Instructional Faculty Ranks Initiative

For many years, MSU has debated how to balance teaching, research, and outreach needs in our faculty ranks. We have also evaluated how to appropriately recognize faculty achievement.  This led to the ability of extension and research faculty to achieve tenure, and to develop new positions of Clinical Faculty lines in academic departments. However, two additional issues have been identified over the past three years. The first is the lack of an appropriate promotion ladder for Instructors. The second is the need for more appropriate terminology for teaching professors, rather than the only available title being Clinical Professor.

After thoughtful consideration, extensive discussions with our various campus constituencies, and a review of our peer institutions, the Faculty leadership, in collaboration from University administration, are prepared to propose additions to the University’s faculty ranks. This multi-year process has been transparent, inclusive, deliberative, and exceedingly productive. However, an important question might still be asked: “Why?” Why does the University need to amend the Faculty Charter to include these newly proposed faculty ranks?

At a fundamental level, these changes are needed to modernize the University’s academic titles as our peers have done. For example, recruitment and retention efforts will be enhanced if outstanding classroom educators have titles and advancement opportunities that reflect the critical roles instructional faculty play on our campus. Aligning our academic titles with those of our peers will also help ensure that we are as competitive as possible as new faculty are recruited and new faculty positions are advertised.

In addition to enhancing recruitment and retention, hiring faculty members for the proposed Professor of Practice rank who have developed expertise and excellence in their fields would benefit our students and campus community by bringing their backgrounds, experiences, knowledge, and perspectives into our classrooms. It is also important to note that the current usage of “Clinical” may be appropriate for some faculty members but not others. The options provided by the additional ranks will ensure the best or most appropriate titles are available for non-tenure track/professional track teaching roles.

Additionally, a promotion ladder for Instructors is long overdue and current policy cannot provide one. Adoption of the new faculty ranks will remedy this situation, and bring additional stability to our faculty.

The FAQs provided through the link on this webpage seek to provide context for why these additional ranks are needed and answer questions raised about how these changes would affect faculty members moving forward. Questions not addressed here or feedback about the proposed ranks are welcome at

Graphic showing all faculty ranks and proposed ranks.Click to View Full Size

Charter of Faculty Excerpted from Faculty Handbook

Proposed changes appear in red print.

Organization of the Faculty: Charter

The faculty of Mississippi State University is organized under the guidelines set down in the Charter of Organization of the Faculty of Mississippi State University. The faculty is divided into two categories, the general faculty and the graduate faculty.


The General Faculty Composition

The general faculty shall consist of all professionals of the university with these appropriate ranks:


  • Instructor I, II, and III
  • Assistant Professor
  • Associate Professor
  • Professor
  • Assistant Teaching Professor
  • Associate Teaching Professor
  • Teaching Professor
  • Assistant Professor of Practice
  • Associate Professor of Practice
  • Professor of Practice


  • Clinical Instructor I, II, and III
  • Assistant Clinical Professor
  • Associate Clinical Professor
  • Clinical Professor


  • Extension Instructor I, II, and III
  • Assistant Extension Professor
  • Associate Extension Professor
  • Extension Professor


  • Assistant Research Professor
  • Associate Research Professor
  • Research Professor

and other appropriate ranks as recommended by the Robert Holland Faculty Senate and approved by the general faculty.

Voting Eligibility

All the members of the general faculty may vote.


The officers of the general faculty shall be a chair, who is the president of the university, and a vice chair, who is the president of the faculty senate. The vice chair shall act as the recorder at meetings and as the chair of the general faculty in the absence of the president or his/her designated representative. In the latter case, the vice chair shall appoint a member of the general faculty to act as recorder.


The chair of the general faculty shall appoint a committee to draft the necessary bylaws not contradictory to this charter, to enable the general faculty to perform its functions. These bylaws will become effective upon approval by a majority of the voting members.


The general faculty shall meet twice a year within 30 days after completion of registration of spring and fall semesters and at other times upon call of the president of the university or of the faculty senate or by petition of 25 percent of the general faculty. A quorum shall consist of two hundred and fifty (250) members who are present and eligible to vote.

Official business of the general faculty will be proposed and discussed during a general faculty meeting.  Voting on items can be conducted electronically for up to one (1) week after the general faculty meeting or can be conducted during the general faculty meeting if 250 voting members are present.  The vice chair will be responsible for accomplishing the balloting and for reporting the results to the faculty within one month of vote.


The general faculty shall elect, according to the Charter of the Faculty Senate, the members of the faculty senate.  

The general faculty shall function individually or collectively to recommend and refer to the faculty senate those matters dealing with the academic community and welfare of the university which it would desire to have the senate consider. This does not deny the right of direct approach of any member of the general faculty to the president or the administration.

The general faculty shall consider all matters referred to it by the president or the faculty senate or members of the general faculty and make recommendations concerning them at its discretion.


The Charter of Organization of the Faculty can be amended by a petition submitted by the officers of the general faculty, or by a petition signed by 25 voting members.  Amendments must be provided at least thirty (30) days prior to next general faculty meeting.  Amendments must be approved by a majority of faculty voting on the amendment.  Amendments shall then be submitted to the president of the university and become effective upon the president's approval.