College of Arts & Letters

3-year Contract Program Policy for Fixed-term Faculty and Fixed-term Academic Specialists

Three-year Contract Recommendation Form [PDF]

Non-tenure track (NTT) faculty and academic specialists are key contributing members of the College community. The work they do is vital to the university’s academic mission, whether in the areas of teaching, curriculum development, advising, research, outreach, and/or administration. The intellectual leadership of faculty and academic specialists complements that of the staff, students, and tenure stream faculty all as core contributors to the arts and humanities. Recruiting and retaining the highest quality fixed specialists is essential to maintaining excellence in sharing knowledge, expanding opportunities, and mentorship and stewardship. For fixed-term faculty and fixed-term academic specialist positions, the College makes possible the use of a one-year initial contract followed by the potential for a three-year contract in cases that meet the criteria below to recruit and retain the best personnel in these positions.


  • Enhance College values
  • Equity, openness, community with a shared commitment to practice inclusion as a matter of habit
  • Extend College priorities
    • Recruit and retain world-class faculty and academic staff who enrich undergraduate and graduate education and enhance research and creative activity.


In the College of Arts & Letters, after the initial year, eligibility for 3-years contracts under this CAL program is limited to full-time academic year or annual year appointments for the following appointment types:

  • Instructor-fixed term,
  • Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor-fixed term,
  • Fixed-term academic specialist

Exceptions: Full-time, fixed-term positions that are grant funded may be multi-year, but follow the terms of the grant award and not this program. Post-doctoral/post-MFA positions may be multi-year, but are designed to be shorter term assignments and do not fall under this program. Appointments including the term “visiting”, full-time semester only, or any part-time or temporary replacement positions (sabbatical, course releases) are not eligible for this program. Positions must be funded by the general fund or endowment funds. If a person has been employed in CAL in another position, such as research associate, they still must be employed for the initial year in the fixed-term system before they can be recommended for a 3-year contract. Use of a multi-year contract for titles other than those specified above requires prior approval of the Dean.

Criteria for recommendation:

Following the initial one-year contract, a chairperson or center director shall submit a request for a 3-year contract for a given fixed-term faculty member of fixed-term academic specialist to the Dean by April 1 of a given year based on the following criteria:

  • Achievement of excellence in annual review on the part of the fixed-term faculty member or fixed-term academic specialist,
  • A rationale provided by the chair/director that demonstrates longevity of curricular or other need for the position, including student learning outcomes/student success goals and enrollment data over the past three years that meet enrollment minimum guidelines set by the College. Need according to pertinent workload assignments aligned with the length of contract must be addressed in the rationale (teaching, curriculum development, outreach, research, advising, service/professional development, admin/other).
  • Stability of funding source on hard money (general fund, endowed funds).
  • The employee shall not have been subject to any disciplinary action at MSU within the past five years.

Recommendation process:

Should the chairperson or director wish to make a recommendation for an initial three-year contract, they should fill out the form below.

In addition, each year by April 15, the chairperson or director shall submit a list of all non-tenure stream faculty and academic specialists on three-year contracts to the HR Team Director that includes the following information: a) dates of the contract, b) indication of who is up for additional review in the coming third year, c) confirmation of a contract renewal review process for those in their third year, and d) a rationale for renewal or non-renewal of any existing 3-year contracts based on the criteria above. Any renewal or non-renewal of three-year contracts must be approved by the Dean. 

Subsequent contract renewal:

Suggested Pathways

  • For those who are majority teaching specialists or fixed-term faculty with majority teaching appointments, the option of applying for Designation B is recommended once eligible. For more information see,
  • For other specialists and fixed-term faculty, in the final year of a 3-year contract, the annual peer review process must include the following and be completed by the April 15 renewal request deadline:
  • A 1-2 page workplan, if not already part of the annual peer review process, written by the person under review based on the Charting Your Pathway to Intellectual Leadership (CPIL) approach (stepping stones, milestones, horizon).
  • If the position includes teaching, observation reports from at least two teaching observations preferably of different courses conducted by the chair, director, or a senior colleague within the past two years that demonstrate excellence in teaching over time. Each teaching observation should include a follow-up developmental conversation between the observer and the faculty member or academic specialist prior to the writing of the observation report.
  • A developmental and evaluative meeting with the chairperson or director to discuss the workplan as part of the annual review process prior to recommendation for potential renewal.


Three-year contracts are not a right of employment, and are offered to fixed-term faculty or specialists in positions of demonstrated need and longevity after they have first demonstrated a level of excellence while working under one or multiple, one-year contracts. The granting of a three-year contract does not guarantee the right of renewal. A three-year contract may also be followed by a single-year contract for any number of reasons (performance considerations, programmatic, or budgetary considerations).

Approved leave with or without pay during any period of the three-year contract will not prolong the original period of the three-year contract to account for the period of the leave.  The original beginning and end dates specified in the offer letter will remain in effect.

Funding/Appointing Unit change: Three-year contracts may be nullified when, at the employee’s request, a change in funding/appointing unit results in employment in a different unit (or units) than that set forth in the offer letter.  Should this change be made involuntarily, the contract will remain in effect for the full-term despite the unit shift.

This document creates no additional rights or obligations on the part of the employees who receive these appointments or the appointing units, College, and University.


Three-year Contract Recommendation Form [PDF]