Academic Federation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Academic Federation FAQ


  • I. FAQ Aims
  • Although the personnel review process described herein should be useful to most Academic Federation members, the primary purpose of this FAQ document is to acquaint new AF members with the review process and to provide them with basic information for preparing their personnel reviews. The Academic Federation encompasses a large number of academic title series and because many policies differ among these series, they have been addressed separately. The information incorporated here is largely taken from the Academic Affairs Manuals (APM, UCD) and when applicable the Unit 18 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU); but it also reflects ‘best practices’, traditions, and culture at UC Davis.

    Terms, Abbreviations and Definitions

    Academic Federation (AF): Employees of the University who hold appointments in one or more of the designated academic title series (researchers, administrators, librarians, lecturers, etc.), and who are not members of the Academic Senate.

    Academic Senate (AS): The faculty of the University of California who hold the following series titles: Professor; Professor in Residence; Acting Professor; Lecturer With Security of Employment; Senior Lecturer With Security of Employment, Professor of Clinical ____, and Professor Emeritus.

    Annual Call: The Annual Call (Academic Affairs Advancement Actions) is an online document that is issued each year (late summer) and describes current changes in the APM (both systemwide and UCD) and changes in personnel procedures. It also lists submission due dates for merit and promotion dossiers for all AS and AF series/ranks during the next academic year.

    Annual Report of Professional Activities: A form that each AF member fills out yearly in the department, reporting such activities as invited research presentations, participation in scholarly societies and off-campus activities (e.g., reviewing grants or manuscripts, holding office in professional societies, serving on government panels, etc.). This annual record of activities is retained in the department’s files and can be helpful to the candidate in assembling professional achievement information for the dossier.

    Academic Personnel Manual (APM): The APM is the University of California Academic Personnel Manual, which describes all university policies regarding academic employment. There are two components of the APM: one containing UC systemwide policies and the other containing the UC Davis guidelines implementing those policies.

    Under Section II: Appointment and Promotion, the following APM sections may be helpful as references (including examples):

    APM 200: General Information
    UCD 220 AF: Academic Federation Review and Advancement
         •  Procedure 1: General Procedure for Merit or Promotion
         • Checklist 1: Chair’s Sequential Checklist for Personnel Actions
         • Exhibit A: Criteria Used for Evaluating Performance when Soliciting
           Extramural Evaluations
         • Exhibit B: Model Format for Letters Soliciting Extramural Evaluations
           for Academic Federation Promotions
         • Exhibit C: Sample Departmental Letters-Academic Federation

    Candidate: In the APM, as well as this document, candidate refers to the AF member being reviewed.

    Candidate’s Disclosure Certificate: This is a standard form which the candidate reviews and signs, verifying that he/she has seen the non-confidential content of the dossier and that it is complete and error-free, and also that a summary or redacted copy of confidential materials has been provided, when applicable.

    Candidate’s Statement (Personal Statement): Each candidate has the right to include a personal statement in the file (up to five pages), describing the important performance aspects of the position, such as administrative duties, program oversight, teaching, research/creative activity, service accomplishments, or outreach, in his/her own words. Although it is optional, this is the opportunity for the candidate to describe: how his/her research fits together; what his/her teaching approach is; and any unusual circumstances, both good and bad that have affected performance in the various areas.

    For example:
    • Problems with teaching and any successful solutions the candidate has developed
    • Description of the significance of the research, program, or project; any unusual problems which had to be overcome, or any breakthroughs which pushed the research, program, or project forward
    • Discussion of reviews of the research/creative activity
    • Explanation of the significance of any awards or honors received during the review period
    • Description of any difficult, time-consuming, or particularly noteworthy committee assignments

    Chair/Director: In this document, when Chair, head of an academic department, is used, it also refers to Director, an appointed head of an organized unit/program.

