MBP Appointment Policy

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Medical Biophysics Revised Appointments Policy

The objective of MBP’s Appointments policy is to maintain the high quality of the department’s faculty by identifying scientists who have a commitment to research and for which the institute employer provides appropriate support. Stable and ongoing support from the institutes enables faculty members to commit to the ambitious research projects that we expect of our PhD trainees. Thus, when considering applications for new appointments to the department, evidence of ongoing commitment of the institution is an important factor.

Medical Biophysics has revised the appointments policy such that excellent scientists with protected research time less than the current threshold of 75% can be considered for appointment. Also, the previous restrictions preventing cross-appointments have been removed. Faculty are required to maintain a high standard of scientific excellence and are required to contribute to the department on an ongoing basis as set out in the Faculty Expectations policy. These expectations are now formalized such that all faculty will be assessed based on these criteria every three years. Renewal of status only appointments will be contingent on holding a research appointment at one of the partner research institutes, maintaining the existing standards of academic excellence, and committing to graduate education by fulfilling the duties defined in the Faculty Expectations policy. 

Background

Medical Biophysics is unique among departments in Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto in that is almost exclusively composed of faculty employed by hospital research institutes and holding status-only academic appointments with the University. A written policy for appointments was adopted in 2017 that formalized existing policy and stipulated that faculty must have at least 75% protected time for independent research to join the department. No similar requirement has been placed on existing members. In practice, this approach of evaluating the research commitment of individual faculty member based on their research institute appointment letter was problematic. The manner in which protected time is calculated varies between research institutes or even hospital divisions and often failed to account for administrative or other responsibilities that compete with academic activity. Moreover, these commitments can vary over time and presented a challenge for the department to assess on an ongoing basis.

The previous requirements for protected research time have been replaced with a system whereby membership in the department is contingent on meeting the existing expectations for scientific excellence and on fulfilling the expectations for participation, teaching, and commitment to graduate education defined in the Faculty Expectations policy. In addition, we have removed the existing restrictions on cross-appointing faculty from other departments. The previous requirements that a faculty member demonstrate scientific excellence, lead an independent research program, and hold an ongoing research appointment that is renewable contingent on academic performance is unchanged by this policy. In practice, academic performance is typically only rigorously reviewed by the department at the time of appointment or when a faculty member applies for promotion. This limited approach to scientific review is made possible by the efforts of our partnering research institutes that review faculty on an annual basis and include MBP faculty when reviewing scientists at 3, 5, or 6-year renewal stages. As in the past, the decision to renew a given faculty member’s appointment will remain with the MBP department, which may choose to conduct a detailed review of academic performance as well as contributions to the department when evaluating the renewal of an appointment.

The revised policy is an important change to the department. In particular, it is now possible to hold a clinician investigator appointment and join the MBP department provided the faculty member met the other criteria, including the functional requirements for participation in the department. Similarly, Medical Physicists with 50% protected research time – a new type of appointment that is being implemented at UHN/Techna Institute – can be considered for faculty positions in Medical Biophysics. As in the past, all applications for appointments need to be reviewed and approved by the Appointments and Promotions Committee. Another consequence of the revised policy is that existing faculty that meet the scientific excellence expectations, but not the obligations of the faculty expectations policy could have their appointments terminated. The intention for this new policy is not to increase or decrease the size of the department, but rather to promote a high level of engagement as well as academic excellence among faculty.

Timeline for Policy Development

October 16 to November 12, 2019 Policy development by MBP APC
November 13, 2019 Presentation of policy to MBP executive
November 13, 2019 to December 10, 2019 Feedback solicited from faculty on proposed policy
December 11, 2019 Feedback reviewed by MBP executive
December 12, 2019 to January 14, 2020 Policy refinement by MBP APC
January 15, 2020 MBP executive voted on revised policy

Revised Medical Biophysics Appointments Policy

The MBP faculty is a community of scientists who have voluntarily joined together on the basis of a shared commitment to mutual participation in graduate training and collegial scholarship. The objective of MBP’s Appointments policy is to maintain the high quality of the department’s faculty by identifying scientists who have a commitment to research and for which the institute employer provides appropriate support. Stable and ongoing support from the institutes enables faculty members to commit to the ambitious research projects that we expect of our PhD trainees. Thus, when considering applications for new appointments to the department, evidence of ongoing commitment of the institution is an important factor.

Principles

  1. Faculty appointed to the rank of Assistant Professor (status only) or higher are expected to hold an on-going, full time appointment at a hospital or affiliated research institute. While the faculty would typically hold scientist or senior scientist positions within the affiliated research institute, other types of positions that allow for the conduct of independent scientific research will be considered. The appointment should be renewable and satisfactory academic performance as assessed by our partner research institutes must be a requirement for renewal. The faculty member is expected to have the appropriate academic training and experience to develop a successful independent research program. Applicants with less than 100% protected time for independent research will need to meet the same criteria as other applicants for scientific excellence. Applicants with less than 50% protected research time will not be considered. Evidence that the applicant will develop an independent research program will typically include a commitment by the research institute of research space and start-up funding. The offer letter needs to specifically state that the appointment fulfills the above requirements. Institute-based scientists that are hired on a time-limited non-renewable contract, such as an appointment linked to the duration of a specific grant, do not qualify for an MBP appointment at the level of Assistant Professor or higher.
     
