Professional Development Committee
April 2000

The Professional Development Committee coordinated with the Research Council to collect data concerning professional development (aka sabbatical) programs at our peer institutions and to draft a joint recommendation to the Faculty Senate for such a program at the University of Tennessee.

The Research Council had already decided to poll peer institutions (including some but not all of the "top 25" research institutions) with the following questions:
  1. Does your University have a sabbatical policy?
  2. How do you qualify for a sabbatical? Who is eligible and how often?
  3. How long are the sabbaticals and how much are you paid during your research leave?
  4. How are your classes and other responsibilities (e.g. advising, committees, etc.) covered?
  5. Where does the money come from: departmental or administrative budgets?
Seventeen of the "top 25" research institutions were not among the universities polled by the Research Council, so the Professional Development Committee polled these. We were able to obtain results on fourteen of these (missing were Georgia, Virginia and Michigan). We provided our results to Andy Kramer of the Research Council.

The Committee discussed similarities among the policies of the various universities on professional development leave, and we agreed on elements that we would like to have be included in a joint recommendation with the Research Council. (Andy Kramer of the Research Council sat in on the meeting in which we did this.)

Here are the elements that we agreed on:
A Faculty Development Program should be instituted in line with the policies of the institutions of our target peer group. After every six years of full-time service at this University, faculty should be eligible for either a semester's leave at full pay and benefits or two semester's leave at half pay and full benefits. Existing development funds should not be prohibited from being applied to supplement the half pay. Outside funding should be encouraged for this purpose. The half of the salary that is not paid to the faculty member should go into a pool to cover the cost of teaching courses that would ordinarily be taught by the faculty member. The faculty member should not be allowed to take full-time employment at another institution during this time, although consulting should be allowed. Faculty should be required to return to full-time employment at the University for at least a year after completing the program. All faculty should be encouraged to take advantage of the program. No more than 10% of a Department's faculty should be on leave at any given time (but allowances should be made for Departments with fewer than ten faculty members.) Advance proposals describing activities and expected benefits should be required. Departments should have procedures in their Bylaws for deciding on the acceptability of these proposals. Written reports should be required, describing activities carried out and benefits achieved. Faculty should also present to their Department, at a single-meeting seminar, the results of their participation in the program.
We forwarded these results to the Research Council for their consideration, and we plan to issue a joint recommendation with them to the Senate during the next academic year.

Respectfully submitted,
Betsy Postow
Chair, Professional Development Committee

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