Target of Excellence

UC Davis: Best practices and procedures for Target of Excellence (TOE) recruitments (Rev. 8/01/2017)

Overview and rationale -- The purpose of the Target of Excellence (TOE) recruitment program is to allow UC Davis to take advantage of unusual opportunities to bring high-profile faculty to our campus who are truly outstanding scholars and who also demonstrably fulfill critical academic needs. Most appropriate TOE candidates will be at or beyond the mid-career stage, and many will be sufficiently eminent that appointment into the Above-Scale ranks would be expected and appropriate. Only under truly extraordinary circumstances would the campus consider a TOE candidate who could not reasonably be appointed with tenure. To proceed, TOE recruitments require that a search waiver be approved. As open searches are UCD's preferred mechanism for the vast majority of faculty recruitments, there must be a compelling case for targeted recruitment. There are four stages to a TOE recruitment. The process for each stage is described in detail below, and must be followed in exact order:


Throughout this stage and until outside references letters are solicited, great care should be taken to keep news of a TOE effort limited to the home department, the relevant dean, and appropriate campus leaders.

Concept development process

a) A potential TOE candidate is identified

b) The chair and other members of the host department(s) discuss the possibility of a targeted recruitment. If there is strong interest, the department chair or another representative:

  1. obtains a recent c.v. of the candidate,
  2. makes confidential inquiries about a possible interest in UC Davis.

c) Consult with the Dean as to the likelihood of resources being available for the potential TOE hire, and if so, for what academic year.

d) If there is interest on the candidate's part, the host department(s) meets to discuss the targeted recruitment and votes on whether to support a search waiver for pursuing the candidate.

Without very strong department support at this stage, the TOE recruitment should not move forward unless a more suitable home unit can be identified.

Nomination approval process

a) The dean(s) presents the potential candidate to the Vice Provost- Academic Affairs (VP-AA), for discussion and consideration of the nominee's qualifications, likely contributions to the departmental and college academic plans, and consequences of the recruitment for faculty diversity.

b) If the VP-AA is supportive, the dean meets with the Provost, seeking approval to move forward with a TOE recruitment and search waiver.

At this meeting, the Dean and Provost need to discuss the qualifications of the candidate, the degree of support from the proposed department, the source of the FTE for the potential appointment, and how approximate start-up costs will most likely be funded. In short, resources for each proposed position will be negotiated with the Provost on a case-by-case basis.

c) Faculty support for the TOE nomination may be influenced by the resource allocation agreement reached between the dean and the Provost. The dean should inform the department chair of how the agreement is likely to impact the department budget and future departmental hiring, and the department chair should in turn advise faculty, as appropriate. The department chair or faculty may subsequently choose to have a new discussion and vote on the TOE nomination and recruitment.

If the TOE appointee is to have a split appointment between two departments, then each of the proposed home departments (and their deans) should be full participants in the negotiations, discussions, and voting on the recruitment.

d) If the Provost is supportive, then the host department prepares a TOE nomination package to be sent to the VP-AA, which includes the following: 

  1. The candidate's c.v.
  2. The academic plan for the department(s).
  3. A letter, co-signed by the department chair and the dean, explaining the rationale for the TOE request. Separate letter(s) from the joint department(s) and dean(s), if applicable. The letter(s) should include the following:
         i. A clear description of how this candidate fits, and will substantially advance, in the academic plans for the department and the college/school.
         ii. A statement about how the TOE appointment will impact the department's diversity goals.
         iii. An explanation of why targeting this particular candidate is justified, and why an open search is unlikely to be as successful.
         iv. The results of a faculty vote for waiver of an open search, and a summary of written comments arising from that vote. Importantly, the letter should also discuss and provide context for any negative departmental votes.
         v. A brief statement indicating how responsibilities for salary and start-up costs are to be partitioned.

e) The nomination package is sent to the office of the VP-AA for review, and then the complete nomination is forwarded to two Senate Committees for review and recommendation.

