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Professor of Practice Guidelines

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Professor of Practice – College of Engineering  Guidelines, Updated September 2015

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I. Background

As of April 8, 2015, the faculty of the College of Engineering approved the use of the title ‘Professor of Practice’ to recruit outstanding faculty with significant, high-level experience in industry or equivalent.  This was enabled by the adoption of the Professor of Practice titles by the Faculty Senate.  The title is reserved for individuals whose experiences in industry, or other non-academic organizations, complement the tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty in the college.  The typical holder of this title is an experienced leader from an upper managerial, technical or research position in his or her organization.  These individuals are expected to enrich the experience of our students by bringing to Cornell a deep understanding and appreciation of the best practices as applied in real-world settings, something few tenure track faculty members have.  We do not expect these individuals to conduct research at the level expected of tenure-track faculty members, but they will be encouraged to do so when appropriate.


There were two important motivations for creating this title.  First, most of our peer institutions have a similar title, and so not having the title places us at a competitive disadvantage.  Second, there are increasing opportunities to bring faculty with this type of experience to Ithaca, as well as at the Cornell NYC Tech campus, and, as stated above, we believe their presence will enrich the experience of our students.


II. Description of the Position

Holders of the title Professor of Practice have high-level experience in various aspects of engineering as it is practiced in the industrial setting.  Examples include responsibility in product design (including considerations of customer needs and market analysis), innovation, manufacturing, leadership, entrepreneurship and business.  Successful candidates not only have had a successful career in industry, but are highly motivated to bring those experiences into the classroom.  Furthermore, Professors of Practice engage in other responsibilities that contribute to the college, for example advising students on future career opportunities, serving as advisors for projects and/or project teams, and assisting students in their entrepreneurial activities.  Alternatively, these activities could be more institutional building, such as the development of new, or enhancement of existing institutes within the college.  External visibility and impact in the field of the appointment is expected, either academically or professionally.


III. Terms of Appointment

All Professors of Practice are non-tenure track and typically hold three and no more than five-year appointments.  Appointments are renewable.  It is expected that there will not be any movement between Professor of Practice and tenure track appointments, except for exceptional situations determined by the dean and with the approval of the faculty.  Professor of Practice appointments will be based on national searches as well as internal appointments, focused on senior and highly qualified candidates.


Credentials: Candidates must have significant leadership experience and hold a senior technical, research or management position in industry or other equivalent non‐academic organization plus a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related scientific or technical field.  A master’s or Ph.D.  is preferred.  Advanced degrees may be in business or related fields.


Professors of Practice must be leaders who remain current with standard practices and technological changes in their field.


Appointments: There are two types of Professor of Practice appointments.  1) Professors of Practice that are appointed by one of the departments, identified through a search process that mirrors the search process used for tenure-track faculty. 2) For college wide Professor of Practice appointments, a college ad hoc committee composed of tenure-track and existing Professor of Practice and/or Senior Lecturer faculty, the majority of which are tenure track, are appointed by the Dean.


Evaluation Criteria: For each Professor of Practice appointment, there must be a specific job description and evaluation criteria established for the position.  This document will be used in selecting the candidate for the position, as well as in ongoing evaluations of the Professor of Practice once they have arrived, including annual evaluations for the salary improvement program.


Reappointments: Reappointments are made based on the individual’s performance in relation to the pre-set evaluation criteria established for the position.  The Director or Chair, or Associate Dean, reviews the performance annually with the individual.


IV. Percentage Limitation

The legislation passed by the Faculty Senate stipulates that the number of Professor of Practice faculty cannot exceed 25% of the number of tenure track faculty in the college.


V. Voting and Other Rights

Professors of Practice shall have all the rights and responsibilities of Senior Lecturers.  They have the additional right to vote on appointments to Professor of Practice.


VI. Impact Statement

The Professor of Practice title is not expected to have any impact on the number of tenure- track or other non-tenure-track faculty in the College of Engineering.  The purpose of the Professor of Practice title is to be able to recruit and retain the best possible non-tenure-track faculty and to maximize their contributions to the college.  Current non-tenure-track faculty are eligible for appointment to the Professor of Practice title if they meet the criteria for the appointment.