Faculty Leaves of Absence and Course Releases

Purpose

This document provides an overview of the various types of leaves of absence and course releases that are available to faculty in the RCB. It also provides policies and procedures for personal leaves without pay and for administrative course releases.

General Description of Leaves and Course Releases

In general, a leave of absence excuses the faculty member from all teaching and institutional service responsibilities during the period of the leave. Some types of leaves may be granted with full or partial pay. Other types are granted only without pay.

Some of the administrative implications associated with leaves of absence are as follows:

  • If leave is with pay, insurance coverage will be continued, and the employee’s portion of the premiums will be deducted from paychecks as usual. If the leave is without pay, insurance coverage can be continued so long as the employee’s portion of the premiums is paid in a timely manner. (Arrangements for such payments should be made with the Personnel Benefits Office before the leave begins.) In both cases, the University continues to pay the employer’s portion of the insurance premiums. (see Section IV.A.2 of the GSU Faculty Handbook)
  • If leave is with one-half pay or more, the leave period is counted as service toward retirement, and normal deductions for the Teachers’ Retirement System are made from paychecks. If the leave is with less than one-half pay, no service toward retirement is allowed, and nodeductions are made. (see Section IV.A.2 of the GSU Faculty Handbook)
  • In general, the “tenure clock” stops while a faculty member is on leave. Therefore, requests for leave by untenured faculty will be closely scrutinized. (see Section 803.09 of The Policy Manual of the University System of Georgia)

A course release granted during an academic quarter (i.e., fall, winter, or spring) simply reduces the faculty member’s assigned teaching load by one course. The assigned teaching load (before course releases are taken into consideration) is determined annually by the head of the academic unit in consultation with the Dean, and it can vary from zero to seven courses for the academic year as appropriate to balance total faculty workloads within the academic unit. (see Section F(3) of the RCB Policies and Procedures Manual) A course release granted for a summer quarter results in the faculty member being paid as if he or she were teaching one course (typically 10% of the previous nine-month salary). Course releases do not alter the faculty member’s institutional responsibilities other than teaching.

The policies and procedures governing some of these types of leaves or course releases are documented elsewhere and are only referenced in this document. RCB policies and procedures governing personal leaves of absence without pay (item 7 in the next section) and administrative course releases (item 12 in the next section) are contained in later sections of this document.

Types of Leaves of Absence and Course Releases

The following are the types of leaves of absence and course releases available to RCB faculty:

Leaves Granted Under Board of Regents Policy

  1. Sick leave with pay. Sick leave covers absences due to illnesses or injuries of the faculty member. Also covered are maternity leave and absences due to the illness, injury, or death of a member of the faculty member’s immediate family. The policies and procedures governing this type of leave are contained in the GSU Faculty Handbook and in The Policy Manual of the University System of Georgia (Section 802.08).
  2. Sick leave without pay. Sick leave without pay may be granted for a period not to exceed one year to faculty who are unable to return to work after exhausting all of their accumulated sick leave and accrued vacation (if applicable). The policies governing this type of leave are contained in The Policy Manual of the University System of Georgia (Section 802.08).
  3. Educational leave without pay. Educational leaves may be granted for a period not to exceed one year for the purpose of completing graduate studies at another university. The policies governing this type of leave are contained in The Policy Manual of the University System of Georgia (Section 802.08).
  4. Military leave. Military leave with pay is provided for ordered military duty not to exceed 18 days in any one year or 18 days in any one absence. If the ordered military duty extends beyond 18 days in any one year or any one absence, the additional leave will be without pay. The policies governing this type of leave are contained in The Policy Manual of the University System of Georgia (Section 802.08).
  5. Miscellaneous leave. Leave with or without pay may be provided for absences necessitated by jury duty, service as a witness in court, and other miscellaneous causes which are beyond the control of the faculty member. The policies governing this type of leave are contained in The Policy Manual of the University System of Georgia (Section 802.08). Leaves and Course Releases Granted Under GSU Policy
  6. Professional leave with full or partial pay. Professional leaves with full or partial pay are granted for the purpose of pursuing opportunities for scholarly and professional growth that will increase the value of the faculty member’s contributions to the University. Typical uses would be for field research projects or specialized study which will not lead to a degree. In general, faculty who are granted professional leave at full salary should not accept employment elsewhere during the leave period. The policies and procedures governing professional leaves are contained in Section IV. A.2 of the GSU Faculty Handbook.
  7. Personal leaves without pay.

