FAQ - CUIMC Faculty Tracks

Programs are being offered to CUIMC faculty to address topics & questions regarding faculty titles, preparation for promotion, and the promotion process. These programs address issues for tenure/tenure-track and "At CUMC" titles. The Office of Academic Affairs at CUIMC and each of the four CUIMC schools are available for questions at: office_acad_affairs@cumc.columbia.edu

Columbia University & CUIMC Titles

What are the Columbia title groups for full-time CUIMC faculty?

Two title groups are used for full-time CUIMC faculty:

a) The unmodified title (e.g. Professor of Surgery) is used for research-intensive faculty who are tenured or on the tenure track;

b) The "at CUMC" title is used for faculty whose responsibilities are a mixture of activities in 2 or more areas: education, applied health sciences (clinical care and public health interventions), and research. This is a non-tenure-track title. Full-time faculty do not hold title modifiers of the clinical prefix or clinical suffix. These modifiers are held only by part-time faculty.

For more information about tenure and non-tenure-track policies, please visit the online Columbia University Faculty Handbook.

What is the difference between these two title groups?

Faculty who are tenured/tenure-track are expected to devote the majority of their time to an outstanding research program that achieves national/international recognition within specific time boundaries. In contrast, faculty with the non-tenured titles may have a broader range of activities including clinical, educational and/or investigational areas of focus.

I am a part-time faculty member. What is my title?

Titles for part-time faculty include the modifier "clinical" either in the prefix or suffix position.

For part-time faculty with a focus on Applied Healthcare or Public Health Interventions, a modifying prefix is used. For example, a part-time assistant professor in Psychiatry would have the title "Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry."

For part-time faculty with significant investigative or educational leadership accomplishments, a modifying suffix is used. For example, a part-time assistant professor in Psychiatry would have the title "Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry."

AREAS OF FOCUS

What are the "areas of focus" for faculty with the "at CUMC" title?

The areas of focus align valuable faculty work with a career path and provide clear criteria for academic advancement in all four CUIMC schools: the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the College of Dental Medicine, the Mailman School of Public Health and the School of Nursing. This academic track and title system acknowledges, encourages and rewards excellence from CUIMC faculty in multiple areas: clinical care, education, research and public health interventions.

Within the "At CUMC" title, there are three scholarly areas of focus upon which faculty may choose to concentrate. These areas of focus are Investigator/Scholar, Applied Healthcare/Public Health Interventions, and Educational Leadership and Scholarship, the faculty activities essential for preeminence by academic health science centers.

Descriptions of the three areas of focus for CUIMC faculty with an "at CUMC" title are:

Investigator/Scholar: This area of focus covers research efforts in any discipline related to health sciences such as laboratory, clinical or translational, population-based, health services/policy/economics, outcomes, biostatistics, bioinformatics and pedagogical research. Investigation in this area of focus may be primarily collaborative, industry partnered, or consist of a quantitatively smaller effort than expected for the tenure track. Research effort is expected to be funded, although funding sources may be more varied than those in the Tenure-track.

Applied Healthcare/Public Health Interventions: This area of focus covers activities related to clinical care in medicine, dentistry, nursing, and direct public health interventions in public health disciplines. It also could include developing or implementing clinical or public health programs, and services in quality assurance, patient safety, applied epidemiology, etc.

Educational Leadership and Scholarship: This area of focus covers direct involvement in the process of promoting learning (e.g. lecturing, mentoring, facilitating small group), support of infrastructure needed for learning (e.g. leading a course, program directorship), development of educational products used for learning (e.g. textbooks, slides, videos, websites, apps).

All faculty are expected to provide educational service, though the type and quantity may be very variable. For more information, please consult the Academic Tracks Educational Requirements - All Titles document.

Visit "At CUMC" title - Areas of Focus for more information.

Does my area of academic focus appear in my CUMC title?

No. Only "at CUMC" appears along with the academic rank.

Why is it important to define an area or areas of focus if it does not appear in the title?

Specific areas of focus help faculty to define what kind of academic work they will emphasize as they shape their careers and to know what is expected of them for career advancement. The academic titles also help the Committee on Appointments and Promotions (COAP) for each school at CUIMC to appropriately review faculty accomplishments when faculty are considered for promotion.

Who determines my area of focus?

Faculty and their department chairs/division directors jointly determine faculty area(s) of focus by reflecting on faculty scholarly work, faculty career goals, specific work defined at the time of hire and the departmental priorities. To facilitate the self-reflection of faculty as they consider the major (and minor) area(s) of focus, an Area of Focus Self-Assessment Tool for CUIMC Faculty may be useful. Faculty may wish to discuss with divisional, departmental or school leadership how their self-defined area(s) of focus align with their academic achievements and departmental priorities.

