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Frequently Asked Questions

School of Medicine Faculty Affairs Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and answers are listed below:

My Rights, Responsibilities, and Benefits


 Accordion ‭[2]‬


 What is the University Physicians, Inc. (UPI) Member Practice Agreement, and who needs to sign it?

In June, 1982 UPI was established and was designated as the University's agent to accomplish certain University purposes, including education, research and service. UPI was also designated as the exclusive billing agent for the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Under an Operating Agreement with the University of Colorado, UPI supports clinical activities and bills and collects for clinical services. UPI also provides managed care contracting, credentialing, hospital negotiations and professional support services for university physician members. In addition to collecting professional fees for patient services, UPI also bills and collects for medical-legal activities performed by faculty members and for scientific, clinical and other professional consulting not otherwise exempted by the Member Practice Agreement (MPA). A portion of the revenues that are collected are transferred to the University of Colorado Denver to support, in part, the faculty member's salary. The UPI Member Practice Agreement outlines the agreement between the faculty member and UPI, including assignment of income. UPI by-laws outline cash flow principles among UPI, departments and faculty, including incentive policy guidelines.

The University of Colorado Board of Regents requires that all School of Medicine faculty sign a MPA with UPI as a condition of employment by the School of Medicine. All School of Medicine faculty (including faculty in basic science departments) are required to sign one of the three different MPAs, based on the type of appointment they hold.

    • Full Members: A School of Medicine faculty member must sign a Full MPA if he or she is employed full-time (> 0.5 FTE) by the University of Colorado and is a member of the SOM Executive Faculty (Professor, Research Professor, Associate Professor, Associate Research Professor, Assistant Professor, Assistant Research Professor, Senior Instructor, Instructor, Senior Research Instructor, and Research Instructor). Full members (regardless of percent FTE) are not allowed to have any independent or other health care practice. Full Members have all voting privileges and are eligible to serve as officers of UPI and serve on the Board of Directors of UPI.
    • Associate Members are individuals who: (1) have a clinical faculty appointment in the SOM or a regular faculty appointment in the SOM through an affiliated institution which is their primary employer; and (2) are employed or paid less than 0.5 FTE by the University of Colorado. Associate Members have no voting privileges and are not eligible to serve on the Board of Directors of UPI.
    • Affiliate Members: The Affiliate MPA is for Instructor-Fellows, Instructor-Chief Residents, Nurses, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Nurse Anesthetists and other allied health professionals who have been granted a faculty appointment in the School of Medicine. Affiliate members have no voting privileges and are not eligible to serve as officers on the Board of Directors of UPI.

The Member Practice Agreement states that the Member will provide professional or clinical services only at UPI-designated sites of practice, and that all income will be assigned by the faculty member to UPI. An exception: Members are not required to assign income that is earned while they are employed and paid directly by an affiliated hospital (Veterans Administration Medical Center, Denver Health and Hospital Authority, National Jewish Hospital) or income earned while on an approved leave of absence.

The assignment of income policy applies to all income or other compensation or remuneration earned by a Member (unless an exception is applied for and approved), including:

    • Fees, retainers or other compensation earned for performing patient care, administrative or consultative services.
    • Fees, retainers or other forms of compensation or remuneration earned for services rendered as an expert witness or consultant in a legal manner.
    • Fees and honoraria for teaching, lecturing or training.

Exceptions: The SOM has designated certain honoraria as exempt from the assignment-of-income policy, such as modest one-time payments for lectures, articles, visiting professorships, NIH study sections and service on certain non-profit boards.


 Can faculty members participate in industry-sponsored speaking engagements? If so, does the income need to be assigned to UPI?

The Policy to Limit Conflicts of Interest Between Health Care Professionals and Industry Representatives, adopted by the University of Colorado School of Medicine in May 2008, with updates in August 2012 and January 2014, prohibits faculty members from accepting free meals, drug samples, travel or gifts from manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, nutritional supplements or medical devices. The policy also prohibits Speakers’ Bureau participation by School of Medicine faculty, except in limited circumstances.   

The Industry Talk Approval Committee, which consists of SOM Faculty Officers and other SOM faculty members from various departments, must approve, in advance, all industry-paid speaking engagements. Approval by the committee will be considered for faculty presentations that represent a genuine service to the community and are solely for educational purposes. However, approval will not be granted if 1) the talk focuses on specific products; 2) the speaker is required to use any slides or other materials provided by industry; or 3) if the slides or other content are subject to any oversight or review by industry, with a limited exception to allow company review to ensure compliance with FDA regulations.   

The Speaker Request form is available on the Faculty Affairs Rules and Policies website, and the completed form should be emailed, along with a copy of the company contract in Microsoft Word form, to the Industry Talk Approval Committee. Please allow 10 days for review of the request.

Some faculty presentations are permissible and do not require review or approval by the Industry Talk Approval Committee. Under the above policy, faculty members may continue to:

  1. Receive compensation from an academic institution for serving as a visiting professor or presenting grand rounds.
  2. Give presentations where ACCME-approved Continuing Medical Education credit is awarded.
  3. Receive compensation for research consulting, as long as the research consulting does not in any way involve speaker’s bureaus or marketing for any industry products. Although not expressly defined by the SOM policy, “research consulting” includes activities that focus on planning, conduct or analysis of a clinical or scientific investigation or dissemination of the results of an investigation performed or coordinated by the faculty member. 

