Policy Details


Date of Last Update
7/13/2018

Approved By
  • Board of Trustees

Responsible Office
Legal, Compliance & Risk Management

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Regular Faculty Procedures for the Awarding of Sabbatical Leave

BOT 4.2.25

Policy Statement

2.25     Procedures for the Awarding of Sabbatical Leave.

A sabbatical is defined as a period of release to provide an opportunity for the faculty member to learn, develop or enhance understanding or skills that will improve the applicant’s teaching, scholarly/creative and/or professional competence beyond their normal workload (as described in Section 3).  Sabbaticals are a part of the university's responsibility in relation to faculty growth and development. Such leaves contribute to the accomplishment of these ends by enabling the faculty to undertake specific, planned activities involving study, research, or creative work of mutual benefit to the applicant and to Grand Valley State University.  The providing of resources necessary for sabbatical leaves is a high priority for the University.

The Provost shall be responsible for the approval of the sabbatical leave review process subject to this Section 4.2.25. The Provost will review recommended sabbatical proposals and will issue a written decision normally by January 31. The Provost forwards decisions to the President and informs Deans. The Provost will inform the Board of Trustees of the titles and authors of approved proposals.

1 .   Eligibility.  By March 15 each year, the Human Resources Office will provide the academic deans with the names of the faculty members eligible to apply at the beginning of the Fall semester. The deans then send a notice to each eligible person as a reminder, offering assistance in refining plans and indicating sources of relevant information. If a Fulbright or other comparable competitive scholarly grant is being sought separate from a sabbatical leave, the faculty member must ensure that the grant award will not be made for the year prior to a sabbatical nor the year immediately following a sabbatical (as specified in Section 2.30.4.C.).

Subject to the provisions listed below (Section 9), sabbatical leave may be granted after six years of service. Such leave may not be awarded to the same person more than once in seven years and leave time shall not be cumulative. Up to two years of service prior to serving in a tenure track faculty position at the rank of instructor or above, or its equivalent, at GVSU or other accredited institutions of higher education may count toward fulfillment of the eligibility period. Only tenured Grand Valley faculty members are eligible to receive a sabbatical.

In computing consecutive years of service for the purpose of establishing eligibility, periods of vacation leave and periods of sick leave with salary shall be included; periods of leaves of absence other than vacation leave and sick leave will not ordinarily be included but shall not be deemed an interruption of otherwise consecutive service.

If a current full-time faculty member previously served part time, then their sabbatical will be delayed until the equivalent of six years of full-time service has been accrued.  A part-time regular faculty member is eligible for a sabbatical after six years of service at or above their current appointment rate; a part-time regular faculty member will receive their current appointment rate while on sabbatical.  In the case of the faculty member on leave from a faculty position to hold an administrative position at Grand Valley, the provisions of Section 2.11 apply.

2 .   Remuneration.

Faculty shall receive full salary when on leave one academic semester and fifty percent of base salary when on leave two academic semesters (or up to three academic semesters for faculty on a 12-month appointment).  Applicants for sabbatical leave must specify other salaries, grants, fellowships, or financial support they expect to receive (or do receive) during the period of the leave.  The combined incomes from such sources and the sabbatical grant shall not exceed the faculty member's normal salary plus expenses incurred because of the sabbatical leave.  The recipient is expected to return to a regular appointment with Grand Valley for at least one academic year (or twelve months in the case of faculty on twelve-month appointments) after the sabbatical period.

3.   Objectives.

The scope of the sabbatical project should require the faculty member to have one or two (or three in the case of faculty with 12-month contracts) semesters of continuous release from normal teaching and service responsibilities.  The sabbatical project should not be accomplishable in shorter intervals with other forms of assistance available.  A request for sabbatical leave must be accompanied by a well-developed proposal for use of the leave time. The proposal shall conform to one or more of the objectives listed below:

1.   Promise of a significant contribution to a new or existing subject under study or problem undertaken.

2.   Expansion of skills that deepens or extends the applicant’s professional capabilities related to teaching (or for librarians, professional effectiveness), research, or creative activity.

