Anthropology Appointment Procedures (2023)

20Chapter VI from theGraduate Programs Handbook of Policies and Procedures for Students and Faculty,Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, August 2001


As a general rule, the department has very few internal means to support graduate students during theirstudies here. The most important means of modest student support are teaching assistantships and associateships. Afew students get research assistantships; others compete for Graduate School Fellowships and Minority GraduateStudent Fellowships. Many students find ways to support their studies from sources outside the department,including teaching assistantships in the Writing Program, Women's Studies, Legal Studies, theInquiry Program, andthe Internship Office. A few have developed research assistantships in the Department of Psychology, and othershave worked for the University of Massachusetts Archaeological Services in providing contracted survey, curatorial,and cultural resource management services. Some students,as part of a financial aid package, receive work-studysupport; the department has had some modest success in turning work-study support into assistantships. Finally,several rely on external or personal sources of funding.

A. Tuition Waivers.

The Graduate School grants a waiver of tuition to graduate students who receive any form offellowship or assistantship support solong as the stipend exceeds a particular minimum, currently $2,500 persemester. This policy extends as well to employment off-campus, when such employment is considered an integralpart of the graduate student's educational program. The test of whether such employment is integral to a student'seducation, according to the Graduate School, is a declaration by the GPD to thateffect. So, if you think your workqualifies you for a tuition waiver, check with the GPD,or the Business Manager of the Graduate School.

B. Teaching Assistantships and Associateships.

1. Introduction.

Teaching assistantships and associateshipsare not scholarships; rather the graduatestudent is employed for up to 20hours per week to assist an instructor inteaching introductorylevel anthropology courses to undergraduate students. The faculty choose those graduate studentswho have demonstrated a strong capability to teach well.Teaching assistantships andassociateships, of course, provide a graduate student with invaluable professional experience.Students who demonstrate exceptional teaching skillmay be appointed as teaching associates whoteach their own independent courses under the mentorship of a faculty member. In addition to anannual stipend paid weekly, teaching assistants and associates receive a waiver of tuition.

Students should gain some teaching experience evenbefore applying for assistantships -- forexample, by presenting oral class reports, by offering a lecture in one of the introductory courses,or by volunteering to organize a discussion section. In such cases, the student should arrange forthe course instructor to evaluate such contributions and to place a written copy of this evaluationin the student's file.

Students desiring graduate teaching assistantships or associateships must apply each academicyear whether or not they have held such positions previously. Renewal is in no case consideredautomatic. As a rule, assistantships and associateships are granted for anacademic year, but underspecial circumstances may be granted for a single semester. The deadline for filing applications isannounced by the department chair in theMegaMemo. Application forms are available from thegraduate secretary.

Preference is given to students who have been in the program for at least one semester or whohave not held assistantships or associateships for an extended period of time. Various factorsdetermine the number of semesters for which assistantships or associateships may be renewed,among them the number of qualified applicants and the number of positions available to the21department; the maximum number for several years now has been six semesters. The mainconsideration in the granting of graduate teaching assistantships and associateships is the qualityof undergraduate instruction. Selections are therefore made by the department's ExecutiveCommittee on the basis of its estimation of the teaching potential of each applicant. Only writtenevaluations and other information in the students' files are used in evaluating applicants. Financialneed plays no part in the awarding ofteaching assistantships and associateships.

All graduate students in good academic standing in the department are eligible to apply for thesepositions. The department deems it unwise for graduate assistants and associates to elect morethan nine credits per semester while holding a full appointment. Further, those on a fullappointment are required to be enrolled on a full-time basis (see Chapter V, paragraph E).

2. The Application Process.

a. Application.The departmental chair calls -- at least once and sometimes twice each year -- forapplications for teaching assistantships and associateships to commence the followingsemester. This call appears in theMegaMemo. The graduate secretary has applicationforms and accepts completed applications.

The student submits a cover letter, a completed application form, teaching inventory, anda current CV. S/he should make sure that her or his file is in order. Complete filesshould minimally contain: course/teaching evaluations for courses applicants have taughtor assisted in teaching at UMASS or elsewhere; current transcript; letters of evaluation ofteaching experience and/or of core programcourses (as relevant); and copies ofpublications and other relevant papers.

