Sabbatical Leaves

The sabbatical leave has grown out of a recognition of the need and desirability for each faculty member to have an opportunity at regular intervals for professional growth and renewal. The purpose of the sabbatical leave program is to strengthen the faculty by providing opportunity for faculty members to improve their competence as creative and interpretive teachers.

A leave is a period of time during which the individual has no on-campus responsibilities. Whether the leave is taken in Northfield or at another location is immaterial, as long as no on-campus teaching, advising, committee, departmental, or other duties are expected.  A complete explanation of leaves of absence can be found in the Faculty Manual, Section 4.XVII.

Each faculty member’s sabbatical should be designed primarily to engage the individual with some aspect of current scholarship or professional activity. It should not be used simply to prepare course material or to broaden one’s perspective through travel, although such activities may be appropriate as a minor part of a professionally oriented program of research or study.

Eligibility for a sabbatical leave is based on years of service. Each member of the faculty who holds academic rank and who has been awarded tenure has a right to expect, and is expected to apply for, a sabbatical leave after each six years of service to St. Olaf College. Such service need not be continuous. Exceptions may be made in the regular schedule of sabbatical leaves for the reasons of staffing and planning.  A department may request a faculty member to take a sabbatical leave one year earlier or one year later than regularly scheduled.

“The right to expect a sabbatical leave is a contingent, not an absolute, right. The granting of sabbatical leaves is not, therefore, automatic, but is contingent upon meeting the following requirements consistent with the basic intent of the sabbatical leave program”:

  1. The faculty member must apply for a sabbatical leave in order to be considered. Application forms may be obtained from the office of the Dean of the College by responding to the email notification of eligibility it sends by April 1. The application is a multi-stage process. On or before June 1 of the academic year preceding submission of an application for a sabbatical leave, the faculty member must notify his/her department chair(s), associate dean(s), and the Dean of the College of his/her intent to apply, including the proposed dates of the leave and a brief description of tentative plans for the sabbatical. A draft of the sabbatical application will be submitted to the chair(s) of the department and the Associate Dean(s) by September 1 in order to allow for a productive discussion of the application with the faculty member. The final application form will be submitted to the department chair(s) by October 1, with a request for a recommendation; the chair(s) will then forward the application along with this recommendation to the Dean of the College on or before the Tuesday following Fall Break for a leave to begin during the following academic year. Notification of approval of the sabbatical leave will be sent to the faculty member by the end of the Fall Semester.
  1. The Sabbatical Leaves Subcommittee of the Faculty Life Committee and the Dean of the College shall review the applications for sabbatical leave.  Their recommendations shall be made to the Faculty Life Committee which, in turn, makes recommendations to the President. Final approval is the prerogative of the Board of Regents.
  1. The Sabbatical Leaves Subcommittee shall satisfy itself that the following minimum criteria are met:
    • The applicant must have a worthy project as attested to by the chair of the department and the Dean of the College.
    • The project must be in harmony with the objectives of the sabbatical leave program.
  1. Following the completion of a sabbatical leave, recipients shall submit a report of their leave activities to the Dean of the College [electronically to doc@stolaf.edu, with their chair(s) and associate dean(s) copied on the email; please specify that it is your sabbatical report in the subject field of the email]. These reports are to be made available to the faculty selection committee for review and shall be placed in the library to be available to the faculty. The approval by the Dean of the College of the report of a sabbatical leave shall be a condition for the granting of a subsequent sabbatical leave to a faculty member.

In the Provost’s Sabbatical Series, presenters are asked to comment on what they did to plan and prepare for their leaves, and on how they have managed the transition back to the classroom (including ways in which they have integrated their sabbatical work with their teaching). These informational lunches are co-sponsored by the Faculty Life Committee and the Center for Innovation in the Liberal Arts (CILA).