If a faculty presentation has been approved by the committee, or if it is exempt from review by the committee, the income received from the presentation may need to be assigned to UPI. Please review the Assignment of Income Document to determine whether the income is assignable to UPI. Generally, industry-sponsored speaking engagements that are considered “one-time” events do not need to be assigned to UPI. “One-time” means that the faculty member will not engage in repeat presentations for the same company, non-profit institution or other sponsor. You may also contact Robert Shikiar, Senior Legal Counsel for University Physicians, Inc., for more information regarding assignment of income to UPI.

For more information regarding industry-sponsored speaker approval, please see the Faculty Affairs Rules and Policies website, or contact Cheryl Welch at 303-724-5356.​


 Why can’t faculty members moonlight?

Moonlighting is prohibited for all full-time School of Medicine faculty physicians. "Full-time" includes all university-paid faculty members whose employment status is 0.50 FTE or greater and who have regular faculty appointments. This prohibition against moonlighting, which is strictly enforced, derives from policies governing University Physicians, Inc. (UPI) as well as the University of Colorado Malpractice Trust. Both documents require School of Medicine faculty members to devote 100 percent of their professional time and effort to the university.

Moonlighting, clinical consulting and locum tenens work are prohibited, even during weekends and vacations. Here is why:

  • ​Every full-time faculty member, at the time of hire, must sign a Member Practice Agreement with UPI. The agreement is mandated by the University of Colorado Board of Regents as a condition of faculty appointment. The agreement is a binding contract that obligates each faculty member to assign all clinical practice and other professional income to UPI. This includes all earned income, even during weekends, nights and vacations.

    "Clinical practice and other professional income" is defined broadly in the agreement; such income includes all work that relates to a faculty member's training, expertise and professional duties.

    Unrelated income—for example, from a lawn care business or private music lessons—is not restricted by this contract. There is also a narrow exception for certain types of small, one-time academic honoraria. The university has strictly and vigorously enforced, in court, the prohibition against moonlighting.​

  • Moonlighting also violates the provisions of the Colorado Government Immunity Act (GIA) and jeopardizes a faculty member's malpractice protection. Regular, full-time (> 0.50 FTE) university-employed faculty members are considered "public employees" under the GIA, and their malpractice liability is limited to $350,000 per person and $990,000 per incident. But the "public employee" status—and this malpractice insurance protection—only apply if a faculty member has "no independent or other health care practice." A faculty member who moonlights may no longer be considered a public employee under Colorado law and may not be covered by the GIA and the university's self-insurance trust. 

  • A faculty member who moonlights jeopardizes not only his or her malpractice protection for the moonlighting work but also for clinical practice at the university and its affiliated hospitals. Thus, moonlighting can result in unlimited liability and no malpractice insurance coverage from the University of Colorado. Note that work for other public entities, such as Denver Health or the Veterans Administration, is not considered an "independent or other health care practice" and is permitted.


Information for Part-Time and Volunteer Faculty Members

  • Separate provisions apply to volunteer faculty members and to those who are paid on a part-time basis. Part-time, paid (<0.50 FTE) faculty members sign an Associate UPI Member Practice Agreement that does not restrict their outside clinical or consulting practices. However, if they also have an outside health care practice: a) they are covered by the self-insurance trust only for injuries caused by a student, intern or resident under their supervision; and b) they are not covered by the self-insurance trust for their own acts or omissions and must maintain their own malpractice coverage for work performed within and outside the university.

  • Volunteer faculty members, who receive no payment or compensation from any university sources are covered by the university self-insurance trust for those services that are volunteered.

  • Part-time and volunteer physicians must have active clinical faculty appointments to receive coverage by the University of Colorado Malpractice Trust.


Occasionally, an outside clinical practice is considered vital to a faculty member's work and to the School of Medicine. In these exceptional circumstances, UPI and the School of Medicine can structure contractual agreements to bring this outside work into a School of Medicine cost center, so that earned income can be provided as an incentive to the faculty member. When properly executed, such outside clinical work is no longer considered moonlighting; rather, it becomes a component of the faculty member's work for the university, and the legal entanglements discussed above are avoided. In these unique circumstances, the faculty member and his or her department should work closely with UPI to structure an agreement that permits the faculty member to perform the activities in question.​​​

 Am I eligible for sabbatical?

School of Medicine faculty members are eligible for a sabbatical assignment after six years of full-time service to the University of Colorado and after achieving the rank of Associate Professor or Professor. Faculty members who hold “part-time” appointments (0.50 - 0.99 FTE) are eligible for a sabbatical after a longer, pro-rated period of service. All tenured and tenure-eligible faculty members are eligible, as are faculty members in the Research Professor and Clinical Practices series. A sabbatical assignment may not be granted more than once in a seven year period.

According to the Board of Regents, “a sabbatical is a privilege granted by the University for the advancement of the University. A sabbatical assignment is an important tool in developing academic scholarship and is a time for concentrated professional development. The faculty member shall use the sabbatical assignment in a manner that will enhance her/his scholarly and/or teaching competence and potential for service to the University, and advance departmental program goals.”

Applying for Sabbatical

Faculty members must apply for a sabbatical assignment. All sabbaticals must then be approved by the faculty member’s department chair, the Dean of the School of Medicine, the Provost of the University of Colorado Denver and the President and Board of Regents. Importantly, all sabbatical assignments are subject to the availability of resources. All sabbatical requests should be submitted at least six months prior to the start of the planned sabbatical. 

