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Can the College afford more sabbaticals?

Miles Kovarik, staff writer

One of the problems professors are faced with at small schools is that sabbaticals are hard to come by. Just a few professors taking breaks can leave whole departments understaffed.

“The question is how many sabbaticals is the school going to fund?” History Professor Philip Otterness explained.
Faculty members are eligible for sabbaticals every seven years. Teacher’s pay is full-time if they take off only one semester and half time if they take off an entire year. The school either cancels their courses or replaces the teachers with half-time or full-time adjuncts from outside of  the Warren Wilson community.

This year six faculty applied for sabbaticals and the College’s policy is to fund up to four semesters of sabbaticals. This means that only two professors may receive the option to take a sabbatical.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Paula Garrett and President Sandy Pfeiffer are discussing the policy in place on sabbaticals and are looking into changing the policy to fit the College.

Garrett explained why she believed sabbaticals are important.

“My sabbatical helped me finish a book project,” she said. “It is hard to keep up with the intensity of thought that thinking outside of teaching takes because research requires sustained thought.”

Pfeiffer responded to questions about the sabbatical issue via e-mail saying that he worked at two state institutions for approximately thirty-two years that had few or no sabbatical leaves for professors. Pfeiffer believes the College is not required to grant sabbaticals. At the same time, he explained how he is carefully working with Garrett to make sure that the policy fits in with the budget considerations of the College.

One of the problems that Garrett highlighted about this issue was the fact that sabbaticals are “less tangible.” By this, Garrett means the effects of sabbaticals are more difficult to see than teaching because the school is paying the teacher not to teach for a brief period.

“Teachers are working on their own projects to discover new things about their field which means that they are away from actually teaching,” Garret explained.

“Sabbaticals have three tangible properties,” Otterness said. “Faculty members are able to keep up in their field, faculty can open up there own scholarship to peer review, and better teachers will be more willing to come to a school that supports their pursuit of learning.”

Professors David Moore, Phil Jamison, and Luis Arevalo are the current teachers on sabbatical. In an interview earlier this year, Moore explained how his sabbatical was going.

“I am slowly getting twenty-year-old projects done,” he said.

Even though he is on sabbatical, Moore is also involved with work on campus. For example, he was in charge of the Lettuce Eating contest, which raised money for the annual fund.

Another teacher, Dongping Han, took his sabbatical two years ago during which he was still  able to spend his lunch times playing heated games of ping pong.


One Response to “Can the College afford more sabbaticals?”

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    Posted by James | July 24, 2014, 5:54 pm

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