Policies and Procedures

Departmental Policies and Procedures

Adjunct Appointments

Department of Biological Sciences, Departmental Graduate Studies Committee
Revised October 2017

Adjunct Professors are governed by Academic Policy A12.08


As stated by the University's policy, distinguished, qualified persons, which can include retired faculty whose professional work leads them into a close working association or a community of professional interest with the research or other academic pursuits of some faculty members in the department may be appointed as Adjunct Professors for a period recommended by the DGSC. Adjunct Professors are appointed to supplement or provide a service function in the department, and the primary criterion for appointment is therefore a clear identification of that service. This may be a regular teaching role at either the undergraduate or graduate level, regular participation on supervisory committees, or an ongoing collaborative role in research.

The case for an adjunct appointment must:

  • identify the close academic association;
  • specify the current and/or future service;
  • state the professional qualifications for this distinction;
  • justify the term requested (normally three years);
  • include the curriculum vitae of the proposed Appointee.


As per Academic Policy A12.08, the Chair shall initiate the appointment of an Adjunct, but this may be at the request of a Faculty member or research group in the department. The case for appointment or renewal will be considered by the DGSC who shall:

  • verify the credentials;
  • assess the service role;
  • assess the impact, if any, on resources;
  • report on the above at a departmental meeting.

Following the report and any discussion, a majority vote is required for acceptance of the appointment. Re-appointments of Adjuncts are not automatic.

Associate Member Appointments

Approved January 16, 2012

Associate Members are "persons of substantial expertise and/or academic qualification in the discipline of the Faculty or Department to which they are attached and who simultaneously hold a continuing position at the University, either on its faculty or staff. An appointment as Associate Member does not confer faculty status."  (http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/academic/a12-07.html)

  1. A request for Associate membership is submitted to the Department Chair with a copy of the prospective member’s CV and a letter of nomination from a member of the Department. The letter of nomination should specify the reasons for the appointment, making reference to relevant aspects of the CV, and including previous and future contributions of the nominee to the department.  The nomination letter should also specify a proposed term of appointment, relevant to the nominee's contributions to the department.
  2. The Department Chair will consult with the prospective member’s home department chair or supervisor, regarding the request for associate membership.
  3. If appropriate, the Department Chair will bring the nomination to the Department Meeting for discussion and a vote.  Prior to the meeting Department faculty will be given access to the letter of nomination and CV.
  4. If the appointment is approved at the Departmental Meeting, the Chair will submit a “Recommendation for Appointment” form to the Dean.
  5. The Dean’s office will send an ‘offer of appointment’ letter to the appointee, and copy the Department Chair.  The appointee will sign this letter to accept the offer.
  6. Normally, as a condition of Associate Member standing, the newly appointed Associate Member will be expected to present a Departmental Seminar.
  7. Associate Members are normally appointed until they terminate their position at SFU.  The Chair will review Associate Members every 5 years and terminate their appointment if concerns are raised by the Department.  One semester’s written notice is required.

Department of Biological Sciences Graduate Student Funding Policy

Biological Sciences Graduate Student Funding Policy
Approved by Department, January 12, 2015

The Department of Biological Sciences funds MSc and PhD students through a combination of Scholarships, Fellowships, RAship and TAships. MSc Students are supported financially for at least 2 years and PhD students are supported for at least 4 years. From Sept. 1, 2014-Aug. 31, 2015, MSc and PhD student financial support is set at a minimum of $20,000/yr.  This will be increased on Sept 1, 2015 to a minimum of $21,000/yr. If progress is satisfactory additional funding may be extended beyond 2 years for MSc students and 4 years for PhD candidates. These funding rates do not apply to students in the Masters of Environmental Toxicology (MET) degree professional program, who do not have minimum funding levels. As a practice the Department of Biological Sciences does not allow self-funded students entry to the graduate programs.  In extraordinary circumstances students that are employer funded may be considered for entry to the graduate program, however, this will be evaluated on a case by case basis.


For the Sept 1, 2014-Aug 31, 2015 academic year, faculty members in the Department of Biological Sciences (or Faculty members from outside of BISC that are senior supervisors to BISC graduate students) are required to contribute at least $11,000 in financial support for their students. This increases to $12,000/year from Sept 1, 2015 and going forward. If the graduate student received Scholarships, Fellowships or TAships, the senior supervisor is not normally required to provide a RAship that would result in a level of support exceeding the minimum funding level for that year unless explicitly stated in the terms of reference of a scholarship or fellowship.


Students are expected to apply for TAships, the timing of which should be discussed with their faculty supervisor so that it does not interfere with course work or field or lab research schedules. Failure to apply when advised to do so by the supervisor does not obligate the supervisor to provide additional RAships to meet the minimum funding level.

The Department assigns TAships according to the provisions set out in the TSSU Collective Agreement and the Departmental Priority System, which is posted on the Graduate Student Notice Board.

Student salaries are calculated based on the graduate student TAing 2 4-base unit courses per year. A senior supervisor cannot require a graduate student to TA more than 2 4-base unit courses per year to offset the RAship contribution of the senior supervisor.

Scholarships and Fellowships

Students are expected to apply for scholarships and fellowships. Failure to apply will not obligate the faculty member to provide additional RAships to meet the minimum funding level.