Submitting a Written Plan

Faculty members requesting a sabbatical must submit a written plan for the sabbatical, which includes: the dates of the sabbatical; plans for coverage of teaching, clinical, administrative, research and other responsibilities; and a budget, which outlines explicitly how the faculty member will be paid (including internal or external sources of funding). The application must include a statement of available external funding sources and “attempts to obtain such funding.” Obviously, the application must also include a clear description of the sabbatical, including a work plan, specific goals and an explanation of how the sabbatical will contribute to the faculty member’s professional growth and expertise and the academic goals of the department and the School of Medicine. The sabbatical plan must also describe how the work will contribute to “enhancing the University’s reputation and the educational experience of students.” 

Remuneration during Sabbatical

Remuneration during the sabbatical (from University resources such as state funding, University administered grants or contracts, or any other University managed sources) is subject to the following limits: faculty members may be paid either: their full salary for a period up to six months; or half salary for sabbaticals from six to 12 months. 

Post-Sabbatical Requirements

In accepting a sabbatical assignment, the faculty member also must agree to return to the University upon completion of the sabbatical and work for the University for at least one year thereafter. 

After completing the sabbatical, and within four months after returning to regular duties, faculty members must file a written report with the Dean and with their department chair, summarizing their work and accomplishments during the sabbatical. Both the plan for the sabbatical and the post-sabbatical report are evaluated by the Dean and are public documents. Departments are expected to use the sabbatical report during annual performance and post-tenure reviews. 

For more information about sabbaticals and the application process, visit the Faculty Affairs website and click on the link for “Sabbaticals and Other Privileges.” ​


 What is the Faculty Housing Assistance Program?

The Faculty Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) is a need-based housing assistance loan program that is available to full-time, tenured and tenure-eligible faculty on all campuses of the University of Colorado. It is jointly administered by the University and the University of Colorado Foundation. The program is designed to support junior faculty, including newly-recruited faculty members, who may have limited access to capital resources. 

Since its inception in 2001, 114 faculty members from the Boulder, Downtown Denver, Anschutz and Colorado Springs campuses have taken advantage of the program. More information is available by FHAP website or by calling the Office of the Treasurer at (303) 837-2182.


 Can faculty members participate in election campaigns?

As private citizens, University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty members are permitted to participate in election campaigns and advocate for public policies. However, most faculty members are also public employees, and the state and Board of Regents limit the manner in which employees may use the name and resources of the university. Specifically:

  • Under the Colorado Fair Campaign Practices Act (CRS 1-45-117), public money and university resources cannot be used to advocate for or against any candidate, ballot initiative or referred measure in any local, state or national election. This means that faculty members are prohibited, 24 hours per day, from using university computers, email accounts, university websites, faxes, office supplies, or other resources to influence an election or to advocate for or against any candidate for office or any issue that is before the people.
  • Faculty members may not use their university email accounts to send or forward any materials that urge electors to vote for or against a candidate, ballot initiative or other campaign issue that is before the people.
  • Faculty members may not participate in any election activities during working hours; if they wish to do so, they must take personal (vacation) leave. Even if using personal time, faculty members may not use university resources and must clarify that their activities are being conducted on personal time and not on behalf of, or at the request of, the university.
  • Under the Act, any person can complain to the secretary of state that a public entity or public employee has violated the campaign practices law.
  • Certain campaign-related activities are allowed. For example, faculty members may provide information in response to questions posed in the ordinary course of their duties, even if the information provided relates to a ballot issue – so long as the question was not solicited by a state employee.
  • Separate rules and restrictions apply to students and student groups and to regents and certain other officers of the university.​​

 What is the Faculty Tuition Benefit?

The University of Colorado tuition benefit program provides a waiver of tuition for up to 9 credit hours per year. The 9 credit hours can be used against tuition on a space-available basis, and registration must take place on the first day of classes for the tuition to be waived.


The tuition benefit is available only to faculty members and other eligible staff members who are employed by the University of Colorado and who hold full-time (at least 0.5 FTE) appointments. The tuition credit may be used for most undergraduate or graduate credit-granting courses. The tuition credit may not be used for Continuing Education, Extended Studies, or the Executive or 11-Month MBA programs. 

Supervisor approval is not required to use the tuition benefit. Supervisor approval for class attendance during normal work hours is required (as for any absence), but class attendance does not have to be documented in HRMS or CU-SIS. 

Employees may use the 9 credit hours on any University of Colorado campus.

Tuition Waiver for Dependents

Employees may distribute some or all the tuition credits to eligible dependents. However, dependents may only use the credit hours on the campus where the employee works, and only for undergraduate (1000-4000 level) credit-granting courses. Dependents of CU Denver employees can use the credits at either the Denver or Anschutz Medical Campus.


Faculty and staff members have pointed out repeatedly that the tuition benefit program still has too many restrictions and is not competitive with tuition benefits available at peer universities. For example, as noted above, faculty members and dependents can only use the tuition credit if they register on the first day of classes and only on a space-available basis. Also, undergraduate-level courses at CU Boulder are not available to dependents of Anschutz Medical Campus-based faculty members. The tuition benefit is even more limited for dependents of Boulder-based faculty. University of Colorado system officials, and various campus faculty and staff councils, are continuing to discuss options to strengthen the tuition benefit program. 

Learn more and view step-by-step application instructions.​


 What is the Teacher-Learner Agreement?

The TLA is a mutual pledge between teachers and students about their shared obligations in teaching, learning, research and clinical care.  The TLA is also a reminder that duty, integrity and respect are values of fundamental importance to medical education.

What are some of the things it says that teachers should do?

