Southern updates sabbatical policy

Luke Taylor

The academic affairs office, in conjunction with business affairs, recently made some new decisions regarding sabbatical leaves for faculty.

“We brought it up to the president’s council, and the president’s council agreed that we would be able to offer [one unpaid] sabbatical,” said Dr. Brad Kleindl, interim vice president of academic affairs.

In the past, the school has either granted one full-pay sabbatical or two semesters of half-pay sabbaticals.

The reasons for new restrictions on sabbaticals are financial.

“It’s mostly a budget issue for us,” Kleindl said. “Last year, given our budget situation, we were unable to allow a faculty member to pursue a sabbatical because we were not able to financially cover that. This year, we’re looking at a different approach, which is to allow a faculty member to pursue their academic endeavors on a sabbatical- but again, we’re not able to pay it.”

Kleindl said faculty will be able to go on sabbaticals through grants or opportunities to teach or work abroad. He adds that sabbaticals are important for faculty to pursue a scholarly activity, increasing their proficiency in their field.

“A faculty member brings into the classroom their expertise in their field, and because all of our fields in academics are constantly changing, we have to maintain scholarship at some level to keep track of the changes in the fields,” said Kleindl.

The state does not require a certain number of sabbaticals. Universities are allowed to control their policies, and some require that their faculty take sabbaticals periodically.

“At some institutions…they actually require that faculty members take a sabbatical every x number of years,” he said.

Faculty who take a sabbatical are expected to bring their newfound knowledge and experience back to help Southern.

“[At Southern], a faculty member has a commitment to come back to the university for, I believe, two years after that.”

In order to apply for a sabbatical for the 2010-11 academic year, faculty must complete a letter of intent to the vice president of academic affairs and their department head today, and submit a completed application to their department head by Nov. 6.