5. University Support, Working Conditions, and Leave
5.1. University Funding for Professional Growth and Development
Faculty are responsible for keeping current with both the scholarship and the pedagogy of their fields and related areas. Faculty development programs may include: teaching improvement activities, research, formal or informal study, publication, consulting, travel, educational leaves of absence, sabbaticals, grants for faculty research, participation in conferences and institutes and such other activities as may be reasonably expected to assist faculty growth and development.
5.1.1. Teaching Development
Widener University is primarily a teaching institution; faculty are required, therefore, to continue to develop their teaching excellence. The provost and academic administrators at all levels will make known to faculty any internal resources available to help develop the faculty’s teaching proficiency.
5.1.2. Curriculum and Program Development
Widener University encourages faculty to participate fully in the development of new academic programs, in curricular innovation, and in pedagogical research; and it shall provide funding for this purpose.
5.1.3. University Support of Faculty Development
Widener University shall provide, as part of its annual educational and instructional budget, funding for faculty research, study, and publication.
18.104.22.168. Provost Grants
The Provost Grant Program provides funds to support scholarly work by faculty. The provost administers these funds in consultation with the Faculty Council Faculty Grants and Awards Committee. Faculty members are encouraged to apply for grants according to the procedures determined by the Faculty Grants and Awards Committee.
22.214.171.124. Faculty Development Options
This program provides funding for a variety of different faculty development activities. The provost administers these funds in consultation with the school or college deans. Faculty members are encouraged to apply for these funds according to the procedures determined by the provost’s office in consultation with the deans.
126.96.36.199. Other Funding
Other funding sources may be available through departments, divisions, student affairs, and other programs.
5.1.4. Consulting Work Outside the University
The university recognizes that consulting work in some fields may be a valuable professional experience for faculty members (see Section 4.4.4.). Consulting work must not interfere with the faculty member’s contractual arrangements with the University, as set forth in Section IV.
5.2. University Support Related to Research
Widener University also recognizes that in higher education both teaching and research are essential to a vigorous institution and a strong curriculum. The university supports faculty engaged in research as specified in the various subsections of Section IV. Widener University recognizes that every research investigation does not necessarily result in publishable material. The results of scholarly research can be shared with the academic community not only in writing and publication, but also by oral presentation to professional groups, both on and off campus. Nevertheless, publication, whenever appropriate and possible, is encouraged and recognized.
5.2.1. Reduced Teaching Load
Any tenure-track full-time faculty members engaged in significant funded research or development projects may request a reduction in teaching load. Such requests should be submitted in writing to their immediate academic supervisors ordinarily during the third week of the semester preceding the semester for which the reduction requested is to begin or occur. The immediate academic supervisors will submit the proposal with their recommendation to the school or college deans who, if they support the request, will present the proposal to the provost for final approval.
5.2.2. Technology for Research
Whenever possible, the university shall provide access to technology that supports faculty research. Faculty may consult with the chief information officer about the use of hardware and software for research purposes.
5.2.3. Support Staff for Research
Subject to the availability of support staff, the university shall provide clerical support for faculty projects. Such work by support staff shall be secondary to their regular duties. Support staff should not work on theses or dissertations during normal working hours.
5.2.4. External Grants
Faculty members are encouraged to seek research and study grants from agencies and foundations external to the university in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Faculty Grants Procedure.
The Office of Sponsored Research and Foundation Relations serves as a central point of contact for sponsored programs administration. The office coordinates the grant process with the appropriate internal and external offices to assist applicants in seeking partial or full support in the form of private or public grants. Applicants must follow the policies and procedures of the university as well as the requirements and guidelines of the funding agency. All proposals must be approved by the applicant’s dean, the provost, the senior vice president of development and the senior vice president of administration and finance before submission.
5.2.5. Human and Animal Research
Faculty conducting research with vertebrate animals must comply with rules established by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Faculty conducting research with human subjects must comply with policies and procedures established by the Widener University Institutional Review Board. Copies of these policies are available on the university website.
