Policy on Honorific Appointments

Policy Number ACA-013
Effective Date January 01, 2006
Responsible Office/Person Academic Affairs
Related Policies
Additional History
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University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Academic Affairs Division

Policy on Honorific Appointments


This document updates and expands the university’s policy on Honorific Appointments, approved by the university’s Board of Trustees on September 10, 1987.

Honorific Appointments

The honorific appointment of an individual who will be making a contribution to the university’s programs for research, scholarship, creative activities or development is called a Visiting Scholar. While Visiting Scholar is the general term for honorific appointments, a customary title such as Adjunct Professor may be used to recognize an appointment of a specific type.

Purpose and qualifications

Visiting Scholars are individuals invited to our campus for a specific academic purpose and for a limited period of time, e.g., a semester or a year.

Although the appointment may involve teaching, it is not primarily a teaching position but encompasses scholarly endeavor or other research or development work. Visiting scholar appointments differ from faculty positions such as those for tenure-track faculty; they are an appointment to do a project or set of activities, not employment as a faculty member. Visiting Scholar appointments do not require a hiring search.

Visiting Scholars should be distinguished from visiting professors coming for a limited period, e.g., to occupy a rotating Endowed Chair. Visiting Scholars are often faculty coming here from another university, perhaps on a sabbatical, to work on a research project or to develop new expertise or knowledge that they can bring back to their home institution. Visiting Scholars can be from another university or from industry, research institutes, etc. Visiting Scholars appointments can be used for doctoral candidates from other universities coming to do research here. Visiting Scholars may audit classes on a limited basis when that activity is appropriate to the nature and purpose of their appointment; they will pay the regular tuition and fees for that activity unless specifically approved otherwise in supporting documents.

Minimum qualifications shall include a) the appropriate academic degree and/or academic rank or equivalent professional experience in the field of the appointment (or being a doctoral candidate), b) having an appropriate professional position at another higher education or research institution or c) being retired from such positions.

Normally, Visiting Scholar appointments do not provide salary or stipend, insurance, benefits, and other financial supports, but it is possible to extend such consideration with justification when funding is available. Visiting Scholar appointments typically provide supportive amenities such as workspace and access to facilities, technology, and the library. Such considerations must be stated in the appointing documents.

Appointment Approvals

Appointment may be initiated either by invitation or application.

Review of the academic and/or professional qualifications of the individual will be initiated at the level appropriate for the objectives of the appointment. A Visiting Scholar appointment request typically originates in an academic unit of the university (i.e., a department or academic center).

When an academic department or interdisciplinary program recommends a Visiting Scholar appointment, the recommendation goes to the Dean of the College/School and then the Provost. When a center director recommends an appointment that does not involve teaching, the recommendation goes to the individual to whom the center reports, e.g., to the Dean, and then the Provost. When a center director recommends an appointment that involves teaching as well as activities in the center, the recommendation would originate in the center but be routed through the department in which the teaching would occur for a departmental recommendation on the appointment. The department Chairperson’s and Dean’s recommendation of the appointment would be conveyed in memoranda included in the file that goes to the Provost.

Visiting Scholar appointments will be approved by the Provost when they involve no financial support from UMass Dartmouth. The Office of Human Resources issues the appointment letter.

When a Visiting Scholar appointment does involve financial support from UMass Dartmouth, the Provost recommends to the Chancellor. Before doing so, the Provost will request a review and sign-off by the Office of Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Outreach. The purpose of this review is to verify that the position is legitimately honorific as opposed to one that should be posted and filled through a job-search process. The Office of Human Resources issues the appointment letter.

Documentation Required for the Appointment

The recommendation to the Provost that a Visiting Scholar be appointed should describe the nature, scope, and expected outcomes of the appointment. It should:

  • Indicate the primary purpose of the visit.
  • Outline the activities the Visiting Scholar will undertake. Specifically, it should:
    • State the academic field, the specific research or instruction area and the goals of the endeavor;
    • Indicate a stated result or outcome--if not a concrete scholarly product, then a summary of the expected achievements and the benefits received by the university.
    • Indicate other activities or outcomes; for example, specified interactions with faculty, students, or staff.
    • If teaching is involved, indicate the course or courses to be taught and any special condition.
  • Indicate the starting and ending dates of the visit. While Visiting Scholar Appointments are for a specific duration, they may be renewed.

The individual should acknowledge UMass Dartmouth in any publications or other results from the Visiting Scholar Appointment.

The recommendation to the Provost should also:

  • Document the individual’s qualifications.
  • Document that the individual wishes to accept the appointment as described.
  • Indicate a person in the department or center who will be the contact person for the individual and who will oversee progress on the project and activities.
  • State specifically the support the university will offer the individual: e.g., if an unfunded appointment, desk or office space, research space, telephone, computer, access to library, access to e-mail, access to computer services, access to secretarial assistance, access to campus housing; and if funded, also state the terms of the funding. Signatures accompanying the recommendation are commitments to provide the support indicated.

Approved appointments go to Human Resources for a contract to be issued, a file to be set up, etc.

Non-immigrant Visa (if required)

If the individual needs a non-immigrant visa, it would usually be the J-1 visa. The office on campus charged with issuing J-I visa permission will assist the unit inviting the individual by contacting the individual to learn personal and official information needed for submission of the forms that result in the requisite visa. If there is a limited time, the office can begin the visa paperwork before the approval is final. Actual issuing of visa forms requires an approved Human Resources contract.

It is a requirement for the J-1 visa that we have on record clear documentation of the nature, scope, and results of the appointment and the appointee’s qualifications, as indicated above. The J-1 visa is issued for the purpose of full-time pursuit of the described project and activities; there are specific conditions and limitations regarding work for compensation, travel, dependents, etc., and we are accountable for monitoring the person’s remaining in visa status. The office on campus charged with issuing J-1 visa permission works with the appointing unit and the visiting scholar on such compliance issues.

Visiting Scholar Appointments cannot later become the basis for applications for employment-based permanent residency.



This policy is effective January 1, 2006.