Departmental Policies & Procedures

The policies below apply to the SFU Department of Biological Sciences. For the SFU policies and procedures, please click here.

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 Members Appointment

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."  (

  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.

Graduate Student Funding Policy

The current Graduate Student Funding Policy can be found here.

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.

Teaching Assignment Policy    

Approved May 5, 2019

Research Faculty
The collective agreement states that research faculty should teach four regular courses or their equivalent annually (article 27.4). Regular courses include undergraduate courses with a minimum enrollment of 20, graduate courses with a minimum enrollment of 5, and if scheduling permits, courses at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. All research faculty should teach high enrollment and/or core courses at least once every other year.

Research faculty are normally allowed to replace up to two of the regular courses with equivalents. Equivalents are largely course-based (i.e., have course numbers attached), and are as follows:

  • Directed readings graduate courses: one 3-credit course = 1 equivalent
  • Honours thesis (BISC 490/491/492W): one 15-credit ISS = 1 equivalent
  • Supervision of undergraduate students working full-time for one semester, not for graded credit (e.g., undergraduate student research award, MITACS, co-op, etc.): one student supervised = .33 equivalent
  • Research courses for undergraduates (BISC 298, 497W, 498): one 3-credit course = .33 equivalent
  • Graduate student supervision = 1 equivalent (regardless of number supervised; this
    captures the presence of an active research program).

No more than two equivalents per year can be used to replace formal classroom teaching, even if more than two equivalents are performed. These equivalents are not scheduled in advance. Instead, it is determined retrospectively whether faculty have done the required equivalents over a 2-year period. If equivalents have not been met, faculty are given a warning. If they have still not been met a year later, regular course teaching is assigned in lieu of the equivalents in the next 2-year cycle.

Administrative course reductions are as follows:

  • Department Chair and Associate Chair: 1 equivalent annually
  • DGSC, DUCC and DSC Chairs: 0.5 equivalent annually for teaching faculty only

Administrative course reductions and other course reductions (e.g., associated with research chairs) reduce the load of regular courses, not the load of equivalents. In other words, research faculty with reduced teaching will normally teach one regular course plus two teaching equivalents annually.

Teaching Faculty
The collective agreement states that teaching faculty should teach no more than twice the number of regular courses taught by research faculty (article 35.71). However, in Biological Sciences the assigned load is normally 6 courses a year (2 per semester) due to the demands of teaching labs. One semester in 9, no teaching duties are assigned (article 35.74.3; this is referred to as a Pro-D semester within the department). In addition, teaching will be reduced by 1 course in 16 (Senior Lecturers) or 1 course in 8 (University Lecturers) to enable engagement in other scholarly activities (articles 35.72 and 35.73). Senior and University Lecturers will propose the activity that will replace teaching when they complete the annual survey of teaching preferences. 

In addition to regular lecture courses, 3-4 lab sections are considered equivalent to 1 course, e.g., a lecture course plus 3-4 labs or 8 labs without lectures would be considered equivalent to 2 courses. In courses that include a weekend trip to Bamfield, 2 labs plus the trip is considered equivalent to 1 course.

Teaching Assignments
Teaching assignments are based first on the teaching needs of the department, and second on requests made by the faculty member. Overall workload should be similar across members, relatively heavy and relatively light semesters should balance out, and all faculty must contribute to core teaching.