Service Expectations for Tenure-Track Faculty

The College expects different levels of service from different ranks.

College expectations for service aim at a balance between protecting faculty from overextending themselves, thus impeding the development of their careers, and encouraging all faculty to contribute to the advancement of the department, the University, the academy and civic society. They are intended to promote a culture that both encourages a sense of community among faculty and protects the conditions for excellence in teaching and research. Obligations will vary according to individual interests and as faculty advance through the ranks.

Over time, all faculty members are expected to make noteworthy contributions to our University and to their respective professions. Appropriate service contributions are taken seriously in decisions concerning reappointment, tenure, and promotion.

Chairpersons should allocate departmental service assignments for the year with attentiveness to an equitable distribution. Special notice should be given to disproportionate service expectations on women and minority faculty members. It is considered a best practice for a chairperson to recognize that when a faculty member is involved in a particularly heavy service role, internally or externally, he or she might be temporarily excused from other demanding service roles. Such activities might involve organizing a conference, serving as an officer in a disciplinary organization, or serving as the editor of a major journal. The most important assignments, such as search committees or other committees with especially important work for the given year, should be made first to ensure that members are not over-committed. In addition, institute directors should contact chairpersons in advance of creating a ballot for an election to an institute committee in order to verify that selected faculty members are able to take on additional service.

Persons on leave (especially assistant and associate professors) should be counseled to refrain from service contributions during this period. When this is not possible, the extent of the contribution should be weighed carefully. Questions on this issue may be directed to the appropriate divisional Associate Dean.


The primary obligations of an instructor are to complete the dissertation and to prepare new courses. All service obligations should be kept to a minimum until the dissertation is complete, defended, and submitted. The College recommends that the service load for instructors be no more than 5% of the total workload. It is not appropriate to ask an instructor to serve on an especially time-consuming departmental committee. Instructors should refrain from College or University service obligations. We strongly discourage instructors from becoming involved in time-consuming University service.

Assistant Professors:

It is important for assistant professors to demonstrate that they are committed to the construction of a healthy and vibrant department and to the respective discipline as a whole. In addition, service contributions help socialize assistant professors into the roles that they will play to a greater extent later in their academic careers. However, their contributions should be relatively modest in scale. The College recommends that the service schedule for assistant professors stay at 10% of the total workload.

Department chairpersons might ask an assistant professor to serve on one or two departmental committees, e.g., the departmental committee on curriculum and one search committee. The College recommends that assistant professors not participate in College or University committee work unless the individual has a particular interest in the specific committee, and the nature of the work would not be overly time-consuming. Assistant professors may not be asked to serve in a major departmental administrative position without the permission of their divisional Associate Dean.

At the assistant professor level, departmental service is most important. Ideally, faculty members at all ranks and especially assistant professors would consult with their chairpersons or directors before accepting service assignments outside their primary academic units.

It is important for department chairpersons and directors of institutes, centers, and programs to avoid doubling the service obligations for assistant professors who have standing in both units. Each unit may ask an assistant professor to serve on one committee but should avoid asking the faculty member to serve on more than one without consulting the department chairperson or the director of the institute, center, or program. The total load between the two units should not exceed the load recommended for a faculty member in a department.

Associate Professors:

When the University tenures a member of the faculty, it makes a commitment to the individual and expects the individual to make a reciprocal commitment to the University. For this reason, we normally assume that associate professors will devote 20% of their workload to service.

Associate professors should continue to serve their departments as they did when they were assistant professors and should expand their service by assuming a significant departmental position, e.g., member or chairperson of a search committee, member of an undergraduate studies committee At this point in an academic career, it is expected that faculty members will also extend their service contributions to the College, University and profession. The number of specific commitments could and should vary depending on the workload for each duty; however, typically an associate professor will have approximately twice the service obligations of an assistant professor. At this stage, it is assumed that faculty members will begin to assume some leadership roles in professional societies or editorial boards. National visibility is an important consideration for promotion to full professor and can be enhanced by national service.

Department chairpersons must monitor the service work of associate professors and protect their time so that they can progress toward promotion. It is important for department chairpersons and directors of institutes, centers, and programs to avoid doubling the service obligations for associate professors who have standing in both units. The total load between the two units should not exceed the load recommended for an associate professor in a department.

Full Professors and Endowed Chairs:

For promotion to full professor, the College looks for some College or University service, some professional service, and promise for even greater leadership. Faculty members at the rank of full or endowed professor should set the example for the rest of the faculty and serve as spokespersons for advancement and progress in all areas. They should also be active in many of the less formal ways expected of senior leaders, as mentors to junior faculty members and as substantial contributors to the collegial atmosphere.

The difference between the service expectations for full professors and endowed chairs versus associate professors is not as much in quantity as in the level of responsibilities within each assignment. The percentage of distribution for professors and endowed professors is normally 20%; however, we are expecting stronger quality contributions than associate professors in most cases. The percentage should be adjusted upward for those serving in administrative positions.

Some assignments are restricted to full professors: the Full Professor Committee (FPC) in the department and the Provost’s Advisory Committee (PAC). Ordinarily, department chairpersons should hold the rank of full professor.

Full professors and endowed chairs should expand their service to their professional societies in much the same way that they do for their departments, the College, and the University. They should assume leading roles in their professional societies, on editorial boards, and in the organization of conferences.