  • Treat students fairly, respectfully and without bias related to age, race, ethnicity, gender,  sexual orientation, religion, spiritual or political beliefs, disability or country of origin;
  • Maintain high professional standards in all interactions with patients, students, colleagues and staff;
  • Practice insightful (Socratic) questioning, which stimulates learning and self-discovery and avoid overly aggressive questioning which may be perceived as hurtful, humiliating, degrading or punitive.

The TLA lists additional responsibilities, which include providing explicit learning expectations, timely and constructive feedback and thoughtful and timely evaluations. Teachers are also expected to disclose to students, during lectures, seminars and mentored research activities, the existence of any financial ties or conflicts-of-interest that are related to the material being taught.

Teachers should also be familiar with the processes and resources of the Student Honor Council and the Student Professionalism Committee. Faculty should utilize appropriate mechanisms to encourage students who experience mistreatment or who witness unprofessional behavior to report the facts immediately (for example, to the Office of Professionalism, a trusted faculty or staff member, or the online professionalism reporting system) and to treat all such reports as confidential.

What do students have to do?

Treat teachers and fellow students fairly, respectfully and without bias related to age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, spiritual or political beliefs, disability or country of origin.

  • Demonstrate professional behavior in all settings.
  • Be active, enthusiastic, curious learners who work to enhance a positive learning environment.

The TLA lists additional responsibilities for students, including: recognizing personal limitations and seeking help when needed; providing teachers and the SOM with constructive feedback; and recognizing that not all learning stems from formal and structured activities. Students are also expected to demonstrate a commitment to life-long learning, uphold the honor code and be familiar with mechanisms to report exemplary professionalism and professionalism lapses.

What else does the Teacher-Learner Agreement say?

  • Students and teachers must avoid any and all behaviors that conceivably could lead to the perception of a boundaries violation such as:
    • Romantic involvements;
    • Business relationships, other than those that might emerge from joint educational projects;
    • Faculty or students accepting services or personal favors from each other (for example, babysitting, house sitting, pet care or work in the office);
    • Accepting substantial gifts;
    • Special treatment of a student, including gifts, meals, entertainment or social contacts, that differs substantially from the usual teacher-learner relationship with other students;
  • Students and teachers should avoid the potential conflict of interest whereby a student’s healthcare provider is also evaluating a student’s academic or clinical performance in a teaching role.

Does this mean I can’t have lunch with a medical student or invite students to my house for dinner?

No, but you have to use good judgment to maintain appropriate boundaries. There are no hard and fast rules, but here are some red flags that may indicate possible boundary violations:

  • Repeated social contacts with one student;
  • Social contacts that are not related to mentorship, teaching or learning;
  • Social contacts that would not be arranged with other students;
  • Contacts that feature alcohol as a central activity;
  • Contacts that are more for you than for the student;
  • Social contacts that are starting to feel like dating.

Where can I find the Teacher-Learner Agreement?

The TLA is posted on the Faculty Professionalism website. Faculty members must also acknowledge their understanding of the TLA annually, as one of the final steps in the PRiSM performance review process. If you have questions or concerns about the TLA, you may contact Wendy MadigoskyMaureen Garrity or Steven Lowenstein. ​​


 Am I eligible to retire from the School of Medicine? What benefits are available?

Faculty members who have a full-time appointment (FTE = at least 50 percent) and who meet specific age and service requirements are usually eligible to retire with benefits. For most faculty members, “eligible to retire” means that, immediately preceding their retirement date: they are actively enrolled in a University of Colorado 401(a) retirement plan; and they are at least 55 years of age; and their age plus years of university employment is at least 75 years. Click here for additional information regarding the definitions of normal and early retirement.

Upon retirement, faculty members may be eligible to continue their participation in several university-sponsored health insurance plans. However, the health insurance benefits and requirements can be complicated. If you anticipate retiring from the School of Medicine in the next 3-5 years, contact Employee Services for important information regarding your plans for retirement. Employee Services Benefits Professionals can be reached at 303-860-4200 (option 3) or 855-216-7740 (option 3). You can also go to for a comprehensive list of topics related to retirement.

Faculty members who retire may also be eligible to retain certain benefits from their departments, such as office space, administrative support, campus parking or a university email account. Please contact your department directly to inquire about the availability of these benefits.

What is “Phased Retirement?”

Some faculty members prefer to retire “gradually.” One option is to work at a reduced FTE (for example, 0.50 or 0.75 FTE) for a period of time. This option is available to all SOM faculty members, regardless of age or retirement eligibility, with the approval of the department chair. The appointment FTE, length of agreement and work assignments are negotiated between the faculty member and his or her chair.

Faculty members may also petition to participate in the University’s Phased Retirement Program. These agreements with the university permit the faculty member to reduce his or her time commitment, either immediately or incrementally. Importantly, they also include the faculty member’s irrevocable agreement to retire and, if tenured, to relinquish tenure on or before a specified date. Phased Retirement Agreements are binding contracts that are prepared by the university’s legal office, and they must be approved by the faculty member’s department chair, the Dean of the School of Medicine and the Chancellor. Faculty members participating in the Phased Retirement Program accrue several benefits: (1) The university’s retirement plan contributions (which are ordinarily 10 percent of full-time salary) are paid at twice the faculty member’s negotiated workload percentage (subject to specific limitations); (2) the university contributions to the group insurance plans (including health, dental and life insurance) continue during phased retirement, even if the faculty member is less than 50 percent; and (3) assuming the faculty member is at least 59 ½ years old, he or she may begin retirement plan withdrawals as permitted under the terms of the retirement plan and IRS regulations. Click here for important additional eligibility requirements, terms and conditions of this program. 

