The primary objective of the University’s policies on leaves is to free its academic officers from their normal duties to conduct research, write, or otherwise engage in scholarly or professional activity. There are three types of faculty leaves for scholarly and professional purposes: sabbaticals, research leaves with or without salary, and exemptions from teaching duties. With the exception of sabbaticals, however, leaves for scholarly purposes are not an entitlement. In addition, faculty are given leaves for medical reasons, child care, military or public service, and compelling personal need.
Leaves are granted at the discretion of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, acting on behalf of the President, on assurance from the department or school that they will not interfere with the staffing of its curricular obligations. If the number of faculty interested in taking leaves compromises the ability of a department or school to meet its responsibilities, the chair or dean may require some faculty to defer their proposed leaves until a later time. In such cases, sabbaticals are given priority over other types of leaves.
Prior to requesting a leave, all faculty who are principal investigators or other senior/key persons on sponsored projects must work with Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) to obtain appropriate prior approvals from the relevant sponsors and otherwise ensure that all sponsor obligations are fulfilled during the leave if their leave will be three months or longer; any portion of their salary is supported by sponsored projects (either during the academic year or over the summer); if they will disengage from any of their sponsored projects; if they will reduce their effort on their sponsored projects; if the leave will affect their ability to fulfill any sponsored project objectives on schedule; and/or if they will be conducting research at any other non-Columbia entity, domestic or foreign. In some cases, their sponsored projects will require a new or co-principal investigator.
Only full-time faculty are entitled to leaves described below (Sabbatical, Leaves of Absence for Scholarly Purposes, Exemptions from Teaching Duties and the University’s Salary Continuation during Medical Leave). Part-time faculty are only entitled to leaves provided by applicable laws. Visiting faculty are not entitled to leaves.
Most leaves are authorized for no more than one year at a time. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, after conferral with the Provost, may approve a second consecutive year on the recommendation of the dean or executive vice president.
Faculty are expected to return to the University for at least one year of full-time service after a leave of absence. Those who do not return after a leave with salary are expected to reimburse the University for its cost. Faculty are also expected to provide two years of full-time service between leaves of any kind. Exceptions to these provisions require the approval of the chair, dean or executive vice president, and the Provost.
Sabbaticals, leaves of absence for scholarly purposes, and exemptions from teaching duties normally correspond to an academic term or year. The University also seeks to coordinate child care and public service leaves with the academic calendar. Other types of leave – medical, military, and compelling personal reasons – may begin and end on other dates. Semesters of partial leave in which the officer performs 50 percent or less of normal service are treated as if they were half semesters of full leave. Two or three are treated as a one-semester leave and four as one year of leave.
Faculty must request a leave when they plan to be absent from the University for more than a week during a regular academic term by writing to their chair or dean prior to the anticipated beginning of the leave. The deans and executive vice presidents may authorize leaves of one month or less on behalf of the President. Requests for leaves of longer duration require the prior approval of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs.
Leaves of absence with partial salary will not affect an officer’s benefits except their pension contributions. Faculty who are on leave without salary should contact Human Resources for information on maintaining their benefits.
Tenured associate and full professors are entitled to a sabbatical leave of one year at half base salary or a half year (one semester) at full base salary after completing 12 semesters of full-time teaching (including teaching done as a nontenured assistant, associate, or full professor). Semesters of non-sabbatical leave (whether full or partial), or a semester of full-time teaching during the sabbatical year do not accrue sabbatical credits. A professor may not teach at another institution during a sabbatical but may accept a research position at another institution.
Department chairs on the Morningside campus receive additional semesters of sabbatical credit to compensate for the administrative duties. In Engineering and Applied Science, they are credited with four semesters for each three-year term completed. In the Arts and Sciences, chairs receive two semesters per year that they serve.
Tenured faculty who serve as officers of administration continue to accrue sabbatical credits because time spent as an administrator is considered equivalent to full-time teaching. They are not entitled to sabbatical leaves while serving as officers of administration without the special approval of the President and Provost.
Sabbaticals may be advanced by one year to meet departmental needs or for compelling personal reasons with the approval of the chair and dean or executive vice president as well as the Provost. Following an early sabbatical, terms of full-time teaching are credited first toward completing the 12-term requirement for that leave.
A sabbatical may be postponed with the prior approval of the chair and the dean or executive vice president. If it is postponed for personal reasons, only one year of full-time teaching during the period of the postponement will accrue sabbatical credits. If it is postponed in the interest of the department or school, the period of the postponement will accrue sabbatical credits.
If faculty leave the University within a year of taking a sabbatical, they are expected to reimburse their sabbatical salary to the University.