What if my activities involve more than one area of focus?

As faculty members in the "At CUMC" title group may make significant academic contributions in more than one area of focus, faculty may designate multiple areas of focus. These areas can be considered as a “major and one or more minor” areas based on his/her distribution of academic efforts. The "major area(s) of focus" should be the area(s) of focus in which the faculty member commits the most time or makes the most important departmental contributions. Minor areas of focus would be those in which the faculty member makes significant and measurable contributions, but which are quantitatively of lesser magnitude or are narrower in scope.

Can faculty move from one area of focus to another?

Yes. Faculty careers are dynamic, so clarity in what is expected by area of focus will assist faculty if they choose to transition from one area of focus to another. Some faculty may choose to select two areas of focus if both areas are aligned with the departmental priorities and the faculty’s interests. The quality of work in both is expected to be high, though they may differ quantitatively.

Are all faculty members expected to contribute to the educational mission of CUIMC?

Yes. Educational contributions are required of all CUIMC faculty members; however, these contributions may occur in many settings and may take many forms. The type and magnitude of educational contributions will vary according to the academic area of focus, but would be expected to be broader and more robust when the academic area of focus is educational scholarship and leadership.

FACULTY PROMOTION

How would faculty with significant activity in more than one area of focus be classified and considered for advancement?

Promotion is based upon the sum of contributions, whether from a single or multiple areas. Faculty with more than one major area of focus can build their promotion profile based on these multiple areas.

Criteria for Advancement by Track 

At the time of promotion, all faculty contributions are considered. For example, expert clinicians who are outstanding educators, or clinicians who may also contribute to important clinical research. A faculty work profile is the sum of scholarly activities, with some faculty filling the area with a single type of work and others filling the area with more than one type of activity.

How varied should scholarly activities be in order for a faculty member to advance in rank?

While faculty are encouraged to develop one area of focus, it is understood that faculty may make substantive contributions to more than one area of focus or one domain of an area of focus. However, it is expected that contributions, irrespective of magnitude, will be of high quality. For the "at CUMC" track, it is common, though not required, for faculty to make contributions in more than one area of focus. By contrast, tenured/tenure track, faculty are expected to focus primarily on research programs.

What are the expected scholarly products for each "area of focus" in the "at CUMC" track?

Although research publications, funding, and presentations are standard scholarly products for investigators, educational products such as course syllabi, teaching demonstration materials, curricula development, educational assessment tools, and presentations at educational forums would be acceptable for those with an education focus. Similarly, for those with a focus in applied clinical and public health interventions, recognition based upon activities that impact practice paradigms, clinical programs, and patient or population outcomes would be appropriate. For more information, visit Faculty Tracks at CUIMC.

One of the key aspects of the title system is that contributions and achievements are evaluated by assessment of excellence, innovation, and impact of a particular kind of scholarly product.

A faculty member need not have examples of every type of scholarly product in their portfolio, but examples selected should be of sufficient quality to support an evaluation of excellence in the academic focus, and should be quantitatively appropriate to the academic rank and distribution of overall effort. Educational contributions are required of all faculty, though the type and quantity will vary with the academic focus.

More information is available at "At CUMC" Title -Areas of Focus.

Where can I find the criteria for advancement within the "at CUMC" track system?

View the Advancement by Track document for more information.

Are there time limits for advancement in rank in the "at CUMC" title group?

No.

Are significant leadership contributions recognized as contributions towards academic advancement?

Yes.

What quantitative parameters will guide promotion decisions?

Quantitative and qualitative parameters are outlined here:

Criteria for advancement in rank by academic focus

These parameters are being closely monitored to ensure that they are realistic and align with the work done by the faculty.

What are the procedures for Promotion?

Promotion is a multi-step process with distinct procedures for the faculty member and their academic department(s). Steps required for the tenure track differ from those required for faculty with an "at CUMC" title. For more information, please view the step-wise diagrams for the tenure track.

Is there guidance or other support to help faculty achieve the standards for advancement?

Yes. The Office of Faculty Professional Development offers programs open to all CUIMC faculty. Programs provide assistance to faculty in career development within the context of the academic tracks. Information on the processes for both tenure-track faculty and for faculty with "at CUMC" titles, metrics for documenting excellence and achievement, and considerations for promotion are available in the resources section.

Individual schools and departments within CUIMC may have additional guidelines for faculty advancement and promotion. Departments and schools also may offer individual support programs. Contact your school faculty affairs dean, department chair, or division chief for more information.

I have more questions about titles and areas of academic focus. Whom shall I contact?

Please email the Office of Academic Affairs at: office_acad_affairs@cumc.columbia.edu.