5.3. Travel Policy
5.3.1. Faculty Travel Subject to the Availability of Funds
- Faculty presenting papers, commenting on papers, or chairing sessions, who have been designated by the president or provost as official delegates of the university, or who are presiding as officers of a professional organization, shall have their expenses paid in full to any place within the continental United States.
- The university shall make a good-faith attempt to provide airfare for faculty traveling for the same purposes as in (a) above but to a foreign country. Meal and lodging expenses for foreign travel shall be covered as in (a) above.
- Subject to the approval of the school or college dean or library director, faculty attending conferences within the continental United States for their own professional development or interest will receive reimbursement for up to 50% of their expenses.
- Faculty and students authorized to attend conferences within the continental United States at the request of their school or college dean or library director will receive full reimbursement for all of their expenses.
5.3.2. General Travel
General travel is defined to include all means of transportation, meals, lodging, gratuities, telephone, and incidental expenses, such as registration fees, that are directly associated with the trip. Travel will be limited to the availability of funds within the individual cost center budgets. Travel expenses will be reimbursable up to:
- A per-mile reimbursement at a rate set annually by the senior vice president for administration and finance for the use of personal vehicles.
- Actual air or train fare other than first class.
- The actual cost of package plans for conventions, workshops, etc., that are covered by one fee.
Travel vouchers will be approved by the school or college dean or library director prior to any employee’s being authorized to travel at university expense. The intent of this provision is to better control the cost of travel and to verify in advance that the individual is on university business in the event of an accident involving an insurance claim.
5.4. Working Conditions
5.4.1. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Widener University is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities, which may include providing reasonable accommodation where appropriate.
If faculty members desire an ADA accommodation under either federal or state law, they should notify their supervisor or a representative of the Office of Human Resources.
If faculty members request an accommodation, their supervisor and the Human Resources Department may ask their assistance regarding the type of accommodation that they believe may be necessary for the functional limitations caused by the disability. They may also be requested to help the University obtain additional information from their physician or other medical or rehabilitation professionals. Depending upon the situation, they may be asked to obtain the information themselves or through a designated university individual.
The university reserves the right to make the determination about whether or not a reasonable accommodation is possible. Nevertheless, the university will make every effort to provide accommodations, consistent with applicable law.
Office space is provided for each full-time faculty member in one of the university buildings. When space is available and requested, offices are provided for part-time faculty. Faculty shall have access to their offices at any time.
The university shall furnish classrooms to accommodate various functions such as lectures, seminars, and laboratories. The university shall meet to the best of its ability the special requests of a faculty member for classroom equipment, instructional aids, technology, etc.
5.4.4. Media and Computer Equipment in Classrooms
Policies governing use of computer labs, computer classrooms, computer hardware, and computer software are available from the Office of Information Technology Services. Policies governing use of media and equipment in multimedia classrooms are available from Multimedia and Classroom Support.
5.4.5. Secretarial Services
Faculty may use such services according to the established priorities in each school/college/library.
5.4.6. Health Services
The professional members of student health services are available to faculty members during regular working hours for consultation regarding the health problems of students. The professional members of the student health services also render emergency assistance to faculty members during regular working hours, but they are not available to the faculty or their families for routine medical problems.
5.4.7. Counseling Center
The professional members of the counseling center are available to faculty members during regular office hours for consultation regarding problems that they may be encountering in dealing with students. However, counseling services are not available to the faculty or their families for help with personal problems, except that the members of the counseling center will, whenever possible, recommend local professionals to faculty members who request such information.
5.4.8. Academic Regalia
Faculty shall appear in academic regalia at commencement and at other formal university functions which may be announced, such as university convocations.
5.4.9. University Letterhead
Faculty may use university letterhead on university business; e.g., letters of recommendation for students and colleagues, department or division business, and professional correspondence. Faculty may use university letterhead for correspondence related to job searches, but must pay postage costs.