    Personal leaves without pay may be granted for two types of purposes as follows:

    • (a) To pursue temporary employment at another institution/ organization which will provide a significant opportunity for professional development that will increase the value of the faculty member’s contributions to the University.
    • (b) For personal reasons that do not fall within any of the categories listed above. Purposes of such leaves could include tending to family matters, undertaking a major consulting assignment, travel, or simply taking an extended break from teaching and other University responsibilities.

RCB policies and procedures governing personal leaves without pay are contained in a later section of this document.

  1. Externally funded releases. To the extent that externally funded projects provide funds that are budgeted for course releases, the project director can “buy” course releases for faculty involved in the project. The GSU Office of Grants and Contracts administers the budgets of externally funded projects, and the typical charge against the project budget for a course release is 10% of the faculty member’s academic year salary. Internally Funded Releases Granted Under RCB Policy
  2. Research releases. Course releases to conduct research are granted on a competitive basis by the RCB Research Program Committee based on proposals submitted by faculty. The procedures for the submission and evaluation of proposals for research course releases have been published by the Research Program Committee.
  3. Special research releases. Course releases are granted for special research activities that support the research mission of the College but do not fit the criteria associated with regular research releases as described in item 8 above. Examples of such special activities could include the preparation of a proposal for a major research contract/grant or the development of a major data set which will support several research projects. The policies and procedures governing this type of course release are contained in Section R(1) of the RCB Policies and Procedures Manual.
  4. Innovative instruction releases. Course releases to develop innovative approaches to instruction are granted on a competitive basis by the RCB Faculty Development Committee based on proposals submitted by faculty. The procedures for the submission and evaluation of proposals for innovative instruction course releases have been published by the Committee.
  5. Administrative releases. Course releases may be granted by the Dean for purposes or reasons that are not covered by items 8, 9, or 10 above. Such releases may be granted to adjust the overall workload of a faculty member who is taking on a major institutional responsibility or project of limited duration. In other cases, administrative releases may be granted for professional development activities or for personal reasons that do not require a leave of absence.Policies and procedures governing administrative releases are contained in a later section of this document.

Personal Leaves of Absence Without Pay: Policies and Procedures

As indicated above, personal leaves without pay may be granted: (1) for the purpose of pursuing temporary employment at another institution which will provide a significant opportunity for professional development or (2) for other personal reasons.

The policies and procedures associated with these two purposes are somewhat different and are addressed separately below:

Leaves to Pursue Temporary Employment at Another Institution

  • Requests for leaves for this purpose will be considered for periods not to exceed one year. In cases where the employment experience proves to be of exceptional value with respect to the faculty member’s professional development, a request to renew the leave for an additional period not to exceed one year may be considered.
  • The faculty member’s request must be in writing and should normally be submitted to the head of the faculty member’s academic unit at least six months prior to the requested start of the leave period.
  • The faculty member’s written request must:
    1. identify the institution/organization at which he or she expects to be temporarily employed,
    2. describe the nature of the work to be undertaken during the leave, and
    3. explain the professional development value of that work. Leaves are not to be used to hold a faculty position at GSU while exploring permanent employment or entrepreneurial opportunities elsewhere.
  • The faculty member must provide a letter from the employing institution/organization prior to the start of the leave, which clearly states the time period and the duties associated with the temporary employment.
  • The faculty member’s written request must be forwarded by the head of the academic unit to the Dean (or the Dean’s designee, hereinafter referenced as “the Dean”) with a written statement indicating whether the unit head supports the request. The unit head’s statement must include an analysis of the impact of the faculty member’s absence on the teaching, research, and service operations of the University.
  • Requests for such leaves will be evaluated at the College level on the basis of:
    1. the perceived professional development value of the temporary employment and
    2. the expected degree of disruption to the University’s teaching, research, and service operations caused by the faculty member’s absence. Other factors that may be taken into consideration are the faculty member’s length of service at GSU, the faculty member’s recent performance, and the amount of leave time that has been granted in the past to the faculty member. The Dean may request that appropriate administrators and/or committees within the College review the request and make written recommendations.
  • If the Dean approves the request, the request must be sent to the Vice President for Academic Affairs for review and approval. If the requested leave is for more than one quarter, the request must be approved by the President and ultimately the Board of Regents.
  • If while on leave, the faculty member decides not to return to their faculty position at GSU, he or she should send a letter of resignation to the head of their academic unit at the earliest possible date.
  • Within three months after completion of the leave, the faculty member will submit a written report to the head of his or her academic unit on the activities undertaken during the leave and how these experiences will enhance the faculty member’s future contributions to the University. The report will be forwarded to the Dean and the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Leaves for Other Personal Reasons

