Provost cancels 60 sabbaticals next year

Regina Garcia Cano

$500K estimated to be saved as a result

Faculty professional improvement leaves, better known as faculty sabbaticals, have been canceled for the 2009-2010 academic year as a cost reduction initiative.

“The university decided that this was (an) appropriate decision to make to try to harbor our resources and use them more effectively,” Provost Robert Frank said.

The following are the faculty professional improvement leaves that were authorized for the academic year 2009-2010.

&bull Associate professor of psychology Josefina Grau: authorized for one year.

&bull Professor of nursing Claire Draucker: authorized for one year.

&bull Associate professor of geology at the Stark campus Carrie Schweitzer: authorized for one semester.

He said 60 leaves were put on hold and estimates savings of $500,000 because of the measure.

The university allows tenured faculty members who have worked a minimum of seven years full-time to take time off from teaching or other official responsibilities for either six months or one year. Kent State policy requires a faculty member seeking leave to have at least the rank of assistant professor.

Frank said with the cancellation of leaves, students are more likely to have faculty, as opposed to adjuncts or part-time faculty.

“The other side is a lot of professional development leaves help faculty re-engaged in their discipline and tool; (they) refine and enhance their skills,” Frank said. “So in the future, they may not have the same skills they would have had if they had this opportunity.”

According to the university policy, the purposes of the leaves are for professors to upgrade professional skills, acquire new skills or to develop intellectually and professionally to benefit themselves and the university.

Susan Roxburgh, associate professor in sociology, was affected by the university’s decision.

“Canceling sabbaticals contradicts the priority placed on the research mission of the university,” she said.

Roxburgh had planned to resubmit an external grant to expand her previous research in time pressure and well-being. She was also going to work on two different papers, one on marriage and mental health and another on family, time pressure and well-being.

Professors whose leaves were canceled could appeal the decision to Frank. He said three appeals were accepted because they were based primarily on external funding.

“We didn’t set a specific dollar amount,” Frank said. “We just looked to see that it covered a significant amount of cost, and each of these cases made it.

“We didn’t even have to draw a line because this three clearly had them, and the rest didn’t.”

Associate Provost Sue Averill said the leaves authorized by the Research and Creativity Awards were not canceled. The University Research Council and John West, vice president for research and graduate studies dean, analyze the proposes every year. She said 23 faculty members applied for these awards.

Frank said the university does not envision faculty professional improvement leaves will be gone for good.

Contact academics reporter Regina Garcia Cano at [email protected].