Rankings for scholarships and most internal awards are adjudicated by the Department Scholarships Committee (DSC). The DSC is careful to evaluate applications for all awards according to the published criteria. The DSC regularly reviews the criteria, as well as privacy legislation, to ensure that all of the rules are respected. Generally, all applicants are ranked independently by all DSC members. Unless prescribed by these criteria, no weighting formula is used to score applications. The ranking information is summarized, and at a meeting the DSC discusses each case to arrive at a final ranking based on consensus.

The DSC follows a guideline that major awards are not granted to students concurrently (i.e. in the same semester) holding another major award, if the award could be directed to a biology graduate student without full support. The intent of this guideline is to help ensure, that in so far as it is possible and reasonable, all graduate students in the department are fully supported financially.



A student that brings their own personal funding with them (eg. through family-based funds) not requiring salary input from the Department or supervisor to meet the Departmental minimum salary levels. Students funded through a scholarship or fellowship are not considered self-funded.


A student that is paid through an employer and do not require salary input from the Department or supervisor to meet the Departmental minimum salary levels. Students funded through a scholarship or fellowship are not considered employer funded.

Search Committees

Revised and Adopted July 2017

Policy on Academic Appointments is in Article 23 of the Collective Agreement between SFU and SFUFA. 

  1. The Appointments Committee provides a set of hiring priorities that must be ratified by the Department. Position priorities are communicated to the Dean and the Vice President, Academic. Searches may begin after approval of the position has been granted by the Dean and the Vice President, Academic.
  2. Search committees include the Chair of the Department, four faculty members appointed by the Chair, and one graduate student from the Department. Service on Search Committees is voluntary.
    (a) Search committee composition is based on specific expertise in the field of interest, as well as expertise in the general area of the search. If appropriate expertise is not available in the Department of Biological Sciences, it may be achieved by appointing faculty from other Departments, or other Universities, to the Search Committee.
    (b) The composition of the full Search Committee (including the graduate student member) must be ratified by the Department, and ratification requires a verbal majority (50% +1) of voting members in a Departmental meeting (e.g., 20 faculty eligible to vote at the meeting, 11 positive votes required for ratification).
  3. The Search Committee will prepare a suitable advertisement, without excessive qualifiers or specificity, for the position. A draft of this advertisement will be sent to all faculty, who will have the opportunity to comment upon it. Normally the advertisement will be discussed at a Departmental Meeting, and a simple majority vote is required for it to be sent out.
  4. The Search Committee prepares a short list of candidates, which will be presented by the Chair and discussed at a Departmental Meeting before candidates are invited for interviews. Files of the short-listed candidates will be made available to all faculty members in the Department.  Interested individuals can also request to see the files of other applicants.
  5. It at any point during the search a potential conflict of interest situation arises for a member of the Search Committee (for example, having served as a mentor or collaborator of a candidate) the member should declare his/her potential conflict of interest to the Committee Chair (or to the Dean if the Chair is in potential conflict of interest).  The Chair (or Dean) will address the potential conflict of interest as needed.
  6.  (a) The purpose of the interviews is to find out more about the professional expertise of the candidates, and for the candidates to find out about the Department.
    (b) All candidates for research faculty positions will present a research seminar, and the Search Committee may, if it chooses, require that the candidates also present a teaching seminar.  Candidates for teaching faculty positions must present a teaching seminar only.
    (c) The graduate student member of the Search Committee will arrange a meeting with the candidate that is advertised and open to all graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in the Department.
  7. As soon as possible after the interviews, the Search Committee will solicit comments from the Faculty regarding the qualifications of the candidates. The graduate student member should additionally solicit comments from graduate students and post-doctoral fellows for consideration by the Search Committee.  The Search Committee will then meet and reach a decision regarding the suitability of the candidates. The Committee will put one candidate forward for hiring, or they may put forward multiple candidates ranked in order of preference.
  8. The recommendations of the Search Committee will be discussed at a Departmental meeting. If needed, an Extraordinary Meeting may be called.
    (a) No less than one (1) working day prior to the Departmental or Extraordinary meeting, the recommendations of the Search Committee will be circulated to faculty members.
    (b) The graduate student member of the Search Committee will be invited to join the Search Committee at the Departmental meeting at which the Search Committee recommendations are put forward.
    (c) The Search Committee will present and justify its recommendations. Any minority opinions of Search Committee members will also be presented at that time. Full and open debate may follow.
    (d) The ratification vote will normally be by electronic ballot.  Ratification requires a simple majority (50% +1) of all faculty members who are eligible to vote (e. g., with 45 eligible faculty in the Department, 23 positive votes are required for ratification).The Chair will email a summary of the Departmental deliberations regarding the Search Committee's recommendations to all faculty members along with the web ballot. The time from distribution of ballots until closure of the voting shall not exceed one week.
  9. In truly exceptional cases, this search procedure may be waived upon recommendation of the Appointments Committee. All such recommendations require a two-thirds majority vote (66.66% + 1) of faculty members in a web ballot.
  10. A copy of this document will be distributed to all Search Committee members, including the graduate student member, prior to the start of every search.