Guiding Principles for Faculty Searches in the School of Medicine
The School of Medicine is one of the nation’s preeminent institutions for medical education, biomedical research and clinical care. Our mission is to continue to attract and retain the highest quality faculty members who will, working collectively, have the experience, knowledge and insight necessary to respond to new research and programmatic opportunities and be a central focus for excellence in patient care.
The faculty search process is crucial to realizing this mission. Our goal is to recruit the best possible candidates through search processes that:
- are conducted with integrity and transparency;
- are thorough, comprehensive, and national in scope;
- use the resources available to ensure and maintain a diverse candidate pool;
- move expeditiously and systematically;
- respect confidentiality;
- provide candidates with appropriate access to information;
- leave all involved with a sense of fairness;
- provide the requisite information and administrative flexibility to enable a final decision by the department and a smooth appointment process;
- and result in the recruitment of an outstanding candidate who will flourish as a member of the Stanford Community and bring distinction to the School and University.
Appointments to the University Tenure Line (UTL), Non-tenure Line (NTL) or Medical Center Line (MCL) in the School of Medicine are initiated by departmental action. A department chair must present the case for a new faculty appointment to the Vice Dean and obtain formal authorization from him or her before a search can be launched.
Departmental faculty and the School administration must regard every search authorization as a potential long-term commitment. The Vice Dean's authorization is based upon the availability of resources (including a billet commitment) and an assessment of the department's present and predicted future needs in research, teaching and clinical activities, as well as priority judgments both within the department and between departments. Contributions to interdisciplinary institutes may also play a role in assigning authorizations to departments.
In most cases, recommendations for an appointment are to be preceded by a rigorous and comprehensive national search. The scope of the search, the judgment exercised in evaluating the pool of candidates and the documentation of the entire process will receive close scrutiny at each level of review. Perfunctory or limited searches and pre-selection or incomplete assessment of candidates are easily recognized during the review and may lead to delay or disapproval of recommendations.
The School of Medicine has created four Institutes of Medicine that are designed to improve human health by facilitating, augmenting and catalyzing the basic, translational and clinical research of the School's and the University's faculty in selected, complex, multi-disciplinary areas that transcend the domain of any single department. The four Institutes of Medicine are:
- Cardiovascular Institute (CVI)
- Stanford Cancer Center (SCC)
- Immunology, Transplantation and Infection Institute (ITI)
- Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (ISCBRM)
These four Institutes have been allocated billets for the purpose of recruiting faculty who will work in selected, complex, multi-disciplinary areas that transcend the domain of any single department. However, like all members of Stanford’s Professoriate, such faculty have their primary (and, if applicable, secondary or courtesy) appointments in academic departments.
As a result, the search, recruitment and appointment processes for Institute members are of necessity a joint effort between institutes and departments. It follows that, in order to be successful, there must be a maximum amount of collaboration between institutes and departments at every stage of the process.
Institute leaders and staff are encouraged to become familiar with the following best practices in conducting institute searches.
Faculty Searches: Policies, Procedures and Instructions
Institute directors, staff and members of search committees are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Office of Academic Affairs website on Faculty Searches: Policies, Procedures and Instructions. This “best practices” document draws from some of those pages but is tailored to circumstances that emerge with institute searches. It is intended to be a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, the more detailed and thorough information on the Faculty Searches website.
Composition of the Search Committee
An institute may initiate a search in collaboration with a specific department in the School. In such cases, the department chair and institute director should establish the search committee and jointly manage the search process.
In cases where the home department cannot be predicted at the time of the search initiation, an institute director should create a search committee that includes representatives of the departments that could conceivably provide the academic home for the selected candidate.
While the structure of search committees varies, the optimal composition for institute searches is three institute members and several members from a department (when the home department is known) or departments (when the home department is unknown). At the institute director’s discretion, committee members may be drawn from the ranks of assistant, associate or full professors or at the same rank or above that of the position under search.
A diverse search committee helps to encourage a diverse candidate pool. Institute directors are encouraged to appoint committee members with different backgrounds, perspectives and expertise and with a demonstrated commitment to diversity.
Search Committee Diversity Officer
Institute directors should ask one member of the search committee to serve as a diversity officer. Faculty serving in this capacity are expected to monitor the procedures of the search process (including outreach efforts), the diversity of the total applicant pool and of the group selected for interviews. The diversity officer is also responsible for authoring the section of the appointment long form that describes aspects of the search related to diversity. The Office of Faculty Development and Diversity is available to brief the diversity officer so he or she feels competent to perform this role and to serve as a resource in bringing diversity to the applicant pool.
