Faculty Search Activities Guide

Faculty Search Activities Guide

Committed to Being an Employer of Choice

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to being an employer of choice. As a flagship public research institution, we understand that our strength lies in our people. We will continue to focus our efforts on building an exceptional, diverse workforce that serves our students and the people of Massachusetts. As our campus community seeks to recruit the best and brightest, we are guided by our goal to “achieve a multicultural campus where men and women of diverse racial, social and economic groups...come to understand and appreciate the variety of perspectives that diversity make possible.” Central to achieving that aim is increasing the compositional diversity of our campus through hiring and retaining a diverse faculty.

Each recruitment presents an opportunity to better serve our mission. Positions should be crafted strategically and recruitments should aim to find talent that propels us forward as an institution and advances our diversity goals. This guide serves as a description of how the search process proceeds, as an enumeration of the respective responsibilities of those involved, and as a resource for conducting a successful search. It provides tools and tips to ensure that our commitment to diversity is operationalized in the search process. It is designed for administrators who direct and oversee the activities of a search, as well as the faculty and staff members who serve on search committees. For administrators, it serves as a reference manual to which search committees can be directed and a checklist to ensure that the required tasks are completed. For committee members, it serves as a how-to guide for performing all the tasks a search committee is charged.

The Office of the Provost in consultation with human resources and the Office of Equity and Inclusion is responsible for overseeing all recruitment activity involving faculty and will ensure compliance with laws governing EEO/AA, disability, and equity. Affirmative action in employment is required for: women; racial and ethnic minorities; disabled veterans; recently separated veterans; active duty wartime or campaign badge veterans; Armed Forces service medal veterans; and individuals with disabilities in order to address under-representation in the workforce. The University of Massachusetts is committed to advancing its diversity goals and the Office of the Provost is a partner to assist in the successful implementation of the search process outlined.

Consult the School or College’s Approved Hiring Plan

The approved hiring plan is the first step in assessing whether a search can commence. All searches must be on the approved hiring plan prior to launch. Any proposed searches not on the current hiring plan require consultation by the dean with the provost and the provost’s approval prior to any additional steps being taken. Examples of searches that may be approved outside of the hiring plan include direct (pathway or spousal) appointments.

Obtain Approval for the Search

Launching the Search

The dean of the school or college is the designated appointing authority and will communicate to the department chairs the searches that have been approved for their respective area as reflected on the approved hiring plan. The dean may formally delegate some or all search-related responsibilities to others such as an associate dean or department chair. To initiate the search, the dean or designee will appoint the search committee, the search committee chair and a search committee staff member, if available. As part of this communication, the dean or designee conveys the precise criteria for filling the position as well as a commitment to addressing the unit’s diversity goals. This “charge to the committee” also includes directions regarding the evaluation of recommended finalists following the interviews.

The charge should include the following information:

  • Official and/or working title and rank of position in question.

  • Expectation for use and form of diversity statements solicited from candidates.

  • The dean's view of the position’s scope and short and long term challenges and opportunities.

  • Policy for handling late or incomplete applications.

  • UMass Amherst’s policy on diversity or affirmative action issues.

  • Extent of the dean and/or Dean’s Office involvement in the search process (approval of requisition prior to posting, etc.).

  • Preferred number of finalist candidates to visit the campus and a general idea of the conduct of the campus visit.

  • Utilization of references, letters submitted with application or names of references to be contacted at the discretion of the search chair.

  • Expectations regarding offers of tenure upon hire for associate professor, professor, or open rank searches.
  • Form in which the committee’s final recommendations are to be brought forward: a narrative summary of the finalists’ strengths and weaknesses and whether or not a ranked list of acceptable finalists is required.

  • Funds available for advertising and for candidates’ travel, hotels, and meals.

  • EEOC AND human resources requirements.

  • Department availability data (these are produced by the Office of Human Resources annually). More detailed availability data is also available by consulting the Survey of Earned Doctorates. The University Analytics and Institutional Research Office provides a Faculty Hiring Benchmark Dashboard through Flagship Analytics for this purpose. You must be logged into Flagship Analytics and be connected to the UMass VPN if not on campus. Please contact University Analytics and Institutional Research with any questions regarding access to the dashboard.

The search chair in cooperation with the department chair will submit to the dean for prior approval the following information to ensure it is in line with the charge:

  • Position (job) description and a copy of the advertising plan including the position announcement.

  • Essential and preferred criteria for selection; criteria that are important to the department and to UMass Amherst.

  • Time frame for completing the search. The committee should formulate and distribute a timetable to appropriate constituencies, including the Provost’s Office.

  • Duties of the search committee chair and individual committee members.

  • Committee administrative and logistical support needs beyond department capability.

Once charged, the search committee chair is responsible for the following:

  • Compiling the initial search documentation.

  • Coordinating outreach to increase the applicant pool, including phone calls and emails.

  • Ensuring that all committee members clearly understand the requirements of the position and the diversity goals of the department and school/college.

  • Ensuring that all committee members clearly understand their confidentiality obligations.

  • Call and chair search committee meetings, if applicable.

  • Ensuring that accurate documentation of the search process is kept.

  • Maintaining contact with the appointing authority about relevant search information.

  • Communicating with candidates and finalists on behalf of the university.

  • Submitting the committee’s final recommendation to the appointing authority.

All members of the search committee are charged with the responsibility to assist in the filling of a position by performing the following tasks:

  • Help to identify and contact potential applicants who could contribute to workforce diversity.

  • Screen applicants and select candidates for interviews.

  • Design and participate in the interview process, including the inclusion of eligible department faculty when applicable.

  • Maintain appropriate confidentiality about search committee proceedings.

  • Contribute to assessing the strengths and weaknesses of final candidates for recommendation to the appointing authority.

Individuals who provide administrative support to the search committee, or record keepers, are tasked with the responsibility of assisting the search committee by performing the following tasks:

  • Initiate actions in the appropriate university systems.

  • Schedule and participate in candidate interviews.

  • Maintain appropriate confidentiality about the search committee’s proceedings.

  • Provide record-keeping for the search including dispositioning the candidates in PageUp.

Developing an Inclusive Position Advertisement

The position advertisement is the candidates’ first exposure to the department and the institution. It is an important opportunity to signal our commitment to fostering a university environment that positively affirms the contributions of multiple perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences. All position descriptions must include the following AA/EEO statement, which has been adapted from AAU/AAAS guidelines:

The university is committed to active recruitment of a diverse faculty and student body. The University of Massachusetts Amherst is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer of women, minorities, protected veterans, and individuals with disabilities and encourages seven applications from these and other protected group members. Because broad diversity is essential to an inclusive climate and critical to the University’s goals of achieving excellence in all areas, we will holistically assess the many qualifications of each applicant and favorably consider an individual’s record working with students and colleagues with broadly diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds in educational, research or other work activities. We will also favorably consider experience overcoming or helping others overcome barriers to an academic career and degree.

For junior faculty searches, the following language should also be used to maximize our chances of landing outstanding faculty with experience supporting the mission of diversity and inclusion:

We are seeking talented applicants qualified for an assistant professor position. Under exceptional circumstances, highly qualified candidates at other ranks may receive consideration.

For senior faculty searches (at the rank of associate professor and above in which an offer of tenure upon hire may be considered), the following language should be included:

Candidates should include materials that address the standards and criteria for tenure at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as described in our Academic Personnel Policy (also known as the “Red Book”).

Integrating inclusive statements in position advertisements increases the overall quality and diversity of the pool, and attracts individuals from a variety of backgrounds that cut across race, ethnicity, gender, sexualities, and class. (For more information on inclusive statements see Appendix A.)

Soliciting diversity statements from candidates offers another opportunity to signal the university commitment and asks candidates of all backgrounds to describe how they can contribute to and enhance the department’s and the university’s goals of building an inclusive academic environment. Diversity statements are not tools to filter out majority candidates; rather, they offer an explicit opportunity for candidates to demonstrate how they can contribute to a culture that welcomes different groups of people and experiences. In some cases, a separate diversity statement may be solicited but it is also desirable to ask job applicants to address inclusion in one of the other required statements, such as research or teaching (Appendix A).