    Dean’s Letter: After the dossier leaves the department, it goes to the Dean’s office. For actions that are not redelegated, the Dean (or Associate Dean) reviews the dossier and writes a letter of support or non-support of the action. This letter becomes part of the file, which then goes forward for further review by one of the four committees that are responsible for AF personnel reviews, as well as to the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs. For redelegated actions, the Dean/Associate Dean reads the file, consults with the appropriate personnel review committee, and makes the final decision.

    Delegation of Authority: For detailed analysis of review procedures specific to each individual series and the roles of Chair, Dean, and Vice Provost-Academic Affairs in the review process, see the Delegation of Authority Chart. Briefly however, the lines of authority are as follows:

    * Chair: The Chair is responsible for overseeing the departmental review of the candidate’s record and for writing the letter that presents the department’s evaluation (including the vote) of the candidate’s performance during the review period.

    * Dean (or an Associate Dean who has responsibility for personnel matters): The Dean is the school, college, or division administrator responsible for review and recommendation on Academic Affairs actions. Actions where the Dean holds the final approval are called redelegated actions. They currently include:

    • Appointments at entry levels (e.g. Assistant I - III)
    • Merits: except those designated for Vice Provost approval, as outlined in the Delegation of Authority Chart.
    • Accelerations (Usually accelerations that don’t skip a step; varies with series)
    • Appeals of redelegated actions
    • Deferrals: First and second year deferrals

    * Vice Provost-Academic Affairs: The Vice Provost-Academic Affairs is the campus administrator responsible to the Chancellor for final decision on the following non-redelegated actions:
    • Appointments above Assistant-III
    • Merits: High level merits
    • Promotions
    • Accelerations that skip a step on the scale
    • Deferrals: Third year deferrals
    • Five Year Reviews
    • All retroactive actions
    • Appeals of non-redelegated actions

    Department: Teaching, research, administrative, or other organized academic unit.

    Department Letter: The letter is written by the Chair and reflects the department’s views (not merely the Chair’s views) on the adequacy of performance of the candidate, i.e. whether he/she meets departmental expectations and goals in the various areas of responsibility. In addition to the analysis of work performance, professional competence, and university and public service (in those AF series that require it), the letter includes the views of the Peer Group, as well as the vote and reasons for the vote of the Voting Group, (i.e., the official vote including the number of yes, no, and abstention votes, and any reasons expressed for the no or abstention votes). Click here to view APM sample department letters.

    Department Plan for Peer and Voting Groups: Each department with AF members develops a plan for establishing Peer Group(s) and Voting Group(s) for proposed personnel actions of individuals with AF titles within their department. Each plan is reviewed by the appropriate personnel committee and approved by the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs.

    Dossier: The dossier is the file or ‘packet’ of materials relating to performance during the review period that is submitted in support of a candidate’s merit or promotion action. It is compiled by the candidate and the department to describe an AF member's job performance for a specific review period. A Position Description (since all AF series are different) and an assessment of job performance defined by the criteria listed for each title, such as: teaching, administration, research/creative activity, program planning and development, and/or service activities, etc. will be included. (See checklist under each title series in the APM and link through UCD 220 AF.) After the file is prepared by the department, it is forwarded to the appropriate administrators and AF personnel committee(s) for review. Currently a paper copy of the dossier is submitted by the department for use by all subsequent reviewers, but in the near future, it is expected that all dossiers will be available for online review.

    The completed dossier may include the following documents: Department Letter (evaluating all aspects of job performance); Position Description; Candidate’s Statement; Dean’s Letter; List of Extramural Reviewers Contacted and Extramural Letters Received (for promotion actions); and Candidate’s Disclosure Certificate. Where appropriate for the series, supporting documents such as teaching evaluations, outreach materials, or publications will be submitted.

    Extramural Letters: For some merits and promotions, opinions as to the quality of the work or service are sought from extramural contacts (e.g., administrators of government programs or agencies with whom the candidate has interacted, scientists, researchers or other experts in the field, heads of agricultural or consumer groups, comparable administrators at other universities who have worked on similar programs, etc.). The candidate suggests an appropriate list of names of extramural reviewers with their qualifications and the Chair/or a senior member of the department suggests another list which is not revealed to the candidate. The Chair selects some from both lists and solicits the letters. The combined list of reviewers who were contacted is included in the dossier, with notation as to whether the names were suggested by the candidate or the department. The confidential letters in response to the solicitation are added to the file by the Chair and a redacted copy of each letter is made available to the candidate prior to signing the disclosure statement.

