Guidelines for Sabbatical

Guidelines for Paid and Unpaid Academic Leaves of Absence for Faculty in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

The Sam Fox School recognizes the value of paid academic leave (referred to as sabbatical leave) for tenured faculty to advance research; pursue new, ongoing, and experimental creative activity; and work toward outcomes such as exhibitions, publications, and commissions. Creative activity and research are essential faculty activities, along with teaching and service, and it is clear that a sabbatical leave can have a positive outcome for both the faculty member and the School. It is also evident that sabbatical leave is a critical element in the growth and development of the School’s research culture.

Sabbatical leaves are approved through a formal application process. It is the intent of the dean and directors to support meritorious proposals whenever possible. However, the number of sabbatical leaves granted in a year may be limited by academic/curricular needs and financial considerations. The directors will work closely with faculty to help ensure successful scheduling and use of sabbatical leave.

Unpaid academic leaves of absence are permissible for tenured and tenure-track faculty with approval from the Director of the College and the Dean of the Sam Fox School. Unpaid leaves are also subject to financial and academic/curricular considerations and a formal application process.

The following govern sabbatical and unpaid academic leaves in the Sam Fox School.

1. Sabbatical Leave Eligibility Requirements

A tenured faculty member may apply for sabbatical leave (academic leave with salary paid by the University) provided the following requirements are met:

A. The faculty member has been in residence in a full-time tenure-track or tenured teaching position at Washington University for at least six full academic years (twelve semesters) since a previous sabbatical leave or, if this is the first such leave, since joining this Faculty.

B. The faculty member has a significant plan for creative work, research, or other scholarly activity that demonstrates potential to contribute substantially to his/her body of work and possibly to the field. Proposals should clearly indicate goals and objectives but may allow for flexibility as new directions and opportunities arise. Sabbatical leaves are not intended to support teaching at other institutions.

C. The proposed timing of the leave will not cause significant problems with the program or function of the faculty member’s programmatic area or college/school.

D. The faculty member will return to regular faculty status at Washington University following the leave. The faculty member must return to the Sam Fox School for at least the number of semesters he or she was on paid leave. Failure to do so will require the faculty member to reimburse Washington University the amount of gross compensation (including benefits and other payments and contributions) paid by the University during the sabbatical leave.

2. Options for Sabbatical Leave

Sabbatical leaves of absence are normally granted as either:

A. A full year leave with half salary from the University, or

B. A one-semester leave with full salary from the University.

3. Timing of Sabbatical Leaves

The timing of leaves depends both upon the faculty member’s proposal for research or creative activity and the needs of the College and Sam Fox School. Directors must balance requests for leaves against the requirements of the College’s curriculum and the needs of its students. Faculty members should consult with their director as soon as possible about their intent to apply for sabbatical leave.

4. Non-accumulation of Sabbatical Leave Eligibility

While sabbatical leaves of absence, under appropriate circumstances, may be taken as often as every seven years, for many faculty members they are less frequent. Eligibility to apply for a leave does not accumulate, e.g., a faculty member who has had no leave for twelve years is still only eligible for a one-semester leave at full pay or a one-year leave with half pay.

5. Sabbatical Leave Application Procedures

All Sam Fox School tenured faculty will be required to submit a formal application for sabbatical leave.

A. Application Timing/Deadlines

It is essential that the director of each College be able to plan in advance for leaves by their faculty. Accordingly, faculty expecting to apply for leave must submit a letter of intent to the director of their College no later than December 15th prior to the academic year of the leave. The Sam Fox School recognizes that external grants or research arrangements may not be firmly set a year in advance, and therefore the letter of intent may be tentative. The formal application for sabbatical leave in the Sam Fox School must be submitted to the office of the Dean of the Sam Fox School no later than January 15th to be considered for the subsequent academic year.

B. Formal Application for Leave

Applications for sabbatical leave must include the following:

1. A completed Sam Fox School Sabbatical Leave of Absence Application Form , which includes the date the applicant joined the Washington University faculty and a list of all leaves since then, including the extent of university contribution to salary during each leave;

2. A synopsis of the faculty member’s plan for research or creative activity while on leave, with supporting material and images as appropriate;

3. A statement of endorsement from the director of the College (as part of the Sabbatical Leave of Absence Application Form or on a separate sheet) specifically addressing the proposed research or creative activity and the effect of the leave on the College, including the following:

a. Who else in the College may be on leave?

b. Will the department need temporary faculty for essential courses, or will its regular faculty cover the courses, or will it be acceptable to omit courses?

c. What will be the impact on students?

6. Outside Funding during Sabbatical Leave

Faculty are encouraged to seek grants or other sources of external funding that will provide the other half salary to complement the half salary from the University during a full-year sabbatical leave. Such grants may be paid directly to the faculty member by the granting agency, or they may be received by the University and paid to the faculty member, depending on the policy of the granting agency. However, if University funding is used, the total of the University funding and the outside funding may not exceed the faculty member’s regular full-time academic-year salary.

7. Sabbatical Leave Reporting

Faculty are required to submit a thorough report (2-3 pages) outlining leave activity and outcomes with appropriate documentation and images.

8. Academic Leaves without Pay

Tenured and tenure-track faculty members may take semester or full-year academic leaves without pay, subject to approval by their College director and the dean of the Sam Fox School through a formal application process. Such a leave does not replace a paid leave of absence, but neither does the period of such a leave count toward the twelve semesters of teaching and residence required prior to a paid leave of absence, e.g. if one had a sabbatical leave during the academic year 2010-11, then the next such leave could be during 2017-18 provided the intervening six academic years are spent in residence with normal teaching; but if a one-year leave without pay were taken during that period, then the sabbatical year would be postponed until 2018-19. There are numerous scenarios that would warrant unpaid academic leave, such as a timely research project or residency opportunity that does not fall during a faculty member’s period of sabbatical eligibility. Faculty members should consult with their director in advance of applying for grants that would require leave to determine if such a leave could be accommodated within the College. Applications for unpaid leave are due to the Office of the Dean of the Sam Fox School by January 15th prior to the academic year of leave. The Application for Unpaid Academic Leave can also be found on the Sam Fox School website.


Revised 10/6/20