Searches that are narrowly targeted by subfield are discouraged because they can inhibit diversity by narrowing the pool of applicants. If a narrow search fails because of inadequate diversity in the applicant pool, the provost may decline to allow the position to be re-searched until a more expansive position advertisement has been produced.

Developing an Applicant Evaluation Plan

Using the "charge to the search committee", a plan should be developed as to how candidates’ qualifications will be evaluated as compared to minimum and preferred qualifications, in order to select the applicants to be interviewed. The plan should describe how the committee will use these qualifications to make distinctions among candidates. The committee may weigh preferred qualifications with varying importance; they may determine equivalencies or substitutions when allowed by job advertisements. A well-documented evaluation process, in which each candidate’s qualifications are compared with the qualifications specified in the job ad or position announcement, should withstand the scrutiny of any individual attempting to challenge legitimacy of the process.

Each search must demonstrate a good faith effort to recruit, interview, and hire qualified candidates who belong to the underutilized group(s). The evaluation plan established for the search should describe how contribution to diversity will be considered for each applicant. In addition, a tentative plan for the stages of the interview process (phone/video interviews, on-campus interviews, etc.) and the ideal number of candidates for each stage should be outlined. To learn more and for a sample evaluation sheet, see Appendix B.

It should be noted that all members of the University community, who are engaged throughout the search and hiring process, must represent the University of Massachusetts with the utmost professionalism and with an eye toward diversity and inclusion of applicants.

Composition of the Search Committee

Given what we know about the relationship between the composition of search committees and the goals we seek to advance, namely the recruitment of a diverse faculty, it is helpful to include colleagues from underrepresented groups. While we should still seek to compose diverse search committees, we must be mindful of the importance of protecting the time and research capacity of all members of our faculty, including those who can serve in this vital capacity. Therefore, a comprehensive search committee training (see search committee training below) is offered to ensure that all members of the search committee are equipped to contribute effectively to department diversity and equity hiring goals.

Tips on Forming a Search Committee

  • Committee chairpersons should hold same or higher rank as the vacant position, however, exceptions are often made.

  • The size of the committee often reflects the importance of the vacant position (the more important the position, the greater

    the number of committee members), but keep in mind the challenges of scheduling and ensuring full participation by large committees.
  • Consider the diversity of the search committee and whether it is representative of the campus.

  • Determine whether each potential appointee has sufficient time to devote to search committee duties.

  • Ensure that some members of the committee possess technical expertise sufficient to make astute comparisons among applicants.

Search Committee Training

All search committee members must have completed the Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence (STRIDE) faculty recruitment training within the last three academic years in order to gain access to applicant files. In the event a search committee member is unable to complete STRIDE training prior to the commencement of a search, an exception can made by the dean on a case-by-case basis. The STRIDE trainings will provide critical information to ensure the equitable treatment of candidates in the search process. The college diversity officer is available to meet with the search chair to provide additional information and support, including but not limited to, the search process, policies/procedures, bias, diversity, and veteran’s preference requirements.

Changes in the Search Committee

Changes in the composition of the committee throughout the search should be avoided in order to ensure continuity in the assessment of candidates; therefore, a faculty member who may not be able to serve to the search’s end should not accept appointment to the committee. A committee does not need approval to make a single substitution for a departing member, but the committee chair must record the timing and reason for any such substitutions. Any further substitutions require approval from the Dean’s Office.

Faculty Conflicts of Interest and Recusals

Faculty who have mentored, published with, written grants with or had a personal friendship with applicants must disclose these relationships to the search committee, department chair, and dean. The dean will review the disclosure and will, with guidance from the Provost’s Office if needed, determine if the faculty member should recuse themselves during the search process. If a faculty member has mentored, published regularly with, written multiple grants with, and/or had a close personal relationship with the applicant; they should be prepared to (or will be asked to) recuse themselves from the search process. The faculty member should never participate in evaluative discussions of such applicants. Under no circumstances should a member of a search committee provide a reference letter for an applicant. For more information on determining if a faculty member must disclose a prior relationship during the search process, please see Appendix C, Conflicts of Interest and Faculty Recusals.

Developing a Search Plan and Providing a Requisition Number

The search committee in consultation with the department chair develops a search plan. Developing a proactive plan (rather than having a “plan-as-you-go” approach) will yield better results and help accomplish a stronger and deeper connection between academic excellence, quality candidates, and diversity. To further this aim, the search committee should develop a recruitment and advertising plan (not merely a list of where the ad will be posted) that demonstrates a proactive search and recruitment strategy. For example, recruiting from institutions that are high producers of African-American, Native American and Latinx PhDs is especially important. If women and minorities are underrepresented in the area of study, then the plan should demonstrate how the candidate pool will be broadened to represent the widest possible inclusion. See Appendix D for steps to cultivate a strong and diverse faculty pool. The college diversity officer can support the development of an advertising/search plan and guide search committee outreach to qualified women, ethnic and racial minorities, covered veterans and persons with disabilities to create a more robust applicant pool.

The record keeper, in consultation with the search chair and appropriate school or departmental personnel representative, creates a requisition in the University’s applicant management system, PageUp, that includes:.

  • Number of positions (position number, reason for the position, current/previous incumbent, posting title, reason for the position). Multiple positions with the same rank and specializations may be posted using one requisition.

  • Position details.

  • Funding information (Speedtype).

  • Search committee (chair and members). Record keepers must enter in search committee names to grant access to applicant materials. Search committee members must have completed the necessary STRIDE training prior to gaining access to applicant materials.

  • Posting details (identify advertising sources). Positions will automatically post to the University’s job site and Diversity Jobs. See Appendix D – Advertising and Recruitment Activities for additional information 10 and guidance on the advertising plan as well as the mandatory language that must be included in the posting

  • Infrastructure Support Group (ISG) Information. Record keepers must upload the ISG questionnaire form (available in PageUp) and identify infrastructure needs, including (proposed office/lab space, whether the proposed space is currently vacant, and research requirements including position’s needs related to animal, human subject or other research needs.) The requisition should specifically address as much as possible  any significant implications for the hire’s space, equipment, and support-service costs. For more information on searches for faculty with infrastructure needs, please see Appendix M. 

If a proposed hire will require facilities beyond a simple faculty office, the dean must contact the Provost’s Office directly at the time of submitting the initial requisition submission to discuss facilities. Ideally, the dean will be able to combine all of the space requests within her/his school so that the provost’s consultations with those responsible for planning in the Office of the Chancellor, and the offices of Design and Construction Management and Facilities Planning can be comprehensive. It is critical for Deans to review the space/renovation issues well in advance with the appropriate offices and to present to the Provost’s office the most accurate forecasts of these expenses, and identify the resources available to support them, at the time of the request for a search. Please see Appendix L for more information on searches for faculty with infrastructure needs.

Any search launched is contingent, with no offer possible until solid confirmation of all space needs and associated costs are in hand. No one will be offered a position without a clear facilities and services pathway signed off on by the Provost’s Office, which will in turn coordinate with the Office of the Chancellor, Facilities and Campus Services, and other offices when relevant (e.g., Animal Care Services, etc.).

Requisition Approvals

Once the record keeper provides the information in PageUp, the search plan will be routed to the Provost’s Office, the ISG group, and Talent Management (HR) for review and approval. The record keeper should consult with the respective department head or Dean’s Office to determine if any additional approvals are needed. Schools and colleges may instruct their departments to include the department chair and the Dean’s Office, but will be responsible for ensuring that the respective individuals on the approval path received the required training in order to access the PageUp system. As needed, Talent Acquisition may consult with the relevant dean to determine if the search plan as described in PageUp meets institutional standards. Assuming all required offices approve the search plan, record keepers will be notified from PageUp that the search may proceed to the posting and interview phase. The record keeper will work with Talent Acquisition to post the position in PageUp and the committee proceeds to advertise, actively recruit, and review applications.