    Joint Appointees: In the case of a joint appointment, the candidate may need to prepare two dossiers, following the guidelines for each position if they are in two different title series. The dossier will be reviewed following the procedures for each AF position, so it is necessary to ensure that each dossier addresses the criteria for evaluation specific to the AF series.
    * AF members who have an AF appointment and an AS faculty appointment will be reviewed by an AS personnel committee (CAP or FPC) and one of the AF personnel committees for the former, except for those in the Professional Research and in the _AES series. They will be reviewed just by an AS personnel committee.
    * For AF members with an additional Unit 18 appointment, the Unit 18 dossier will be reviewed following college or school and campus procedures (see MOU, Non-Senate Instructional Unit, Article 22, Merit Review Process and the Appointments, Merits and Promotions section of the Academic Affairs website. The appropriate AF personnel committee will review their other series appointment.

    Lecturer Without Salary (WOS): This title is used rarely; for example, some AF members with the Professional Research title may have an appointment as Lecturer WOS, which allows them to oversee students in their labs via variable unit courses (e.g., 199/299) or to conduct seminar courses (190C/290C) related to their research. However, this title is not intended for employees who teach lecture, laboratory, or other regularly scheduled classes.

    Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): Memorandum of Understanding contracts:
    The University of California and University Council American Federation of Teachers, Non-Senate Instructional Unit (Unit 18) MOU governs personnel actions for a number of titles, including Pre-Six Lecturers, Lecturers with Continuing Appointments, and Supervisors of Teacher Education.

    Merit Review: Merit increases for academic appointees are based on academic attainment, experience, and performance, i.e. they are not automatic. A merit review is an evaluation by the department, Peer and Voting Groups, and the Dean (and Vice Provost-Academic Affairs for cases of barrier step merits), of an AF member’s performance, based on the position description for that series. Each series has a specifically designated period at rank and step, and the number of steps may vary according to title series and rank within that series. A positive merit decision will result in advancement in step within rank. A few series have salary ranges within rank instead of steps. See: Series, rank and step (below).

    Non-Senate Faculty (NSF): Appointees with Title Codes included in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the UC-AFT Unit 18 (See MOU, non-Senate Instructional Unit, Article 5, Description of Unit Titles).

    Peer Group: AF members have the opportunity for peer review within their department. Each department has an established peer review committee structure and procedure (according to the Department Plan) that have been approved by the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs. Generally, candidates have the opportunity to suggest names of other AF members for their peer review group. The department Chair appoints the Peer Group of at least five AF and/or AS members, at least one of whom is in the same title series as the candidate. If the department has few AF members, then an AF member outside of the department who is in the candidate’s series, or who has similar professional/research interests or responsibilities, can be appointed to the Peer Group. See Guidelines for Composition of Voting Groups and Peer Groups on the Academic Federation website. The Peer Group advises the department Chair on the merits of the personnel action. The Chair, in turn, shares the Peer Group’s comments with the department’s Voting Group. The peer comments and department vote are included in the Chair’s letter to the Dean along with a recommendation (see ‘Department Letter’ in this document; also see UCD 220AF: Exhibit C: Sample Departmental Letters).

    Personnel Committees: AF members, depending on the personnel title series, are reviewed by one of the following committees. The committees review the personnel actions and make recommendations to the Dean (redelegated actions) or Vice Provost-Academic Affairs (non-redelegated actions). The committees also make recommendations on personnel policies, personnel standards, and salary issues.