5.5. Leaves for Faculty Development
A faculty development leave is a negotiated agreement whereby faculty members or members of the administration who hold faculty rank are absent from their regular duties of appointment for more than ten working days for purposes of professional development. A development leave with pay means that the university pays all or a part of the faculty members’ regular salary and fringe benefits during the leave period. This agreement allows the faculty to return to positions in the area which granted the leave for which they are qualified without losing previously earned benefits and seniority.
Sabbatical leave shall count toward promotion in rank. A development leave with pay for less than an academic year will count toward promotion and tenure unless the faculty member and the university agree in writing to the contrary at the time the leave is granted. A leave with pay for one academic year or longer or a leave without pay will not count toward promotion or tenure unless otherwise specified in writing prior to the date on which the leave commences (see Section 188.8.131.52.).
The policies and procedures for medical and compassionate leaves, leaves for public service, and leave without pay are provided for in Section 5.6.
5.5.1. Time Limit, Procedures, and Policies on Leaves for Faculty Development
Faculty development leaves with or without pay are for a definite period, normally for a single semester or an academic year, but under unusual circumstances for as much as two years. Leaves are to be requested according to the policies and procedures of this section and Section 5.5.3.
A formal, written request for a leave of absence with or without pay should be made, if possible, in time to allow for adequate administrative planning. The request must specify the purpose, plans, and length of the leave. It shall be submitted to the immediate academic supervisor. If the deans or library directors support the request, they shall forward it to the provost or Vice-President for Library and Information Services, who will in turn make a recommendation to the president with regard to the needs and fiscal capabilities of the university. The president will make the final decision.
In the event that faculty members wish to extend the time of an approved leave, they will again follow the above procedure. The provost or Vice-President for Library and Information Services, in consultation with the school or college deans and library director, will recommend to the president the number and distribution of such leaves.
5.5.2. Support during Leaves
Whenever possible, the university shall provide the services to faculty on sabbatical or leave as outlined in Sections 5.2.2 and 5.2.3. Requests for such assistance should be directed to the appropriate dean.
5.5.3. Sabbatical Leave Policy and Procedure
184.108.40.206. Number of Awards
The university shall provide at least fifteen sabbatical awards each year to eligible faculty.
220.127.116.11. Application Process
The call for proposals shall be issued by the Faculty Council Faculty Affairs Committee in April, with a reminder issued in September. The format of the proposal shall follow the sabbatical proposal guidelines approved by Faculty Council on February 2011. The Faculty Council Faculty Affairs Committee must provide faculty with specific review criteria no later than September of the application year so that applicants can prepare accordingly. The deadline for receipt of proposals is November 1, and awards are announced by the president in December for the next academic year.
18.104.22.168. Eligibility for Sabbatical Awards
Eligibility for sabbatical awards is confined to tenure-track faculty members (see Section 3.2.1.) who, at the time that the sabbatical begins, (1) have been awarded tenure or continuing appointment, (2) have completed six years of employment at Widener, and (3) have not been awarded a sabbatical leave for an academic year during the prior six years. For tenured faculty members, the academic year in which the previous sabbatical occurred is considered “Year 0”; faculty members may then apply for a subsequent sabbatical in “Year 6” for awarding in “Year 7.” Note that these conditions refer to the time that the sabbatical period actually begins, not to the applicant’s situation at the time of application. During the year in which they are reviewed for tenure, untenured faculty members may apply for a sabbatical but may not take that sabbatical until such time as tenure or continuing appointment has been granted.
An awarded sabbatical may be deferred by up to one academic year at the request of the faculty member (e.g., constraints of institution at which the sabbatical is to be conducted) or in response to a request from the faculty member’s dean, chair, or director for administrative reasons (e.g., departmental staffing). However, the originally approved time for the sabbatical will remain as “Year 0” (see previous paragraph) in determining eligibility for a subsequent sabbatical.