Initial Screening of Applicants and Developing the Short List for Campus Visits

Determining Minimum Qualifications

The search committee, in consultation with the search committee chair, will review the applicant pool and determine which applicants meet the advertised minimum qualifications. Applicants who meet the minimum requirements for the position should be dispositioned in PageUp as “Meets Minimum Qualifications.” All applicants who do not meet the advertised minimum requirements of the position should be dispositioned in PageUp as, “Screened- No Longer Under Consideration.” Individuals who are placed in this status will be automatically sent an email from PageUp informing them that they have been removed from further consideration. All applications should be handled similarly. Specifically, the procedure for considering incomplete applications should be determined and consistently applied. However, an applicant’s review should not be harmed by letters of recommendation sent late or other actions beyond the applicant’s control.

Adequacy of Minimally Qualified Applicant Pool

The search committee chair, in consultation with the dean, must determine if the minimally qualified applicants are appropriately diverse in comparison to the availability data provided by the dean. Record keepers will run the EO report through PageUp for this purpose. If the pool lacks sufficient diversity, the dean should consult with the associate provost for Academic Personnel to determine what actions (such as additional recruitment efforts) should be undertaken before proceeding further with the search.

Social Media and Candidate Evaluation

Publicly available content on social media may be used in assessing candidates. All applications must be handled in the same way, review of social media should not be done selectively. If the search chair wishes to consider social media in the decision-making process they must document how that assessment was carried out. The search chair should be able to articulate a reason for a social media search related to the nature of the position (e.g. public-facing position, department leader, etc.).

Points to consider:

  • Decide in advance the scope and purpose. Use the job description to indicate relevant information to consider.
  • Remind yourself of the protected characteristics that cannot be considered in evaluation of candidates and take steps to safeguard against their use in the evaluation process. If you are not sure about how to do this, refrain from using social media in evaluation and/or contact Human Resources for assistance.
  • Review more than one social media platform, e.g. Facebook (social) and LinkedIn (professional)
  • Print or take a screenshot to document the steps taken in your review.

Internal Employees

The committee must treat internal and external candidates equally to avoid the appearance of discrimination, favoritism or unfairness. It is usually in the best interest of UMass Amherst to entertain current faculty as applicants. Handling the applications and interviews of internal candidates requires sensitivity. Mishandling can result in disappointment and awkwardness for the candidate and the search committee. Search committees must evaluate internal candidates objectively by the same criteria applied to external candidates (e.g. experience and credentials). Personality and insights from past working relationships should not be considered.

When there are internal candidates for a position, the committee must take great care not to engage in a false search, that is, a search with a predetermined outcome. Such a search is both unethical and violates federal laws.

Conducting Preliminary Interviews (The Long-Short List)

Depending on the number of qualified candidates which are expected to apply, the search committee may conduct preliminary interviews to further reduce the candidate pool down to the candidates who will be invited for campus interviews. Preliminary interviews are commonly done via phone or video interview (Skype, Zoom, etc.). The modality used for the preliminary interviews should be consistent for all candidates. Prior to conducting phone or video interviews, there should be a decision as to how to appropriately evaluate the candidates during this round. Applicants who are invited to preliminary interviews should be dispositioned as “Preliminary Interview” in PageUp. If the applicant participated in a phone or Skype interview, but is no longer under consideration as a result, the candidate should be dispositioned in PageUp as “Preliminary Interview- No Longer Under Consideration.” An email will not be automatically sent to the candidate by moving them into this disposition so the record keeper should consult with the appointing authority or designee to determine how the candidate will be notified.

At this stage in the search, the dean must again determine if the applicants on the long-short list are appropriately diverse in comparison to the availability data. Record keepers will run the EO report through PageUp for this purpose and send the report to the Dean for evaluation. If the long-short lacks sufficient diversity, the dean will determine what actions (such as adding additional candidates to the preliminary interview list) should be undertaken before proceeding further with the search.

The search committee develops a schedule of job-related questions which do not request information already available in the vita except in the form of clarification or explanation of vita information. The interview process requires careful planning to ensure that the questions are not directed toward eliciting information prohibited by law. Notes from the phone or video conversation are added to an applicant's file as documentation for the subsequent disposition of the application. Confidentiality about the applicant and reference materials must be maintained even after the search has been completed. Unsolicited correspondence received that is not relevant to an applicant's qualifications for the job may be discarded by the search committee.

For each round of interviews, there should be a reasonable effort to treat candidates consistently. “Consistently” in this context does not always equate to exactly alike. Instead, a committee should consider whether candidates are given similar opportunities to highlight their experiences and advance their candidacy. It would not be okay for half of the candidates to get two hours with the search committee and the other half only get 45 minutes with the search committee, as this could have a significant negative impact on those candidates getting less opportunity to interact with the committee.

Likewise, significant absences of search committee members from interviews or other encounters with candidates can also have an adverse impact and should be avoided.

Guidelines for Interview Questions

A key component of a successful interview process is strong interview questions that seek to reveal professional characteristics which are directly related to the requirements of a position. There are a variety of question types that can used during a search. For example:

  • Informational/background questions that influence candidates to provide additional context to their specific accomplishments, background, and experiences.
    • Example: Please describe your experience working with online learning platforms. What courses have you adapted for an online platform? What were the challenges associated with that adaptation?
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion questions that influence a candidate to describe how they understand diversity and can contribute to building an inclusive campus (see Appendix E):
    • Example: Please describe how you would contribute to creating a campus environment that is welcoming, inclusive, and increasingly diverse. Or, describe how you, as a faculty member, function and communicate effectively and respectfully within the context of varying beliefs, behaviors, and backgrounds.

The search committee will collaborate to develop a set of questions that will assist the committee in assessing the scholarship, teaching, and service capacity of the candidates. For all searches, the core interview questions should be developed prior to interviews and the same set of questions should be used with each candidate. However, as interviews are dynamic and unique to each candidate, follow-up questions and questions directly related to a candidate’s CV are encouraged. For more discussion of interview questions see Appendices E and F.


The appointing authority or designee determines if the application will include letters of reference or names of references to be contacted at the discretion of the search committee. Applicants for entry level positions or junior faculty positions are usually better evaluated if letters of reference are immediately available because references speak to potential while CVs focus on accomplishments. However, applicants for senior-level positions with extensive experience enumerated on the CV may hesitate to apply for positions for which they are required to provide reference letters before they know if their application has received some interest from the search committee. Confidentiality for the applicant for senior-level positions may be more critical.  For potential hires at the rank of associate professor or professor in which an expedited tenure review is anticipated, search committees should collect relevant documents during the recruitment so that the applicant file can also be used as the basic file for a tenure review (See Appendix M).

Even if reference letters are obtained, phone reference checks are encouraged because they enable the committee to secure specific information about the applicant. The committee develops a standardized protocol of questions and includes those questions necessary to the individual applicant's situation. Notes from the reference call are included in the applicant's file. Interviewed candidates should be notified that phone calls may be placed to persons who are not identified as references, but who may also be knowledgeable about the candidate. When conducting reference checks by phone, references must be informed whether the candidate has waived or not waived his/her right to have access to reference materials. This information can be found in PageUp. See the reference check checklist in Appendix G and for information on off-list reference checks, please see Appendix H, Off-List Reference Checks.

Reduce Interview Pool to Short List for Campus Visits

Generally, individuals on the short list show significant accomplishment and/or promise. A holistic assessment of the many qualifications of each candidate of any race or gender is strongly encouraged. Reviewers should favorably consider an individual’s record of conduct that includes the candidate’s prior work with students and colleagues with broadly diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds in educational, research, or other work activities. In addition to weighing other qualifications, reviewers should favorably consider experience of overcoming challenges or helping others to overcome barriers to an academic career or degree that a candidate would bring to UMass. The search committee must make every effort at every stage of this process to give candidates an opportunity to demonstrate their strengths and potential contributions, even if this involves, when in doubt, providing a campus interview opportunity. An applicant’s potential contribution to workforce diversity is an asset that should be carefully considered.