    JOINT ACADEMIC FEDERATION/SENATE PERSONNEL COMMITTEE (JPC): This is a 7 member AF standing committee (two year terms) that reviews AF series that have research components, including Professional Researchers, Specialists in Cooperative Extension, Agronomists in the A.E.S., Project Scientists, and Specialists. The committee is composed of 2 AS faculty appointed by the AS Committee on Committees, plus 5 AF members appointed by the AF Committee on Committees. Of the latter 5, 2 are Specialists in Cooperative Extension and 3 other members are chosen from the following series: Agronomist, Specialist, Professional Research, Project Scientist.
    *ADMINISTRATIVE SERIES PERSONNEL COMMITTEE (ASPC): This 5 member AF standing committee (two year terms) reviews actions for members of the Academic Administrator, Academic Coordinator, Assistant Law Librarian, Assistant University Librarian, Associate Law Librarian, and Associate University Librarian series and makes recommendations to the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs on non-redelegated personnel actions. It is composed of 1 member in the Academic Administrator series, 2 members in the Academic Coordinator series, and 1 member of the AF at-large, all appointed by the AF Committee on Committees; 1 member of the Academic Senate, appointed by the AS Committee on Committees is also on the committee. In addition to reviewing files, and making recommendations to the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs on, promotions, merit increases, it also makes recommendations on personnel policies, personnel standards, and salary issues, for members of the Academic Administrator, Academic Coordinator, Assistant Law Librarian, Assistant University Librarian, Associate Law Librarian, and Associate University Librarian series.
    *ACADEMIC FEDERATION PERSONNEL COMMITTEE (AFPC): This 5 member committee (two year terms) is composed of 2 members of the Librarian series, 1 Supervisor of Teacher Education, 1 Continuing Educator, and 1 member from among the other Federation series, all appointed by the AF Committee on Committees. This committee reviews Librarians, Continuing Educators, Supervisors of Physical Education and Supervisors of Teacher Education.
    *COMMITTEE ON ACADEMIC PERSONNEL - OVERSIGHT (CAP or CAPOC): This 9 member committee of senior AS faculty (3 year terms) is appointed by the AS Committee on Committees and is responsible for making recommendations to the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs regarding non-redelegated personnel actions for AS members, as well as for the following AF teaching series not covered by a collective bargaining unit: Adjunct Professors, Professional Researchers with joint AS appointments, and Unit 18 Continuing Appointments. The acronym “CAPOC” is used interchangeably with “CAP” and refers to Committee on Academic Affairs Oversight Committee. Appeals of actions are referred to CAPAC; i.e., the Committee on Academic Affairs Appellate Committee.
    *FACULTY PERSONNEL COMMITTEE (FPC): Each school/college has a Faculty Personnel Committee which is a subcommittee of CAP. The members of each FPC are nominated by the college’s Executive Committee and approved by CAP. Each FPC is advisory to the Dean (or Associate Dean) on redelegated personnel actions for the same title series as CAP.

    Position Description: Each employee is to have a current position description indicating specific duties expected to be performed, including percentage time allotted for each category of responsibility. The position description is a mutually agreed upon document that is signed and dated by the candidate and department head; it is included in all merit and promotion actions.

    Principal Investigator (PI): The person in whose name a grant is awarded: he/she is the one who is in charge of the grant and is expected to monitor the progress of the work.

    Promotion Review: Promotion is advancement from one rank to a higher rank within the same title series. The length of the review period for promotion will vary depending on the series and rank.

    Redelegated & Non-Redelegated personnel actions: The Chancellor delegates authority for personnel actions to the Vice Provost-Academic Personnel, who, in turn, redelegates some of the final decisions to the Deans (entry level appointments, most merits, etc.). The non-redelegated decisions (e.g., promotions, some merits and higher level appointments) are retained by the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs; see also: Delegation of Authority.

    Reviewer: Any person who participates in the review process, i.e. department members, Chair, Dean, Vice Provost-Academic Affairs, Voting Groups, Peer Groups, Personnel Committees, and extramural referees.

