University of Georgia faculty are eligible for leaves of absence with or without pay—but that fact apparently is not very well-known in the university community.
“I find that this is an issue that comes up periodically in meetings I have with faculty from various units across campus,” said Arnett C. Mace Jr., senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “We need to build awareness of this benefit.”
Although UGA does not have a sabbatical program, the university has long followed University System of Georgia Board of Regents policy covering “educational and professional leave,” which provides a good deal of flexibility, according to Mace.
That policy was amended in February 2007 to allow presidents of University System institutions final approval authority for such leaves, although leave requests for more than a year still require approval of the chancellor.
The intended purpose of these leaves is to support faculty in the development of their research and other scholarly activities, Mace said.
“Ultimately, faculty leaves benefit not only the individual, but also the university by helping develop and maintain a world-class faculty,” he said. “Students are beneficiaries as well, since faculty scholarship carries over to the classroom.”
Details about faculty leaves can be found in the faculty section of the Academic Affairs Policy Manual, which is online on the Provost’s Office Web site. That section also contains a link to the leave section in the Board of Regents Policy Manual.
Beyond that, various schools and colleges have developed their own leave policies and those that have not are being encouraged to do so, following a recommendation from the Faculty Benefits Committee that was approved by University Council last spring.
Lonnie Brown, who serves as administrative fellow in the Provost’s Office, recently asked deans to provide a copy of written professional leave policies for their schools or colleges. Such policies typically include specific information on who is eligible for leaves, the process for applying for leaves, how often leave requests may be made, and results expected from the leave time, according to Brown.
Generally, schools and colleges limit leaves to tenured faculty, although in the School of Public and International Affairs tenure-track faculty are eligible for paid leave beginning the year following a successful third-year review.
Schools and colleges usually spell out results expected from leave time, including publishable research or a submitted grant proposal. University policy requires faculty members to submit a written statement to the department head and dean within 30 days following the leave describing what was accomplished.
Requests for leave are generally initiated at the department level, since departments must arrange for reassignment of faculty responsibilities during the requested leave period. The College of Education policy for faculty research leaves requires a commitment of some departmental funds, with additional funding available from the college. Other school and college policies are less specific.
As is true at most universities, faculty who take paid leave must sign an agreement to continue working at UGA for a set amount of time. According to regents’ policy, faculty who take leave with pay for less than a year are obligated to return for at least one year following the leave; those who take a one-year leave with pay are expected to return for at least two years. Those who do not return for the full amount of time specified in the agreement must reimburse the institution for the compensation received while on leave, as well as any other expenses paid by the University System during the leave.