Click here to view document of compiled annual reports in portable document format (PDF)
View appendices in portable document format: 1, 2.


Proposal sent to Juan Sanchez, Vice President for Research:

May 8, 2003

Juan M. Sanchez, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research
VP of Research
MAI 302
Phone: 471-2877
Fax: 471-2827

Re: Revenue-positive Sabbatical proposal to UT Austin

Dear Dr. Sanchez:

Enclosed is a sabbatical proposal for UT1 Austin that accomplishes several key goals:

To foster recruitment and retention of top UT faculty;
To assist in maintaining and enhancing the scholarly excellence of UT faculty;
To facilitate continued high quality teaching at UT;
To assist UT in maintaining academic excellence by being a revenue-positive program.

We ask for your timely feedback to this version of the proposal in order that the UT Research Policy Committee (RPC) can fulfill its charge by submitting a final version of the proposal by the end of May, 2003.
Thank you for your kind consideration in this matter.
Best regards,

Mary F. Wheeler, Ph.D.
Chair, UT RPC
Phone: 475-8625
Fax: 471-8694


The Research Policy Committee (RPC) suggests that UT can expand the Dean's Fellows program into a true sabbatical program. UT will thereby reap institutional benefits via academically stronger faculty and increased competitiveness in faculty recruiting and retention.

KEY POINTS for a UT sabbatical policy.

Enhanced faculty recruiting and retention
Improved faculty scholarship
Maintained high-quality teaching
Program is fiscally responsible
Revenue-positive for one-year sabbatical
Revenue-neutral for half-year sabbatical.

In the traditional sabbatical program, once every seven years a tenured faculty member can expect to receive one year's leave at half pay, or a half-year's leave at full pay. The purpose of this leave is to give thefaculty member the time and freedom to pursue scholarly efforts in depth, renewing, perhaps redirecting, and definitely re-energizing each person’s ability to make significant scholarly contributions.

Sabbaticals have been shown to be an effective way to increase the scholarly and teaching productivity of faculty members and to enhance the amount of grant funding brought to the institution (see attached information about sabbatical policies at UT “sister” schools) 3.

The sabbatical leave is not an unconditional entitlement. A request for sabbatical requires a demonstrated intent to pursue scholarly efforts rather than, say, purely rest and relaxation. However, neither is it typically viewed as a highly competitive program4. Tenured UT Austin faculty may presume that a request for a sabbatical leave to pursue a reasonably formulated plan of scholarly activity will be granted.

The University of Texas at Austin currently does not have a sabbatical program. There are two programs that do support faculty leaves (the faculty research assignment, FRA, and the Deans’ fellows, DF, programs). Both are competitive. Additionally, between them, the FRA and DF programs provide less than two-thirds of the salary coverage of a sabbatical program. This is a significant gap that can be filled without additional cost to UT.

In 2001-2002, there were approximately 1400 tenured faculty members at UT. If each took a sabbatical every seven years, one would expect 200 faculty members to be on sabbatical in a given year. For 2001-2002, 40 people received FRAs, and 84 received DF leaves. This is a total of 124 faculty members, only 62% of the “ideal” 200.

Of great significance, there is a clear perception among our faculty that UT has no sabbatical program. Availability of FRAs and DF leaves is perceived as too competitive for the salary provided and often distributed in non-optimal ways. The result is that many faculty report that it is not worth the effort to apply.

Furthermore, our leading faculty members report that the lack of sabbaticals is one specific barrier to recruitment and retention of the best faculty. Thus, providing a true sabbatical program would make UT more competitive nationally (leading to enhanced grant funding), and would strengthen the individual faculty members taking advantage of the program.

Currently, approximately 80% of FRA awards are half-year and all DF awards are for half-year leave. Below, the RPC will make the case that, once the sabbatical program is implemented, a gradual shift to the one-year leave for most faculty will increase the scholarly gains and the financial savings to the University.

