Policy on faculty academic leaves

Policy on Faculty Academic Leaves

The College and the University wish to be supportive of faculty who receive awards that provide valuable professional opportunities and represent significant recognition of professional status (e.g., prestigious visiting appointments or fellowships). Such opportunities often require leaves of absence.

There are a wide range of circumstances under which such opportunities occur and they require a flexible policy that may address the unique opportunities presented by these types of awards. The following considerations and principles will govern the handling of requests for leaves:

  • All leaves are subject to the provisions of section 3.4.3.1 of the Bylaws of the Board of Regents (below).
  • Faculty who intend to apply for any type of leave should discuss their plans with the department chair in advance of submitting a formal request.  The College requires that leave applications have affirmative department endorsements.
  • Requests for leaves without pay, that are endorsed by the department, will typically be approved if they fit within the broad parameters of the Board of Regent’s policy.
  • Leaves with partial pay, more typical of leave requests associated with special awards or fellowships, may require supplemental support from the College.   The department chair should notify the College well in advance of the proposed leave date.  This will provide the time required to consider if and how additional support could be provided should the application be successful.
  • If eligible, faculty may choose to combine an award with the timing of an approved Faculty Development Leave (FDL), but it is not a requirement to use an FDL in order to obtain a leave with full or partial pay.
  • Leaves with partial pay or without pay do not impact eligibility for FDL.  However, the time away from duties at UNL associated with such leaves does not accumulate time for eligibility for the next FDL.
  • As a general guide, departments are discouraged from approving a leave with partial pay or without pay in a year immediately adjacent to an FDL.  

Leaves Without Pay

There are a variety of circumstances where a faculty may request a leave without pay to be involved in specific program of teaching, research, or other creative work.  

One common example of this type of situation would be for faculty who are taking temporary Intergovermental Personnel Act assignments with federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation.  

Other examples include faculty members taking temporary research appointments at another university or with private companies.  

Approval is not automatic and should not be assumed.  Request for leaves without pay may not always meet the criteria established by the Board of Regents, particularly with respect to the potential impact on UNL programs.   Accordingly, all such leaves require prior approval of the department and the college.    While there is no specific timeline for such requests, they clearly need to be made early enough for department chairs to be able to assess the ability to cover faculty duties in ways that maintain the program.

Typically, the duration of a leave without pay is up to one year, but a second year may be approved in special circumstances.

Leaves With Full or Partial Pay

Leaves with full or partial pay may be considered for faculty who have received prestigious awards.  Most prestigious awards include some level of financial support.  The University of Nebraska system has a policy promoting Faculty engagement in high prestige awards that enhance global engagement (e.g., Fulbright Fellowships).  

Consistent with this policy, the college will ‘top up’ salaries for faculty who receive prestigious awards of this type.  For approved leaves, Faculty will receive full pay and continuation of their standard benefits. 

It is important to note that Board of Regents policy limits total faculty income under partial pay leaves to not exceed their base UNL pay.  Board of Regents policy does permit faculty to receive funding above base salary that is necessary for covering travel expenses and increased cost-of-living while working away from the University. 

Any award funding received that is in excess of these base expenses would be considered income.  Thus, the amount needed to top up a faculty salary will be calculated by subtracting the award stipend income from the base salary for the period of the proposed leave. 

Any leaves with full or partial pay will require a signed agreement that the faculty member will return to the University after the completion of the leave.  The faculty member must agree to reimburse the University for all pay received during the leave of absence if s/he leaves employment prior to the completion of one additional year on the faculty.

Department Compensation and Incentives
Associated with Faculty Leaves

The College policy is to provide maximum flexibility to departments when they have faculty taking a leave.

For faculty on leaves without pay, the College will return 80 percent of the faculty salary to the department to use to address teaching and other program needs.

For faculty leaves with full or partial pay, the College will insure that, at a minimum, the department will receive teaching replacement funds.   As an incentive for departments to work with their faculty to obtain the most prestigious awards, the College will provide a larger portion of the salary savings for the most prestigious awards.   

The College will work with departments to create and maintain a listing of awards and fellowships that fall into each of the three rating categories.   The list will be maintained on the college website.

The current college formula for returning salary savings to department is:

  1. Very High Prestige Awards  (e.g, Fulbright Distinguished Professorships, Guggenheim)
    The College will return 80 percent of the salary savings to the department.
  2. High Prestige Awards (e.g., Fulbright Research and Teaching awards)
    The College will return 70 percent of the salary savings to the department.
  3. Other Awards  (e.g., Fulbright Teaching awards)
    The College will return 60 percent of the salary savings to the department.
  4. Full Year Faculty Development Leaves 
    The College will return 50 percent of the salary savings to the department.  This replaces the prior practice of providing course replacement funds for one semester.

Section 3.4.3.1 of the Bylaws: Academic Leaves of AbsenceBoard of Regents, University of Nebraska

The Board may grant leaves of absence not to exceed one year to members of the permanent professional staff holding full-time appointments, or part-time appointments of at least one-half full-time equivalent (.5 FTE),with or without stipends, as follows:

(a) To carry out a specific program of teaching, research, or other creative work when the described project seems significant and the qualifications of the applicant adequate to its attainment.

(b) To acquire, through study, observations, interviews, travel, and cultural interchanges within the United States and abroad, new concepts, data, and procedures when, in the opinion of the appropriate committees and officers of the administration, such leaves will result in the improvement of the quality of instruction and research and contribute towards the enhancement of the scholarly prestige of the University.

(c) To render services sponsored or approved by the University or otherwise recognized as significant, such as assisting in the establishment or operation of new teaching extension, or research programs in the United States and abroad.

Such leaves may be extended for one additional year with approval of the Board.

No leaves of absence with pay will be granted by the Board except in cases where it is demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Board that the best interests of the University will be substantially and directly promoted by granting such leave of absence with pay, and that the recipient of the leave of absence with pay has agreed to resume his or her duties at the University of Nebraska upon termination of the leave and continue such duties for a period of at least one academic year and, if he or she fails to do so in strict accordance with his or her agreement, agrees to reimburse the University for all pay received during the leave of absence.

All granting of leaves of absence shall be contingent on satisfactory replacement or other arrangements having been made to the end that instruction and research in the department involved will not be disrupted.