What faculty titles are available to me after I retire?

After retirement, some faculty members may wish to continue their teaching, research or other academic work on a voluntary basis. Talk to your department chair or division head about converting your regular faculty appointment to a clinical (volunteer) faculty appointment.

An Emeritus Professor title may also be available. According to the Rules of the School of Medicine, “Upon retirement, any member of the School of Medicine faculty who has given exemplary service to the School and continues to be active in the affairs of the School of Medicine may be allowed to retain his or her title with the description of ‘emeritus’ or ‘emerita,’ respectively.” Recommendations for emeritus or emerita titles originate with the department chair and are then forwarded to the School of Medicine Dean and Executive Committee for approval. Final approval by the Chancellor of the University of Colorado Denver|Anschutz Medical Campus is required. One additional benefit of having an emeritus or emerita title is continued eligibility to be a Principal Investigator on grants and contracts submitted through the School of Medicine. For more information regarding the process for obtaining emeritus appointments, please contact Cheryl Welch, Director of Faculty Affairs in the School of Medicine.​​​


 How do I get my chair's approval for volunteer community service activities?

​Faculty wanting to participate in volunteer community service activities should seek approval from their department chair before participating in these activities.  Click here for a template approval letter.  10

Faculty Appointments, Promotions, Tenure and Faculty Development

 Who is eligible for tenure in the School of Medicine? How often is tenure awarded? What are the standards for awarding tenure?

Faculty members who are employees of the University of Colorado in the regular academic ranks of Associate professor or Professor are eligible for the award of tenure. Faculty members at affiliated institutions are not eligible for tenure but may be considered for the distinction of "tenure criteria." Details regarding tenure and tenure criteria may be found in the SOM Rules.

Tenure is handled in a different manner at the SOM, when compared with other colleges and campuses in the University system. At the SOM, promotion and tenure are separate processes, although they may occur concurrently. Furthermore, the standards for awarding tenure are higher in the SOM than elsewhere in the University system, and tenure awards are now infrequent at the SOM. For example, during the past three years (2002-2005), the School's Faculty Promotions Committee (FPC) approved 243 promotions to Associate professor or Professor. During this period there were only 39 applications for tenure; of these, 33 (85%) were approved. Currently (July, 2005), there are 295 University-paid Associate Professor; of these, just 36 (12%) are tenured. Among the 306 Professors, 70% hold tenure.

According to the SOM Rules, "The award of tenure is reserved for those faculty members who are among the best in the field of scholarly endeavor [and who are] widely recognized as outstanding and influential teachers . . . Excellence [the highest SOM standard] in both scholarship and teaching must be present before an award of tenure is made." In teaching, the faculty member must have "an outstanding record of demonstrated success in mentoring students, residents, fellows or less experienced faculty members."

The SOM employs a broad definition of scholarship, modeled after the work of Boyer. The School recognizes the scholarship of discovery, application, integration and teaching. To be considered for tenure, the candidate must demonstrate "excellence in scholarship, which has led to a national and international reputation." According to the SOM Rules, scholarship (in the context of tenure) means "the long, systematic study of phenomena or events . . . accuracy and skill in investigation . . . [and] the demonstration of powers of critical analysis in the interpretation of such knowledge."

At the SOM, the tenure salary obligation is limited to the "base salary." In accordance with the "Base-Supplement-Incentive" salary plan approved by the Board of Regents in 1995, the base salary is adjusted each year such that it equals 70% of the average salary during the prior year of all basic science faculty holding the rank.


 What are the different types of faculty appointments?

The University of Colorado recognizes four types of faculty appointments
  1. Tenured appointments continue until resignation or retirement, or until termination (pursuant to applicable Regent laws and policies).  Only faculty members who are employed by the University of Colorado in the regular ranks of Associate Professor or Professor are eligible for tenure.  According to the Rules of the School of Medicine, tenure is reserved for faculty members “who are widely recognized as outstanding and influential teachers and scholars … [and] whose presence on the faculty enhances the prestige of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.”  A faculty member at an affiliated institution who holds the rank of Associate Professor or Professor, and who has a record of outstanding accomplishments in teaching and scholarship, is eligible for consideration for the distinction of “tenure criteria.”
  2. Indeterminate appointments are made for an indefinite period of time.  However, as stated in the faculty member’s letter-of-offer, continuance of the appointment is dependent upon inclusion in the approved budget and availability of salary support from specified grants, contracts or other sources. If funding from those sources ends, the appointment converts to at-will, without the requirement for advance notice to the faculty member.  However, faculty members holding indeterminate appointments are entitled to notice (according to the schedule, below), if their appointment will not be continued for reasons other than available funding. 
  3. Limited (term) appointments are for specified periods of time (from less than one year to four years).  Limited appointments are the most common appointment types for School of Medicine faculty members, and they are especially appropriate for faculty members who have been promoted or who, in other ways, have demonstrated excellence in teaching, research, scholarship, clinical work or other appropriate areas.  Except in the case of “dismissal for cause,” faculty members who hold limited appointments are entitled to advance notice before a chair or other administrative supervisor can end their appointment.  One year's notice of non-reappointment is required for full-time faculty members after three or more years of service at the University. Three months' notice is required for faculty members in their first year of service at the University, and six months' notice is required for those in their second or third year of service.   
  4. At-will appointments are made for an indefinite period of time; however, their continuance is at-will.  By state law, non-tenure eligible faculty members (Instructors and Senior Instructors and faculty holding research associate or research professor titles) may only hold at-will appointments, with two important exceptions.  First, any faculty member whose duties are at least 50 percent devoted to direct patient care may hold a limited (term) or indeterminate appointment.  Second, due to a 2012 change in state law (HB 12-1144), Instructors and Senior Instructors holding .5 FTE or greater classroom teaching assignments, are eligible for term appointments not to exceed three years, with approval of the Dean and Chancellor.    