Before the Search Committee schedules campus visits for short list candidates, the committee chair and/or record keeper must forward its recommended shortlist to the Department Chair, the Dean, and the Provost through APWS. The Search Committee chair and/or record keeper must upload a memo assessing the qualifications of the short list candidates and include a demographic comparison of the minimally qualified pool, the preliminary interview pool (if applicable), and the short-list to the respective availability estimates. The applicant materials (CV, application materials, diversity statement if required) must also be uploaded into APWS. Each level of review will assess the proposed short list with final approval coming from the Provost’s Office. 

The Dean’s Office, will review the demographic analysis of the short list to ensure it is appropriately diverse and, if it is not, consult with the associate provost for Academic Personnel to determine whether any actions should be taken. Before the first candidate visit, any remaining issues of budget, space, services, and start-up—to the extent that they are identified—should be resolved by the provost. If no issues remain, the provost will confirm that candidate visits may begin.

Individuals on the approved short list should be dispositioned in PageUp as “Campus Interview (short list).” Individuals on the approved short list who were interviewed, but no longer under consideration should be dispositioned as “Campus Interview – No Longer Under Consideration.” There is a built in communication template titled, “Amherst Interviewed Not Selected for Hire” that record keepers may use to notify applicants.

Changes or Addendums to the Short List

The provost’s approved short list is, in a sense, a “contract.” The search committee must immediately request clearance from the provost for any revisions to the approved list. In the event the search committee wishes to add additional applicants to the short list, an additional memo must be uploaded into APWS and receive the appropriate approvals.

Campus Interviews and Determining Finalists

Campus Interviews

The visits of candidates invited to campus should show off our quality and diversity and should strive to be substantially the same from one candidate to the next. The conduct of everyone in contact with candidates during their visits must be sensitive to diversity concerns in questions, comments, assumptions made, information given, activities required, and people involved. Candidates who participate in campus interviews for a given position should ideally receive access to the same levels of decision makers.

During the campus interviews, it is sometimes difficult to ask each applicant identical questions. However, every attempt should be made to treat all candidates equitably. Although different questions may become necessary, every attempt should be made to elicit equivalent information in every area identified as critical to the position. Evaluation sheets should be developed and used by interviewers to transmit assessments of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each candidate. These sheets should be submitted promptly to the search committee chair after the interviews have been conducted.

There is no specific required interview itinerary for applicants; this is left to the discretion of the hiring unit. However, each candidate who participates in an on-campus interview must be guaranteed equal access to the decision makers in the search and appointment process. The appointing authority decides whether to interview all candidates invited to the campus, or just the finalist pool. That decision is made when the appointing authority gives the charge to the search committee at the initial meeting. The diversity officer is available to assist departments in developing strategies for effective on-campus interviews which have been previously successful in promoting UMass Amherst as a desirable institution.

Faculty Involvement in Interviews

All application materials for individuals on the short list should be available to the full faculty. To accomplish this goal while maintaining appropriate confidentiality, departments must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • The department will maintain in a secure online location a copy of (to the extent applicable but not limited to) confidential letters of reference, application letters, CVs, teaching and research statements, and transcripts. The online location should be accessible only to faculty authorized to view the materials.

  • Any departmental faculty who wish to view the online documents may do so, however the following is expected:

    • Faculty will not disclose or distribute the contents of confidential applicant information to anyone outside the department’s faculty or academic administration.
    • Faculty will not disclose or distribute the contents of confidential applicant information to any of the candidates, including the candidate who may ultimately be employed.
    • Faculty will not make physical or digital copies of any application materials (downloading documents does not constitute making a copy).
    • Faculty will not contact any of the parties who provided confidential references.
    • Faculty will abide by University policies in using the information disclosed in the materials. Faculty will adhere to the University’s guidelines on impartiality/objectivity in the University’s non-discrimination policy.

Developing a Recommendation for Finalists

Following the completion of all campus interviews, the search committee should solicit feedback from the department faculty and present (orally or in writing) the committee’s assessment of the candidates to the department faculty in order to receive the assessments of the faculty, students, and other stakeholders. (For example, the search committee should actively solicit the assessments from other programs or interdisciplinary groups with which the new position will be affiliated.) Such feedback may be obtained at a meeting of the department faculty or by using a survey instrument such as Qualtrics.

Ultimately, the committee should hear and capture the sense of the faculty Faculty input to the search committee can be confidential but not anonymous and may include a faculty vote in accordance with departmental bylaws. The purpose of voting and ranking, if applicable, in the discussion, is to facilitate department conversation about the candidates to assess consensus as well as disagreement, identifying minority and majority viewpoints, which contribute to the search committee’s assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

The committee prepares a search recommendation memo that reflects the views of the departments’ faculty at-large based on robust discussion and incorporates other assessments received. The assessment of strengths and weaknesses should sufficiently convey the hiring units’ wishes to the appointing authority.

The memo should:

  • Briefly describe the process used to narrow the field of acceptable candidates at various stages of the process, including whether the candidate pool adequately reflected the availability data at each stage of the search (minimally qualified, preliminary interview, campus interview).
  • Summarize the departmental discussion of finalist (including the diversity of views expressed)
  • Describe the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.
  • For senior-level searches, provide a recommendation whether the candidate(s) qualify for the expedited tenure review process (see Appendix M).

When describing candidates’ strengths and weaknesses, the committee’s rationale must:

  • Focus strictly on their qualifications for the job itself. Do NOT comment on their race, ethnicity, accent, personal appearance, clothing, personality, age or maturity, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or marital status.
  • Take great care to ensure that the contributions of candidates are assessed equitably. For example, do not discuss the leadership qualifications and experiences of male candidates without explicit and equivalent attention to the leadership qualifications and experiences of female candidates.

BEFORE writing their own recommendations to the provost, department chairs and deans must closely review search committee recommendations. The process will move much faster if the chair, or, as a last resort, the dean has made sure that all recommendations focus on qualifications for the job and do not make inappropriate references to protected personal characteristics.

The most important aspect of the recommendation is the candidate's professional accomplishments, potential for future achievement, potential for contributing to the success of our students, potential for contribution to building an inclusive environment, and expected contributions to the department's stature. The memo should address the following information that informed the department’s selection:

  • When and where degrees were obtained; current position and other related professional experience.
  • Publication portfolio or record of creative achievements, specifically its contribution to the field.
  • Record of external support through grants.
  • Achievements including fellowships and prizes.
  • Teaching experience, including evaluations if available.
  • Experience as mentors for post-doctorates/junior faculty/graduate and undergraduate students.
  • Any other aspect of the candidate’s professional accomplishments.

It is always advisable to extend a search if the campus interviews resulted in a shared sentiment that the candidates did not sufficiently advance the institution’s interest. However, when multiple candidates are similarly strong, the committee should signal that to the appointing authority (dean).

Once the recommendation is developed, the committee will submit the memo in APWS to the department chair. Once completed, the dean will provide preferred rankings through APWS, which will be routed to the Provost’s Office for ISG approval, if required by the requisition. The Provost’s Office will review the recommendation as well as the proposed terms of the offer and determine if the hire is approved. For senior-level searches each level of review should indicate whether any proposed expedited tenure review procedures are approved (see Appendix M).

Individuals who are approved as finalists should be dispositioned in PageUp as “Finalist.”

Communication with Top Finalists

Neither the committee members nor anyone else in the department or college may communicate with finalists regarding terms of employment, salary, or working conditions before receiving explicit authorization from the provost. There may be no “informal” or “unofficial” offers contingent on subsequent approval. The provost must review and approve the formal offer letter prior to its delivery to the candidate.