Consider a “typical'' tenured faculty member, Professor P, who takes a full year sabbatical on half pay. UT’s instructional budget includes funding for Professor P's full salary and benefits for nine months5.
During the sabbatical year, UT will pay Professor P one-half salary plus nine months of benefits6.
SAVINGS TO UT FROM THE SABBATICAL: How much will it cost to cover Professor P's duties during the year? Assume that Professor P teaches four courses per year: two undergraduate courses, one graduate course, and one graduate research seminar. Consider the disposition of Prof P's duties during the sabbatical:


Research / scholarship Continues
Classroom teaching  

2 Undergraduate courses

Replacement required

1 Graduate course

Replacement required 50% of the time

1 Graduate seminar

Replacement not required
Independent instruction Continues7

Internal (committees)

Not replaced



A substantial amount of the effort that UT expects from a productive faculty member continues during the sabbatical. Some is not replaced. However, certain duties must be replaced. We assume for our “typical” Professor P that this is an average of 2.5 classroom courses out of the 4 listed above. While the amount of replacement will vary from College to College, the value of 2.5 is likely to be the median value across the UT campus.

FINANCIAL SAVING CALCULATION: Let S be the annual salary, and B be the annual benefits for Professor P. Let R be the cost of temporary faculty (Professor T) to replace Professor P for the 2.5 courses that require replacements9.

If the replacement cost (R, with or without benefits) is less than half of Professor P's salary, exclusive of benefits) then Professor P's sabbatical is revenue positive to UT10. The long-term benefits to UT of improvements to Professor P's career and morale are real but intangible additional benefits.

In general, replacement faculty are available at substantially lower cost than tenured faculty members, but this relationship must be evaluated separately for each College. The goal will always be to insure high quality teaching. Of course, teaching of our faculty members also benefits from sabbatical leave.

Some faculty members prefer the half-year, full-pay sabbatical11. If Professor P’s half-year sabbatical is to be revenue-neutral for UT, the RPC suggests that an additional requirement be placed on the application. Here, as with current DFs, we recommend that the Department and College certify that the teaching responsibilities of the faculty member going on leave can be satisfactorily handled within the existing resources of the department.

Referring to the above table of duties and dispositions, Professor P could arrange teaching responsibilities so that the courses that would require replacements would be taught during the non-sabbatical semester. The rest of the department would absorb remaining responsibilities12. This is exactly the current arrangement for DFs.

The typical plan at UT would be for a full-year sabbatical, but Deans and Department Chairs should be able to facilitate half-year sabbaticals as well by placing the responsibility for the teaching coverage on the faculty member who desires the half-year leave.

Under the present proposal, the one-year sabbatical will be revenue positive for UT, while the half-year sabbatical will be revenue-neutral13.

The RPC suggests that the full-year/half-pay option provide full benefits to the faculty member on sabbatical. The half-year/full-pay option leaves the faculty member with the usual fringe benefits.

The RPC suggests that the current FRA program, and its budget, become more loosely coupled to the sabbatical program than before. The FRA would become a competitive internal funding mechanism to which faculty members can apply for grant support.

A major current purpose of the FRAs is to help support the “other half'' salary during the full-year sabbaticals. This purpose would continue under the RPC proposal. A second purpose that is new under the RPC proposal, would be to provide “subvention grants'' to UT departments. In this view, departments could obtain 25% salary for the faculty member on leave as a means of helping to support replacement faculty during half-year sabbaticals. This use of FRA funds would provide an important benefit to departments that, otherwise, would have to face additional costs for enhancing the scholarship of their faculty.

As in the current policy, under the RPC proposal, FRA grants could be available as frequently as every five years. Full-year sabbaticals at intervals less than seven years could then be approved in those instances in which an FRA or other prestigious grant is received.

UT is under continuing pressure to decrease the number of temporary faculty teaching our students. Our faculty support this view as well14. The current sabbatical proposal represents one means whereby current temporary faculty, recognized as outstanding teachers, could be given extra pay to assist in picking up the workload for tenured faculty on sabbatical15.

