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Guidelines for Joint Appointments: Sharing faculty resources across traditional disciplinary lines and/or between budgetary units


To identify and establish guidelines to facilitate joint appointments

Applies to: 

Faculty and academic staff of the Lawrence campus

Table of Contents: 
Policy Statement: 
  1. Purpose and Background

    The University of Kansas has a record of encouraging multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary activities. Increasingly, a faculty member's interests and expertise are not reflected by the traditional departmental structure. Since this is the case, the faculty member's instructional, research and service potential and the objectives of the University often can be enhanced by a joint appointment (e.g., an appointment across traditional disciplinary lines and between budgetary units).

    Because of the complex structure and mission of the University, many types of joint arrangements are possible. Following is a list of some of the combinations currently in effect:

    • Two academic units within one school (e.g., Human Development and Family Life/Psychology)
    • One academic unit administered jointly by two schools (e.g., Architectural Engineering)
    • Academic units located in different schools (e.g., History/Teaching and Leadership)
    • Academic unit/Museum (e.g., Biology/Museum of Natural History)
    • Academic unit/Research unit (e.g., Geology/Kansas Geological Survey)
    • Academic unit/Administrative unit (e.g., any department or school/central administration)
    • Academic department/Area studies program (e.g., Slavic Languages and Literatures/Russian and East European Studies)

    All possible arrangements cannot be covered in a single policy. However, some general principles can be identified, and guidelines can be established that will facilitate joint appointments and minimize misunderstandings and confusion. The guidelines and policy set forth below are intended to apply to all joint appointments. Three types of positions are affected: non-tenurable, tenure track, and tenured. The policy also considers individuals newly/initially hired into joint appointments, and individuals already employed by the University who wish to enter into joint appointments.

  2. General Principles
    1. Employer: An individual is employed by the University, not by departments or major academic units.
    2. Primary unit: In every joint appointment, one of the units involve will be designated the primary unit. Any other unit(s) in which the faculty member serves will be designated as a secondary unit(s). A primary unit is named only to ensure that policies and procedures concerning joint appointments are followed. Such designation does not limit the authority or responsibility of the administrator(s) of the secondary unit(s).

      Except in unusual circumstances, the primary association of a faculty member with multi-unit responsibilities will be obvious. When the primary association is not obvious, the faculty member and the administrators of the units involved will decide which unit will be designated as the primary unit.

    3. Written agreement: Everything possible should be done to minimize complications or misunderstandings that might arise from joint appointments. It is the policy of the University that every joint appointment will be based on a written agreement, approved, in advance, by all concerned parties. Such agreements, whether applied to an initial hire or to a change in the appointment of an individual already employed by the University, must be approved at least through the first level of administration common to all involved units. That level may be the office of a dean, a vice chancellor, the Provost, or even the Chancellor.

      The administrator of the primary unit will be responsible for coordinating the drafting of the written agreement, with final review and approval by the faculty member, the appropriate official(s) in the secondary unit(s), and the relevant administrator(s). The agreement must include, at a minimum, the following:

      1. the term for which the agreement will remain in force.

        Unless a joint arrangement is explicitly understood to be temporary, it is considered permanent so long as the person is employed by the University. The explicit agreement of all parties (individual, departments, directors, deans, vice chancellors, etc.) is required to change the terms of a joint appointment, regardless of the tenure status of the individual involved. (Administrative appointments are an exception. They are not considered permanent and the faculty member involved serves at the pleasure of the faculty member's administrative superior.)

        Whether the term of appointment is specified or unspecified, this provision of the written agreement does not alter the provisions for notice of non-reappointment.

      2. the fraction of the appointment supported by each unit.
      3. the duties and responsibilities of the individual on behalf of each unit.

        Whether the individual involved is newly hired specifically to fill a joint appointment or is already employed by the University, the nature of the appointment and the percentage effort expected in each role must be made clear. The methods, if any, to be pursued in changing the percentage of such appointments also should be made clear. Finally, those who accept joint appointments must be informed of departmental expectations that must be fulfilled if they are to be favorably reviewed for tenure or promotion.