Making an Offer and Closing the Search

Making an Offer

An offer of employment and the specification of the terms of an offer require the provost’s prior approval and must not be prematurely, contingently, or speculatively conveyed to a finalist. Inquiries to check whether a candidate is still available are permitted, but they must be done for all finalists and not just the committee’s preferred candidate.

After the Provost’s Office has approved the hire, the dean or designee may then extend verbal offers to candidates in accordance with the provost’s approval in APWS and begin negotiations. Candidates who are being offered employment should be encouraged to consult with the MSP as an independent resource to discuss the various benefits and advantages of working as a faculty member at UMass Amherst.

All written offer letters must be approved by the Provost’s Office. Once an identified candidate is dispositioned as “Recommended for Hire” the record keeper must initiate a PageUp offer card. In addition to providing the relevant information on the offer card, the record keeper must attach the draft offer letter and start-up spreadsheet. The offer card will be routed to the appropriate individuals in the Provost’s Office for approval. Talent Management will review the offer card for compliance purposes only.

The record keeper is responsible for appropriately dispositioning all candidates including any offers made, offers declined, any offer accepted, and must identify the person actually hired. This is a critical responsibility as HR is charged with the responsibility of reporting to the federal government on our hiring record.

Multiple Simultaneous Offers

In general, the dean or designee may not make simultaneous offers to finalists. However, in some highly competitive fields where the demand for qualified candidates far outstrips the supply, the dean or designee may ask the provost for permission to make multiple simultaneous offers with the hope of hiring one person. Such a hiring strategy must be approached cautiously because of the risk of exceeding available financial resources.

Background Checks and Vaccination Requirements

If the employment offer is accepted, the background check is carried out by the vendor engaged by Human Resources for this purpose. All offers are contingent on successfully passing a background check and compliance with the University's vaccination policy. The background check is comprehensive and includes criminal, financial, professional, and educational checks. The associate provost for Academic Personnel will provide template offer letters that must be used for tenure-track appointments.

Closing the Search

The following steps are required to close the search:

  1. The search committee chair will send rejection letters to all unsuccessful applicants thanking them for applying, if this has not been done at an earlier stage.
  2. The record keeper will organize the search material and prepare it for storage in the hiring unit. The search committee staff person will retrieve and discard materials such as work samples, extra copies of resumes, and individual rating sheets. The final search file, which is retained by the hiring department for three years after the job begin date, should contain:
  • Personnel requisition form.
  • Search proposal memo.
  • Copies of all advertisements as printed or electronically published.
  • Minutes of committee meetings (if kept).
  • Summary (group) rating sheets.
  • Interview notes.
  • Memorandum from search committee/personnel committee to the appointing authority regarding finalists. Be sure to briefly describe process used through various stages of process.
  • Memorandum from the designated appointing authority to dean recommending offer.
  • Successful candidate's applicant file in PageUp.
  • Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action information request forms are in PageUp.
  • Waiver of Right of Access to Letters of Recommendation forms are in PageUp (successful candidate, whose form must be placed in his/her permanent personnel file).


Appendix A: Signaling a Commitment to Diversity

Every effort should be made to ensure that faculty job ads go beyond the minimal “affirmative action” EO&D statement, and are framed in a manner that encourages a strong and diverse pool of candidates to apply. More inclusive statements actually increase the overall quality and diversity of the pool, and they attract individuals from a variety of backgrounds that span across race, ethnicity, gender, sexualities, and class. For instance, advertisements can include the following to expand the inclusive language of advertisements: The department is committed to increasing the diversity of the faculty, student body, and curriculum. The department is interested in candidates who have demonstrated ability to work with diverse populations. The department values diversity as a factor in academic excellence. Positive consideration will be given to candidates with research agendas that enhance understanding of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality. The department values candidates who have experience working in settings with students from diverse backgrounds, and who possess a strong commitment to contributing to the success of historically underrepresented students. Here are additional statements that may be helpful: The department values candidates who have demonstrated ability to contribute to the inclusive excellence and diversity mission of the department, college, and university. The department is interested in candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to promoting diversity, inclusion, and an openness to multicultural educational environments. Positive consideration is given to candidates with a teaching, research and/or service record that encourages diversity of backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives of students. A record of inclusive excellence and serving diverse populations in teaching, research and/or service is preferred. A record demonstrating the pursuit of diversity and inclusive excellence is preferred. A record of building diverse and effective collaborations in research, teaching and service is positively considered.

Appendix B: Avoiding Evaluation Bias

Research indicates that without clear guidelines, evaluation criteria and priorities may shift in the process of the search, potentially disadvantaging some candidates. One way to avoid this is to establish clear evaluation criteria ahead of the evaluation process along with a shared understanding of how the different criteria will be prioritized in the search. Ideally, the committee in consultation with the department should have an explicit evaluation mechanism spelled out prior to reviewing any files. Evaluation criteria should not restrict the search beyond the scope stipulated in the job ad and charge of search. A sample evaluation sheet is included below for references, though, the needs and objectives of each search will vary.

Applicant’s name:

Please indicate which of the following are true for you (check all that apply):

  • Read applicant’s CV.
  • Read applicant’s statements (research, teaching, etc.).
  • Read applicant’s letters of recommendation.
  • Read applicant’s scholarship (indicate what).

Please Rate the Applicant on Each of the Following:

Excellent, Good, Neutral, Fair, Poor, Unable to Judge

  • Evidence of research productivity.
  • Potential for scholarly impact/tenurability.
  • Evidence of strong background in [relevant fields].
  • Evidence of [particular] perspective on [particular area].
  • Evidence of teaching experience and interest (including grad mentorship):
  • Potential to teach courses in core curriculum. Potential to teach the core curriculum on [particular area] (including creation of new courses).

Other Comments?


Appendix C: Conflicts of Interest and Faculty Recusals

Faculty who have mentored, published with, written grants with or had a personal friendship with applicants must disclose these relationships to the search committee, department chair, and dean.

The Principles Underlying the Above Prescription are Simple:

  1. Neither professional nor personal relationships between applicants and evaluators should influence the selection decision.

  2. Neither professional nor personal relationships between applicants and evaluators should appear to influence the selection decision.

  3. When such relationships exist, the evaluator must disclose the relationship.

Past or present professional relationships between search committee members and applicants should not mean that the members are entirely excluded from the search process, but the potential conflict of interest must be disclosed and eliminated, mitigated, or managed.

Generally, That Means:

  • Search committee members engaged in a personal relationship with an applicant must disclose the relationship to others involved in the evaluation of the candidate and must recuse him/herself from any deliberations involving that particular applicant. In most cases, a search committee member with a personal relationship with an applicant who has reached the short list should recuse him/herself from the committee’s work, including deliberations over other applicants.

  • Search committee members engaged in a professional relationship with an applicant must disclose the relationship to others involved in the evaluation of the candidate and must recuse him/herself from any deliberations involving the applicant. A search committee member with a close professional relationship with an applicant who has reached the short list need not recuse him/herself from the committee’s work, but should remove him/herself from all discussions of that applicant. They may vote along with other department faculty on all applicants.

  • A search committee member with a distant professional relationship (few collaborations, collaborations older than five years, or collaborations on papers with very large numbers of co-authors) with an applicant who has reached the short list need not recuse him/herself from the committee’s work and may participate in all discussions of that applicant and need not abstain from voting on any applicant.


Appendix D: Advertising and Recruitment Activities

To enlarge the pool of candidates, the appointing authority and search committee should advertise locally, regionally and nationally in relevant print media and on internet sites which reach a diverse population, as well as make special effort to attract underutilized groups.

The requisition should include a plan for actively contacting appropriate individuals and institutions to recruit a strong and diverse pool. “Detectives for Diversity” is one organizing image for what we hope to foster.

Steps to Cultivate a Strong and Diverse Faculty Pool Entail:

  • Directly contacting (calls, e-mails) experts in your professional network and senior faculty in kindred fields who may know prospects entering or already in the field.
  • Cultivating new networks that could help to develop diverse applicant pools, such as our own doctoral recipients working elsewhere, the Black Doctoral Network, etc.