22.214.171.124. Types of Proposal
The major purpose of a sabbatical award is to provide faculty members with a defined period of time for uninterrupted scholarly activity or intellectual development in their fields or disciplines. Hence, the proposed projects may be judged either on their potential contributions to the relevant academic disciplines or on their contributions to the sabbatical candidate’s teaching. Within these broad limits, many types of proposals are acceptable, in congruence with the applicant’s academic discipline.
Proposals for preparation of book manuscripts, both scholarly books and textbooks, may be submitted. Proposals for writing textbooks or other teaching materials (such as computer programs) will be judged on the same general criteria as other proposals.
Proposals for formal postdoctoral (or other post-terminal degree) study are acceptable only if combined with a proposal for concurrent publishable research. Similarly, unpaid internships or “work-experience” activities from faculty in applied fields are acceptable if combined with a specific proposal for research which will be reported to the larger academic community in the form of an article submitted for publication to an appropriate scholarly journal.
Sabbatical awards may not be used for graduate study leading to the terminal degree as defined by the applicant’s school or college, or for paid employment elsewhere.
Faculty members wishing to take temporary positions elsewhere should apply for an unpaid leave as per the conditions of the Widener University Leave Policy rather than a sabbatical award.
Faculty members engaged in research at other institutions as post-doctoral fellows may receive stipends subject to the usual restriction on total earnings during the sabbatical period.
126.96.36.199. Awarding of Sabbaticals
Sabbaticals will be awarded competitively. The Faculty Affairs Committee will review all proposals and make recommendations to the provost and president.
Awards will be determined on the basis of quality as evaluated through this review process. Only those proposals judged of sufficient quality by the committee, the provost, and the president will be awarded, even if there are fewer total applications than the available number of sabbaticals. The president will make the final decision.
If an award is declined by a faculty member, the committee will first recommend a substitute award to a meritorious (but not initially recommended) faculty member from among the original group of applications. Should there be no such substitution possible, the committee will re-issue the call for proposals.
188.8.131.52. Financial Considerations
Sabbatical awards provide, at the faculty member’s option, payment of full salary for one semester, or half salary for two semesters. Full fringe benefits, including university contributions, remain in effect during the period of sabbatical award, i.e., the academic terms in which the sabbatical occurs.
Faculty shall not use sabbatical leaves as opportunities to earn additional income. Should faculty members receive earned income, or a grant or fellowship stipend during their sabbatical leave that they would not have been able to receive in the absence of a sabbatical award, the sabbatical award will be reduced by a like amount. This policy provision is applicable only to the living expenses part of grant income and not to funds specifically granted for travel, equipment, or salaries of research assistants. Faculty are not required by these conditions to forgo income from clinical practices, consultancies, and the like that they would have received without a sabbatical leave.
184.108.40.206. Obligations of Faculty Members
Faculty members receiving a sabbatical must resume their employment at Widener University for one academic year following a sabbatical leave.
Upon returning from a sabbatical leave, faculty members shall submit a written report on their activities to the president, with copies to the provost and their dean. Additionally, faculty members shall give an oral presentation of their activities to the faculty of their school or college.
5.6. Medical, Compassionate, and Public Service Leaves
The leaves covered in this section are other than those in Section 5.5. For more information on Family and Medical Leave see the Widener University Family and Medical Leave Act Policy. For more information on other benefits see Section IX of this handbook or contact Human Resources.
5.6.1. Leave for Jury Duty or Witness Duty
Widener University recognizes jury service as a civic responsibility; however, should such service interfere with a faculty member’s duties or impair the operation of the university, an official request will be made for an exemption of the faculty member from jury service. Jury duty includes actual sitting as a juror and any time spent in preliminary examination and interviews required by the court prior to such service.
5.6.2. Annual Military Reserve Training Leave
Military differential pay will be granted for a period of up to two weeks to full-time faculty members who are activated to National Guard duty because of an emergency caused by an “Act of God” or civil disturbance
- Military differential pay will be granted to full-time faculty members who are required to attend annual military training tours in state or national military reserve units.
