Penn State establishes new policy on visiting scholars

October 01, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has introduced a new policy governing the process for designating and approving visiting scholars to the University, as well as the responsibilities of University personnel and departments who wish to host a visiting scholar.

The new policy, AC01, went live on policy.psu.edu on Oct. 1 and will take effect University-wide on Nov. 1. The policy applies to all visiting scholar requests made as of Nov. 1 and any renewals on that date and after.    

“The purpose of the policy is to put a clear structure in place for how visiting scholars are designated and defined, the responsibilities of University personnel who host visiting scholars, and the rights and responsibilities of the visiting scholars themselves,” said Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Kathy Bieschke, whose office serves as the administrator and steward of the policy. “It has been the goal of everyone involved with the policy’s formation to create a process that is efficient and user friendly, and that serves as a University-approved roadmap for the visiting scholar process.”

Ongoing training on the new visiting scholar process will be conducted with appropriate administrative staff during the month of October, and an accompanying visiting scholars website with step-by-step guidance for requesting and hosting visiting scholars will be launched prior to the policy’s Nov. 1 effective date.

The Eberly College of Science, the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, the College of the Liberal Arts, and the College of Medicine piloted the policy throughout the spring and summer.

Policy AC01 outlines a uniform approach to the visiting scholar process that defines who can serve as a visiting scholar, the length of time a visiting scholar can remain in residence at Penn State, and the application and approval procedures for visiting scholars.

Under the policy, the term “visiting scholar” is defined as a privilege accorded to individuals from other universities, institutions or industry who are temporarily in residence at the University for an extended period of time, for a variety of reasons, including conducting research in a University facility; collaborating with University faculty on specific projects; providing supervised instruction in a University facility; and observing University instruction, administration or faculty research.

The policy also clarifies to whom the visiting scholar designation does not apply, including University-invited guest speakers and guest lecturers who provide a speech or lecture that is open to the University community or public; students from other academic institutions who might otherwise be considered interns; postdoctoral scholars/fellows; University employees, students or retirees with emeritus status; or individuals who are merely visiting common areas at Penn State.

Visiting scholars are not University employees, the policy notes, meaning that host colleges, departments, units, institutes, or Commonwealth Campuses may not provide compensation, employee benefits, or other financial support that is available to employees. Travel and expense reimbursements and honoraria, while permitted for visiting scholars, are now defined in the policy and accompanying Host Guidelines.

Under AC01, the University requires that visiting scholars be approved, undergo the appropriate background check, and execute applicable agreements prior to commencing a visit to University facilities. In addition, the University requires certain actions be completed prior to the arrival of some visiting scholars, such as an export review for international visiting scholars, depending on the nature of the proposed visit. All visiting scholar designations will be recorded and maintained in Workday.

The creation of the policy has been two years in the making, with a task force led by David Dulabon, associate general counsel, and comprised of representatives from Penn State academic colleges and units, as well as the offices of Affirmative Action, Faculty Affairs, Faculty Senate, General Counsel, Global Programs, Human Resources, Research Protections, Sponsored Programs and others.

Those with questions about the policy can contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at vpfa@psu.edu for additional information.

To view AC01 in its entirety, visit https://policy.psu.edu/policies/ac01/.

Last Updated October 30, 2019