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Position Management Process

Northwestern’s excellence is built on the people who advance the critical work of our University. Our staff are one of our most important assets. As a University, we continue to ensure that staff are optimally positioned to support Northwestern’s mission.


Implemented on February 5, 2018, the university Position Management Process serves as a vehicle to increase staff efficiency while maintaining appropriate investment in talent needed to achieve our University Priorities. The Position Management Process is an objective process that enables us to prioritize and invest in only the highest priority staffing needs. In tandem with this process, schools and units have the opportunity to realign roles and duties to ensure staff have fulfilling and meaningful work by redesigning how work gets done. It remains an important institutional goal to ensure staff are engaged with the work they do and are recognized for their extraordinary contributions.

Position Management Process

Position Management Process The Position Management Process reviews position requests for regular staff as well as, temporary workers and contractors to ensure budget availability, enhance organizational effectiveness, and strengthen alignment of positions to school/unit strategy. Only funded positions identified as essential to supporting the University’s priorities and mission will be approved. The process comprises a school/unit review, followed by central review by the Position Approval Committee. In certain circumstances, review by HR Compensation may also be required.

More detailed information is available on the Staff Position Request and Temporary/Contractor Request webpages.

To streamline the review process, schools and units are encouraged to adopt an internal review process—if one is not already in place—to filter requests before they are submitted for central review. School/unit review requires approval from the Dean/Vice President. Effective October 31, 2018 the Dean/Vice President can nominate a delegate to approve on his/her behalf. A delegate must be a direct report of the Dean/Vice President and/or be able to evaluate requests for both annual budget and strategic alignment. To appoint a delegate, a delegation of authority memo, signed by the Dean/Vice President, should be submitted to the Position Approval Committee

Staff Additional Pay requests are also subject to review. More details are available on the Additional Pay Process webpage. 

Exemptions & Exclusions

This process applies to all regular staff positions as well as, temporary and contractor hires, with a few exceptions:

  • 70 to 100 percent grant funded - all positions, including regular staff, temporary workers and contractors, that are greater than, or equal to, 70 percent funded through sponsored research grants are exempt from the process.
  • Temporary assignments $20,000 or less (NEW – effective October 31, 2018) – Northwestern temporary workers, contractors through 3rd party staffing agencies, and independent contractors whose services cost less than $20,000 per assignment do not need to be submitted through the process.
  • Non-Contractor Payments - Honorariums, Human/Research Subjects, Royalties, Prizes/Awards, Refund/Reimbursement are exempt from the review process.
The process does not apply to:
  • Faculty positions – including tenure line, non-tenure eligible, and research faculty
  • Research staff – including postdoctoral fellows and research associates
  • Student employees – including Northwestern student temporary employees, work-study students, graduate students, interns (paid or unpaid) and volunteers. Student workers from other universities who are doing work at Northwestern related to their matriculation are also exempt from the process.