The Office of the Provost distributes an electronic application to each Morningside and Manhattanville faculty member who is due a sabbatical annually. A professor who intends to take a sabbatical should return the completed application directly to the Office of the Provost by April 1. Requests for postponement need the approval of the appropriate chair and dean or executive vice president before being submitted to the Office of the Provost. The Office of the Provost also distributes Sabbatical Forecasts to the Morningside departments as well as to the Morningside and Manhattanville schools each year. Updates can be requested from the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs as needed.
For the Faculties of Dental Medicine, Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health, the application for sabbatical leave should be obtained from the CUIMC Office of Faculty Affairs. Sabbaticals in the Irving Medical Center require, as appropriate, the approval of the chair, dean, and the Executive Vice President before they are forwarded to the Office of the Provost.
Leaves of absence for scholarly purposes are granted when full-time faculty in a professorial grade wish to be relieved of their normal duties, in full or in part, to conduct research or otherwise engage in scholarly activity. Non-professorial faculty are usually not eligible for these leaves except in special circumstances and with the approval of the dean or executive vice president and the Provost.
Exemptions from teaching duties (ETDs) are granted for periods during which a professor is excused, in full or in part, from teaching. An ETD is appropriate, for example, when an external agency gives the University funding to free up a faculty member to conduct research or a school provides support for a paid research leave. An ETD may be partial or full, depending on the percentage of normal responsibilities performed and the amount of salary received. The Arts and Sciences and the School of Social Work have specific programs that enable their faculty to take ETDs. Faculty should contact their executive vice president or dean to learn about eligibility for these programs.
Full-time faculty who cannot perform their responsibilities because of illness or injury are given leaves of absence with full salary for up to six months from the onset of the disability under the University’s salary continuation plan. Faculty needing a leave of absence for medical reasons, inclusive of work related accidents should 1) write to their chair or dean indicating that their doctor has advised them that they should go on a medical leave for a specified period of time (to maintain confidentiality they should not mention their medical condition or specify why their doctor is recommending the leave); and 2) provide documentation from a physician specifying the nature of the leave of absence and anticipated duration of the disability to the Leave Management Office via email. This office will then advise the dean or executive vice president and the Provost on how long they will be unable to perform their normal responsibilities.
If the disability continues beyond six months, the faculty member should apply to the University’s insurance carrier for long-term disability through the Leave Management Office. If approved, the faculty member is given a medical leave and as applicable, will receive payment from University’s insurance carrier according to the terms of the University’s long-term disability program. Officers who are able to perform some of their normal responsibilities must provide an updated note to Leave Management, and if approved for a workplace accommodation and approved by the long-term disability carrier, will receive prorated salary from the University and prorated disability payments from the insurance carrier.
Faculty able to return to active service after recovering from disabling illness or injury after being approved for long term disability are required to submit a letter from a physician to the Leave Management Office stating that they are physically capable of resuming their responsibilities. If special working arrangements are needed for the individual to return, the physician should also specify the nature of the accommodations required. The physician’s letter should be submitted to the Leave Management Office to preserve the confidentiality of the information about the faculty member’s illness or injury.
The University, at its expense, may require a faculty member to undergo a medical examination by a physician of its choice when the individual claims the existence of a disability that prevents the performance of their academic duties.
The appropriate chair, dean, or executive vice president may notify a nontenured faculty member at any point during a period of disability that the faculty member’s appointment will not be renewed after the end of the leave of absence, provided that the leave extends beyond the minimum period specified by the University Statutes for notice of nonrenewal (see End of Appointment). Such notice is given in writing. In the absence of a letter of nonrenewal, a nontenured faculty member will be returned to active service at the end of a medical leave. The Associate Provosts for Academic Appointments can provide guidance on how such notification should be handled.
Full-time faculty may take advantage of several types of leaves that are designed to assist them in taking care of newborn and newly adopted children.
Parental Workload Relief Plan for Faculty on the Morningside and Manhattanville Campuses
The Parental Workload Relief Plan is designed to assist faculty caring for newborn or newly adopted children. There are three eligibility requirements. The faculty member:
- must be a full-time officer of instruction
- hold an appointment with one of the following titles:
- professor, associate professor, or assistant professor, including those with the clinical or practice modifiers
- instructor; or
- senior lecturer, lecturer, or associate, including those with the in [discipline] modifier
- Must be primarily responsible for the care of a newborn child or a newly adopted child of less than school age or if the child is disabled or meets New York State’s legal definition of “hard-to-place,” and is younger than 18 years of age at the time the leave begins. For the purpose of this policy, an officer is the “primary parent” if the officer is a single parent or, where there are two parents, if the other is working full time or is enrolled as a full-time student. A faculty member may employ a daycare provider and still qualify as the primary parent.
Eligible faculty members may receive workload relief for one term at full salary or for one year at half salary. The period of workload relief must begin within the first 12 months after the birth or adoption of the new child. During the period of workload relief, faculty are excused from teaching and from serving on administrative committees. They are, however, expected to make themselves available for consultations with students and to continue their research.