      4. voting rights in departmental and school assemblies, and on University-wide issues. (No faculty member will be permitted to cast more than one vote on a single school-wide or University-wide question.)
      5. the procedure for soliciting input from the secondary unit for merit salary allocations and for promotion and tenure processes.
    4. "Vice" lines:
      1. When an individual who is currently employed by the University in a tenured or tenure-track position accepts a temporary joint appointment (usually, but not always an administrative appointment), a position must remain secured in the unit in which the original tenure-track obligation was incurred. A "vice" line will be established for every currently employed faculty member who accepts a temporary joint appointment. (Before such an appointment is finalized, the academic or research unit should have a clear understanding, in writing, with the academic dean or director of all the budgetary implications of the "vice" line.)
      2. An individual's initial appointment with the University may be as a tenured member of the faculty with a joint appointment in an academic unit and in an administrative or other non-academic position. Such initial joint appointments may involve a 100% administrative appointment and a 0% appointment in an academic or research unit (as is the frequent practice with the Provost, vice chancellors, deans, and directors). In such circumstances, it is unreasonable to expect the academic or research unit to which the individual is nominally attached to establish a "vice" line, and it would not be financially possible for such a line to be established by the Office of the Provost or the Office of the Chancellor.

        In such cases, the guidelines for joint appointments should be followed to the extent possible, but specific arrangements must be decided on a case-by-case basis. The consequences of not establishing "vice" line, and the restrictions on the flexibility of the individual and the units involved if a change in the appointment is desired in the future, should be considered. If possible, provisions for accommodating changes should be included in the written agreement.

    5. Recruitment: Representatives of all involved units should participate in the recruitment of individuals who will be expected to serve in more than one unit.
    6. Academic rank: The rank held by an individual must be equivalent in all academic departments and/or research units in which the individual serves. The rule of equivalency does not apply to administrative appointments.
    7. Promotion and tenure: As specified "Faculty Senate Rules and Regulations" Section VI, consideration of promotion or award of tenure may be initiated by the individual faculty member or by any of the academic departments in which the faculty member serves. Once a recommendation for promotion or tenure is initiated, each academic department and each school in which the individual serves must act upon the recommendation before it is forwarded to the University Committee on Promotions and Tenure. The case for promotion/tenure will not be considered by the University Committee unless a full description and assessment of the faculty member's contributions in all departments or programs in which the faculty member serves is included in the dossier.

      A faculty member must hold full-time academic employment to be eligible for promotion/tenure. Since this is the case, the full expectations of the academic unit must be met if a candidate is to be successful in a bid for promotion or tenure, if the faculty member has a partial appointment in a non-academic unit. When a non-tenured faculty member accepts a joint appointment in an administrative position, the University takes the position that such an appointment, viewed as a whole, continues to qualify as a full-time academic appointment.

    8. Budget transfers: If a transfer of budget resources is necessary, the relevant vice chancellor(s), dean(s), and/or director(s) must be involved in the final decision. Even when clear benefits to the over-all mission of the institution can be demonstrated, these may be the most difficult types of agreements to negotiate, and will be especially difficult in times of tight resources. In order to serve the collective good of the University and the best interests of the faculty member, all parties must be willing to reach reasonable accommodation; the good will of all concerned will be essential.
      1. Termination of joint appointments: Although arrangements for most joint appointments are considered permanent, changing circumstances may require reconsideration of these arrangements. Certain terms may require renegotiation. For example, if merit awards among the involved units have not been equal, a disparity may exist in salary among the parts of the appointment. All interested parties--the faculty member, administrators of the primary and secondary units, the appropriate dean(s) and director(s), the relevant vice chancellor(s) and the Provost--must be involved in any such renegotiation.
    9. At least once a year the administrators of the primary and secondary units will discuss with the faculty member duties and responsibilities for the coming year, and, where applicable, progress has made toward tenure or promotion.
  3. Salary

    The administrators of the primary and secondary units should confer each year in order to come to an agreement on the value of the contributions of a jointly appointed faculty member. When possible, they also should agree on the salary increase to be recommended.

