position.

Administrative Supervisor:

Supervisor (division chief, dean, vice president, or president) to whom the faculty member reports in his or her administrative capacity.

Administrative Appointment (Tenured Faculty):

Members of the tenured faculty are appointed to administrative positions for a limited term and retain their status as a tenured faculty member in an academic department. Because the administrative appointment is not considered the primary appointment of a tenured faculty member, a search is not required prior to making the administrative appointment. However, in general, if the administrative appointment is greater than half-time and will last for more than one year, hiring officials are encouraged to conduct a search prior to making an appointment. The search may be restricted to internal candidates only, if appropriate.

Business Title:

This is the field in Workday that populates the university directory. Schools may permit faculty to use working titles in instances when the formal faculty title is not required. Working titles are often used to shorten a formal title or better reflect a faculty member’s area of specialization or administrative duties. Working titles are generally established at the discretion of the school/dean, consistent with school policy. Faculty members may not hold a working title that implies a rank or track other than that which they hold. See also Business Title and Formal Faculty Title.

Chaired Professorships:

Also known as endowed professorship because they are supported, at least in part, by income generated through an endowment (gift to the University that is invested long-term in order to generate interest that can be spent to support University programs). At the time the gift is made to the University for a chaired professorship, the Board of Visitors votes to establish and name the chair. Holding a chaired professorship has traditionally been considered a privilege reserved for the University’s most accomplished faculty, normally those holding the rank of professor. In recent years, some schools have begun using chaired professorships in new, more flexible ways. The provost’s office is in the process of reviewing these new uses with the schools and considering what policies should govern their use. Titles associated with chaired professorships held at the time of retirement will be included in the emeritus rank.

Conditional Offer:

An offer of employment that has been approved by a designated academic hiring official as compliant with all relevant University policies and procedures but that has not yet been approved by the executive vice president and provost, the president, or the Board of Visitors.


Professional activities for which faculty members receive compensation, including external consulting and internal overload.

Courtesy Appointment:

Secondary appointment (usually unpaid) that acknowledges a faculty member’s contribution to or association with another department or school. See PROV-029, Appointment Types and Titles.

Designated Hiring Official in the Academic Areas:

An individual who is authorized to extend a conditional offer of employment to individuals on behalf of the University. The president, vice presidents, academic deans of the University’s schools, and the University librarian are designated hiring officials. Hiring authority may be delegated in writing by one of these individuals with the approval of the president or the appropriate vice president.

Endowed Chairs: 

See Chaired Professorships.

Eminent Scholars Chairs: 

Originally, these endowed professorships received supplemental funding through Virginia’s State Council of Higher Education’s Eminent Scholars Program. The state has not provided funding for this program for many years. 

External Consulting:

A professional activity related to an individual's area of expertise, where that individual receives compensation from a third party and is not acting as an agent of the University. The guiding principle is that, in consulting, a person agrees to use his or her professional capabilities to further the agenda of a third party in return for an immediate or prospective gain. Consulting is not considered outside employment which may or may not directly relate to an individual’s professional discipline.

Faculty Wage Employee:

A faculty employee who is hired to complete a short-term and/or part-time academic work assignment, such as teaching one or more courses for one or two academic terms. Faculty wage employees are not eligible for leave or other benefits and are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Formal Faculty Title:

Formal faculty titles must be used when presenting faculty actions for approval to the University’s Board of Visitors and in all school communications related to a faculty member’s employment (including appointment letters, performance evaluations, recommendations for promotion, etc.). Schools may determine in their policies how and when formal faculty titles will be used in other contexts.

The formal faculty title must identify the faculty member’s rank and their academic discipline or area and are contingent on provost and Board approval. For academic general faculty members, the formal faculty title will also reflect their track as described in PROV-004: II.F Tracks.

Faculty members holding a joint appointment may cite both appointments in their formal faculty title (e.g., Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies). A courtesy appointment may also be cited, but should be identified as such (e.g., Professor of Chemistry and, by courtesy, Chemical Engineering).

The School of Medicine uses different appointment designations (tracks) and titles, which have been approved by the provost. For appointment designations and formal faculty titles in the School of 

Medicine, see “Faculty Appointment Designations in the School of Medicine.”

See also Working Faculty Title.

General Faculty:

The term “general faculty” came into use around the start of the 20th century to refer to all faculty members at the University, each of whom held tenure or were eligible for tenure in one of the University’s schools. Today, the General Faculty encompasses all academic faculty at the University and convenes once each academic year to approve the conferral of degrees in each school of the University. In the 1970’s, the University began to hire faculty members who would not be eligible for tenure. They were called “general faculty members” because they were members of the General Faculty but did not hold tenure in a school.

General Faculty Members:

Tenure-ineligible salaried faculty positions that focus on teaching, research, professional practice in an academic discipline, or clinical service, or provide high-level administrative or professional services in support of the institution’s academic mission. See Academic General Faculty Members and Administrative or Professional General Faculty Members.

Internal Overload:

A University-approved agreement between a unit that is part of the University and a full-time University faculty member, under which, due to exceptional circumstances, the faculty member receives a payment, in addition to his/her salary for duties beyond those normally assigned and which occur in a time interval during which the faculty member is receiving salary from the University.

Joint Appointments:

Faculty members may be appointed to more than one department, program, or school when they will have significant, ongoing responsibilities for teaching, research, and/or service in more than one area. They may be tenure-track or hold tenure in one or both departments, programs, or schools. See PROV-029, Appointment Types and Titles


Principle investigator—the individual, usually a faculty member holding professorial rank—who is responsible for research activities conducted as part of a particular grant. Not to be confused with P1 (Primary #1) which is an academic appointment type in Workday.

Professional Research Staff (NOT FACULTY):

Professional staff principally engaged in research and appointed to limited terms of employment at the University. Positions include postdoctoral research associates, research scientists, senior scientists, and principal scientists.

Professional Service:

Activities related to University or public service including service on national commissions, governmental agencies and boards, granting agency peer-group review panels, visiting committees or advisory groups to other universities, professional associations, and analogous bodies. The fundamental difference between these activities and consulting is that they are public or University service. Although an honorarium or equivalent may be received, these Professional Service activities are not undertaken for personal financial gain. Professional Service does not qualify as Consulting.

Professorial Rank:

Series of titles reserved for use by academic faculty that indicate the faculty member’s level of achievement. These titles include (in order from lowest to highest): assistant professor, associate professor, and professor (also referred to as “full professor”). Individuals who hold professorial rank (except those academic general faculty members on the practice track) must possess the qualifying terminal degree, usually the doctorate.

Sabbatical Leave:

A period of research leave, often paid, during which faculty members focus on their research responsibilities, usually away from the University. Sabbatical leave programs at the University are usually competitive. 

Senior Administrators:

Positions that report to a dean, vice president, director of intercollegiate athletics, or executive vice president (including, but not limited to, department chairs, associate deans, associate vice presidents, division chiefs, or vice provosts) that have significant responsibility for overseeing one or more functions of a school or unit.

Unpaid Faculty Appointment:

Appointments that do not involve payment of salary or other compensation but do assign an academic rank for a limited term.

Without Term:

Faculty members who have been successfully reviewed for tenure serve without term, meaning their appointment has no end date. 

Working Faculty Title:

Schools may permit faculty to use working titles in instances when the formal faculty title is not required. Working titles are often used to shorten a formal title or better reflect a faculty member’s area of specialization or administrative duties. Working titles are generally established at the discretion of the school/dean, consistent with school policy. Faculty members may not hold a working title that implies a rank or track other than that which they hold. See also Business Title and Formal Faculty Title.