3.   A planned effort to retrain professionally, in a manner appropriate to the applicant’s discipline and the unit’s and university’s needs.

4.   Inadequate Funding.

In the event that the University anticipates that the number of recommended sabbaticals requires funds greater than the amount available for support, the Provost will communicate with faculty governance and shall follow a process determined by the Provost to select proposals for funding.

Applicants who are not awarded sabbaticals because of inadequate funding should reapply to be reviewed the following year.

5.   Staffing Problems.

The decision not to award a sabbatical because of staffing problems will be made by the Provost after review of the Dean's recommendation of inadequate staffing concerns. Applicants who are not awarded sabbaticals because of staffing problems will receive a written explanation from the Dean.  If an applicant’s recommended sabbatical is delayed because of staffing problems, the applicant will be given priority for the following year, assuming the applicant’s proposal has been recommended and approved by the Provost.  A faculty member whose sabbatical is delayed because of staffing problems will not be required to wait an additional 6 years from the later date before becoming eligible to apply for another sabbatical, but will be eligible to apply 6 years from the previous eligibility year.

6.   Delayed Sabbatical.

An applicant whose sabbatical was awarded but must be delayed for reasons other than staffing problems, as approved by the Provost, will not have to resubmit their proposal for review and will automatically be recommended for a sabbatical the following year without reapplication or review of their sabbatical, provided the project has not altered (see Section 7). A faculty member whose sabbatical is delayed, as approved by the Provost, will not be required to wait an additional 6 years from the later date before becoming eligible to apply for another sabbatical, but will be eligible to apply 6 years from the delayed eligibility year of the delayed sabbatical. An applicant whose sabbatical was awarded but has not been approved for delay by the Provost, must reapply for sabbatical.

7.   Alteration of Project.

If a faculty member finds it necessary to alter the original project approved for the sabbatical leave by the Provost, then three months before the sabbatical would have commenced the faculty member must submit a revised proposal to their College Dean. This deadline may be waived in unusual circumstances by the Dean.  If the Dean supports the revised proposal, the Dean will recommend the revised proposal to the Provost for review and a decision.  If the proposed alteration is judged to significantly change or weaken the spirit of the original proposal, then the Provost shall decide that the proposed alteration is not accepted. In this event, the faculty member can either fulfill the original approved sabbatical or cancel the project. In the event that an alteration is proposed after the sabbatical has already commenced, the Dean will recommend a course of action to the Provost. Depending on the nature and the extent of the alteration, the university may take action as it deems appropriate, including repayment to the university for time spent on sabbatical.

8.   Cancellation of Project.

If a faculty member decides not to take a sabbatical leave which has been approved by the Provost, then the faculty member must inform the Dean of the appointing unit at least three months before the sabbatical would have commenced. The Dean shall inform the Provost of the cancellation. If the faculty member cancels a sabbatical leave less than three months before the start of the leave, the Dean shall be free to deny the request. This deadline may be waived in unusual circumstances.  The faculty member who cancels will be eligible to apply for sabbatical the following year.

9.   Final Report and Dissemination.

Each faculty member returning from sabbatical leave shall prepare a final report of the sabbatical activities and accomplishments in accordance with the guidelines on the sabbatical website.  The faculty member must submit the report electronically via the sabbatical website.  This final report shall be filed no later than the end of the first semester after return to campus and shall include an account of the financial remuneration received during the sabbatical leave.  The Provost will review the final report. If the Provost does not approve the final report as submitted, the faculty member may revise and resubmit it. The Provost will notify the faculty member, the Dean, and the Human Resources Office whether or not the final report has been approved. Eligibility for the next sabbatical leave shall be calculated from the academic year in which the Provost approves the final report.