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Criteria for Academic Ranks of Spencer Museum of Art Academic Staff


Outlines criteria used for appointment and/or promotion at SMA

Applies to: 

SMA Unclassified Academic Staff members

Policy Statement: 

The criteria for appointment and promotion are designed to reflect the national norms in museum leadership and to provide guidance for KU Spencer Museum of Art unclassified academic staff to achieve excellence in their profession. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a particular outcome, but does guarantee serious consideration in appointment and promotion decisions. The minimum requirement for appointment to any curatorial or academic programs position is a degree from an accredited master’s program or a Ph.D. in an applicable field. Appointment to certain positions may require additional subject expertise, experience, or educational preparation. 

Academic staff are faculty-equivalent positions with specialized training, knowledge, skills, competencies, and experience in a particular field or discipline. Unclassified academic staff may perform duties that are similar to those of faculty, but their positions may also include significantly different allocations of time and required knowledge.

Rank & Title: According to campus policy, academic staff positions within the Museum that are supported in whole or in part by State funds may use the title of Curator/Specialist with the ranks of Assistant, Associate, or Full.

These positions are equivalent to those of faculty in educational preparation and intellectual complexity. Academic staff can be evaluated in the three traditional areas: Professional Performance/Teaching, Creative Research and Scholarship, and Service, but not to the exclusion of other creative and innovative activities. Allocation of effort is more flexible than with tenure-track positions and allows for highly-specialized and focused jobs that may vary widely position to position.

Academic Freedom
All faculty and unclassified academic staff members, regardless of rank, are entitled to academic freedom in relation to teaching and scholarship, and the right as citizens to speak on matters of public concern. Likewise, all faculty and unclassified academic staff members, regardless of rank, bear the obligation to exercise their academic freedom responsibly and in accordance with the accepted standards of their academic disciplines.

Confidentiality and Conflicts of Interest
Consideration and evaluation of a faculty or unclassified academic staff member’s record is a confidential personnel matter. Only those persons eligible to vote on promotion may participate in or observe deliberations or have access to the personnel file (with the exception of clerical staff, who may assist in the preparation of documents under conditions that assure confidentiality).

No person shall participate in any aspect of the promotion process concerning a candidate when participation would create a clear conflict of interest or compromise the impartiality of an evaluation or recommendation.

If a candidate believes that there is a conflict of interest, the candidate may petition to have that person be recused.  If a committee member is not recused, a decision about whether that person has a conflict of interest shall be made by a majority of the other committee members.


Assistant Curator/Specialist

Persons being considered for appointment at this rank are not required to have any professional museum experience but should be well‐qualified to fulfill a curatorial or specialist leadership role. Candidates must demonstrate potential to make meaningful contributions to the museum field or the arts; to research or other creative endeavors; and to the Spencer Museum of Art (SMA), the University, and the profession at large.

Appointees shall normally remain in this rank for a minimum of five years before seeking promotion to Associate Curator/Specialist. This is not a tenurable rank and is equivalent to Assistant Professor.

Associate Curator/Specialist

Persons being considered for appointment at or promotion to this rank shall have at least four years of successful professional experience at the rank of Assistant Curator/Specialist or its equivalent. They shall have achieved and documented evidence of high-level, professional expertise in their fields or areas of specialization and demonstrate a record of accomplishments that advance the goals of the SMA, the University, and the profession.

Research at the Associate level may embrace traditional scholarship/publication and/or other creative and innovative work that furthers the museum's vision. Examples of creative and innovative work include, but are not limited to, novel gallery re-installation, the development of a new conceptual framework for exhibitions, the piloting of experimental models for collaboration across disciplines, or pioneering new approaches to curricular development that engage the arts. The quality and quantity of the curator/specialist's research (scholarship and/or creative and innovative work) will demonstrate a successfully developing career. Candidates must demonstrate a pattern of service to the University at one or more levels; to the discipline or profession; and/or to the local, state, regional, national, or international communities.

After achieving promotion, it is possible to remain at this rank indefinitely. If a candidate seeks promotion to the rank of Full Curator/Specialist and does not achieve promotion, this does not preclude a later consideration. This is not a tenurable rank and is equivalent to Associate Professor.

Full Curator/Specialist

Although there may be some variation, continuing productivity should prepare most museum curators/specialists for promotion to Full Curator/Specialist within six years of promotion to the rank of Associate Curator/Specialist or its equivalent. Candidates shall have attained and documented their professional performance in a successfully developing career, with evidence of sustained high-quality professional productivity, and a measure of national recognition in the museum field or their areas of expertise.

The Full Curator/Specialist shall have a sustained record of research (scholarship and/or creative and innovative work as described above) and service demonstrating significant achievement. The record of research must demonstrate a successfully developing career, as reflected in such factors as a consistent and ongoing pattern of quality, scholarly or other creative contributions in the museum field or a related specialized subject area. The candidate’s record of service must demonstrate an ongoing pattern of substantial contributions to the University at one or more levels, to the discipline or profession, and to any of the following: local, regional, state, national, or international communities.

This rank is not tenurable and equivalent to Professor.


Jennifer Talbott
Director of Internal Operations
Spencer Museum of Art
(785) 864-0135

Approved by: 
Committee on Standards and Procedures for Promotion and Tenure and the Spencer Museum of Art Committee
Approved on: 
Monday, August 31, 2015
Effective on: 
Monday, August 31, 2015
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Promotion, Spencer Museum, Art Committee, Promotion Committee
Change History: 

07/05/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.

08/31/2015 Approved by Committee on Standards and Procedures for Promotion and Tenure and the Spencer Museum of Art Committee

Academic Categories: 
Promotion & Tenure

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