  • Developing diverse networks, including connecting with cognate disciplines in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs, such as Howard, Tuskegee, Florida A&M, Morgan State, Jackson State), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs, such as New Mexico, several Cal State branches, Florida International, CCNY) and other prospective “feeder” institutions. (Non-HBCU Non-HSI top producers of black and hispanic PhD.’s include Harvard, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, NYU, Ohio State, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC, UT Austin).

  • Announcing position openings in publications and websites that target relevant underrepresented populations, such as The National Registry of Diverse & Strategic Faculty (to which UMass subscribes, giving us unlimited job postings), Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education.

  • Recruiting at relevant conferences in addition to recruiting at the major association meetings; probably the best is the Annual Institute on Teaching and Mentoring sponsored by the Compact for Faculty Diversity; see www.instituteonteachingandmentoring.org.

  • Directly contacting “pipeline” programs identified by the department, by OIR, or the Provost’s Office.

  • Pursuing best practices that are specific to your discipline.

At least one ad must be placed either:

  • One time in the traditional, print version of a national professional journal.
  • Or, on the electronic or web-based version of a national professional journal for a minimum of 30 calendar days (note that websites that only publish job listings are not considered professional journals). If the department forgoes an ad in a print journal, then it must take and keep screenshots of the electronic professional journal ad on both the first and thirtieth days of the ad’s appearance on the website.

Departments should indicate clearly which recruitment sources are print and which are electronic. If you want to hire an applicant who will need a permanent visa, the U.S. Department of Labor will not approve the visa unless the position was advertised via one of these two methods; therefore, before devising an advertising plan, you should assess the prospect of selecting a candidate who will need a visa. You must also identify any position that requires US citizenship.

Note: For vacant positions where the university has a significantly lower percentage of underrepresented minority or women incumbents than what would be expected to be available in the hiring area (local, regional, national), a more robust advertising and outreach plan may be necessary to ensure a diverse pool of candidates is made aware of the vacancy.

Appendix E: Interview Questions to Incorporate Diversity into your Candidate Assessment

A candidate’s proficiency in diversity and inclusion concepts can be ascertained in the interview process. Every interview should include one or more questions that assess a candidate’s understanding of diversity.

Examples of Diversity and Inclusion Questions (from Portland State University):

  • Please describe how you would work to create a campus environment that is welcoming, inclusive, and increasingly diverse.

  • Describe how you, as a faculty member, function and communicate effectively and respectfully within the context of varying beliefs, behaviors, and backgrounds.

  • What opportunities have you had working and collaborating in diverse, multicultural and inclusive settings. What have you learned from those opportunities?

  • What is your definition of diversity? How do you encourage people to honor the uniqueness of each individual? How do you challenge stereotypes and promote sensitivity and inclusion?

  • Describe your experience in serving or teaching underrepresented communities.

  • Describe a situation in which you utilized your multicultural skills to solve a problem.

  • Tell us about a time when you changed your style to work more effectively with a person from a different background.

  • Tell us about a time you took responsibility/accountability for an action that may have been offensive to the recipient and how you did that.

  • Give an example of a time when you could not be tolerant of another person’s point of view.

  • How would you work with people under your supervision to foster a climate receptive to diversity in the department, the curriculum, staff meetings, printed materials, initiatives, etc.?

  • Suppose that in working with a university unit you discover a pervasive belief that diversity and excellence are somehow in conflict. How do you conceptualize the relationship between diversity and excellence? What kinds of leadership efforts are needed to encourage a commitment to excellence through diversity?

  • When interacting with a person from a different culture than your own, how do you ensure that communication is effective?

Appendix F: Guidelines for Interview Questions

A key component of a successful interview process is strong interview questions that seek to reveal/highlight professional characteristics which are directly related to the requirements of a position. There are a variety of question types that can used during a search. For example,

  • Behavioral questions ask candidates how they handle particular aspects of their work.

    • Example: Describe a difficult situation that arose when you were teaching and how you dealt with it.

  • Situational questions ask candidates to describe how they would respond to a particular situation or fact pattern.

    • Example: Imagine that you are getting ready for a conference presentation in three days, a graduate student preparing for the same conference has asked for your help, and the parent of a student in your undergraduate class has left a message demanding to talk about why their child got a D. How do you handle the situation?

  • Informational/background questions ask candidates to provide additional context to their specific accomplishments, background, and experiences.

    • Example: Please describe your experience working with online learning platforms. What courses have you adapted for an online platform? What were the challenges associated with that adaptation?

  • Multicultural proficiency questions ask candidates to describe how they understand diversity and can contribute to building an inclusive campus:

    • Example: How do you ensure that all of the students in your class, regardless of background, are engaged and successful?

Appendix G: Reference-Check Checklist

This document is an overview of the search procedures that apply to all tenure-track faculty positions, except those that are on rare occasions filled through a direct (pathway or spousal) appointment.

  • Obtain the candidate's permission in writing to check references.

  • Ask the candidate if you can seek references from individuals not listed on their reference list.

  • Ask if there is anyone you should not contact and why you should not contact that person.

  • Ask the candidate to notify individuals that you will call them for a reference.

  • Ensure that all references are individuals who have worked with the candidate in a professional capacity and who are not relatives or close friends of the candidate.

  • Ensure that at least one reference is a former or current supervisor of the candidate.

  • Ask the candidate if they are professionally acquainted with any of UMass Amherst’s employees.

  • Ask probing questions covering areas such as:

    • Whether the candidate possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for this position

    • How well the candidate works with others, manages conflict, handles professional relationships, etc.

    • The candidate's work ethic.

    • Whether the candidate is eligible for rehire and why the candidate left the position in question.

  • Document all reference-checking activities in the official search file.

Appendix H: Off-list Reference Checks

Part of the university’s duty to exercise due diligence in hiring includes conducting reference checks beyond those individuals who are initially offered by the candidate.

However, there should be a methodology as to how off-list reference checks are completed. They should not be conducted by casually contacting random members of the candidate’s home unit/department without appropriate safeguards and notification to the candidate. We advise that the search committee chair or the department chair should conduct these checks and must adhere to these guidelines:

  • Candidates must be advised that the committee plans to contact people who are not on the candidate’s reference list and that the individual’s candidacy may not be otherwise advanced. If the candidate objects, the committee may decline to further consider that candidate.

  • The reference checks must be conducted for all applicants still under consideration at that stage of the search. The check may not be made of only select candidates among those still under consideration. For this reason, and to preserve the confidentiality of the search process, doing off-list reference checks is often best restricted to all candidates tentatively selected for the short list before the short list is finalized and campus invitations are issued. These reference checks may then influence whether each candidate moves from the tentative to the final short list for campus interviews.

  • Any person conducting the reference checks should do so only in an official capacity, acting with explicit authorization by and on behalf of the committee.

  • Like on-list reference checks, these checks should have reasonably consistent questions for each candidate and focus on professional, rather than personal attributes.

  • The reference checks must be documented in the search file. These reference checks should include a short statement as to why the reference was selected (senior member of department, supervisor, collaborator, etc.).

Appendix I: Direct Appointments and Search Waivers

There are several situations where it is appropriate or necessary to appoint without a search.

These generally relate to one or more variables: immediacy of need, temporary nature of appointment, or specific demand of funding source. A request for a waiver of search procedures must be initiated by the dean with final approval from the provost for tenure-track positions and Talent Management for non-tenure track positions like a full-time lecturer. In the following situations the appointing authority would probably choose to directly appoint rather than search:

  • Pathway hire (See Appendix J).
  • Spousal/partner hires (See Appendix K).
  • Recruitment of a truly extraordinary scholar (e.g., a National Academy member) who is not a Pathway hire.
  • Part-time permanent positions less than 0.5 FTE, like a one-course lecturer.

