Approved by the: Faculty Senate - October 3, 2013
Administration - no action required*
Board of Regents - no action required

* The administration supports developing good practices and fair and transparent procedures for reviewing applications for competitive sabbatical supplements such as those outlined in the recommended guidelines. The University's administrative policy on Faculty Development Leaves already makes it clear that procedures with regard to requests for sabbatical supplement funding are to be established by each college or campus, and, as with all review procedures at the University, such processes must be fair and equitable and in accordance with existing, applicable University policies. The administration encourages campus and collegiate units to review their current guidelines and incorporate, as necessary, recommended good practices from the guidelines adopted by the Faculty Senate.

Recommended Guidelines for Evaluating Competitive Faculty Applications for University Funded Sabbatical Supplements

September 2013

In order to promote transparency and consistency across collegiate units in evaluating faculty applications for University funded sabbatical supplements, the Faculty Consultative Committee recommends to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs that all campus and collegiate units be encouraged to adopt review procedures that conform to the following guidelines.

1.   Review Committee(s). The evaluation of applications for sabbatical supplements should in all cases be conducted by a committee of faculty appointed by the Dean.  None of the faculty members appointed to the committee should have appointments as assistant or associate dean. The committee should have a minimum of five members, each of whom independently reviews and rates all eligible applications that have been timely received. The membership of the committee should represent diverse disciplines, academic ranks, and academic experiences. An experienced staff member should be appointed to staff the committee, circulate materials, and make arrangements to complete steps in accord with a schedule that has been published in advance of the competition.  The chair of the committee or subcommittee should be appointed by the Dean.

2.   Conflict of Interest. The Dean should be sensitive to issues of conflict of interest when appointing committee members and those who may have such a conflict should recuse themselves according to university policy. A person who wishes to apply for a sabbatical supplement should not serve on the committee. If an Associate Dean or Dean applies, that person should not participate in the collegiate review and decision-making process.

3.   Selection Criteria. The collegiate committee should be charged with recommending the strongest applicants, whatever the scholarly field and without regard to distribution across disciplines, based on criteria that have been established and publicized by the college in advance of the competition. The following criteria are recommended for adoption.

(1)    the substance and quality of the proposal;

(2)    the proposal design and methodology;

(3)    the potential for the professional development of the applicant;

(3)    the potential for significant contribution to the applicant's field;

(4)    the strength of the applicant's publication record, taking into account the stage of his/her career, and productive use of past leaves and grants; and

(5)    the likelihood of timely completion of the proposed scope of work.

4.   Rankings. Each committee member should review and rate each application according to each of the established criteria according to a uniform scale employed by all committee members. One means of doing this is to adopt a rating sheet that specifies the criteria and the scale as an aid to judgment and discussion when the committee members convene to discuss their recommendations.

5.   Confidentiality. Membership on the committee is public information; however, all committee discussions and ratings should be treated as confidential. Individuals' notes taken during the review process will not be considered public information. The College, however, must be able to provide constructive criticism and comment in response to inquiries from unsuccessful applicants after the final decisions are known. Therefore, reviewers should be asked to provide their rating sheets and notes to the Dean's office at the end of the final meeting (which notes are destroyed after a reasonable period of time). Before being transmitted to applicants, the content of comments should be summarized and provided without attribution to individual reviewers.

6.   Application Form. The application form should be reviewed to assure consistency with the published criteria and calendar of deadlines. It may be advisable for the form to prompt applicants to write their proposal in such a way that it is accessible to committee members who are not in the applicant's discipline.

7.   Calendar. Each college should annually establish and publicize a calendar for receiving and reviewing applications and communicating final decisions to the applicants.

Background

In 2010-2011 the Office for Conflict Resolution informed the Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs that there have been recurrent faculty complaints regarding intra-collegiate competitions for sabbatical supplements and single semester leaves. An ad hoc committee appointed by SCFA reviewed and compared existing collegiate practices regarding these competitions.  Finding wide variation across collegiate units in how the awards are made, the committee concluded that the process would be improved by broader adherence to clear and consistent guidelines for the evaluation of applications for these limited resources.  To that end the committee recommended and SCFA adopted a set of recommendations to be transmitted to the Faculty Consultative Committee for possible endorsement.  At its meeting of March 29, 2012 the FCC discussed the proposed guidelines.  A consensus emerged that the proposed guidelines should not attempt to address both sabbatical supplements and single semester leaves, because the funding mechanisms differed between the two leave policies. It was agreed that the recommended guidelines should be amended so as to remove references to single-semester leaves.


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