To maximize the chances for a successful recruitment, all levels of review and approval should be expedited.
  1. CAP votes to recommend (or not to recommend) approval of the search waiver on the basis of the candidate's apparent qualifications, and departmental and dean support.    
  2. CPB votes on whether the candidate and the candidate's research area fit the host department's academic plan(s), and whether the case for a search waiver is justified in terms of likely budget impacts.

f) The VP-AA, in consultation with the Provost and informed by the recommendations of CAP and CPB, either approves or does not approve the TOE nomination. A letter is sent to the dean's office notifying of the VP-AA's decision on the nomination.


a) The host department in consultation with the dean's office initiates a Search Waiver Request in UC Davis Recruit. The host department uploads the documents used for the nomination package in the documentation section of UC Davis Recruit. 

b) Once the nomination package is uploaded into UC Davis Recruit, the Search Waiver Request can be submitted for approval routing in UC Davis Recruit. If the routing is not set up with approval roles and names, please contact the Dean's Office Analyst for guidance. 

c) When the Search Waiver Request routes to the Dean's Office Analyst, he/she will need to verify the nomination package documents are in UC Davis Recruit, and review the Search Waiver Request for accuracy and policy adherence. The Dean's Office Analyst will then need to upload both committee recommendations (CPB and CAP) as well as the VP-AA approval notification of the nomination in UC Davis Recruit. These documents must be uploaded in the documentation section of UC Davis Recruit. After a complete review of the Search Waiver Request, the Dean's Office Analyst can then approve for their level of review. The request will then route to the next approval role.

d) The Search Waiver Request will continue to automatically route through UC Davis Recruit for the remaining approval roles to be approved. Each approval role is notified by automatic email when the item is ready for their approval. Approvers should not approve out of order.

e) Once the VP-AA approves the request in UC Davis Recruit, the Search Waiver is considered approved and completed. The TOE process then moves to the Recruitment stage.


a) The home department begins active recruiting and negotiating, albeit with continued sensitivity to confidentiality.

b) The candidate is likely to be invited for a recruitment visit (unless s/he very recently visited the campus), but any seminars should not be advertised as recruitment-related.

c) The Candidate meets with the Provost, if possible.

d) The department chair and the candidate begin to discuss the parameters that would be necessary for the candidate to make a successful and productive transition to UC Davis.

It is important at this stage to determine whether there is serious interest on the part of the candidate and whether a move to UC Davis is at least financially feasible.
It is also important to ensure the candidate is fully aware of the campus reference check process conducted for positions that include tenure or security of employment. The chair will need to ask the candidate to sign the "Authorization to Release Information" form, noting that the reference check must be cleared before finalizing and having the candidate sign the Tentative Offer Letter (TOL).

e) If there is both feasibility and strong interest expressed by all parties, the department requests permission from the candidate to seek external letters of support. If permission is granted, solicitation letters should make clear the fact that this is a targeted search. Outside referees will be asked to compare the candidate to peers in the discipline at similar career stages.

f) Negotiations between the department chair and the candidate define the candidate's needs.

g) Negotiations among the chair, the dean, and the Provost result in a written agreement about how start-up and support costs associated with the appointment will be apportioned.

h) The dean's office sends an email asking to initiate the reference check process for the TOE candidate and includes the candidate's signed "Authorization to Release Information" form to:  

i) Based on these negotiations, a preliminary offer letter signed by the dean and the department chair is sent to the candidate for signature.

Great care must be exercised at this stage to make the candidate understand that no appointment is final until it goes through the reference check process as well as a complete appointment and approval process!


a) The host department prepares a final appointment package that includes the following:    

  1. The results of the final department vote(s) on whether to offer the candidate a faculty appointment. Department members should have an opportunity to review external letters before this vote.    
  2. Department letter(s) describing the department's final vote and recommendation on appropriate rank and step, as well as the nominee's academic qualifications, likely contributions, and fit to the department's academic plan. (Much of this can be based on the TOE request letter.)

b) The procedure from this point on follows the standard faculty appointment checklist.    

  1. See Checklists for the additional information that needs to be included in the dossier.  
  2. The dossier is forwarded to the dean for review and recommendation.    
  3. The appointment is submitted to the VP-AA, who reviews the dossier for accuracy and forwards to CAP.    
  4. The appointment is reviewed by CAP, which recommends a rank and step.

c) The appointment is approved (or not) by the VP-AA, in consultation with the Provost.