Eligible faculty may also elect a year of workload relief at full salary by agreeing to teach half of their normal course load in each term, continuing to make themselves available for a comparable portion of administrative assignment normally performed, as well as continuing to meet with students and conduct research.
While on workload relief, faculty are not permitted to accept assignments, either with or without compensation, outside the University.
The workload relief plan is designed to replace the combination of medical and/or child care leaves for individuals who meet their eligibility requirements.
CUIMC Faculty Parental Leave Policy
The four schools of the Irving Medical Center (the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, and the School of Nursing) offer a parental leave benefit which provides up to 13 weeks of paid parental leave.
There are three eligibility requirements for parental leave. The faculty member must:
- be a full-time officer of instruction;
- hold an appointment with one of the following titles:
- professor, professor at the Columbia University Medical Center, associate professor, associate professor at the Columbia University Medical Center, assistant professor, or assistant professor at the Columbia University Medical Center;
- instructor at the Columbia University Medical Center;
- senior lecturer at the Columbia University Medical Center;
- lecturer at the Columbia University Medical Center; or
- associate at the Columbia University Medical Center;
- be primarily responsible for the care of a newborn child or a newly adopted child of less than school age or, if the child is disabled or meets New York State’s legal definition of “hard-to-place,” and is younger than 18 years of age at the time the leave begins. For the purpose of this policy, an officer is the “primary parent” if the officer is a single parent or, where there are two parents, if the other is working full time or is enrolled as a full-time student. Faculty may employ a daycare provider and still qualify as the primary parent.
Eligible faculty members are entitled to parental leave for up to 13 weeks at full salary. The period of parental leave must begin within the first 12 months after the birth or adoption of the new child but may continue beyond that period. However, parental leave beyond the paid 13 weeks must be taken as unpaid leave according to current University policies. While on parental leave, faculty are not permitted to accept assignments, either with or without compensation, outside the University.
Full-time faculty may request leaves of absence to deal with compelling personal needs. These include leaves to care for seriously ill family members. Personal leaves are generally limited to a maximum of one year, but the Provost may authorize extensions on the recommendation of the chair, dean, or executive vice president.
Full-time members of the special instructional faculty (senior lecturer, senior lecturer in [discipline], lecturer, lecturer in [discipline], associate, and associate in [discipline]) may apply for personal leaves of absence for professional development. Such leaves are granted only when their purposes are directly related to an officer’s instructional or clinical responsibilities. Full-time faculty in the professorial rank ordinarily may not take leaves to enroll in educational programs.
Full-time faculty are also granted leaves for public service. These leaves are granted for up to 12 months at a time. The Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs may approve a second consecutive year on the recommendation of the dean or executive vice president and after conferral with the Provost.
Full- and part-time faculty are entitled to leaves of absence to fulfill their military obligations under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. During the first 15 days of such leaves each year, the faculty member continues to receive full salary. During the remaining portion of the first six months of service, the amount of their University salary is reduced by the amount of pay they receive from the military. Thereafter, they are placed on leave without salary. For further information on the policies governing military leaves, including the period within which they must return to the University following the completion of their military service, officers should consult Human Resources.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 gives certain full- and part-time employees of the University the right to unpaid leave to deal with:
- the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child;
- a medical disability;
- a serious illness of a spouse, child, or parent; or
- a qualifying exigency, as defined by the federal Department of Labor, arising from a spouse, child, or parent serving on or being called to active military duty.
An eligible employee with a family member in the military is entitled to 26 weeks of FMLA leave. The maximum period of FMLA leave for other purposes is 12 weeks in any 12-month period.
To be eligible for FMLA leave, faculty must have been employed and paid by the University for at least 12 months immediately preceding the commencement of the leave. In addition, they must have provided at least 1,250 hours of service during that 12-month period. Any compensated employment, regardless of title and including periods on the casual payroll, counts in determining if the officer meets these requirements. Leaves with salary also count, but those without salary do not.
The leaves full-time faculty may take under University policies for the purposes covered by the FMLA are considerably more generous than those required by the Act, with the exception of certain benefits provisions. Consequently, the University considers the first 12 weeks of any such leave as fulfilling the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act, except for leaves arising from a family member’s military service, in which case it counts for the first 26 weeks.
A further description of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the University’s policies and procedures for implementing its provisions may be obtained from Human Resources.
New York State Safe and Sick Leave Policy
All faculty who work in New York State are eligible to accrue up to a maximum of 56 hours per fiscal year in paid safe/sick time. For full-time faculty members, these 56 hours per year are included in the six-month salary continuation plan the University offers for medical leaves (see above). If a faculty member chooses to make up for lost time in lieu of using paid sick time, missed class time can be made up at any point in the current semester, based on mutual agreement between the faculty member and the chair or dean. Find further information about the University’s compliance with New York State Safe and Sick Leave Policy online.