Faculty leave proposal

Nichol Nelson

Faculty members who want to study German culture or research ancient ruins will have more time and money to complete their projects under a new plan to convert the University’s faculty leave system.
The conversion to semesters will be changing yet another aspect of faculty life if the proposal is passed by the Board of Regents in December.
Faculty who want to take a leave from the University have two choices under the system now in place. They can apply to take a quarter off with full pay, or they can take a full year of sabbatical with only half of their salary as compensation.
The proposed changes will extend a quarter leave from 10 weeks to 15, while faculty are compensated their full salaries. The eligibility requirement of years spent at the University before applying for leave will change from three years of service to four.
The second change is in the year-long sabbatical program. The University will offer increased funding for those who need supplemental income to overcome the decrease in pay that faculty absorb when taking a one-year leave.
Vice Provost Robert Jones said the new proposal will make leaves more attractive by increasing their length and financial feasibility.
“Most people couldn’t afford to take off a whole year without half of their salary,” Jones said. “Now you can apply for supplementary funding to cover an additional 25 percent of your salary.”
There is a fund available for this purpose now, but Jones said the University will be able to offer financial support to 44 professors in the 1999-2000 year. Previously, supplemental funding for those on sabbatical helped 18 to 20 people a year.
Some faculty members say the change is needed. Stephen Weeks, a professor in architecture and landscape architecture, said although he has been at the University for more than 20 years, he has only been able to take two quarter leaves due to financial pressure.
“I’ve never applied for a sabbatical year off because I can’t afford it,” Weeks said. “The supplementary funding is competitive.”
Weeks said many faculty have to find alternative sources of income to support themselves during a sabbatical.
Finances aside, most agree leave programs are important to the University community.
“On big projects, you often don’t find the sustained time to really get a head of steam,” said geography professor Joseph Schwartzberg. “You often have to travel abroad, which you can’t do in the middle of a quarter.”