The student may also wish to include a cover letter as her/his introduction to theExecutive Committee; its purpose is to provide information not included elsewhere in theapplication materials. The letter may contain such items as supplemental areas of study(language, background research, complementary courses outside the department), andfieldwork or other issues which may have affected the rate of progress through theprogram.

b. Assessment of applications.The department's ExecutiveCommittee is responsible forreviewing all application packets and applicants' files and for developing a rank orderingof all applicants, following the guidelines setforth below in sections 3 and 4. The Chairinforms each applicant of: 1) her/his point score broken down by category, and 2) rankout of total number of applicants.

c. Assignment to courses.The Chair assigns those on the ranked list to specific coursesprimarily on the basis of the best match between the needs for instruction and thecandidates' qualifications. In making assignments, the Chair considers applicants'preferences and tries to assign individuals so that cumulatively over the duration of theirgraduate student teaching careers here, theyteach across the anthropology curriculum.Those applicants not appointedto teaching positions remain asalternates to be appointedin rank order as positions may become available throughout the academic year.

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Additionally, when assigning individuals to teach stand alonecourses, the chair normallyconsiders only those who, at the beginning of the appointment, 1) will have a minimumof two semesters of assisting or teaching experience, of which a minimum of onesemester of assisting or teaching experience isin this department; and 2) will have taughtnot more than one stand alone course in this department (this excludes courses taught in22other departments and through the Division of Continuing Education). Then the Chairappoints candidates to courses normally inrank order from the top of the list.

3. Applicant Tiers.

As the first step in the ranking process, applicants are separated into the followingtiers, then ranked within each tier according tostandards of teaching and academic excellence,outlined in the criteria listed below in section 4.

a. First tier: applicants who at the time of the effective date of their appointment would begin theirfirst through fourth semester of being a teaching assistant in this department.

b. Second tier: applicants who at the time of the effective date of their appointment would begintheir fifth or sixth semester of being a teaching assistant in this department.

c. Third tier: applicants who at the time of their application meet either of these conditions:

1. are in their first semester of graduate study in this department, or

2. have completed six or more semesters of teaching service in this department.

d. Fourth tier: applicants who...

1. have submitted a late application, or

2. at the time of their application are on provisional status.e. Fifth tier: Ineligible for appointment. This includes applicants...1. who are on probation in the department.2. who have more than one incomplete grade.

3. whose teaching evaluationsmanifest a pattern of strongly negative response and /orfailure to perform duties at the minimumstandard acceptable to the departmentand the University.

Applicants must submit all application materials to the graduate secretary on or before thedeadline, normally a Friday. The graduate secretary will promptly inform the applicant whetherthe application is complete, and if not, exactly what materials remain to be filed. In such instances,the applicant will be expected to file the missing materials promptly. Applications that remainincomplete by noon on the date when they arereviewed (normally the following Wednesday) shallbe considered formally late.

Upon request, the Executive Committee provides students placed in this tierwith reasons for thisassignment.

4. Ranking Criteria.

Applicants within eachcategory are ranked according to the Executive Committee'sassessment of their teaching ability and of the quality of their academic record, on the basis ofinformation in the applicants' files. Teaching ability and academic excellence are given equalweight. Each of the criteria is assessed in detail according to the followingsystem: In addition tosubmitting an application form, applicants must make sure their files are complete and up-to-date.The following items constitute the basis on which applicants are evaluated:

Academic quality is rated in three categories (i.e., course work and academic awards; researchand scholarship; and progress through the program) and teaching ability is rated in two categories(i.e. teaching experience;teaching quality). For each applicant, each of these five categories isscored on a scale of zero to five points, and theteaching quality category isscored on a scale ofzero to ten points. Thus the maximum possible point score is 30 points. Details of the categoriesare:

Academic quality:

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Category 1: a combination of grades (with GPA relevant only for Anthropologycourses), evaluations of course work,and academic awards received duringgraduate study; Maximum of five points.

Category 2: a combination of publications, technical reports, papers presented atconferences, grant proposals and grantsawarded and, where appropriatelydocumented, professional service. These forms of research and scholarship areweighted by type and by years of graduate study. Maximum of five points.

Category 3: progress in the graduate program. Maximum of five points.

Teaching quality:

Category 1: a combination of type and degree of evaluated teaching experience, withinand outside of the department. Maximum of five points.

