Waivers of Search

Guiding Principles

University policy requires that rigorous and comprehensive searches be conducted for new appointments to the Stanford faculty.  On occasion, and under special circumstances, the Provost may approve a waiver of search if convincing evidence is presented that the candidate would have emerged as the leading candidate, if there had been a search.  Because it is difficult to present such evidence on behalf of someone who is just beginning his or her academic career, waivers of search for junior faculty are granted only under extraordinary circumstances. 

In the School of Medicine, waivers of search are limited to the following categories:

  • eminent senior scholars of national or international renown who are unequivocally regarded as the very top leaders in their field;
  • outstanding candidates who would bring diversity (broadly defined) to the faculty;
  • and highly qualified candidates whose spouses or partners have been or will be appointed to the faculty.

In some cases, a waiver of search might be an appropriate mechanism to facilitate a change in faculty lines, especially when a faculty member’s scholarly, teaching or (if applicable) clinical interests have evolved in a new direction.  However, in other cases a national search might be appropriate.  Departments should consult with the Office of Academic Affairs for guidance.      


  1. The department chair should have a preliminary conversation with the Vice Dean regarding the possibility of pursuing a search waiver for a candidate who falls within one of the categories listed above.  The candidate’s curriculum vitae should be presented, and the billet source should be identified.
  2. Upon approval from the Vice Dean, the department should submit a grid with information about proposed external referees who can provide national assessment of the candidate’s achievement and distinction.    The number of referees should align with the number of external referee letters that are required for the appointment long form.  If named peers are required by the relevant long form, an additional grid with information on five proposed named comparison peers should also be submitted.     (For detailed instructions on assembly of the referee and peer set grids, check the links above.)
  3. Upon approval of the referee grid (and, if applicable, the comparison peer grid), the department may send a solicitation letter to referees using the appropriate standard letter template.  The letter should be signed by someone who is not a mentor or collaborator of the candidate; under normal circumstances, this will be the department chair or division chief.
  4. A minimum of three letters should be received before assembly and submission of the search waiver request to the Vice Dean.  Elements of the package are:
    • A transmittal memorandum from the department chair to the Vice Dean that includes the position type and billet number; the programmatic need for the position; the method by which the candidate was identified; a description of the candidate’s accomplishments in scholarship, teaching and, if applicable, clinical care; satisfaction of criteria for line and rank; commentary on the external referee letters; and an explicit and compelling argument that the candidate would emerge as the top choice in a national search were one to be conducted.  For situations involving a transition between faculty lines, a compelling case should be made that the candidate’s role has evolved to be consistent with the proposed new line and the department’s programmatic need.     
    • The candidate’s up-to-date curriculum vitae.
    • A copy of the solicitation letter.
    • The referee grid (and, if applicable, the comparison peer grid).
    • The letters from external referees.

The waiver materials will be reviewed by the Vice Dean, endorsed by the Dean and forwarded to the Provost for approval.

In the meantime, the department should be working on other sections of the appointment long form.  See “Concurrently Preparing the Long Form” for detailed information.

Once the waiver request has been approved by the Provost, the draft offer letter package may be submitted for approval.