Overall, the RPC believes that sabbatical leave will have a strong positive benefit on teaching by UT faculty because the faculty will be better trained and more energized. Furthermore, some sabbaticals might be granted to allow select faculty (members of the UT Academy of Distinguished Teachers) to develop innovative teaching methods or courses.

However, because of the importance of maintaining the highest classroom teaching standards, the RPC also suggests that UT create a new high-prestige two-year Instructorship Program, modeled after the Gibbs Instructorship at Yale or the C. L. E. Moore Instructorship at MIT16. Here, outstanding new PhDs would be given two-year appointments including a moderate teaching load, advanced training on teaching by the UT Center for Teaching Effectiveness, and a mentoring in the host department for both research and teaching.

The prestige of these appointments, and the quality of the faculty members holding the positions should help insure the highest quality of UT education17.


The RPC has proposed a true sabbatical program for UT that will accommodate two different approaches to the sabbatical.
The one-year sabbatical will yield great scholarly gains for the faculty and be revenue-positive for UT.
The half-year sabbatical will still yield scholarly gains and will be revenue-neutral for UT.
There should be a gradual shift to primarily one-year sabbaticals.
As a key adjunct to the sabbatical program, the RPC has provided a means (use of the existing the FRA program) to allow distinguished faculty to apply competitively for more frequent sabbaticals.
Finally, the RPC has provided a parallel option to help insure that the highest quality of teaching is maintained at UT via the Instructorship Program.

1Ben Kuipers and John Ivy were instrumental in preparing detailed versions of this proposal. The members of the RPC contributed significantly to the revision of the proposal. Return
2Benjamin Kuipers author: DRAFT: 2-25-03; REVISED: 3-27-03; REVISED 4-24-03. Return.
3Select national public universities of high caliber and a high-quality Texas institution. Return
4Tenured UT faculty members will submit a brief proposal of planned work to their Department Chairs prior to going on sabbatical and a short summary of accomplishments upon returning. Requirements for obtaining a sabbatical: 1. Clear sabbatical with department chair to insure that it will not cause a hardship for the department. 2. Provide a statement of purpose, goals and scope for the sabbatical. 3. Following the sabbatical provide a report on accomplishments. Return
5Benefits may be paid for 12 months. Return.
6 Benefits may be paid for 12 months. Return.
7With minor modification. Return.
8With minor modification. Return.
9R may or may not include benefits. This would depend on whether the replacement is a new hire over half time, or perhaps an increase in time by an existing employee. Return.
10That is, If R < S/2. Return.
11This may be partially for financial reasons. For example, the faculty member may not be able to live on half pay and may not have an alternate source of salary at that time. Return.
12The faculty member who takes sabbatical may cover the teaching in the non-sabbatical term or ask fellow faculty to share the load. This idea of sharing the load appears to be an attractive alternative in several of the Colleges across campus. Dividing the extra work among several faculty members in the department does not add too heavily the workload, maintains quality instruction with UT faculty, and can contribute to a sense of team effort since all faculty members could be eligible for sabbatical at appropriate times. Return.
13This revenue-positive assessment considers use of only the instructional budget. Below, the RPC addresses the additional benefits that may be obtained for UT when the role of the FRA program and its budget are also considered. Return.
14The current RPC proposal might increase the number of temporary slightly. However, the benefits to teaching of energized faculty members who have enhanced academic skills are likely to offset this fact. Return.
15This should also result in cost savings to UT since fringe benefits for some of these faculty may already be covered. Return.
16 Return.
17In some disciplines, it may be possible to fund a prestigious Instructorship for young PhDs under the R < S/2 threshold. In others, additional funding may be required. However, with separate naming opportunities for the Instructorships in each department, and high prestige, endowed support for them, these Instructorships should be an attractive target for major fund-raising. Return.

This document was posted on the Faculty Council Web site, on August 20, 2003. Paper copies are available on request from the Office of the General Faculty, FAC 22, F9500.