Home Department Involvement in the Search and the Long Form
As indicated previously, search committees should include representation from a department (when the home department has been identified at the outset) or departments (when the home department is to be determined).
Prior to the second round of interviews, the search committee chair should contact the chair(s) of appropriate department(s) to determine if there is an interest in the candidate(s). If so, members of that department should be fully engaged in the second round of interviews and in the selection of the candidate of choice.
In order to assist with the decision of the final ranking of candidates for full or associate professor, the home department and institute may agree to solicit external letters of evaluation for all of the candidates. Under such circumstances, the letters should be solicited in compliance with standard procedure (including approval from OAA) so that they are usable as evidence in the appointment long form of the candidate of choice. Normally, the referee grid and the peer set should be developed by the home department in consultation with the institute director.
In situations where there is a strong consensus about the candidate of choice, the home department, in consultation with the institute director, should develop the full referee grid and the peer set and submit these materials to OAA for approval. This should occur as negotiations with the candidate are ongoing. The goal is to have a majority of letters in hand for submission with the search report and offer letter. Concurrently, the home department should be completing other sections of the long form – all except for the Evaluation of Candidate and departmental vote sections, which are completed once all evidence is in hand.
Selecting External Referees and Peer Set for Senior Appointments
As noted above, the chair of the home department (in consultation with the institute director) is responsible for developing the external referee list and the peer set.
External referees should be recognized as national or international leaders in their field and, when possible, should be from institutions comparable to Stanford or organizations of similar high quality (e.g., the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and similar government organizations). The distinction of the external referees should be documented through leadership positions held, memberships (e.g., National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, etc.), and major honors and awards that are national in scope and/or of great significance to the field.
The peer set should be of similar high caliber with the group composed of academic leaders who would meet the standards for a tenurable appointment at Stanford.
Joint Searches(Between Departments or Schools)
The principles governing joint appointments and the search processes to be used are outlined as following in Chapter 2.6.B(1) and (2) of the Stanford University Faculty Handbook.
General Principles for Joint Appointments
As a general principle, all professorial appointments are to be: in departments (or in schools without departments); held jointly between a department and a specified policy center or institute; or held between two departments. A joint appointment may be made when a faculty member makes a major contribution in terms of time, effort and programmatic need to the academic programs of two or more departments, schools or institutes. This contribution should be on a continuing basis and judged to be sufficiently significant for the joint appointee to have voting privileges in both (or all) of the units in which the appointment resides. These units frequently share salary or other support and may share in the tenure commitment. In all joint appointments, even those that are divided evenly between two units, one unit is designated as “primary” and the other as “secondary.” The primary and secondary designations are made at the time the joint appointment is initiated and may be changed with the unanimous consent of the faculty member, the relevant department Chairs, institute directors, and school Deans.
Faculty holding joint appointments are expected to carry a normal load of teaching, administrative, and leadership responsibilities. The precise nature of those responsibilities will depend on the roles the faculty are expected to play in the departments, schools, or policy institutes to which they are appointed. The Chairs (or Deans or directors, as applicable) of the relevant academic units should consult on these matters.)
Searches for Joint Appointments
Although searches may be conducted by a single department or school, they can also be conducted more broadly across several departments or schools, or by one or more departments using a joint billet, which may be joint between a specified policy center or institute and a department or school.
Faculty searches are generally conducted (or overseen, in the case of broad-based searches) by the group requesting the search. The search committee should be composed of faculty from both departments and the relevant institute. For initial appointments that are joint between an institute and a department, the votes of the institute and department should occur separately. For new hires, both the institute and department must vote positively.
The following “red flags” should be avoided when initiating or conducting a search:
- Restrictions with respect to rank, line or field that could result in a very small applicant pool.
- Advertisements tailored to a specific candidate.
- Lack of clarity regarding anticipated outreach activities conducted by members of the search committee.
- For senior –level searches, failure to directly contact candidates to determine their possible interest in the position – even when candidates are viewed as not being moveable.
- Lack of clarity regarding specific efforts to increase the diversity of the applicant pool.
- Failure to disclose a known candidate or candidates at the time that the search is initiated.
- Failure to avoid conflicts of interest between search committee members and known candidates.
- Searches that are opened and closed overly quickly, especially when those with a current affiliation with Stanford are candidates for the position.
- Searches that are not conducted with reasonable efficiency resulting in large numbers of candidates dropping out before the interview phase.
- Searches that are not timed to capture the largest possible pool of candidates (e.g., out of sync with major national conferences and/or possible candidates emerging from fellowships or residencies).
- Disparate treatment of internal and external candidates during the interview process.
- Unexplained lack of diversity in the definitive pool.
- Unnecessarily prolonged interview phase resulting in the withdrawal of top candidates.