Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science

SCS Professor of the Practice Appointment Policy


Among the full-time professional positions within the School of Computer Science of Carnegie-Mellon University, it is desirable to make particular provision for those who are devoted to teaching students the skills, methods, and values of their profession. The holders of these positions shall be called, for the purposes of this policy, Professor of the Practice of X (POTP) where X is a field like Computer Systems, Human-Computer Interaction, Electronic Commerce, etc. Those holding this title must:
  1. Be a successful and effective professional in the given field. At least ten years of professional practice is normally expected. A Professor of the Practice of Computer Systems would be expected to have designed and implemented systems that are noteworthy for their success, innovation, and importance. For Music the candidate might be expected to be a member of a distinguished orchestra.
  2. Be an effective teacher of the profession. As evidence of effective teaching one can present other professionals that have learned from the candidate, written or oral presentations that educate, teaching records from professional or academic organizations. POTP faculty would be expected to teach at least as intensively as a tenure track professor.
  3. Understand research that applies to the profession. The person should be able to evaluate research results, devise applications of the research, and teach the results to students. The person need not have a research track record comparable to regular faculty, but having performed research is good evidence of competence for this requirement.
The Professor of the Practice, within the meaning of this policy, consists of persons with the rank of Professor of the Practice, Associate Professor of the Practice, and Assistant Professor of the Practice. Though there might be instances where Associate and Assistant versions of this title are appropriate , it is difficult to reconcile those titles with the requirement for extensive professional experience. It is therefore expected that the majority of appointments will be at the rank of full Professor of the Practice. For the purpose of the application of pertinent provisions of the School's Appointment and Tenure Policy, as specified below, these ranks shall be regarded as equivalent to that of Full Professor, Associate Professor, and Assistant Professor.

This position requires persons of sufficiently high caliber and specific talent to justify the conferring of faculty status in order to attract and retain them, without requiring of them all the activities expected of regular faculty members. A Ph.D. degree is not a strict requirement, but may be presented as evidence to support any of the above requirements if its content is relevant.

As with research-track and tenure-track faculty, this title carries a responsibility for maintaining the quality and reputation of the University, including the obligation to scrutinize appointments and reappointments to positions with the same care and with the same fundamental principles and procedures as those pertaining to the research and tenure-track faculty (the eligibility for tenure excepted), including evaluation at the School-wide level.


All Professor of the Practice positions shall be established in academic programs, research institutes, departments, programs, or research centers of the School of Computer Science. The making of every appointment in this track (including reappointment, with or without promotion, whether preceded by an evaluation or not), and the specification of its term and compensation require a proposal by the head of the program, institute, department, program or research center and the approval of the Dean or his designee. The proposal shall specify the manner of funding (whether from resources administered by that unit or not), and the Dean shall not approve an appointment unless he is satisfied that appropriate funding will be available during the entire term of the appointment and reasonably satisfied that it will continue to be available through the term in which the next evaluation would be required. The Dean or his designee shall also review every decision to let an appointment (other than a terminal appointment required to satisfy the provisions of this policy for timely notice) lapse at the expiration of its term.

When an appointment or reappointment (with or without promotion) is made, it is the responsibility of the unit Head or Director and the Dean to ensure that the appointee is given clear and full information in writing concerning the terms, functions, and duties of the appointment, including the applicable University and School policies. No oral commitments supplementing written information shall be made or recognized.

During the term of their appointment, holders of POTP faculty positions are subject to, and protected by, the same University policies concerning academic freedom and dismissal for cause as are regular but untenured faculty members.

Reappointment and promotion in the POTP faculty are governed by the contributions the candidate has made or may be expected to make to the University's excellence. All decisions on promotion, as well as the decisions on reappointment described below, shall therefore be preceded by a full and thorough evaluation, to be carried out according to the criteria and procedures specified in this policy. A decision to promote may be made at any time during a term of appointment, and the consequent appointment at the higher rank shall supersede the current term.