Learn more about appointment types: Rules of the School of Medicine.


 Which promotion series is right for me?

School of Medicine faculty members, in consultation with their mentors and chairs, must decide whether to seek promotion in the Regular Series, the Clinical Practice Series or the Research Professor Series. 

The Regular Series

This is the appropriate promotion pathway for the majority of School of Medicine faculty members, including basic scientists, clinician-scientists and clinician-teachers. Faculty members seeking promotion to Associate Professor must demonstrate excellence in one of the principal areas of accomplishment:  teaching, research or clinical practice. Importantly, at least meritorious achievements (the lower standard) must be demonstrated in scholarship, teaching and clinical work or service. “Scholarship” is broadly defined and includes not only research (the scholarship of “discovery”), but also the scholarship of teaching, application and integration. All faculty members in the Regular Series, who are employed by the University of Colorado, are eligible for tenure. Learn more.

Clinical Practice Series

This is an academic pathway designed for faculty members who focus the majority of their time on direct patient care and other activities related to improving health care quality (e.g., outcomes, access to care, outcomes, efficiency, patient safety or the health of populations). There is an expectation of greater clinical effort, and excellence in clinical work (as measured against the School of Medicine Promotion Matrix) is required. There is no requirement for written scholarship, although clinically-relevant scholarship is encouraged. Teaching (at least at the meritorious level) is required. Because scholarship is not required, faculty members in the Clinical Practice Series are not eligible for tenure.

Instructors, Senior Instructors and Assistant Professors may not be assigned to the Clinical Practice Series; rather, they will hold titles in the Regular Series. Prior to undergoing departmental review for promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, all faculty members who are clinicians, in consultation with their chair and mentor(s), must choose whether to seek promotion to Associate Professor in the regular or clinical practice series. Normally, they will make this election after undergoing a comprehensive mid-course review, based on their interests and accomplishments in clinical work, service, teaching and scholarship.

Research Professor Series

Faculty members who devote almost all their time to grant-funded research, with limited teaching and service responsibilities, may be appointed and promoted in the Research Professor Series.  Faculty members in the Research Professor Series will be supported by funds from external grants and contracts. They may be independently-funded or collaborative scientists, as defined in the Rules of the School of Medicine. Faculty in the research professor series are at-will employees and are not eligible for tenure, in accordance with Colorado law and University of Colorado policies. 

For more information about each of the promotion series, see Section II.G of the Rules of the School of Medicine.


 FAQs about PRiSM: The New System for Faculty Performance Reviews in the School of Medicine

What is PRiSM?
PRiSM, or Performance Reviews in the School of Medicine, is a new, unified online system for faculty performance evaluations developed by the Office of Faculty Affairs and the Information Technology project team. PRiSM will be utilized for all university-based School of Medicine faculty members, beginning in January 2014. It replaces DOMINO, FIDO and the Family Medicine department’s version of DOMINO.
PRiSM is designed to help faculty document activities and accomplishments while updating information pertinent to the annual performance evaluation. PRiSM complements—but does not replace—the face-to-face performance review meetings between each faculty member and his or her division (or section) head or department chair or their designee. 
How do I access PRiSM?
You can access PRiSM via this link: This link will take you to the SOM Portal, where you will be able to click on a link to PRiSM to begin your performance review and view and upload prior-year evaluations. 
What is the review period for PRiSM?
The review period for faculty evaluations has changed from academic year to calendar year. Therefore, the review period that is beginning now will encompass activities and accomplishments that were completed during the 2013 calendar year (January 1 through December 31). This change was made to allow for a more consistent evaluation of work that has already been completed.
What is the deadline for annual faculty evaluations?
The deadline for completion of faculty evaluations is May 1, 2014. Faculty members must submit their performance reviews by this date. May 1 is also the deadline for division heads, department chairs and other supervisors to complete their reviews. (Note: Most departments will establish department-specific, earlier deadlines for submitting performance reviews in PRiSM.) 
Will I be able to access information from my previous reviews?
As in past years, information that was contained in the last year’s review can be been uploaded into your review this year. However, some of the data and free text fields have changed. Therefore, some information from your prior-year review may “map” to a different field or section of PRiSM. It will be easy to cut and paste information within the system.
How is my faculty appointment information updated in PRiSM?
Your faculty appointment information, including academic rank and other information, will now be updated automatically using information contained in the Faculty Information Management System (FIMS), which is a database maintained by the Office of Faculty Affairs. This will minimize data duplication and increase data integrity, while also alleviating the need for administrative staff to add or manage faculty data within PRiSM.
Will teaching evaluations be uploaded into PRiSM?
Medical student teaching evaluations from the Office of Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) will be automatically uploaded into your review in February 2014. You will also have the ability to upload additional teaching evaluations (for example, from residents or graduate students).
What other enhancements have been made to PRiSM?
PRiSM includes some additional features that should make your work easier. Formatting text using rich text features is included, so you can easily underline, add bullets or bold text. Sections in which you summarize your accomplishments in teaching, clinical work, research and scholarship and community service have been redesigned to match the language of the promotion matrix (making later dossier preparation easier). Near the end of the PRiSM document, you will have an opportunity to upload other documents, such as letters from peers, mentees or grateful patients. And you can now automatically upload your publications directly from Pub Med.
For more information regarding the enhancements that have been made to PRiSM, click here.
Will IT support be available?
Open information sessions will be held weekly to provide hands-on support during the performance review cycle. Sessions are scheduled every Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. in the Health Sciences Library Teaching Lab 1. Ongoing support will also be available by contacting

 How does the 7-year “Up or Out” clock work at the School of Medicine?