Category 2: quality of teaching as indicated by classroom/student evaluations and lettersof evaluation. Maximum of ten points.

Finally, the academic and teaching subtotals are added for a maximum possible of 30 points. Theapplicant with the most points is then ranked first, the applicant with thesecond largest number ofpoints, second, etc.

5. Grievance Procedure.This Grievance Procedure exists to help ensure that any errors made in theDepartment's TA selection and ranking process are identified and rectified in a timely manner.Utilization of this Grievance Procedure will normally be preceded by a TAapplicant's informalinquiry to the Graduate Program Director. TheGrievance Procedure may be initiated when a TAapplicant believes his/her position in the TA ranking has resulted from misunderstanding ormisjudgment of his/her qualifications or credentials. The Grievance Procedure does not applywhen: (a) the applicant's position in the ranking derives from his/her failure to submit a completeapplication and /or to include relevant materials in his/her file prior to the selection deadlines; or(b) the grounds for the ranking and/or dissatisfaction with it result from the qualitativeassessments expressed in such evaluative materials as teaching evaluations or core courseevaluations. TA applicants who wish to challenge their positions in the TA applicant rankingestablished and published by the Executive Committee of the Department have recourse to thefollowing Grievance Procedure.

The steps and guidelines of the Grievance Procedure are:

a. The TA applicant who is grieving the ranking must present his/her objections to theranking to the Departmental Chair, in writing, within two weeks of the date ofpublication of the ranking in theMegaMemo. Submission of the writtengrievance by the applicant constitutes permission to have a Graduate studentmember on the Grievance Committee who has access to the grievant's file.

b. On receipt of the written grievance, the Departmental Chair will:
1) sequester the file of the Grievant in the hands of the Departmental Officestaff; and
2) initiate the creation of the Grievance Committee, which must be appointedwithin two weeks of the Chair'sreceipt of the written grievance.24

c. From the time the Chair receives thewritten grievance untilthe Executive Committeereaches a final decision onthe grievance, no materials may be added or removedfrom the Grievant's file, or, if relevant,from the files of other TA applicants.

d. The Grievance Committee is anad hoccommittee, consisting of one faculty memberappointed by the Executive Committee,one faculty member appointed by theGrievant, and one graduate student, who is not one of the ranked TA applicants,appointed by the Graduate Caucus. Each appointing body will inform theDepartmental Chair of its appointee to the Grievance Committee in writing, andwithin two weeks as stipulated in 2b. The Chair will then formally appoint andcharge the members of the Grievance Committee, and provide each of them withcopies of the TA Selection Guidelines, the Grievance Procedure, and theGrievant's written statement of objection.

e. The Grievance Committee will then reviewthe Grievant's case and present its findingsand recommendation to theExecutive Committee, viathe Chair, and to theGrievant, within two weeks of receivingits formal appointment and charge.

f. In reviewing the Grievant's case, the Grievance Committee may review the file of theGrievant and any other TA applicants' files it deems relevant to the case. TheGrievance Committee may also: interview the members of the ExecutiveCommittee or otherwise request information on the procedure and processfollowed by the Executive Committee in carrying out the TA selection; and/orrequest additional information from the Grievant relevant to the case.

g. The agreement of any two of the three members of the Grievance Committee issufficient to constitute a recommendation to the Executive Committee.

h. The report of the Grievance Committee to the Executive Committee must be inwriting with a copy provided at the sametime to the Grievant. The GrievanceCommittee must and may only recommend either (a) that the ExecutiveCommittee let stand its original, published ranking of TA applicants; or (b) thatthe Executive Committee should reconsider the originalranking. In either case,the Grievance Committee must explainthe reasons for its recommendation.

i. If the Grievance Committee recommends that the Executive Committee let stand itsoriginal ranking, the Executive Committeeneed take no action. The Dept chairwill then inform the Grievant of theoutcome, in writing, and will file alldocuments relevant to the grievance case.

