Paid Professional Leave Guidelines

Timeline

  • Each program or school solicits applications from faculty. These are due by November 7 to the dean/director.
  • The dean/director reviews and signs the applications and writes a memo to the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs with his/her recommendation regarding each of the applications. The memo should include a ranked list of the applications. Submit applications, CVs, and memo to Academic HR by November 15.
  • The Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs reviews submitted applications and recommendations by deans/directors and selects which applications will go forward for approval to the Provost’s office. The Executive Vice Chancellor will notify dean/directors of his/her recommendation.
  • The EVCAA and Academic HR are notified in January-February of the Provost's decisions and will communicate those to the deans/directors and faculty member.

Faculty

A faculty member is eligible for a professional leave in their seventh year of service to the University or in the seventh year after return from a previous professional leave. Assistant Professors are not eligible for paid professional leave until they have been reviewed and approved for tenure/promotion.

Below are some considerations taken into account in ranking requests.

  • History of prior professional leaves. For example, how recent was the last professional leave? What impact did prior professional leaves have on the record of the faculty member?
  • The merit of the faculty member’s proposal for use of the leave.
  • Opportunity for the faculty member to participate in a particular program or combine the leave with fellowship funding in a particular year.
  • The timing of the professional leave request in the faculty member’s career. For example, has the faculty member just been granted tenure and promotion to associate professor? Has the faculty member just completed a term as director, dean, or other significant position of responsibility? Is the professional leave project the last link in building a strong case for promotion to professor of a faculty member who has served as associate professor for many years?
  • Availability of alternative means to meet the faculty member’s professional needs.

In considering a faculty member’s request for professional leave, a director or dean must also take into account the unit’s programmatic needs and the ability of the unit to cover the teaching of that faculty member. These considerations may make it necessary to deny or defer an otherwise-deserving request for professional leave. In such a case, the director or dean can set as a high priority the approval of a subsequent professional leave request from that faculty member.

This is by no means a complete list. Directors and deans are encouraged to rank requests using whatever criteria they think best. What is most important is that an explanation of these criteria be provided. The director or dean should include an evaluation of each request and a ranking of all the program requests.

Administrators are encouraged to be creative in exploring ways to fulfill as many worthy requests as possible. For instance, more faculty needs may be met if some faculty can do as well with professional leaves shorter in length than requested, split over two years, or delayed, and these options are often considered.

In the past, the Provost’s Office has been able to redistribute unused “quarters” of sabbatical leaves to schools or campuses that need additional quarters. This is subject to availability and with increased demand, is becoming more difficult to obtain.

Prioritization of requests is thus necessary and is more appropriately handled at the program level.

Process for allocating professional leave quarters for faculty

The Provost’s Office has a pool of professional leave quarters to allocate, corresponding to 4% of the total eligible faculty and professional staff. It distributes to each school, college, and campus a number of quarters that is slightly less than what that unit would get proportionally and retains a small central pool. Faculty requests are submitted to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. What is especially useful is a ranking of all requests from the program/school, accompanied by an explanation of the basis for the ranking.

By statute, the State of Washington limits the number of university faculty and exempt staff on professional leave with pay at any given time to 4%. As a result, it is not possible for every faculty member to be granted professional leave on a seven-year cycle. A competitive application process is required, with decisions made at the program/school, campus, and provost levels.

Additional Resources:

Academic HR - Paid Professional Leave

Executive Order No.33 - Professional Leave Policy

Paid Professional Leave Application