- Faculty members will be reimbursed for the difference between the basic military pay received and their base salary earnings. Military allowances for quarters, subsistence, and incentives (flights, etc.) are to be included in computing “military pay.”
- Military differential pay is limited to a maximum of two weeks.
- Annual military training leave is not charged to an employee’s vacation allowance where applicable.
5.6.3. Parental Leave
Paid leave of absence of six weeks for pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions is covered by the university’s short-term disability policy. When a paid leave of absence longer than six weeks from the date of delivery, or beginning prior to delivery, is medically necessary, it must be certified by a physician.
Parental leave is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and will be governed by the provisions of the FMLA, which is addressed in detail in the Human Resources Office.
5.6.4. Emergency Leave for Life Exigencies Affecting Employment
Faculty are provided up to five consecutive days of absence on the death of a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling. In addition, faculty members who experience a significant life event (other than as provided for in university policies, such as disability and family medical leave policies) that they believe makes it unreasonably difficult or impossible to meet their obligations of employment may consult with any of the following: the immediate academic supervisor, the dean of the school or college or library director, or Human Resources. Such consultations may also include the provost or Vice-President for Library and Information Services. (For matters regarding progress towards tenure, see Section 220.127.116.11.).
After such consultation, faculty members may formally request an exception, either orally or in writing, to any of the following: the immediate academic supervisor, the dean of the school or college or library director, or Human Resources. Any written request by the faculty member will be copied to the provost or Vice-President for Library and Information Services and Human Resources. When the request is made through the immediate academic supervisor, the immediate academic supervisor will make a recommendation to the dean or library director; the dean or library director will then make a recommendation to the provost or Vice-President for Library and Information Services and Human Resources. When the request is made through the dean or library director, the dean or library director will make a recommendation to the provost or Vice-President for Library and Information Services and Human Resources. When the request is made through Human Resources, Human Resources will submit a written recommendation to the provost or Vice-President for Library and Information Services, copied to the faculty member and the dean or library director.
When deans or library directors do not support the request, they must submit the recommendation in writing; the recommendation will be copied to the faculty member. In such an event, the faculty member shall have the right to consult with and appeal to the provost or Vice-President for Library and Information Services. If the provost or Vice-President for Library and Information Services does not support the request for an exception, the reasons must be conveyed to the faculty member in writing, who may then appeal the decision to the president. The university has no obligation to make any such exception and will review all requests for exceptions on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration any and all factors deemed relevant by the university. The president’s decision shall be final.
5.6.5. Leave without Pay
18.104.22.168. Family and Medical Leave
A full-time faculty member may request a leave for the birth of the employee’s child or the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care, or to care for a spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent who has a serious medical condition. A leave requested under the Family and Medical Leave Policy, available from the Department of Human Resources, is limited to twelve weeks during the fiscal year July 1 through June 30. During a family and medical leave, the university will continue to provide health care coverage on the same basis as if the faculty member was actively at work. For additional details, faculty members are advised to review the university’s Family and Medical Leave Policy.
22.214.171.124. Other Leave
A full-time faculty member may request a full-time or part-time leave of absence without pay. Application should be made in writing as provided in Section 5.5.
While faculty are on non-medical leave without pay, the university does not provide fringe benefits unless mutually agreed to in advance in writing. Faculty members may continue fringe benefits at their individual cost by arranging for payment in advance with the Office of Human Resources.
Leave without pay may not exceed one year without written approval of the provost.
5.7. Intellectual Property
5.7.1. Use of Copyrighted Material
See the Widener University Intellectual Property Policy adopted by Faculty Council April 2014 and last amended February 2015. Any modification of this policy must be approved by Faculty Council.
5.7.2. Patent and Copyright Policy
See the Widener University Intellectual Property Policy adopted by Faculty Council April 2014 and last amended February 2015. Any modification of this policy must be approved by Faculty Council.