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Policy

GCAC-101 Graduate Faculty Membership

Procedure

Full-time faculty members at Penn State who wish to fully participate in graduate education at Penn State may be appointed to membership in the Graduate Faculty of the Graduate School when nominated by a graduate program provided they meet the college/school-specific Graduate Faculty membership qualifications as approved by Graduate Council (see GCAC-101 Graduate Faculty Membership).

Nominations to the Graduate Faculty are initiated by the graduate program to which the faculty member will contribute. The following approvals are required:

  • Graduate program head or chair of the graduate program to which the nominee will contribute;
    • Approval indicates the faculty member is expected to be fully engaged in the graduate program’s teaching, advising, and committee work.
  • If the supervisor of the faculty member being nominated is not the graduate program head, the signature of the faculty member’s immediate supervisor is also required;
    • Approval indicates that the faculty member has the support of their supervisor to dedicate the time required for substantive participation in the graduate program.
  • When appropriate, the chair of the college’s Graduate Faculty Nomination Evaluation Committee (GFNEC);
    • The GFNEC must include documentation for their decisions.
    • Approval indicates the GFNEC has determined the nomination is consistent with the college’s Graduate Faculty standards for graduate research or professional education.
  • Dean/Chancellor or designee of the academic home of the graduate program; and
    • Approval indicates the college supports participation of the faculty member in graduate education offerings.
  • Dean of the Graduate School.
    • Approval indicates the nominee may participate in graduate education activities as defined by Graduate Council.
    • If a nomination is reviewed by the GFNEC, The Dean of the Graduate School will review the documentation of the GFNEC and request clarification if the decision appears to be inconsistent with the Graduate Council-approved college/school college/school-specific Graduate Faculty membership qualifications.
    • If the Dean and the GFNEC cannot agree regarding the suitability of a candidate for membership on the Graduate Faculty, the Graduate Council will be asked to review the nomination. The Graduate Council will provide a final recommendation to the Dean with a justification. The Dean of the Graduate School then renders the final decision.

Because qualifications, privileges, and expectations differ for faculty members participating in professional degree programs and research degree programs, the Graduate School tracks participation internally through three Categories:

  • Category P for faculty members who will participate in professional degree programs (M.B.A., M.Eng., D.N.P., etc.).
  • Category Q for tenure-line faculty members with terminal degrees other than a doctoral degree with substantial research activity who will participate in research degree programs (M.A., M.S., or Ph.D.).
  • Category R for faculty members who will participate in research degree programs.

NOTE: Whether a faculty member is nominated to Category P, Q or R is based on the graduate program in which the faculty members will participate. Thus, for example, tenure-line faculty members or faculty members holding a doctoral degree who will be participating solely in a professional degree program are nominated to Category P. Depending on their participation in multiple programs, faculty members could be listed in more than one Category.

NOTE: Graduate Faculty Categories are for internal tracking purposes only; the category in which a faculty member participates is not publicly displayed.

Once an individual is approved for one or more categories of membership to participate in the graduate program that initially nominated them, they may subsequently be added to the Graduate Faculty of another graduate program in those same categories with the approval of the Graduate Faculty of the respective program, as represented by a request by the head of that program to the Graduate School. This may be accomplished by an email from the program head to graddeansoffice@psu.edu.

Example of Graduate Faculty Nomination Qualifications

The GFNEC for each college/school is charged with soliciting input, creating, and approving membership qualifications for Category P, Q, and R that interpret the Graduate Council policy GCAC-101.

These guidelines were originally developed by the Graduate School for nominations to the Graduate Faculty in accordance with policy GCAC-101. This document serves as one example. Colleges and schools may adapt this document to further articulate the qualifications for Graduate Faculty membership and Approval to Teach graduate courses that are best suited to their disciplines.

Tenure-line Faculty Member Nominations

Graduate Professional Education - Category P Membership
Approval of the nomination of a faculty member with a tenure-line appointment for membership in Category P of the Graduate Faculty of the Graduate School is pro forma, with review to assure that a) information submitted is complete for inclusion in the Graduate Faculty database; b) the correct form has been submitted for the correct category of membership; and c) the individual’s appointment at Penn State has begun (faculty members cannot be appointed to the Graduate Faculty prior to their start date at the University).

Graduate Research Education - Category Q Membership
Nominations for membership in Category Q of the Graduate Faculty of the Graduate School is for individuals with a tenure-line appointment who hold a terminal master’s degree and are reviewed for the following criteria:

  • A terminal master’s degree with research training, or a terminal master’s degree and a record of research, in either case sufficient to contribute to research doctorate training;
  • An active program of research appropriate to the field. (See below for assessing “an active program of research appropriate to the field”.)

Graduate Research Education - Category R Membership
Approval of the nomination of a faculty member holding a PhD with a tenure-line appointment for membership in Category R of the Graduate Faculty of the Graduate School is pro forma, with review to assure that a) information submitted is complete for inclusion in the Graduate Faculty database; b) the correct form has been submitted for the correct category of membership; and c) the individual’s appointment at Penn State has begun (faculty members cannot be appointed to the Graduate Faculty prior to their start date at the University).

The nomination of a faculty member with a tenure-line appointment holding a doctoral degree other than a PhD for membership in Category R of the Graduate Faculty of the Graduate School is reviewed as described below.