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j. If the Grievance Committee recommendsthat the Executive Committee review andreconsider the original ranking, the Executive Committee must do so, withattention to the reasoning of the Grievance Committee, within two weeks ofreceipt of the Grievance Committee's report. The Executive Committee willdecide the extent and details of its review of applicants' files and on any othersteps necessary to its reconsideration.

k. Regardless of the outcome of the Executive Committee's review of the ranking, itmust publish the results of its reconsideration as part of its minutes in theMegaMemo. If the Executive Committee decides, as a result of itsreconsideration, to change the original ranking of the TA applicants, it shouldinclude a summary of its reasoning in the published Minutes.25

l. Within one week of the Executive Committee's review of its ranking, the DepartmentalChair must formally notify the Grievant, in writing, of the outcome. The Chairwill then file all documents relevant to the grievance case.

This procedure will be deemed to have been exhausted once the Chair has informed the Grievantof the Executive Committee's deliberations.

C. Teaching in the Division of Continuing Education.

The University's Division of Continuing Education (DCE)in cooperation with the department offers courses which graduate studentsorganize and teach. The departmentalchair develops with counterparts in DCE just which courses are to be taught in anthropology during the fall andSpring semesters, the January term and during the two summer sessions. Then the chair makes an announcement intheMegaMemocalling for applications to teach DCE courses. Thestipend for DCE courses is directly related to thesize of enrollment; if enrollment is too low, the DCE may cancel the course.

The following guidelines apply to all regularly scheduled courses in Anthropology offered through theDCE, with the exceptionof the Summer Field School in Archaeology.

1. Posting:

A. The chair will place a call for applications in theMegaMemoat least three weeks in advance ofa deadline. That call will indicate: which courses are to be offered; the deadline forsubmission of applications; that the applications must be hand delivered (or faxed) to anoffice staff person; and those materialsnecessary for a complete application.

B. The submission deadline will be a scheduled Executive Committee meeting at which theapplications will be considered. This deadline normally will be at least three weeks inadvance of the catalog deadline set by the DCE.

C. The call for applications will be made four times during the year, depending on DCE catalogpublication deadlines. The chair will work with DCE staff to plan which courses will beoffered in any given semester. The application deadlines will appear in any departmentalmaster calendar.

2. Application Process:

A. Each applicant will submit:
1) a completed DCE application form;
2) an up-to-datecurriculum vitae;
3) a completed teaching inventory form;
4) syllabi for any and all courses, including newly proposed courses, for which theapplicant wishes to be considered; and
5) a letter of intent which will minimally state, in rank order, those courses the applicantwishes to teach and why. This lettermay also discuss financial exigencies.

B. All applications will be received and kept together in a central location to be determined by thechair.26

C. There will be no limit on the number of coursesyllabi an applicant can submit for any givensemester.

D. Applicants will promptly receive a receipt for their application. This can be a form letterhanded to the applicants when they apply.

E. If there are advertised coursesfor which no one applies, or ifa successful candidate declines anoffered position, a second call for applications for that position will be made, whenevernecessary.

3. The Criteria for Selection:

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A. Priority for teaching regularly scheduled DCEcourses will be given to graduate students ingood standing enrolled in the Department. To be in "good standing" an applicant may nothave more than one "Incomplete" course. Applications from candidates not enrolled asgraduate students will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

B. In keeping with the letter and spirit of the GEO contract, no applicant holding a fellowship, TA,RA, or other position covered under the GEO contract will be discriminated againstduring the application and/or selection process for DCE positions, provided that theapplicant is in good academic standing and is making sufficient progress toward his/herdegree. However, if an applicant holds afellowship which prohibits such employment,the terms of the fellowship will be honored.

C. If there are any questions concerning an applicant's academic standing or progress towardher/his degree, the applicant, the GPD, and the applicant's advisor will determine if it isin the best interest of the applicant to teach a DCE course.

D. A graduate student member of the Executive Committee who has applied for a DCE positioncannot participate in the DCE selection process. The Grad Caucus will appoint areplacement, as it does for the TA ranking procedure.

4. The Selection Process:

A. In order to ensure wide accessibility to DCE courses, the Executive Committee will attempt toplace as many qualified applicants in positions as is possible. In order to ensure thatqualified candidates are given the opportunityto gain critical teaching experience, andthat no one student monopolizes a given course, applicants will not be given priority toteach the same class three times consecutively. In addition, no applicant will be givenpriority to teach more than one course during any given winter session, first summersession, or second summer session.

B. If there is more than one application for a given course AFTER a consideration of 4. A, theExecutive Committee will use the following criteria to determine which candidate will beoffered the position, in this order:

1. Quality of Instruction. The quality of the syllabus and the quality of the applicant'steaching evaluations on file in thedepartment will first be considered.