Instructions for Tenure-Track Search Waivers

The provost approves waivers of the normal search process on a case-by-case basis after consultation with the appointing authority regarding departmental needs and goals. A written request and rationale for a waiver of the search process should be submitted by the appointing authority to the Provost’s Office. The rationale should include the name and qualifications of the proposed candidate, the candidate’s CV and the appropriate job description, if applicable. If the waiver is approved by the Provost’s Office, the department may fill the position; if not, the department must institute normal search procedures as detailed herein.

Appendix J: Pathways for Increasing Equity and Inclusion in Faculty Recruitment


Research shows that students want to see themselves in their faculty. In an effort to support our mission and build a faculty that is representative of our student, state and national population, a department may request support through the appropriate pathway by interviewing and hiring a candidate who, by virtue of their lived experiences, their scholarship, and/or their mentoring, teaching, and outreach activities, contributes significantly to campus goals of building a more diverse and inclusive community while working to improve campus climate.

Pathways Fellows

In this pathway, an individual is hired for two or three years into a lecturer position with 50% of the normal faculty teaching load in the hiring department. The goal is to help the individual jump-start their research program and become integrated into the campus community. Ideally, this will lead to a tenure-track position, perhaps through the tenure-track pathway described below. The process calls for a department to put forward a proposal with the endorsement of the dean and approval by the provost. Upon approval, the department will be allowed to conduct a search or make a direct appointment if a suitable candidate has been identified. In the application process, departments are required to put forward a mentoring plan, and the Provost’s Office will work with the Chancellor’s Office to create a cohesive cohort of these individuals across campus. The Office of the Provost will provide 50% of the salary during the term of the appointment and 1/3 of a fund to support mentoring, research, travel, and professional development. The college and department will be responsible for the remainder of these funds. Requests for funding for Pathway Fellowships should be submitted to the provost by the dean as part of the annual budget process.

Instructions for pathways fellows are as follows:

The head or chair submits a memo to the dean, who forwards it with an endorsement and financial commitment to the provost and associate provost for Academic Personnel. If there are multiple requests from a college, the dean should prioritize them and explain the ranking. The memo should contain the information listed below. Note that this is normally a request for financial support and permission to conduct a search, though it may be used to hire a predetermined individual through a direct appointment after prior consultation with the provost.

  1. Clearly state/identify the hiring department   
  2. Have a clear description of the position, including area of research and teaching duties. (Teaching load should typically be 50% of the load of a tenure system faculty member) 

  3. Include a clear plan for advertising and recruitment an individual who, by virtue of their lived experiences, their scholarship, and/or their mentoring, teaching, and outreach activities, will contribute significantly to campus goals of greater equity and inclusion. All applicants should be required to submit a Statement of Contribution to activities that align with our Values and Mission as a university. This statement should include how the applicant will contribute to campus’ sense of belonging and connectedness.

  4. Have a mentoring plan to support excellence in research and teaching. Be as specific as possible, including identifying individuals who have agreed to act as mentors. Proposals from bench sciences should specify possible lab placements, the PIs’ name, and an agreement from the PI in advance to support absences from the lab to engage in teaching, mentoring, and related activities connected with the Pathways Fellowship. 

  5. Approximate salary range.

  6. Annual budget to support mentoring, research, travel, and professional development.

  7. Requested term (up to 3 years). 

  8. Is a tenure-system assistant professor vacancy in that area of research and teaching expected near the end of the term? 


Requesting funding for tenure-track pathways positions

A department may request, through the annual strategic budget planning process, to hire an individual who meets the goals described above in the overview. The dean of the college will determine, based on the assessed need of that department/unit and the entire college landscape, which Pathways hiring request(s) to bring forward in the annual budget request process submitted to the Office of The Provost. The provost will evaluate the merits and strength of each request and decide on approval. Please note that this requires schools/colleges to request positions in advance to allow for a more strategic and equitable determination of the placement of these positions. If approved, The Office of the Provost will provide 50% of the salary for as long as the individual remains at UMass Amherst.  

All Pathways faculty hired each year will become a member of the Provost Faculty Cohort for that year, and all colleges receiving such a pathway hire will commit to supporting activities to build community among this new cohort. These will include monthly luncheons, professional development activities and a survey at the end of the first and third year to assess their progress and sense of belonging on campus. Each department must also put in place a robust mentoring plan to support a Pathways position hire. This will be a condition for approval.  

Hiring procedures for tenure-track pathways are as follows:

Once the strategic investment request to hire a Pathways position has been approved, a department may initiate a search to fill the requested position with the goal of hiring someone who fulfills the criteria above. This can be done simultaneously with an ongoing search for other positions in the department/college/school, or the department may identify a suitable candidate through direct recruitment.  If a department search for a Pathways hire fails, the approved position will remain open for an additional year to give the department the opportunity to continue to search for a suitable candidate.

If the department identifies a candidate, a waiver of search may be requested. In addition to providing 50% of the salary for a successful Pathways hire, the Provost’s Office will also provide one-third of the start-up, as is custom with other tenure-track hires. We encourage departments/units that have received approval for a pathway hire to employ best practice strategies in recruiting, evaluating and interviewing candidates as outlined in the STRIDE Training Program. Please supply a memo containing the following information:

  • Candidate CV with clear information about their current title/role and affiliation 

  • Assessment of the candidate’s qualifications in the areas of research and teaching. Explain how the candidate’s qualifications in the areas of research and teaching specialization support the long-term goals of the department. 

  • Clearly outline how the candidate’s lived experiences, scholarship, and/or mentoring, teaching and outreach activities will contribute significantly to campus goals of greater equity and inclusion. Details and specifics are particularly welcome.  

  • Please note that an approximate salary and start-up in line with what is typical for the department/unit is required at the time of budget request submission. A summary of the past five years of hires in this unit and their salary and start-up should be included.  

  • For those searches that have candidates with infrastructure needs, departments should consult with the Infrastructure Support Group (ISG) to ensure that the required space and facilities are in place. 

Appendix K: Partner Employment Program (PEP)


The University of Massachusetts Amherst recognizes the increasing importance of accommodating dual career families and the considerable benefit of such accommodation to the university in attracting and retaining faculty. Although accommodating the spouses and partners of faculty members will not always be financially feasible, the university is committed to an effort to facilitate such arrangements and has therefore adopted a Partner Employment Program (PEP).


Partners of candidates for faculty and librarian positions may be hired as faculty, librarians or administrative staff within the same administrative units, or across department and college/library lines, as part of this program. Waivers of search may be granted when partner employment is part of a hiring offer resulting from a national search, or is part of an attempt to retain a current academic employee. All participants hired under the Partner Employment Program must be fully qualified for their hiring status and must be approved by the host units.


Each year, the Provost’s Office plans to provide partial, temporary salary support to hire spouses/partners of tenure-system faculty for recruitment or retention purposes. The amount typically provided by the Provost’s Office is 50% of the base salary floor of a lecturer, per Article 26 of the MSP collective bargaining agreement. This subvention will be provided for three years only. All appointments under the Partner Employment Program will be subject to the availability of funding.

Instructions for the Partner Employment Program are as follows:

  1. The host unit will prepare a position description after the participant has been interviewed satisfactorily by the host unit. Once the initiating and host units, dean(s) and the PEP participant have agreed to a job description and salary, the proposed position details will be submitted by the dean to the provost for approval of (a) the offer and (b) funding.
  2. With consideration of funding, the Provost’s Office may ask the respective dean to prioritize requests. In selecting which requests to support, the Provost’s Office will consider the following (unranked factors):
    • Contribution to diversity.
    • Strategic importance of recruiting the primary hire.
    • Value to the campus of the position created for the secondary hire.
    • Academic qualifications of both partners.
    • Number of other spouse/partner hiring subventions that the college has received recently, relative to the college’s overall hiring volume.
  3. Funding, if approved by the provost, will follow the terms described in the funding section above. Because funds are limited, the offer may be approved without a provost-level subvention.
  4. If the appointment is for a faculty or librarian position, the participant will be a member of the Massachusetts Society of Professors bargaining unit, and all personnel actions and evaluations will follow the terms of the MSP contract.
  5. If the appointment is for an administrative position, terms of other bargaining agreements will be adhered to, as appropriate.
  6. Documentation of all hires under the Partner Employment Program will be maintained in the Provost’s office, including a statement of the impact of each such hire on the diversity goals of all involved units.
  7. When a hire with tenure is made under the Partner Employment Program, such a hire shall be subject to normal university tenure processes.