A decision on a reappointment in the same rank shall necessarily be based on an evaluation, as referred to above, whenever the reappointment would first extend the term beyond
  1. in the rank of Assistant Professor of the Practice, three years from an original appointment or from the reappointment in this rank following the latest evaluation; or
  2. in the rank of Associate Professor of the Practice, three years from original appointment or promotion to this rank, or six years from the reappointment in this rank following the latest evaluation; or
  3. in the rank of Professor of the Practice, three years from original appointment, or six years from promotion to this rank or from the reappointment to this rank following the latest evaluation.

In addition, within the first three years of an original appointment to the POTP faculty an early evaluation for reappointment may be ordered by a majority vote of the review committee; such an evaluation must be held no sooner than three months after the vote of the committee.


  1. Introduction: Evaluation for appointment, reappointment, and promotion in the POTP faculty is aimed at determining the contributions the candidate has made and may be expected to make to the School's excellence. All involved should recognize that the final decision resulting from the evaluation is partly subjective. Each affirmative decision is an indication to the individual that the faculty and the administration feel that the candidate's overall accomplishments to that point have been outstanding. Each appointment, reappointment, or promotion does not, however, guarantee future reappointments or promotions. In addition, those qualified for advancement may be denied reappointment or promotion because of the unavailability of suitable funding or, following evaluation, because their talents and interests do not sufficiently fulfill the needs and promote the goals and priorities of the School.
  2. Criteria: The criteria for evaluation lie primarily in the category of teaching skills, methods and values of their profession. The specific designation of activities which relate to these general criteria may vary among different organizational units within the School. Promotion is based upon the quantity, the performance, and the technical significance of such accomplishments over time.
POTP faculty members would be expected to continue to be active in their profession, even if employed full time by the university. They may also carry on professional activities that should be considered for evaluation: e.g., professional practice, teaching, consulting, public service, service in technical and professional societies and associations, and editorial work on professional journals. Insofar as such activities either contribute to or are an extension of teaching, research or research support activities, they should be considered as applicable.

In addition to all of the above, it is expected that every POTP faculty member, just as every other faculty member, will contribute to the campus community by, for example, serving on committees or participating in campus activities.

A candidate for initial appointment or promotion to the rank of Professor of the Practice should be thoroughly established in his or her specialization. The candidate should be an outstanding and widely recognized contributor with a national or international reputation. Evaluation for reappointment at this rank should confirm continued growth in teaching and in their profession.

An evaluation for reappointment in the rank of Associate Professor of the Practice should show that the specialized leadership and reputation required for the rank of Professor of the Practice are at least firmly in the process of becoming established.

A candidate for initial appointment or promotion to the rank of Assistant Professor of the Practice should have a record indicating a clear promise of extraordinary accomplishment or leadership that in due time will be sufficiently established to merit promotion to the rank of full Professor of the Practice.


Until such a time as the university formalizes this title, it will be considered an SCS-only title that is backed-up by an official university position such as (tenure-track) Professor, Research Scientist, or System Scientist. The person using the Professor of the Practice title will have whatever legal and procedural rights the university confers on faculty with their underlying title, e.g. tenure if the person is on the tenure track, tuition benefits if the person is on the tenure or research track. Their re-appointments and promotions cases at the university level must satisfy the criteria of their underlying position. Thus, the Professor of the Practice title is being treated similarly to the Distinguished Service Professor title in that holders are at least special faculty but may also be research or tenure-track faculty.

All POTP candidates for reappointment or promotion, with original appointment to the rank of Assistant Professor of the Practice from other positions within the School, and original appointments to the rank of Associate Professor of the Practice must be evaluated at the college level by a committee(s) comparable in function and procedure to that evaluating regular faculty candidates. This committee shall be appointed by the Dean and shall consist of senior members of the regular faculty and principal ranking members of the research and systems faculties, representing all units within the School. Other initial appointments shall be made in a manner consistent with that for the regular faculty and within the characteristics of the systems faculty.


Notwithstanding all other provisions in this policy, all POTP faculty appointees shall be deemed to be faculty of the type of their underlying appointment for the sole purpose of the operation of each of the following documents: the Carnegie Mellon University Intellectual Property Policy, and the Statement of Policy on Professional Protection Regarding Faculty Members (Article IX of the Bylaws of the Board of Trustees); in each case this provision shall remain in operation only so long as the document in question is not amended, explicitly or by inference, to make provision for POTP faculty appointees.

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