Waivers from Recruitment Search for Faculty

George Mason University is an equal opportunity employer committed to employing an inclusive and diverse faculty and staff. 

As a general rule, and in accordance with Mason’s non-discriminatory recruitment and hiring practices, any vacant position will be filled by conducting a competitive search for the most qualified candidate.  Under limited circumstances, exceptions can be permitted with appropriate justification and when it is in the best interest of the university.  Compliance, Diversity and Ethics (CDE), the responsible Senior Vice President (SVP) or Provost, and Human Resources & Payroll (HR) will review and approve requests for exceptions. The Vice President of CDE will determine if the waiver meets the criteria and will be granted in consultation with the SVP or Provost and HR.

The university’s Recruitment and Hiring of University Employees Policy, University Policy 2224 and its procedures, along with the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Human Resources Management Policy 2.10 Hiring, provide guidance for a consistent competitive hiring process. For additional information on Instructional/Research faculty waivers, please refer to the university’s Faculty Handbook, section 2.3.2.2 Non-competitive Appointments.

Waivers to the competitive search process are expected to be rare and only available when certain criteria are met and non-academic/ academic unit (unit) necessity is demonstrated. Waivers require appropriate justification and are only granted under extenuating circumstances when it is in the best interest of the university. When a waiver is granted, it is not a confirmation that the unit can hire a candidate; it is the first step toward completing the hiring process. 

Waivers from recruitment search are not needed for the following classifications or designations:

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow positions: Refer to University Policy 4018: Postdoctoral Research Fellows.
  • Classified Staff positions: Refer to University Policy 2224: Hiring of University Employees and its corresponding procedures, and the Department of Human Resources Management Policy 2.10 Hiring.
  • Promotions and Transfers (including converting Classified positions to Administrative Professional Faculty positions):  Contact HR Classification and Compensation for guidance on career progression or promotion and transfer of a staff member. Or, if applicable, refer to the Faculty Handbook, policies and procedures relating to promotion and tenure. 
    • The OFCCP Federal Contract Compliance Manual (FCCM) defines a promotion as: “[a]ny personnel action resulting in, for example, the movement to a position affording higher pay, greater rank, change in job title, or increase in job grade; an increase in pay, requiring greater skill or responsibility; or the opportunity to attain such. A promotion may be either competitive or noncompetitive.” A transfer is defined as “movement (usually lateral) of an employee from one position or function to another.”

Waivers may be granted under one or more of the following circumstances:

  • The selected candidate meets all the required qualifications as outlined in a current description of the position.
  • The selected candidate is a high-profile teaching professional with a unique skillset to fill a reoccurring multi-year visiting faculty position on a semester basis. Based on individual submissions and review, multi-year contracts may be granted up to a maximum of five (5) years, without annual waiver approval.
  • The unit has reviewed the Recruitment and Hiring of University Employees Policy 2224 and has a justifiable and defensible reason to waive the competitive search process.
  • Consistent with the goals of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s One Virginia Plan and its implementing regulations, the unit must demonstrate that the hire meets all of Mason’s and the Commonwealth’s criteria for employment and they enhance the unit’s diversity goals. If it does not, the unit must justify how the potential candidate selection addresses related questions and meets the following criteria:
    • The selected candidate meets a unique need in the areas of research, discipline, and/or the profession; and,
    • Whether aspects of diversity are missing in the unit.
  • The Unit has identified a strategic opportunity or unmet need as defined in the requirements below.

Consideration will be given for the following circumstances:

  1. The hiring department’s past practices with respect to justifications for requests (including the frequency of requests, type of requests, etc.).
  2. Whether an immediate critical need exists that does not allow for the time to go through a competitive search process.
  3. Individual has been identified to assume acting or interim appointment for a temporary period that is not subject to guidance from the Faculty Handbook. If so, the waiver should be marked as temporary on the Request for Waiver from Recruitment Search Form, and include justification for the proposed length of appointment. This waiver is valid for up to one year and is identified on the Request for Waiver from Recruitment Search Form.
  4. Unique qualifications or unique positioning in the market that make a search counterproductive and could jeopardize retaining or hiring this uniquely qualified candidate.  Qualifications must be truly rare on a national or international basis.
  5. A unit has the opportunity to secure a research or instructional faculty member on a permanent basis with specific, highly specialized skills, such that a search would be futile. A letter of endorsement from the SVP, or Provost, or their designee should be attached attesting to the candidate's specialized skills.
  6. An accompanying spousal/partner appointment becomes beneficial to the University's programmatic needs. Documentation should be attached establishing the programmatic needs justifying employment for the accompanying spouse/partner with written endorsements from the SVP or Provost, or their designee. Coordination and approval must be obtained by the hiring department and must follow university policies and procedures, and the Faculty Handbooks, when appropriate. Please refer to the Provost policy on dual hires on the Provost’s website, or reach out to the Provost office.

If the Request for Waiver from Recruitment Search is approved, the unit must follow the standard hiring process by submitting the hiring proposal.  All the appropriate approvals for the hire must be made prior to extending an offer to the candidate.

Approval of the Request for Waiver from Recruitment Search does not mean that the proposed salary listed has been approved.  The proposed salary will be reviewed as part of the faculty hiring proposal process.   

Reminder: No verbal or written offers should be negotiated with the selected candidate until final approvals are granted.


Please view the Direct Hire Waiver Procedures (.docx) for the Process for Requesting a Waiver from Recruitment Search.