Five College Opportunities

The chief academic officers in the Five College Consortium, including the provost, have developed arrangements to facilitate hiring by one institution of the spouse/partner of a new faculty member at another institution. The financial arrangement provides support for a lecturer position for the spouse partner for a period of three years. The salary for the trailing spouse is split three ways: 50% from the institution that hires the trailing spouse (and therefore receives the benefit of their services), 25% from Five Colleges Inc. endowment income, and 25% from the institution with the leading spouse hire. To explore the possibility of such an arrangement, or other opportunities at the four colleges, the dean should contact the provost.

Appendix L: Searches for Faculty with Infrastructure Needs

When hiring new members to our faculty, we want to make sure that they are fully supported for a successful start at our institution. This support includes infrastructure, such as research lab space, computational facilities, compliance requirements etc. To ensure that we can provide the necessary support and do so in a timely manner, the university has formed an Infrastructure Support Group (ISG) that is engaged in the hiring process for those searches that have candidates with infrastructure needs. Departments are responsible for engaging in this process to ensure that offers are not held up or denied due to unresolved infrastructure issues.

Identification of Infrastructure Needs During Requisition Phase

When setting up a hiring requisition on APWS, the facilities plan should identify anticipated infrastructure needs for the proposed new hire. These include:

  • The specific lab space/ studio that will be utilized.
  • Research involving vertebrate animals, human subjects, cell or tissue samples, chemical, biological or radioactive materials, or clean room facilities.
  • High-speed, performance, or large-volume computing.

While not all potential candidates may have all these needs, the requisition should identify if it is expected that any potential candidate may have any of these needs.

If a lab/studio need is identified, the requisition must indicate the building and room number to be utilized for the hire. Departments are encouraged to work with their Dean’s office to ensure that the proposed space aligns with college/school plans. The ISG will visit lab/studio spaces to assess their suitability for hires and to assess the scope of any changes to the space that might be necessary before approval of the requisition.

ISG Meetings During Interview Phase

All candidates that come on campus for a search that has identified ISG needs during the requisition must be scheduled for a 30-minute meeting with members of the ISG. The purpose of this meeting is to understand the specific candidate’s infrastructure needs. These meetings are also an opportunity for the campus to let candidates know about core facilities and other research infrastructure available that might be relevant to their needs. These meetings do not assess a candidate’s qualification, but merely focus on their infrastructure needs and typically take place for 30 minutes.

To schedule ISG meetings, please coordinate with the Provost’s office.

ISG Report

Once all interviews for a search have been completed, the ISG summarizes the infrastructure need of every candidate in an ISG report. This report also identifies concerns about being able to provide specific candidates with their infrastructure requirements in the space that has been identified for the search (e.g., extensive renovations that are costly and/or could delay the start date, safety concerns related to research, etc.).

The ISG report is shared by the Provost’s Office with the department head and the dean, who may share the report with the search committee if they wish. The suggested use of the information in the ISG report is to consider the campus’ ability to accommodate specific candidates when deciding on candidate rankings. If a candidate has needs that are difficult to accommodate, it is suggested to start a conversation with the dean and provost offices as soon as possible.

ISG Meeting During Second Visit

When candidates with infrastructure needs come for a second visit to campus, they must meet with representatives from the ISG in the proposed lab/studio space. This meeting will allow the ISG to note the specific changes that may be necessary for a lab/studio before the candidate arrives on campus.

ISG Approval for Offer Letters

Before offer letters can be approved, all infrastructure needs have to be addressed and both temporary and permanent space assignment confirmed. If space renovations are necessary, the dean and provost offices need to be aware of them, have approved the scope of work and must have committed the necessary resources. Equipment, IT, safety and similar needs should be reflected in the start-up package.

Offer Acceptance

When a candidate accepts their offer, it is critical that the department inform the Provost’s Office so that any necessary cleanup/modifications/construction can be planned and started right away. Note that even simple clean-up and painting may take months due to scheduling, and renovations of space may take up to a year.

Appendix M: Expedited Tenure Review

The MSP collective bargaining agreement provides for an expedited process for granting a faculty member tenure upon hire. This expedited process is limited to circumstances where the individual has already been awarded tenure at an institution with comparable standards to UMass Amherst. Generally, a comparable institution would include any US institution of higher education that is classified as “Doctoral Universities: Very High Research Activity” or “Doctoral Universities: High Research Activity” in the most recent Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. To determine an institution’s Carnegie classification, use this lookup function. On a case-by-case basis and upon request of the dean of the school/college, the Provost may approve an expedited tenure review for candidates who are not from institutions as described above.

Tenure at hire in all other situations shall follow the standard tenure process.

Expedited Tenure Review Process

As soon as the offer is accepted, the Department Personnel Committee in the hiring department shall be informed by the Dean that the individual is being hired with the expectation of tenure because they have already achieved tenure at a comparable institution. The expedited tenure review shall commence as quickly as possible and shall follow the same process as regular tenure decisions, with these exceptions:

  • In coordination with the Dean’s office, the newly hired faculty member assembles an abbreviated file in APWS that includes their CV, personal statement (or the statement of research, teaching, and service that was submitted as part of their application) and teaching reviews and other evidence of teaching effectiveness from their prior position. The candidate can also add any other materials they deem relevant to the review.
  • Instead of soliciting new external and internal letters, the department chair may instead upload the letters of reference that were solicited as part of the search process. If the candidate waived the right of access to these letters, they shall not be visible to the candidate. If the department chair deems it necessary, they may also solicit additional letters in accordance with standard policy and procedure.
  • After the letters of reference are added to the file, the department chair releases the file to the DPC and it advances through the standard review process.
  • Recommendation memos at each level of review should emphasize that the review is based on an abbreviated record because the candidate has previously been reviewed and awarded tenure at an institution with standards and procedures that are similar to those of UMass Amherst. Recommendation memos need not be as comprehensive as they are in non-expedited tenure cases. For example, it is unnecessary to review the full research output of a highly accomplished senior scholar or scientist.

Appendix N: Transition and Moving Costs

At the discretion of the hiring department in consultation with the Dean’s office, departments may offer a new employee a reasonable transition allowance to cover their personal moving, relocation and employment transition costs if the employing department considers the payment necessary to employ a highly qualified and/or highly recruited individual. Schools and Colleges should deploy transition allowances uniformly to ensure equity in access. 

If a transition allowance is paid, it should be enumerated in the faculty offer letter and the allowance will be taxable to the employee and paid via payroll. Transition allowances must be funded out of the budgeted start-up for the appointment. The University is unable to reimburse employees for moving expenses or paying commercial movers directly. Please see the President Office guidelines for more information. 

Appendix O: Tenure Pre-Hire Appointments

Departments, in consultation with their respective Dean’s office, may provide an early start for new tenure-system faculty on academic year appointments so that they can set up their lab, studio and/or office spaces, consult with colleagues, prepare their courses, and engage in other work-related activities prior to the start of the academic year. 

These “pre-hire” appointments may be for one or two months prior to the new employee’s tenure-track appointment start date, but must be at the individual’s academic year title, rank and salary rate. The percentage of employment may, however, be reduced to reflect the amount of effort expected. The individual then transitions to their full-time academic year appointment on September 1st (or January start date for spring hires) with the associated tenure-system title, starting salary, and rank. The pre-hire appointment does not count toward the faculty member’s tenure clock.

Attached Files
Attachment Size
Faculty Search Activities Guide 519.7 KB