Senior Academic & Administrative Officers ("SAAO")

In January 1998, the Board of Governors of the UNC established a policy regarding a specific category of exempt employee, the “Senior Academic and Administrative Officer.”   Academic and administrative officials exempt from the State Personnel Act (EPA) are identified either by:

  • Express statutory reference (“president,” “vice presidents,” “chancellors,” and “vice chancellors”), or
  • Action of the Board of Governors pursuant to generic statutory reference ( the president’s “professional staff members” and “senior academic and administrative officers” of the constituent institutions). 

SAAO  positions:

There are two “tiers” of Senior Academic and Administrative Officer positions:  Tier I and Tier II.  Per UNC policy, Tier I and Tier II positions cannot be on contracts.  All appointments are “at will,” except for coaches. 

Tier 1 SAAO positions include the Chancellor; the Provost; Vice Chancellors; and Deans.
Tier 2 SAAO positions include Associate and Assistant Vice Chancellors; Associate and Assistant Deans; and other administrative positions within the University that have been approved by the Board of Governors as Senior Academic and Administrative Officers. 

These include:

  • members of the chancellor’s professional staff
  • those responsible for the administrative direction of separately designated divisions or departments of institutional activity commonly associated with higher education (e.g., Director of Alumni Affairs, Director of Development, etc.);
  • those positions whose primary responsibility is to attract external funds and/or to market the university
  • other officers holding positions characterized by active and continuing involvement in formulating, interpreting, and implementing institutional policy AND exercise substantial independence of administrative authority and discretion in areas such as program planning and design and allocation of resources.

To classify a position, submit the EPA Personnel Action form.

You will need to include:
  • a job description that includes the essential and marginal functions of the position
  • organizational chart, including the classification for each position—whether it be SPA or EPA, the incumbent’s names and the position numbers.  The organizational chart should show all positions in the unit, including the level above and the level below the proposed position.

As you review your new position, look at the scope of the position and use the Analysis Tool to determine if a position has the components to qualify as EPA.

EPA SAAO Tier I positions are approved by the Board of Governors.  Along with the Request to Classify a New EPA Position form, we will need a memo of justification describing the unit’s need for the position. 

EPA SAAO Tier II positions are approved by the Chancellor and are reviewed by the UNC Human Resources Advisory Board.  Submit the Request to Classify a New EPA Position form, along with the job description and organizational chart.  Include a memo of justification describing the unit’s purpose, the position’s purpose, and the scope of the position’s responsibilities. 

Some of these positions will function as the director of a specific division or department of institutional activity, reporting at the level of a vice chancellor or dean.  There may be some circumstances, however, where positions at the associate or assistant director level may be found to have “significant administrative responsibilities and duties” that meet the EPA designation.  These positions much have substantial responsibility for assisting the primary officer in formulating, interpreting, and implementing policy and must function in a confidential and direct support relationship to the primary officer or have direct responsibility for a specific sphere of operations within the unit.  Persons holding these positions must have an advanced educational degree and extensive relevant experience and be recruited in a national search process.