2. Letter of Intent. If the quality of instruction is judged to be equal, the applicants' letterof intent will then be considered.27

3. Experience. If the applicants cannot be distinguished after step (2), the ExecutiveCommittee will prioritize the syllabus of that applicant with more experience in:instructing that particular course; independent instruction of other courses;working as a TA in that particular course; and being a TA in other courses.

4. Professional Development. If the applicants cannot be distinguished after step (3), theExecutive Committee will review eachapplicant's CV to determine whichapplicant has more professional experience in the area of the proposed courseand in related areas.

C. In considering DCE applications, the Executive Committee will follow all employmentguidelines stipulated by the university and GEO.

5. Notification of Selection.

A. The Executive Committee will notify all applicantsof its decision within three weeks of theapplication deadline.

B. Each successful applicant will beappointed a faculty mentor to assist and advise in the designand instruction of their course or courses.

C. In order to make the application procedure a learning experience for graduate students, at anyapplicant's request, the GPD will notify the candidate of the specific reasons why her/hisapplication was unsuccessful. This may be doneverbally in a meeting of the candidatewith the GPD and other faculty members ofthe Executive Committee or through writtennotification.

D. If the Executive Committee disqualifies an application, that applicant must be notified of thereason or reasons. This may be done verbally or through written notification as outlinedabove in 4.C.

D. Research Assistantships.

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In any given year, there may be one or more research assistantships available in thedepartment, depending on outside funding of faculty research. In general, research assistantships carry the samestipend, time commitment, and tuition waiver that teaching assistantships do. Selection of research assistants is leftto the discretion of the faculty principal investigator. Likewise teaching assistantship funds that are tied toindividual instructors operate the same way (e.g., summer archaeological field school assistants, lab supervisors).

E. Graduate School Fellowships.Every year the Graduate School makes available about 60 fellowships toindividuals on a competitive basis among all graduate programs on the campus. Departments compete with eachother in nominating outstanding students. There are no duties; the stipend varies from year to year; and thefellowship includes a tuition waiver. Faculty or students may identify candidates to thefaculty caucus in February;then the faculty choose from among these candidates their specific nominees. As a general rule, the faculty chooseas nominees those students at or near the dissertation research or writing stage. Every effort is made to selectnominees whose credentials --often evinced by stellar grades, GRE scores, and a strong publishing record -- givethem the best chance of being chosen as finalists bythe Graduate School's Fellowship Committee, a group made upof faculty from several disciplines.

F. The Sylvia Forman Graduate Scholarshipprovides a stipend for a graduatestudent in anthropology who is acitizen of a "Third World" country or who is a Native American. The scholarship was created by a bequest byProfessor Sylvia Helen Forman, who was a professor in the department from 1972 until shedied in 1992. Memorialgifts from friends and alumni have bolstered the capital of this fund substantially. Professor Forman’s objective increating the scholarship was to recruit graduate students from those regions of the world that historically had hosted28anthropologists. It was Professor Forman’s view that anthropology mustbe decolonized, and a key means toaccomplish that is to diversifythe identities and social positions of its practitioners. While the stipend varies fromyear to year depending on the amount of interest the fund has earned, the trustees endeavor to award an amount tocover room, board, tuition, fees, and transportation for one graduate student per year. In general, the fund's trusteesaim to award the scholarship to an incoming graduate student each year, though any student in the graduate programwho meets the citizenshiprequirement, may apply.G. The European Studies Programgives graduate students and honors undergraduate students the opportunity todevelop a research idea into a concrete plan of action, to putthe plan into effect during a semester in Europe, then towrite up research results during the ensuing semester.Under the direct supervision of one of the faculty,preliminary research is conducted at various sites in Europe -- the site varies each year depending on faculty andstudent interest. The idea is to give students a first-hand research experiencebeforethey become committed tospecific dissertation topics. In fact,such preliminary research is often crucial in subsequently delineating thedissertation topic.The university supports the European Studies Program by granting student participants a modest stipendand a waiver of tuition for the semester in Europe.The Director of the European Studies Program invites applications to the European Field Studies Programwith an announcement in theMegaMemo. Contact the Director for a description of the program and an application.


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