Professor of the Practice Policy

Last Updated 2014

Professors of the Practice (POPs) in Arts & Sciences demonstrate superior mastery in the practice of their disciplines and are acknowledged experts and leaders in their fields. Only exceptional candidates will be considered for an ­­appointment as a POP, and only a limited number of these appointments will be made. Candidates for POP appointments in the School of Arts & Sciences should fall into two general categories:

  1. Practicing Professionals, who provide an invaluable educational experience to students in Arts & Sciences.


  2. Exceptional Educators, who have an outstanding track record in pedagogy and teaching in their disciplines. An appointment at the level of POP should not simply be considered a promotion of an excellent teacher, who may also have an exemplary departmental or University service record, to the next level above Senior Lecturer. Instead a POP appointment should only be considered for a Senior Lecturer if the candidate is an exceptional educator with a major track record in pedagogical work for which the individual has achieved a regional or national reputation.
  1. Details:

    1.1.   POP appointments are neither with tenure nor on the tenure-track, and are for pre-determined durations as agreed upon by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences in consultation with the Chair or Program Director requesting the POP appointment. Typical appointments are expected to span from one to a maximum of five years.
    1.2.   POP appointments must be full-time to qualify for this title.
    1.3.   POP appointments will be made at the rank of full POP only, since these appointments are only for individuals who have demonstrated mastery in their practice or field.
    1.4.   Since any full-time faculty member who has both teaching and research responsibilities must, regardless of title, be either in probationary or tenured status, POP appointments should not be considered an alternative position for faculty members who are currently on the tenure track in Arts & Sciences.
    1.5.   A POP appointee shall hold the terminal professional degree in the field or earned equivalent stature by virtue of experience in their profession.
    1.6.   A candidate for a POP appointment should have attained regional or national prominence and, when appropriate, international recognition of outstanding achievement.
    1.7    POPs will participate in an annual evaluation, by the end of March each year, as is regularly conducted for tenure-track faculty. Performance will be evaluated during this annual review, with actions and recommendations made as appropriate.
    1.8.   The POP appointments in Arts & Sciences are single or multi-year renewable appointments, subject to satisfactory annual reviews.
    1.9.   POP appointments are subject to institutional criteria, such as the budgetary and teaching requirements of the Department or Program, the School of Arts & Sciences, and the University.
    1.10. Departmental service and participation are key components of the POP’s role in Arts & Sciences.
    1.11. POP duties do not include the expectation to conduct research or engage in scholarly publishing, but they should stay abreast of developments and changes in their disciplines.
    1.12. Employee benefits for POP appointments are the same as those for all full-time employees at Washington University in Saint Louis.
    1.13. Since POP appointments are only for Practicing Professionals or Exceptional Educators, the total number of POP appointments is expected to be low, typically <10% of the tenured and tenure-track faculty.

  2. Initial Appointments:
    The Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, in consultation with the Faculty Council, will appoint a faculty committee (POP Faculty Committee) to review appointment and personnel matters concerning POP positions. The committee will be composed of two tenured faculty members in the Humanities, two tenured faculty members in the Social Sciences, two tenured faculty members in the Physical Sciences, and two POPs. Following the inaugural POP appointments, membership terms on this committee will be three-year staggered terms with annual elections to be held during the Faculty Arts & Sciences elections. Whenever possible, no two members of the same department or program should serve on the committee concurrently. The committee will make recommendations to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, who will make the final decision on appointments.

    The process for appointment at the rank of POP includes a faculty vote in the Department or Program in which the appointment is intended. If there is overwhelming support by the Department or Program, presumably  at least a majority of the eligible voting faculty members in the Department, the Department Chair or Program Director may submit a request to the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences. The request should be submitted to the office of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences by March 1st  and must include a summary letter written by the Chair of Director and a professional dossier of the candidate, as described in Appendix I. The Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences will present these requests and dossiers to the POP Faculty Committee for review.