  • Requests for unpaid leaves for personal reasons will be considered for periods of exactly one academic quarter (or the remainder of an academic quarter if the request is submitted on an emergency basis during a quarter). However, by combining a leave during the spring or fall quarter with a summer quarter during which the faculty member is not employed by the University, the effective duration can be extended to six months. In exceptional situations, a request to renew the leave for an additional academic quarter may be considered.
  • The faculty member’s request must be in writing and should normally be submitted to the head of the faculty member’s academic unit at least six months prior to the requested start of the leave period. If the reason for the request results from circumstances which could not have been foreseen, the request can be considered on an emergency basis at any time.
  • The faculty member’s written request must explain the reason for which the leave is requested and how the faculty member plans to use the leave time. The written request should also indicate whether the faculty member desires for the request to be treated as confidential. If so, only the faculty member’s academic unit head, the Dean, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the President will have access to the request (except to the extent that others may gain access through open records regulations).
  • The faculty member’s written request must be forwarded by the head of the academic unit to the Dean with a written statement indicating whether the unit head supports the request. The unit head’s statement must include an analysis of the impact of the faculty member’s absence on the teaching, research, and service operations of the University.
  • Requests for such leaves will be evaluated at the College level on the basis of:
    1. the perceived merits of the reason for which the leave has been requested and
    2. the expected degree of disruption to the University’s teaching, research, and service operations caused by the faculty member’s absence.

    Other factors that may be taken into consideration are the faculty member’s length of service at GSU, the faculty member’s recent performance, and the amount of leave time that has been granted in the past to the faculty member. If the request has not been designated as confidential, the Dean may request that appropriate administrators and/or committees within the College review the request and make written recommendations.

  • If the Dean approves the request, the request must be sent to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the President for approval.
  • If while on leave, the faculty member decides not to return to their faculty position at GSU, he or she should send a letter of resignation to the head of their academic unit at the earliest possible date.

Administrative Courses Releases: Policies and Procedures

As indicated earlier in this document, administrative course releases may be granted by the Dean for two types of reasons. Since the procedures associated with these reasons are different, they are addressed separately below.

  1. Releases to Adjust Workload. When a faculty member is asked or elected to chair a major standing committee or council of the RCB or to take on some other significant temporary responsibility/project on behalf of the College, the Dean will negotiate with the faculty member and the head of the faculty member’s academic unit to determine the appropriate amount of teaching load reduction, if any, necessary to adjust the total workload for that faculty member. This negotiation will result in administrative course releases being assigned in specific quarters.
  2. Releases for Professional Development or Personal Reasons. A faculty member can initiate a request for one or more course releases for the purpose of engaging in a professional development activity or for personal reasons that do not require a leave of absence. In general, such releases would not be granted to allow a faculty member to engage in consulting or any other outside activity for which compensation beyond reimbursement of expenses would be received.
    • The faculty member’s request must be in writing and should normally be submitted to the head of the faculty member’s academic unit at least six months prior to the start of the quarter for which the course release is requested.
    • The faculty member’s written request must explain the reason for which the course release is requested and how the faculty member plans to use the time freed up by the release. The written request should also indicate whether the faculty member desires for the request to be treated as confidential. If so, only the faculty member’s academic unit head and the Dean will have access to the request.
    • The faculty member’s written request must be forwarded by the head of the academic unit to the Dean with a written statement indicating whether the unit head supports the request. The unit head’s statement must include an analysis of the impact of the course release on the teaching operations of the University.
    • Requests for such course releases will be evaluated at the College level on the basis of:

      1. the perceived merits of the reason for which the release has been requested and
      2. the expected degree of disruption to the University’s teaching operations caused by the release.

      Other factors that may be taken into consideration are the faculty member’s length of service at GSU, the faculty member’s recent performance, and the amount of leave and release time that has been granted in the past to the faculty member. If the request has not been designated as confidential, the Dean may request that appropriate administrators and/or committees within the College review the request and make written recommendations.

    • If the course release is requested for the purpose of professional development, the faculty member will submit a written report to the head of his or her academic unit on the activities undertaken as a result of the release and how these activities will enhance the faculty member’s future contributions to the University. The report should be submitted within three months after the completion of the quarter in which the release was taken. The report will be forwarded to the Dean.

(Recommended by Executive Committee 3/92 and Faculty Affairs Committee 3/92)