Scholarly leave procedures and guidelines

The College of Humanities and Sciences recognizes the importance of scholarly leave to the professional growth and development of our faculty and their teaching and research. Leave is designed to help faculty invigorate their research and teaching activities, and faculty requesting leave should have compelling and specific reasons for their request.

Faculty are eligible for two types of scholarly leave: study-research leave and educational leave. Study-research leave is designed for tenured faculty who need a sustained period of dedicated time to make significant progress on a research project. Educational leave is designed for full-time faculty who wish to pursue a specific course of study relevant to their teaching or research. The College of Humanities and Sciences complies with the university/state policies and procedures for study-research and educational leaves of absence which can be found on the university’s HR website. Faculty applying for national/international awards such as Fulbright and Woodrow Wilson Fellowships or other fellowships that have a residential requirement also must apply for leave. Candidates must notify their chair/director and Sponsored Programs in the dean’s office when applying for these types of external awards.

To be eligible for study-research leave, faculty must be tenured, have six years of prior university service, and have completed six years of service since a previous study-research leave.

To be eligible for educational leave, faculty must be full-time, have been employed by the university for at least one year, and have been accepted into an approved course of study at an accredited institution of higher learning, or have an approved plan outlined for independent study.

The College’s guidelines conform to the university’s policies which permit eligible faculty members, based on merit, to qualify for study-research or educational leave. The awarding of leave is subject to the availability of funds and the ability of the department or school to meet its teaching, service, administrative and other requirements.

To request leave for the 2020-21 academic year, the faculty member must email the materials listed below to the dean’s office (chsfacaffairs@vcu.edu) by 5:00 p.m., Monday, October 7, 2019 in both PDF and MS WORD formats. The faculty member’s chair/director must be copied on this email. Off-cycle applications will be reviewed on an individual basis.

Complete the request for scholarly leave form [Word]

The chair/director must indicate in Section B whether this request is supported (see details below).

Section B: The chair/director must review the scholarly leave request to determine if the faculty member is eligible for the leave, and whether the proposed leave activity is of value to the faculty member, the department/school and the university. In evaluating the request, the chair/director should also consider the effect the faculty member’s absence will have on the department/school. If the request is endorsed, the chair/director should indicate how the faculty member’s courses and other responsibilities, e.g., advising, administrative activities, etc., will be covered. If the chair/director does not endorse the request, then he/she should briefly explain why. After completing section B, the chair/director should save the document in both PDF and MS WORD formats and return them to the faculty member for inclusion in the application.

1. Narrative that describes the following: (1 page max, single-spaced)

  • Summary of the proposed leave activity
  • Description of the scholarly project (for study-research leave) or educational objective (for educational leave). This narrative should include specific goals, timeline, etc.
  • Relevance of the proposed leave activity to the faculty member’s professional development/advancement, department/school, College and university

2. Current CV

The dean will review the merits of all requests for scholarly leave, regardless whether they are supported by the respective chair/director. The dean will appoint a faculty advisory committee to review and rank the requests and to make a recommendation. The committee will evaluate each proposal’s merit in terms of the significance of the work proposed, the relationship to teaching and ongoing scholarly productivity, and the connection with the mission of the department/school and College.

Proposals for first study-research leaves, proposals for first educational leaves and proposals from mid-career faculty focused on promotion to professor will be given preference. Women and underrepresented minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

The dean will review the list of recommendations and, pending availability of funding, make a final determination. Faculty members will be notified in writing of the dean’s decision and if the leave is approved by the dean, the dean will seek approval from the provost.

If the provost approves the leave, the faculty member and respective chair/director will be notified by the dean. The faculty member will be issued a Leave Agreement and Promissory Note, as well as a new employment contract reflecting the terms of the leave. Faculty receiving approved leave are expected to abide by the terms of the leave agreement.

Eligible faculty may apply for a scholarly leave for one semester at full pay, two semesters at half pay, or up to two semesters at no pay. Faculty must sign a Study-Research/Educational Leave and Promissory Note agreeing to return to the university and serve a period of employment equal to twice the period of leave. If the return-to-work commitment is not honored, the faculty member must reimburse the university for the salary received during the leave period, plus interest, regardless of the source of funds (e.g., E&G, grants, external, etc.). In addition, the faculty member must submit a written report to the dean’s office (chsfacaffairs@vcu.edu) within three months of their return from leave.

Note: acceptance of study-research or educational leave make the recipient ineligible for other university, College or department financial support, including travel funds.