The SOM Rules state that Assistant Professors must be reviewed for promotion by the beginning of their seventh year in rank. Faculty members who are not promoted by the end of their seventh year will be given one-year's notice that their appointment will not be renewed. However, there is built-in flexibility. First, the time-clock is routinely extended (pro-rated) to account for periods of part-time employment. And if the faculty member, department chair and Dean all concur, extensions may be granted; valid reasons include illness, family obligations, changes in career focus or assignments or other circumstances indicating that additional time is needed before promotion. Extensions may be granted for 1, 2 or 3 years.

There is one additional requirement: Before requesting an extension to the promotion time clock, the faculty member must undergo a formal evaluation of his or her academic progress and readiness for promotion. This review is typically conducted by the department's promotions committee.

Requests for extensions should come from the Department Chair and should include an explanation of why the additional time is needed and how the time will be used to prepare the faculty candidate for promotion.


 If a department chair decides not to renew a faculty member’s appointment, is the faculty member entitled to notice?

The University of Colorado Denver recently modified the schedule for providing notice of non-reappointment. These policies apply to non-tenured faculty members who hold limited or indeterminate appointments.

Limited Term Appointments

Effective July 1, 2012: One year’s notice of non-reappointment is required for full-time faculty members holding limited term appointments, after three or more years of service to the university. Three months’ notice is required for faculty members in their first year of service at the University, and six months’ notice is required for those in their second or third year of service. Written notice of a chair’s intent not to renew a faculty member’s appointment can be provided at any time.

Indeterminate Appointments

Similar notice must be provided to faculty members holding indeterminate appointments if their appointment will not be continued for reasons other than availability of funding (as outlined in the letter-of-offer).

At-Will Appointments

Faculty members holding at-will appointments may see their appointments end at any time, without notice (although certain constitutional protections apply). In addition, as outlined in the university policy, “as a courtesy, university administrators may provide advance notice of non-reappointment to at-will employees, when feasible.” 

Faculty members holding limited or indeterminate appointments may not be re-assigned to at-will appointments unless proper notice is provided.

For more information about the differences among tenured, limited, indeterminate and at-will faculty appointments, see the FAQ section on the Faculty Affairs website.​​ 


 What happens to my sick and vacation time when I leave the University?

When a faculty member terminates from the University, 100% of earned vacation leave is paid out, up to the maximum accrual of 44 days. The rules for sick leave are different. Upon retirement, 25% of accumulated sick leave is paid out, up to a maximum payment of 30 days.

Other variables which may influence the maximum sick leave earned prior to May 1, 2001, are best dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Payment of leave accruals is made from a central pool of money maintained by the UCD campus. Please contact Human Resources for additional information.


 My career focuses on scientific research. How should I document my research accomplishments in my promotion or tenure dossier?

If your career focuses on research, you must submit a well-organized Investigator’s Portfolio as part of your promotion or tenure dossier. This is the section of your dossier where you highlight and explain your most noteworthy research discoveries, insights or advances. This is also the place where you can explain your unique contributions to multi-disciplinary (“team”) research programs. Your curriculum vitae (CV), which lists your grants, publications and other scholarly activities, is not enough to judge research excellence. 

According to the Promotion Rules of the School of Medicine (SOM), “basic, clinical, translational, educational and other forms of research are highly valued by the School of Medicine.” The SOM also recognizes the importance of “inter-disciplinary science and the need for collaboration among investigators.” (See additional information below regarding research “independence.”) 

As outlined in the SOM promotion matrix, “excellence” in research may be demonstrated through peer-reviewed scientific publications, competitive grant funding, a national or international reputation, and other evidence of originality, creativity and independence as an investigator. Naturally, when it comes to evaluating the quality of your scientific work, the information you provide in the Investigator’s Portfolio will be supplemented by letters written by outside experts and peers in your field of study.

Note that this FAQ is for research-intensive faculty members: the FAQ in the next issue of Faculty Matters will provide guidelines for documenting other types of scholarship (teaching, integration and application).