    1. Single budgetary unit: If desirable, a joint appointment may be budgeted within a single unit, the faculty member's primary unit. Responsibility for monetary rewards will lie with that unit. Evaluation for merit salary increases, however, should also reflect the faculty member's participation in the program of the secondary unit(s). The procedure for soliciting input from the secondary unit(s) should be included in the written agreement.
    2. Divided budget responsibility:
      1. "Synchronized" salary awards (equivalent percentage salary increases), decided each year among relevant supervisors, are the preferable arrangement. If this practice is followed, each part of a joint appointment will carry a pro-rata share of the individual's total salary.
      2. However, differential rewards may be the rule in a substantial number of cases, and this should be clearly understood by all parties to the joint arrangement. Lack "synchronization" in salary awards can result from any number of circumstances. For example, one of the units involved may have received a smaller allocation of merit salary funds; the faculty member's contributions to one unit may be more highly valued than contributions to the second or third unit in which the faculty member serves; or the "market" in one field may be higher or lower than in the other. Thus, a 50%/50% appointment may carry a salary which is not divided equally among the involved units.

        If such is the case, and 1) the percentage of appointment assigned to each unit is changed, or 2) the joint appointment in terminated and the faculty member joins one of the units on a full-time basis, a new full-time salary must be negotiated. The new full-time salary may be increased or reduced, depending on the history of the independent merit awards from each involved unit. For example, if the individual chooses to join a unit in which the merit awards, for whatever reason, have been smaller (e.g., a unit that at the time of the proposed change carries less than 50% of the salary for a 50%/50% appointment), the negotiations could well produce a lower full-time salary. The opposite could result in a higher full-time salary.

      3. Funding in the "vice" lines established pursuant to 2.d above shall be increased annually by the same percentage that the unit increases salary on that portion of the appointment in which the faculty member remains active in the unit. If such funding is not provided, the "vice" lines, which are established to permit a faculty member who has accepted a temporary joint appointment to return, full-time, to the faculty member's unit, will not carry sufficient salary to support the return. The Office of the Provost cannot accept responsibility for allocating additional resource to "vice" lines that have not been regularly incremented.
    3. At the time a joint administrative appointment is agreed upon, there should be a clear understanding among the parties that when the individual involved becomes (or returns to being) a full-time faculty member, the appointment will revert to a normal nine-month faculty appointment. Any administrative or other supplement that had been included in the compensation for the administrative appointment will no longer apply. A full-time faculty member would, of course, be eligible for summer appointment in accordance with the procedures of the unit in which the faculty member serves.
  4. Checklist for Written Agreement
    1. Identification of the primary unit.
    2. The term of the agreement.
    3. The fraction of the appointment supported by each unit.
    4. Changes that may be made during the term of the agreement and/or at its conclusion.
    5. The duties for each portion of the appointment, including tenure an promotion expectations (if applicable).
    6. Voting rights.
    7. The procedure for soliciting input from-the secondary unit(s) for merit salary review and promotion and tenure.
    8. Understanding regarding synchronization of salary rewards.
    9. Terms and conditions under which the joint appointment can be terminated.

Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

Approved by: 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Approved on: 
Wednesday, January 1, 1992
Effective on: 
Wednesday, January 1, 1992
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Joint appointments
Change History: 

01/22/2024: Updated contact section.
07/08/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.
01/27/2015: Added Purpose and Applies to statements; added Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor as official for approving this policy.
01/09/2015: Policy formatting cleanup (e.g., bolding, spacing).
03/1997: Policy updated.
1992: Policy adopted.

Personnel: Faculty/Academic Staff Categories: 

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