    The members of the POP Faculty Committee will evaluate the dossiers and prepare a summary evaluation for each candidate. Six members shall constitute a quorum. A member of the committee who is also a member of the candidate's department may not participate in the review and recommendation process. Recommendations for appointments shall be based on professional criteria, such as teaching performance, pedagogy, creative ability, professional competence and leadership, collegiality, eminence in the field, and University and departmental service. The summary evaluation should state whether the dossier is complete, and if the case is sufficiently strong for a POP appointment. The Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences will review the dossiers and the evaluations of the POP Faculty Committee and make final decisions on POP appointments, taking into consideration institutional criteria, such as the budgetary and teaching requirements of the University. Each POP contract must be approved by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, the Departmental Chair or Program Director, and the POP.

  3. Reappointments:
    The University’s rules for notice of non-renewal shall apply to POPs in Arts & Sciences:
    3.1.   not later than March 1 of the first academic year of service, if the appointment expires at the end of that year;
    3.2.   not later than December 15 of the second academic year of service, if the appointment expires at the end of that year;
    3.3.   at least twelve months before the expiration of an appointment after two or more years of service at the University.

    The University normally shall notify faculty members of the terms and conditions of their renewals by March 31, but in no case shall such information be given later than April 15.

  4. Graduate Dissertation and Oral Committees:
    POPs may not be used in place of tenure-track members on Dissertation and Oral Defense Committees for students in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. When recommended by the Major Department or Program and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School, POPs may be added to supplement the normal number of tenure-track faculty, except that these POP may not serve as chairs of such committees.
  5. Voting Rights:
    Voting in meetings of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences shall be determined in accordance with the Manual of Procedures: Washington University in Saint Louis Faculty of Arts & Sciences. As with full-time Lecturers, POPs are voting members of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences.

    Individual Departments shall determine whether and to what extent POPs shall be permitted to vote on Departmental issues; however, POPs will not vote on matters of tenure or promotion within the tenure track. Control of the Departmental curriculum and other academic governance issues of Departments must remain the responsibility of the tenured and tenure-track faculty, subject to the oversight of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences. However, departments are encouraged to consult POPs and to take advantage of their expertise in content as well as teaching theory and method when fashioning curriculum.

Appendix I:

A candidate recommended by a Department or Program for consideration of an appointment at the level of POP undergoes review by the Dean of the Faculty and the POP Faculty Committee. The materials to support this review constitute the candidate’s dossier, which is forwarded by the Chair or Program Director to the office of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences no later than March 1st. One paper copy and one electronic copy of the POP candidate’s dossier should be submitted, and the candidate’s dossier should include:

  1. The Chair’s or Program Director’s letter of recommendation. This letter should:
    1. Explain how the POP appointment serves the needs of the Department or Program, how it fits in with the Department’s or Program’s future development, and why it is appropriate to make the appointment at the POP rank.
    2. Summarize the discussion of the POP candidate undertaken at the Departmental or Program level.
    3. Justify the exceptional attributes of the POP candidate that will strengthen the Department or Program.
    4. Clearly state the duration of the appointment to POP.
    5. List the proposed teaching and Departmental or Program duties expected of the POP.
  2. The candidate’s full curriculum vitae.
  3. A summary of the candidate’s  professional practice  -  a ca. five-page description of the candidate’s professional history and major accomplishments that will provide a reviewer, who may not be in the same field or discipline, an overall sense of the POP candidate’s strengths and accomplishments.
  4. Any solicited evaluation letters received from external or internal experts.
  5. Samples of the candidate’s work selected by the Chair or Program Director in consultation with the POP candidate.
  6. Teaching evaluations, if available.
  7. Any other documentary materials that may be considered helpful in the evaluation process.

The evaluation process is expected to vary between disciplines, and a Department or Program should develop measures for evaluating professional excellence prior to evaluating a POP dossier.

Since POPs are expected to be experts and leaders in their fields, Departments and Programs are encouraged to seek and to provide letters of evaluation written by both internal and external evaluators of the POP. External referees should be asked to provide analytical evaluations of the candidate’s contributions to and standing in his/her field. Writers should be informed that their comments will be read not only by members of the Department or Program but also by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, tenured or tenure-track members of the Department or Program, and the members of the POP Faculty Committee, who are not necessarily familiar with the candidate’s field or scholarly area.