  2. A relevant institutional search should have MBP representation, according to the principle agreed between MBP and its institute partners in November 2013: “The Chair, Vice-Chair, or their delegates will serve as MBP Departmental representatives on all appropriate research institute search committees.”
    1. The MBP Chair should be contacted at the beginning of the search, if an appointment to MBP is deemed relevant for the candidate(s). This will enable the Appointments and Promotions Committee to select an appropriate representative for the search committee.

    2. All potential candidates are required to present a public lecture at their respective research institutes. Members/delegates of the MBP Appointments and Promotions Committee are to be present at this seminar. Candidates will also be asked to meet privately with members of the MBP Appointments and Promotions Committee to discuss their ability to fulfill the functional requirements for an MBP appointment as set out in the Faculty Expectations Policy.

  3. Faculty can designate MBP or another department within the University of Toronto as their primary academic appointment. Faculty cross-appointed to MBP with a primary appointment in another department will be held to the same standards with respect to academic excellence and fulfilling the functional requirements for an ongoing appointment in MBP. These cross-appointed faculty will require a letter of support from the Chair of MBP when seeking promotion through their primary department and this letter will be based on the same criteria as faculty with a primary appointment in MBP. Similarly, MBP whose primary appointment is MBP and who are cross-appointed to another department will require a letter of support from the other department chair when applying for promotion within MBP. MBP follows the guidelines for promotion through the ranks as defined by the Faculty of Medicine.

  4. MBP faculty appointments are subject to annual review. These are generally a short online form that is mandated by the Faculty of Medicine. Research Institutes usually perform more rigorous annual performance reviews which include academic excellence (grants, publications) and contributions to the institute and the University Department. MBP faculty members are expected to actively participate in graduate student teaching/training and MBP events such as the student seminar series, Geneva Park retreat, and MBP Open House as defined in the Faculty Expectations policy. Additional appointments such as cross-appointments in other departments, administrative roles outside MBP, or clinical appointments are not grounds for reduction in MBP responsibilities below the responsibilities of other faculty members without such appointments.

Implementation of Revised Appointment Policy

At 3-year intervals, all faculty members will be asked to submit documentation of their activities in the previous 3-year period pertaining to the Faculty Expectations Policy. Specifically, faculty will be asked to report on the graduate students supervised and graduated, participation in teaching within the department, service on student advisory committees, thesis examination committees, and other MBP committees, as well as participation in the Geneva Park retreat, JLM symposium, and student seminars. Activity reports will be reviewed by the MBP Appointments and Promotions Committee, who will make a recommendation to the chair that an appointment be renewed, conditionally renewed with a plan for improvement, or terminated. Faculty members whose appointment is terminated will be given the opportunity to appeal the decision in writing or by meeting in person with the MBP Appointments and Promotions Committee.

Medical Biophysics Academic Promotions Process and Guidelines

Promotion through the ranks follow the University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine Appointment and Promotion Guidelines. The objective of academic promotions is to acknowledge and reward outstanding scientific and administrative contributions. Promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor and from Associate to Full Professor is rarely at less than five-year intervals. Every promotion includes a number of individual steps, which are highlighted below. These include: 

  1. Initial pre-review of a detailed CV by the MBP Appointments and Promotion Committee (CVs must be formatted according to the Faculty of Medicine guidelines). The MBP Appointments and Promotion Committee will keep track of individual scientists and proactively contact them at the above timelines to request a CV for pre-review. The committee will then evaluate their academic performance and make a recommendation if this individual should go forward for full review.
  2. A faculty member who has been invited to undergo full review will be asked to provide up to three names of individuals that could provide an objective evaluation. These reviewers must be at arm’s length (further information can be found at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine Appointment and Promotion Guidelines). The Chair and the MBP Appointments and Promotion Committee will select additional, independent reviewers.
  3. In addition to the CV, every candidate must provide a number of “Data Summary Tables” as part of their application package. These tables will provide a numerical summary of the faculty members performance and include: Research Awards/Grants, Supervision, Publications, Teaching and Citation Metrics (h-index/total citation based on either ISI Web of Science, Scopus or Google Scholar).
  4. Once the department receives the letters from the external referees, members of the MBP Appointments and Promotion Committee will review the letters and make a final decision if the application will be forwarded to the Decanal Committee. The Chair then writes a letter of support for the faculty members’ promotion. The entire promotion package is then sent to the Decanal Committee for full review.
  5. Candidates that request early promotion (i.e. outside the five-year recommended timeframe) are encouraged to send their CV together with a detailed explanatory cover letter to the MBP Appointments and Promotions Committee. The APC will evaluate each request individually and provide an appropriate recommendation based on publications, grant funding, student supervision/graduation and MBP-related administrative commitment.

Appointments and Promotions Committee (APC) Members