The University offers tenured faculty members opportunities to apply for sabbatical leaves to engage in activities designed for professional growth, development, and renewal. The goal of a sabbatical leave is to enhance the professional effectiveness of the faculty member and to enrich the academic climate of the University. A sabbatical leave provides an opportunity for professional growth through various kinds of activities. Examples include:

  • Conducting research that leads to publication
  • Conducting research or study that leads to improving teaching, to a new area of teaching or research expertise, or to curriculum development
  • Engaging in activities to professionally revitalize or retrain the faculty member, such as association with distinguished persons in the field

A. Eligibility

A faculty member is eligible to receive a sabbatical leave after six academic years of full-time employment at The University of Alabama. A faculty member is eligible to receive a subsequent sabbatical leave after six academic years of full-time employment at The University of Alabama following completion of a sabbatical leave. A faculty member does not accumulate time to apply to sabbatical leave by additional full-time service beyond six years. For example, a faculty member who provides 12 years of continuous, full-time service is eligible to apply for only one sabbatical leave. When justified by the total period of service to the University, however, a subsequent leave may be approved during the fourth year after the preceding one. Under very special circumstances, if prior approval is recommended by the departmental chairperson or area head and dean and is granted by the Provost, a year spent on exchange, a visiting professorship, or a voluntary leave may count as service in determining eligibility for sabbatical leave.

As a general rule, no more than 20 percent of the faculty of any department should be on leave at any given time for sabbatical and voluntary leave (in the case of departments with fewer than five members, the limit is one person at any given time). Under extraordinary circumstances, individual faculty members or departmental chairpersons may petition for exceptions to this policy; the petition will be reviewed by the academic dean and the Office for Academic Affairs before it is referred to the Provost for decision. Recipients of sabbatical leaves are expected to return to the service of The University of Alabama for at least one academic year after the completion of such leaves. Applicants for sabbatical leave who would be able to render less than three years of service after return from sabbatical leave will be expected to offer particularly cogent reasons in support of their applications.

B. Term of Leave and Compensation

For individuals on a nine-month appointment, a sabbatical leave may consist of either a one-semester leave with full pay or two semesters with one-half pay. Faculty members on 12-month appointments may apply for a sabbatical leave of four and one-half months with full pay or of nine months with one-half pay. In some situations, however, departmental or divisional needs may permit only a one-semester or four-and-one-half-month leave. An applicant for a sabbatical leave should discuss the proposed time and duration of leave with the chairperson before submitting an application.

A sabbatical leave is approved for a specific period of time. An individual with an approved sabbatical leave who finds that it will be impossible to take the leave should notify his or her departmental chairperson or area head immediately. Any subsequent request for sabbatical leave will be treated as a new application and will be judged accordingly.

Faculty members on sabbatical leave have the same right to earn supplemental compensation as faculty members who are not on sabbatical leave (see Chapter 3, Section IX). However, the purpose of sabbatical leave is professional development and not income augmentation. Thus, the amount the University will pay during a leave will be reduced by the amount that income from sabbatical-related sources (other than activities described as part of the proposed program of professional development), when added to the normal leave pay from the University, exceeds the person’s regular salary plus reasonable expenses attributable to the approved plan of sabbatical activities. When the amount of income to be realized from sabbatical leave activities cannot be ascertained, the University will require an agreement to reimburse the University for any over payment.

C. Application and Approval Process

Sabbatical leaves must be spent in planned programs related to the professional work of the recipient and designed to match the duration of the sabbatical leave. Applicants for sabbatical leaves are required to describe what they plan to do while on leave, where they plan to spend the leave, and how their plans relate to their professional development. The leave application must include appropriate plans for travel or residence away from campus whenever such travel or residence can be expected to afford opportunities for professional growth that are not available at the University.

Applications for sabbatical leave should be addressed to the administrative officer most immediately responsible for the applicant’s area of operations and should be submitted by October 1. An application form requesting a detailed description of the project to be undertaken is available from the Office for Academic Affairs. This application should be submitted along with a current curriculum vita and the names of two references who can supply informed judgments about the applicant’s proposed project.

Department chairs shall transmit all applications, together with their recommendations, to their deans by November 1. When approval is recommended, an explanation shall be furnished as to what arrangements are contemplated and what budgetary adjustments, if any, will be required to maintain the departmental program during the applicant’s absence. After the departmental recommendation has been reviewed by the dean, the application, together with appropriate recommendations and remarks, will be forwarded to the Provost by December 1. Normally, the Provost’s decision will be transmitted to the individual by February 1.

D. Administration

As far as possible, divisional programs and schedules should be planned to enable faculty members to propose sabbatical leaves when eligible to apply. However, continuity of divisional programs may require leaves to be scheduled in other than a seventh year of service. A faculty member whose application for leave is refused solely because of needs of the department or academic division should be encouraged to submit an application for the following year; in such cases, efforts will be made to make leave possible.

The sabbatical leave program normally will be financed through departmental and divisional budgets. If adequate funds are not available within department/divisional budgets, deans may request funds through the regular budget allocation process.

E. Reporting

The recipient of a sabbatical leave is expected to submit a report that describes in reasonable detail the extent to which achievements during the leave met the objectives stated in the approved plan for leave. This report is due no later than one month after the start of the spring or fall semester in which the faculty member returns from the sabbatical. This report should be forwarded through the same channels as the original application for leave.

F. Effect on Retirement

A sabbatical leave that results in a reduction of regular pay will impact years of service as determined by the Teachers Retirement System of Alabama (TRSA). Faculty members who take two semesters with one-half pay are generally credited by TRSA as one-half year of service. Service for retirement is calculated independently by the TRSA.