Non-Tenure-line Faculty Member Nominations

Graduate Professional Education - Category P Membership

There are two subgroups in Category P:

  • Category P-M
    • For individuals who participate in professional master’s degree programs
  • Category P-D
    • For individuals who participate in professional doctoral degree programs; such individuals may also participate in professional master’s degree programs

CATEGORY P-M
Nominations for membership in Category P-M of the Graduate Faculty of the Graduate School for individuals not on a tenure-line appointment are reviewed for the following criteria as defined in policy GCAC-101 Graduate Faculty Membership:

  • A full-time faculty appointment;
  • A master’s degree;
  • Recent or ongoing professional experience relevant to the professional master’s degree program field.
    • Alternatively, ongoing scholarly activity (see Category R membership, below) in the professional master’s degree program field will qualify an individual for Category P-M membership.

CATEGORY P-D
Nominations for membership in Category P-D of the Graduate Faculty of the Graduate School for individuals not on a tenure-line appointment are reviewed for the following criteria as defined in policy GCAC-101 Graduate Faculty Membership:

  • A full-time faculty appointment;
  • A doctoral degree;
  • Recent or ongoing professional experience relevant to the professional doctoral degree program field.
    • Alternatively, ongoing scholarly activity in the professional doctoral degree program field will qualify an individual for Category P-D membership.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE RELEVANT TO THE PROFESSIONAL DEGREE PROGRAM FIELD
The expectation of recent or ongoing professional experience relevant to the professional doctoral degree program field derives from the fact that professional graduate degree programs prepare students for expert practice in the chosen field. Accordingly, with the recognition that fields evolve quickly, and with a goal of preparing our students to practice their chosen profession at a high level based on the education we provide, faculty members who will be fully engaged in professional degree programs should be intimately familiar with the current state of practice in the field. With the recognition that professional practice evolves quickly we generally expect professional experience to be within the last 3-5 years; individual graduate programs may have higher standards.

Illustrative examples of professional experience follow. Note: The specific examples presented below are NOT intended to be exhaustive.

  • Employment
  • Licensure or Certification
  • Formal consulting activities
  • Exhibitions of artistic work
  • Performances
  • Presentations at professional workshops
  • Serving on professional advisory committees

An expectation of professional degree programs is that they incorporate new practices derived from new discoveries in their field of study; thus, individuals with ongoing scholarly work in the field can appropriately be approved to Category P membership. Such membership is particularly important when the scholarly work in the field is significantly in advance of the professional activities in the field such that there would not be professionals available or able to teach at the leading edge of the professional discipline.

Graduate Research Education - Category R Membership
Nominations for membership in Category R of the Graduate Faculty of the Graduate School for individuals not on a tenure-line appointment or for individuals who do not hold a research doctorate (Ph.D.) are reviewed for the following criteria as defined in policy GCAC-101 Graduate Faculty Membership:

  • A full-time faculty appointment;
  • A doctoral degree;
  • A record of scholarly achievement, and an active program of research/scholarly activity, appropriate to the field.

A RECORD OF SCHOLARLY ACHIEVEMENT APPROPRIATE TO THE RESEARCH DEGREE FIELD
The Graduate School recognizes that the breadth of fields of study offered at Penn State means that no simple standard can be applied to evaluate a nominee’s “record of scholarly achievement”. Each nominee is evaluated according to the standards of their particular field of study.

Illustrative examples of scholarly achievement follow. NOTE: None of the specific examples in the lists presented below are intended to be exhaustive.

  • Scholarly written works
    • Books (common in the arts and humanities)
    • Peer-reviewed journal articles
  • Scholarly activities
    • Invited talks
    • Presentations at academic meetings
    • Curating exhibitions of artistic work (common in the arts)
    • Presenting in academic workshops
    • Serving on advisory committees
    • Formal consulting activities
  • Professional activities
    • Organizing academic meetings
    • Participating in funding review panels (common in the physical sciences)
    • Leadership positions in professional organizations

AN ACTIVE PROGRAM OF RESEARCH/SCHOLARLY ACTIVITY
The Graduate School recognizes that research and scholarly activity occurs at different rates for different disciplines and there are also different forms of evidence for different disciplines. Examples (not meant to be all inclusive or prescriptive) include:

  • A faculty member with active program of research in a physical sciences discipline might have an average of 2 publications each year.
  • A faculty member with active program of research or scholarship in the humanities might have published a book on average every 3 years.
  • A faculty member with active program of research or scholarship in the arts might have curated a major exhibition on average every 3-4 years.

Assessment for membership in the Graduate Faculty is not formulaic; each nominee’s accomplishments are considered holistically. Faculty members with ongoing journal publications or very recent books, exhibitions or performances, combined with other ongoing regular scholarly and professional activities, would be well-qualified for membership in Category Q or R of the Graduate Faculty.

Forms

Forms for Category P Membership

Nomination for Membership in the Graduate Faculty – Category “P” (PDF) (for nomination of Tenure-Line and full-time Non-Tenure-Line faculty)

Forms for Category Q Membership

Nomination for Membership in the Graduate Faculty – Category “Q” (PDF) (for Tenure-Line Faculty)

Forms for Category R Membership

Nomination for Membership in the Graduate Faculty – Category “R” (PDF) (for Tenure-Line and full-time Non-Tenure-Line Faculty)

Further Information

Graduate Faculty Membership FAQs

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