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Goals and Obligations Guidelines for Tenure-Track/Tenured Faculty

Stony Brook University has a five-part mission, as stated on the President’s webpage:

  • to provide comprehensive undergraduate, graduate, and professional education of the highest quality;
  • to carry out research and intellectual endeavors of the highest international standards that advance knowledge and have immediate or long-range practical significance;
  • to provide leadership for economic growth, technology, and culture for neighboring communities and the wider geographic region;
  • to provide state-of-the-art innovative health care, while serving as a resource to a regional health care network and to the traditionally underserved;
  • to fulfill these objectives while celebrating diversity and positioning the University in the global community.

 The university’s success in carrying out this mission crucially depends on the activity of the faculty. This document outlines the responsibilities of faculty, the principles underlying a fair and equitable distribution of these responsibilities, and the procedures to be put in place to accomplish the following goals:


  • Fulfill departmental and college educational and research missions.
  • Enable faculty to contribute to these missions in ways that make best use of their talents and abilities.
  • Provide flexibility for departments to assign individual faculty obligations as appropriate.
  • Increase faculty job satisfaction by ensuring that workloads are distributed equitably within units in the college/school/university.

Guiding Principles

  • As stated in the Policies of the Board of Trustees, all tenured and tenure track faculty have an obligation to support the mission of the university by contributions to research/scholarship/creative activity, teaching and mentoring of students, and service to the institution.
  • The distribution of effort to these areas may vary across faculty members within a unit and, for a specific faculty member, at various stages of their careers.
  • Workloads and teaching schedules are to be administered to reflect an optimal utilization of the talents and contributions of the faculty in accord with the academic program needs of the department/unit and the University, and the faculty’s opportunities for continued professional development and achievement.
  • Assignment of responsibilities to individual faculty members should be an ongoing process involving consultation between the faculty member and their chair and should be carried out according to principles of equity.

Definitions of Baseline Expectations

Research/Scholarship/Creative Activities:

Tenure-track and tenured faculty are expected to engage in research/scholarship/creative activities, to disseminate their knowledge and expertise through venues/communications consistent with their community's culture, e.g. publications, exhibits, and/or lectures, and (where applicable) to strive to secure external funds which are essential for sustaining faculty research activities by supporting graduate students and research staff, functionalizing laboratory facilities, and enabling faculty to produce high quality scholarship. Team building and collaborations are encouraged to facilitate research.


All faculty are expected to contribute to the educational mission of the university and to contribute to the ongoing endeavors of the academic community through teaching and mentoring of students. Generally, the base teaching expectation of tenured or tenure-track faculty is on average 4 courses per year, but the specific course load varies from discipline to discipline. Faculty are expected to supervise and support graduate students, when possible.


Service includes both on-campus contributions to the department, college, and other units in the university, as well as to the professional community, consistent with an individual faculty member’s interests and expertise. Outreach efforts promoting the research/scholarship/creative activity of the faculty and the university to the broader community are also encouraged. Course reductions for significant service are discussed with and approved by the chair, and further approved by the dean of the college/school.

Clinical Obligations:

Any activities directly related to the health care of patients are part of the critical mission of Stony Brook Medicine and would generally justify negotiation for course reduction.

These guidelines are subject to change, depending upon the needs of the campus, departments and students. The guidelines are intended to articulate minimum obligations of a faculty member.


Pursuant to Stony Brook's long-standing Policy on Obligations of the Faculty, adopted on February 5, 1991, faculty obligations are defined by the departments in consultation and agreement with the colleges/divisions.

It is the responsibility of the departments/academic units to

  • determine the appropriate level of faculty contribution based on representative standards of the discipline, following their own by-laws,
  • develop a policy that outlines the baseline expectations for research/scholarship/creative activity, teaching and service,  
  • prepare a plan for ensuring that each faculty member is contributing appropriately to the university’s mission and for implementing remedies in cases where faculty are not contributing at comparable levels.  

Upon approval of a draft workload policy by the department/academic unit, the chair shares it with the dean. Upon Dean’s approval, the draft policy is forwarded to the Provost or the Senior Vice-President for Health Sciences for final review and approval.

All Tenured and Tenure-Track faculty members are provided an opportunity to discuss their achievements and their aspirations and goals for the future on an annual basis with their Department Chair/Head of Unit [and/or a committee of faculty, as designated in the department’s bylaws].

  • These annual meetings include a discussion of the annual report generated by the faculty member on key activities of the past year and plans for the upcoming year, and discussion of how the faculty member’s activities align with the department’s/academic unit’s/institution’s needs and priorities, as well as a conversation about faculty member’s needs, professional development, well-being, and engagement with the SBU community.
  • At the end of the annual review meeting, in cases where individual faculty achievements do not meet the departmental/unit baseline obligations, the chair prepares a document that includes a timeline for remediating the deficiencies, and a plan for reassignment of responsibilities if deficiencies are not overcome within the established time period.

This policy is consistent with the 1985 resolution of the Stony Brook University Senate on instructional responsibilities.

Examples of approaches for establishing a baseline level of expectations for Research/scholarship/creative activities

When assessing research contributions, the following factors should be taken into account, generally considering the past 5 years:

  1. Number of journal articles/book chapters published in high impact publications in the faculty member’s scholarship field
  2. Number of impactful books published
  3. Number of acclaimed performances or exhibits, for performing or creative arts departments / programs
  4. Number of grants/fellowships received
  5. Total dollar amount of all grants/fellowships
  6. Number of PhD students advised, including membership on dissertation committees
  7. Other Research and Scholarship activities including, but not limited to, book reviews, presentations at professional meetings, or lectures by invitation, and national service on reviewing or policy-generating committees
  8. Professional career stage (e.g. new- or late-stage assistant professor, associate professor, or full professor)

For faculty who do not meet research/scholarship/creative baseline expectations, increased contributions in teaching and/or service are expected.

Examples of approaches for establishing a baseline for equitable teaching obligations:

When assessing teaching obligations and loads the following factors should be taken into account:

  1. Course level taught (i.e., undergraduate lower division 100-200 or upper division 300-400; or graduate 500-600)
  2. Class size/ student enrollment
  3. Number of undergraduate and/or masters students’ research/scholarship supervised
  4. Number of graduate students supervised
  5. Large classes should be given credit
  6. Increased research duties, such as developing or serving in large institutional proposals as the lead PI