Policy on Non-Employee Voluntary Faculty Appointments

The Washington University Policy on Academic Freedom, Responsibility, and Tenure authorizes "grants of academic rank as a courtesy to persons not regular members of the University faculty." In the School of Medicine (WUSM), such academic appointments are classified as “Voluntary appointments” and involve neither employment status nor financial compensation.* This policy defines the nature and scope of Voluntary appointments and establishes standards and procedures for such appointments.

  1. Types of Voluntary Appointments. There are two categories of Voluntary appointments: Clinical and Research.
    • Clinical Voluntary Appointments (e.g., Voluntary Clinical Professor of Medicine, Voluntary Clinical Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy) are Voluntary appointments conferred on clinicians or other professionals who work in WUSM-affiliated hospitals or with WUSM-affiliated physician networks and who have roles in patient care, medical or health profession education, or administrative functions.
    • Research Voluntary Appointments (e.g., Voluntary Research Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Voluntary Research Instructor of Radiology) are Voluntary appointments conferred on colleagues who collaborate on research or research-based education with employed members of the WUSM faculty.
  2. Roles of Voluntary Faculty. Voluntary faculty members are expected to make valuable contributions to WUSM, as prescribed by their department or program. Voluntary faculty members may serve as mentors and advisors to students, residents, fellows, and postdoctoral trainees, but they should not be the only mentor or advisor for such individuals. Voluntary faculty members are encouraged to offer guest lectures, but they may not teach full-term courses or serve as course masters.** Voluntary faculty members generally may serve on committees, but any such committee must also include employed faculty members. Voluntary faculty members may participate in clinical and basic research consistent with Washington University and WUSM policies relating to such activities.
  3. Procedures and Criteria for Appointing and Promoting Voluntary Faculty.
    1. Voluntary appointments may be made to the ranks of Voluntary (Clinical or Research) Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor. Initial rank should be commensurate with the level of professional accomplishment relative to other individuals within the relevant peer group. Promotions within the Voluntary appointment ranks may be made based on criteria such as professional accomplishments, contributions to the department/program, and length of service. If an individual who has served as a Voluntary faculty member is subsequently hired as an employed faculty member, their rank as a regular faculty member will not necessarily be at the same rank it was while they were serving on the Voluntary faculty.
    2. Voluntary appointments are initiated by department heads and program directors. At the outset of the process, department heads and program directors ordinarily should consult with their unit's internal appointments and promotions committee.
    3. Voluntary appointments must be approved by the dean or their designee. Review of proposed Voluntary faculty appointments and promotions is obtained by submitting a Proposed Voluntary Appointment packet consisting of a Proposed Voluntary Faculty Appointment/Promotion form (Form A [PDF]) and a curriculum vitae in the approved Voluntary Appointment format (Form B [PDF]). The packet must be submitted to Human Resources, which will route it to the dean or their designee for review and approval.
    4. After receiving approval from the dean or their designee, the department head or program director shall formally offer the appointment to the candidate by sending, as appropriate, a Voluntary Faculty Appointment Letter (Form C [PDF]) or a Voluntary Faculty Promotion Letter (Form D [PDF]). The appointment or promotion will not be official until the candidate returns to the department or program a countersigned copy of the letter accepting its terms and conditions. The department must forward the countersigned letter to Human Resources.
  4. Termination of Voluntary Appointments. Voluntary appointments do not have a defined duration. They should be reviewed periodically by the department head or program director. A Voluntary appointment shall presumptively be terminated when there is a change of status such as the discontinuation of the hospital privileges or affiliation on which the appointment was based, unless the department head or program director determines that continuation of the appointment would be appropriate on some other basis. Voluntary appointments may be terminated for any reason at any time, with or without advance notice by the department head or program director. A Voluntary faculty member whose appointment is terminated may appeal the decision to the Dean of the School of Medicine. Voluntary appointments are not subject to Washington University or WUSM policies governing the nonrenewal or termination of employed faculty members.
  5. Compliance with Policies. In all activities carried out in connection with their appointment, Voluntary faculty members must comply with the standards of conduct contained in all Washington University and WUSM policies (including but not limited to the Code of Conduct and policies concerning compliance, patient care, research, discrimination and harassment, and abusive conduct), except insofar as those policies apply only to employed faculty.
  6. Representation of Faculty Status. In representing their status at Washington University/WUSM, Voluntary faculty shall use their full title (including the "Voluntary Clinical" or "Voluntary Research" modifier to their rank) and shall not represent themselves to be regular or employed members of the faculty.

This policy does not apply to joint or additional academic appointments granted as a courtesy to persons who are employed by Washington University (commonly known as courtesy appointments) or to emeritus faculty appointments. An individual may not concurrently hold Voluntary and employed faculty appointments at WUSM.


If a department or program wishes to ask a Voluntary faculty member to take on the role of course master or to teach full-term courses, the individual must receive a part-time, compensated employee position to perform those duties.

Last approved June 2021

Contact Info