Basic Elements of a Well-Organized Investigator’s Portfolio

  • Narrative statement. In the Investigator’s Portfolio, you should include a narrative summary that explains the focus, importance and impact of your research and scholarly work to members of the SOM Faculty Promotions Committee. Examples are provided in the Investigator’s Portfolio section of the Guide to Building a Dossier for Promotion or Tenure (Additional checklists, FAQs, and resources are available under the “Promotion and Tenure” section of the Faculty Affairs website.) You should also explain how your work has supported the research programs and missions and enhanced the reputation of your department, the SOM or the university. Your narrative statement should not exceed two pages.
  • Summary of funded research. For your most important funded projects, list the grant and describe (briefly) the purpose of the project. Highlight your role, especially if you are not the Principal Investigator (PI). Provide a brief summary of the nature and importance of the problem (the “context”) and the expected results or implications of the work. For multiple-PI grants and program project and center grants, be specific about how you contributed to the success of these grants. Limit this section to 250 words per project.
  • Annotated bibliography. Help the promotions committee reviewers understand the significance of your publications. You should limit this section to a summary of no more than 10 of your “best” publications or scholarly works (i.e., those that have been the most significant or that have received the most attention). Greatest weight is given to recent publications (typically those published after the date of your most recent promotion or tenure award). For each publication or scholarly work, provide a brief summary of the nature and importance of the problem (the “context”) and the most important results. Provide electronic links, but not reprints, for the publications described in this section.  
  • Impact factors. As noted above, in your narrative statements and annotated bibliography, you will be highlighting the impact that your publications or scholarly work has had on your field. Metrics—such as the number of article citations, your h-index or others (e.g., those available at—can be useful in making the case that the publication or scholarly work was significant. However, the Faculty Promotions Committee discourages the use of journal-based metrics (i.e., journal impact factors), since it is the quality and importance of the research contribution itself that is the key. Research importance can also be measured by its impact on policy, practice or the scientific discipline. Other outputs from scientific research, such as intellectual property, databases, software or others, may also be highlighted.  
  • National recognition. Provide additional details about the degree to which your publications and discoveries have been recognized by leaders in your field. For example, highlight: invited lectures, visiting professorships and plenary research presentations; work cited in editorials, scientific blogs or the lay press; service on NIH study sections or scientific advisory boards; editorship of scientific journals (or membership on editorial boards); and accomplishments recognized by national prizes or scientific awards.
  • Evidence of originality, creativity and independence. This section of the Investigator’s Portfolio is particularly important for faculty candidates whose research is multi-disciplinary and whose publications and other accomplishments reflect the work of multi-disciplinary teams. Note that in 2012, the SOM promotion rules were amended, and the following definitions of “independence” were added: The School of Medicine recognizes the importance of inter-disciplinary science and the need for collaboration among investigators. Therefore, as recommended by the National Academy of Science, the School of Medicine defines an “independent investigator” as one who demonstrates “independence of thought”— that is, one who has defined a problem of interest, who has chosen or developed the best strategies and approaches to address that problem and who has contributed distinct intellectual expertise. 

    Therefore, use this section of your Investigator’s Portfolio to clarify the contributions that you have made to multi-author publications and co-PI and co-investigator grants. Be specific about your intellectual contributions and the manner in which you defined the research objectives, led the research efforts, interpreted the results or shaped the overall research program. Additional evidence should also be provided, such as letters from the principal investigators or research group heads with whom you have collaborated, outlining in detail your specific contributions and the unique skills that you brought to the team. For multi-authored papers, letters from the first- or senior-authors may also provide evidence of your specific contributions. The overall objective is to convey clearly and concisely to the Faculty Promotions Committee the importance, significance and broad impact of your cumulative research contributions.
  • Institutional service. You should include descriptions of committee work and institutional service, if your efforts have been vital in supporting the general research missions of your department, the SOM or the university. Examples might include being a chair or member of an institutional review board or an institutional committee focusing on animal care, safety, conflicts-of-interest or scientific misconduct.

For a more complete discussion of these topics, refer to the Guide to Building a Dossier for Promotion or Tenure, which includes examples of narrative statements, annotated bibliographies and summaries of research funding.

For a complete list of Frequently Asked Questions, visit the Faculty Affairs website.  ​


 What happened to the Faculty Handbook?

The old paperbound Faculty Handbook is gone. The new University of Colorado Faculty Handbook is now available only electronically. The Handbook still includes various policies, laws and procedures that apply to, and are of interest to, faculty members, including:

    • Practices related to promotion and tenure
    • Compensation and leave policies
    • Policies governing retirement
    • Insurance and other benefits

 What are the policies and procedures for faculty salary increases and decreases?

The School of Medicine Base, Supplement and Incentive (BSI) Plan, which was initially approved by the Board of Regents in 1995, describes the salary components and salary adjustments for full-time faculty members (Instructors and above who are at least 50% FTE) in the School of Medicine.  Full-time faculty members in all three series (Regular Faculty, Research Professor and Clinical Practice) participate in the BSI Salary Plan.  Regent Policy 11C governs the policies and procedures pertaining to salary adjustments.

The University permits salary adjustments for full-time faculty members once a year.  Consideration of salary increases occurs in the spring, for salary changes that will take effect on July 1st.  In recent years, the Regents have granted an additional opportunity to adjust salaries, which occurs in the fall (for salary adjustments that will take effect on January 1st).  January 1st salary adjustments are permitted only for schools and colleges that have adopted a BSI compensation plan.  Outside of these two opportunities, full-time faculty salaries are generally not adjusted at any other time during the year. 

Salaries for all faculty members must be approved by the Regents.  All salary recommendations are submitted to the Regents through a process managed by the individual Schools and Colleges.  A “salary pool” is provided for use during the process, and all adjustments are required to fall within that pool.  Typically, individual faculty salaries are based on merit and cost-of-living factors and cannot increase more than a pre-determined “threshold,” unless the department and the School of Medicine provides written justification.  For example, a large salary increase may be denied unless it can be justified based on a substantial change in the faculty member’s responsibilities, market demands or equity considerations.  

Decreases in a faculty member’s salary are occasionally recommended, and these adjustments follow the same processes and timelines.  According to BSI guidelines, a faculty member’s salary cannot be lowered more than 15% in a given year without approval by the Dean and Chancellor.  Faculty salaries cannot generally be decreased below the pre-determined School of Medicine Base. 

Stipends for specific administrative duties (e.g., program director, assistant dean, department vice-chair) are handled separately; they can be processed at any time during the year and require development of a new letter of offer outlining the additional administrative responsibilities.​