    Series, Ranks, and Steps: The uniform divisions in the University personnel system which define all AF and AS positions; merit changes in step and promotion changes in rank are associated with changes in salary:
    Series are the various position titles in the Academic Federation, such as Academic Administrator, Academic Coordinator, Adjunct Professor, etc.
    *Ranks are the various levels within a series, such as Assistant Adjunct Professor, Associate Adjunct Professor, Adjunct Professor, etc. Each successful promotion increases both rank and salary.
    *Steps are the various levels within a rank for most AF series, such as Assistant Adjunct Professor, Step II, III, or IV; each successful merit review results in an increase in both step and salary. There are however, 3 AF series which do not have steps: Academic Administrator, Assistant and Associate University Librarian, and Continuing Educator. Instead of steps, these series have salary ranges. Although promotion moves the candidate up in rank, merit increases are based on increments on the scale.

    Supporting Documents: The materials submitted in support of the candidate’s performance evaluation, such as: publications in support of a researcher’s publications list, student evaluations in support of teaching effectiveness descriptions, educational materials (syllabi, outlines/newsletters for agricultural/consumer group courses/sessions) written by the candidate in fulfilling teaching or outreach obligations.

    Voting Group: The department’s Voting Groups are those who are allowed to vote on an AF personnel action. The general composition of the department’s Voting Groups has been approved by the Vice Provost-Academic Affairs following review and recommendations from the appropriate personnel committee.

    Procedures: The Voting Group will review the appointment, merit, or promotion file and supporting documents of the candidate; it will be provided with the advisory recommendation of the Peer Group; voting will be by secret ballot. The Chair will include a summary/description of the peer review and the voting results in the department letter, which will be made available to the candidate for review and included in the dossier.

    See: Guidelines for the Composition of Voting Groups and Peer Groups for Academic Federation Titles with Research Duties (Including the following titles: Adjunct Professor, Agronomist, Education Extension Specialist, Professional Researcher, Specialist, Specialist in Cooperative Extension).

  • II. FAQs for Each Academic Federation (AF) Series Title
  • According to the AF bylaws, “Regular members of the Academic Federation shall be salaried academic appointees who are not in trainee, post-doctoral, or fellowship positions and who are not members of the Academic Senate, and: (1) hold an appointment on the Davis campus; or (2) hold a University-wide appointment, but are located on the Davis campus; or (3) work at a location remote from the Davis campus, but report administratively to the Davis campus. Membership will be limited to persons who hold appointments in one or a combination of the following academic titles, or other titles that may be added by a vote of the Executive Council.”

    For each of the following AF title series (click on the title to access the questions and answers), there are FAQs relating to topics such as:
    The Dossier: when/how to prepare a dossier, what criteria will be used to evaluate job performance, what information and supporting documents are needed according to the series position criteria;
    Review of the Dossier: how reviewers will evaluate the information in the dossier, what questions they will ask to determine whether you have met all of the position criteria;
    Special Review Considerations: a list of certain review attributes that apply to a series title in addition to the normal merit and promotions reviews.

    AF Titles Not Included in This FAQ Document

    The following title series are unique to a specific college or school, or are governed under a Memorandum of Understanding which requires specific criteria for review. Contact your Dean’s Office for further information.

    Continuing Educator (APM 340): Contact: UC Davis Extension, HR Analyst, Denise Prigge,, 757-8671

    Lecturer (also Demonstration Teacher) (Unit 18 MOU): Contact specific Academic Affairs staff in the dean’s office of your College/School for questions regarding administration of Articles 7a and 7b of the Unit 18 MOU.
    - Lecturer
    - Senior Lecturer

    Librarian (APM 360 non-represented; Unit 17 MOU): See University Library, Peer Review Documents for Librarians. For Law Library documentation and procedures, contact: Judy Janes,, 752-3328
    - Assistant Librarian
    - Associate Librarian
    - Librarian

    Supervisor of Teacher Education (Unit 18 MOU): Contact Associate Director of Teacher Education, Barbara Goldman,, 752-8671

    University Extension Teacher: Contact Denise Prigge,, 757-8671

    Assistant/Associate University Librarian/Law Librarian (APM 365)

  • III. Managing Data for Your Personnel File
  • Keep Your CV Current:

    Keep a current copy of your CV on your computer, so that new information can be readily added to keep it up to date in the following categories:
    - Publications (published, in press, and submitted)
    (See UCD 220 Exhibit C for guidelines for Preparation of Publication list)
    - Abstracts (oral presentations and posters)
    - Presentations (venue, date)
    - Invited seminars (sponsors, date, place)

    Keep Accurate Records of Academic Activities:

    Organize information for the current review period by keeping a list (with dates) of such items as:
    - Campus and off-campus committees you have served on
    - Teaching: courses or guest lectures you have given (title & number, year and quarter, number of students)
    - Teaching materials you have developed
    - Program materials you have developed
    - Grants submitted and acquired
    - Student advising assignments
    - Public service commitments

    Helpful Information for Individuals in Research Titles:

    Lab Management Activities to include under the “Research” category:
    • Maintenance of equipment; involved directly in research using the equipment; co-authorship and/or attribution on papers resulting from research.

    Lab Maintenance Activities to include under the “University and Public Service” category:
    • Maintenance of equipment; not involved in research using the equipment; no co-authorship and/or attribution on papers resulting from research.

    Lab Safety Officer: Include under the “University and Public Service” category.

    Keep Non-Electronic Documents:

    During the academic year you may receive award citations, honors, or prizes, thank you notes, or notes of appreciation for specific tasks you have performed, as well as end-of-the-year thank you notes for service on committees. While these original documents are not to be included in the dossier, the Chair can refer to them in the departmental letter, and you can refer to them in the Candidate’s Statement, thus, you should keep them in a file folder for each review period.

    Acquaint Yourself With AF Policies, Procedures, and Members:

    Seeking Advice: Discuss departmental culture and expectations with respect to AF series-related responsibilities with your Chair or a senior AF member of your department. To select a senior member (i.e. mentor) to ask for advice, use criteria such as:
    - A senior AF member who has successfully moved through the ranks and is willing to give advice
    -  Someone whom members of your department consider to be outstanding in his/her field (i.e. teaching, research, administration, outreach, etc.)
    - Someone in your research field, a related field, or knowledgeable about your field
    - Someone with whom you would feel comfortable discussing problems which may arise with series-related responsibilities.

    Selecting Peer Group Members: In addition to seeking advice of a senior AF member in your department, who may, or may not be in your title series, you might find it helpful as a new AF member to acquaint yourself with members of your specific title series. Most of them may be in other departments. You will need to know this group of people when making recommendations to your Chair for members of the Peer Group who will evaluate you for merit and promotion. One way of getting to know this group is to become involved in campus-wide AF affairs, e.g., AF committees, AF-sponsored lectures, receptions, and award banquets, and the welcoming social at the beginning of the academic year.

Academic Administrator

Academic Coordinator

Adjunct Professor

• Assistant Adjunct Professor
• Associate Adjunct Professor
• Adjunct Professor

Agronomist (___in the A.E.S.)

• Assistant Agronomist
• Associate Agronomist
• Agronomist

Health Sciences Clinical Professor

• Assistant Health Sciences Clinical Professor
• Associate Health Sciences Clinical Professor
• Health Sciences Clinical Professor

Professional Researcher

• Assistant Professional Researcher
• Associate Professional Researcher
• Researcher

Project (e.g., Scientist)

• Assistant Project Scientist
• Associate Project Scientist
• Project Scientist


• Assistant Specialist
• Associate Specialist
• Specialist

Specialist in Cooperative Extension

• Assistant Specialist in Cooperative Extension
• Associate Specialist in Cooperative Extension
• Specialist in Cooperative Extension

Academic Federation Titles Not Included - The following title series are unique to a specific college or school, or are governed under a Memorandum of Understanding which requires specific criteria for review. Contact your Dean’s Office for further information.

  • Continuing Educator 
  • University Extension Teachers 
  • Unit 18 Lecturers 
  • Unit 17 Professional Librarians
  • University Librarians
  • Supervisors of Teacher Education
  • Supervisors of Physical Education
  • Child Development Demonstration Lecturers