Faculty Sabbatical Leaves

Guiding Principles
The primary purpose of a leave is to prepare faculty for future service to the university, normally understood as at least two years unless an exception is made by the president.  Each request for a leave and each plan for using a leave must be approved in advance.  The costs for the program are paid out of budget for regular instructional expense.  It is no part of the purpose of the leave program to help faculty members to earn more than their regular salary.  Faculty members are encouraged to apply for awards such as grants, fellowships and assistantships to defray the costs of the program.

Administration of the Program
The Board of Trustees grants all leaves upon recommendation by the president.  The president makes her or his recommendation with the advice of the faculty development committee.  Any eligible faculty member desiring a sabbatical leave submits a written proposal to the dean of academic affairs before October 1 of the year previous to that for which the leave is proposed.  The proposal includes a plan for the use of the leave.  There is to be sufficient flexibility in the administration  of the program so that an adequate staff can be maintained on campus.  This is to prevent temporary weakening of the academic program due to the leave program.  If there are too many applications in any year, priorities shall be determined.  Some consideration should be given to divisional representation in the program, so that the leaves with their resulting benefits are distributed equitably.

Sabbatical leaves are open to tenured faculty.  Special or elective leaves are open to tenured and tenure-track faculty.  Faculty members must have served nine full academic years before originally becoming eligible, six full years after a sabbatical leave and at least four consecutive years immediately prior to a sabbatical leave.  The number of sabbaticals in any given academic year will be limited to no more than one-seventh (1/7) of the tenured and tenure track faculty.

Use of Leave
Leave shall be used only for some educational activity that is clearly of value in preparing for future service to the university.  Faculty members are encouraged to engage in activities such as formal study, independent or group research, writing or other creative work and specially approved travel.

Faculty members receive one-half of their annual salary for a regular sabbatical leave.  That is, they continue on full annual salary if absent for half the academic year and receive one-half the annual salary if absent for the entire academic year.  One-fourth of the annual salary is allowed for a summer sabbatical leave.  If faculty members receive outside remuneration to support their leave, the stipend from the university is reduced accordingly so that the total is not above the regular salary.  However, in such cases special consideration shall be given to large extra expenses due to the leave, such as travel, moving or higher living costs.  Some fringe benefits may be continued during elective leave at the faculty member's expense.  If the circumstances of the elective leave warrant, the faculty member may negotiate to have the university continue some fringe benefits.  It is understood that faculty members granted a leave of absence of any kind without pay declare their intention to return to full-time instructional work at Bluffton University the following academic year.

Within six months of the completion of the academic year in which a sabbatical leave has been taken, the faculty member is to submit a report to the dean of academic affairs stating how the plan for the sabbatical has been realized.

Guidelines for Sabbatical Proposals
Sabbatical proposals should be submitted to the academic dean.  The faculty development committee has to approve each proposal.  If approved by this committee, the proposal is forwarded to the president and then to the board of trustees for final decision.

The proposal should be no more than 3 pages in length and should follow as much as is possible the outline suggested below.

Sabbatical proposal outline:

  • Initial paragraph
    • a few sentences describing the project
    • semester or year sabbatical (and if semester, which semester)
    •  if additional funding is being sought, explain here
  • Context for proposal
    • discussion of the intellectual, professional, and/or creative basis of this project
    • discussion of where this project fits in the larger discipline
    • discussion of the methodology to be used in this project
    • discussion of where this project fits within the body of your own academic work
  • Benefits of the project
    • explain the benefit of project to your discipline or professional field
    • explain the benefit of project to your own career and intellectual and professional development
    • explain the benefit of project to Bluffton University
  • Specific outcomes
    • provide a summary of the precise outcomes anticipated for the sabbatical

The following documents should be submitted along with the sabbatical proposal:

  • brief bibliography (where appropriate)
  • letter of support from the department chair, in which the chair addresses the quality of the proposal and the plan for providing course coverage