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Impact x2 Qais

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How can we work together to promote better cultural understanding worldwide?

Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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With your help, students like Qais gain the skills they need to tell their story and give us a broader understanding of the world.

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Junior Scholar Leave, Sabbatical, and Academic Leave of Absence

Faculty members are expected to teach their normal assignments unless they (1) are on sabbatical or other approved leave; (2) are granted administrative course release by the Dean; or (3) buy out of courses in order to increase the amount of effort devoted to sponsored research. Faculty members are expected to participate in a normal amount of professional service in their department, college, and the university unless they are on sabbatical or other approved leave of absence. Release from specific teaching duties does not imply release from the other duties of faculty.

Junior Scholar Leave

In line with the University’s policy on Junior Scholar Leave, tenure-track faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences may be eligible to take a semester of paid leave following a successful mid-tenure review once they have accrued the required number of six semesters of full-time service and assuming they are not excluded from this form of leave by virtue of other contractual provisions. Tenure-track faculty should submit applications for Junior Scholar leave on the same schedule as other applications for sabbatical or leave; the CAS deadline is in December each year for the following academic year. Faculty may apply in advance of completion of the mid-tenure review, and approval of the request will be contingent on the outcome of the mid-tenure review. Junior Scholar Leave is not excluded from the tenure clock. Faculty granted a semester of paid Junior Scholar Leave are required to return to full-time service for at least one year following the completion of the leave.

Because of the benefits of the Boston University junior scholar leave policy, CAS generally does not offer course releases as part of faculty start-up packages except when the market dictates that we do so.  There are a couple of disciplines in which such course releases are understood nationally as routine in major research departments, and thus the market dictates that we do the same; the Dean’s Office has communicated this understanding to those departments. For all others, course releases will be possible in start-up packages only to meet competing offers from strong institutions. In general the College will not offer extra resources to cover the “backfill” teaching of courses under these circumstances.

In cases where start-up course releases are warranted:

For natural science departments with a standard 1-1 teaching load: New faculty members may be offered a choice between a single course release “up front” or maintaining eligibility for a junior scholar leave later on.  An initial course release in these fields will exclude faculty from JSL eligibility because by definition it constitutes a semester-long, contractual teaching release (“If a faculty member has been granted a semester or more at full pay with no teaching duties as part of the employment contract, he or she is not eligible to apply for Junior Scholar Leave”). The early teaching release can serve the purpose of giving the new faculty member time to establish a laboratory.

For departments with a standard 3-course load:  New faculty will be given a choice between two course releases in a single semester up front or maintaining eligibility for a junior scholar leave later on.  This is equivalent to the policy for 1-1 departments.  We will not offer a single course release up front with JSL eligibility later on, barring market demands.


Sabbatical leave is granted for the purpose of investing in a faculty member’s ability to engage in scholarly research or other activities leading to professional growth and an increased capacity for service to the University. It is not a reward for past service or accomplishments. After each period of at least twelve full semesters of full-time service at Boston University, members of the faculty with standard professorial titles (regardless of tenure status) may be considered for a sabbatical leave consisting of one semester at full salary or one academic year at half salary. A semester that includes a Childbirth Leave, a Primary Caregiver Workload Reduction (full- or half-modified status), a medical leave, or any other form of leave of absence does not count towards the twelve semesters that are required for sabbatical eligibility. A faculty member on leave with compensation retains all employee benefits during the leave period. Those taking sabbatical or other paid leave must agree to return to full-time service for at least one year following the conclusion of the paid leave.

In order to make sabbatical leave possible, responsibilities within the department will be adjusted to take account of the faculty member’s absence. If, in the opinion of the Chair and/or the Dean, such adjustment is not possible, the sabbatical may be denied for that year. In the event that sabbatical is thereafter granted, the year or years of denial on the basis of departmental needs will be credited toward eligibility for the subsequent sabbatical. The Dean shall report this decision to the candidate. Denial on this basis may not occur for more than two consecutive years.

The faculty member submits his/her application to the department Chair who reviews its merits, consults with the appropriate departmental faculty, and informs the faculty member of his/her recommendation. The application, along with the recommendation of the department Chair, is due in the CAS Office of Faculty Actions in early December each year for the subsequent academic year (the Associate Chair or equivalent should review/approve any leave or sabbatical request submitted by the Chair). Departments should set appropriate departmental due dates to allow adequate time for review and submission to the College. Tenure-track faculty may apply for sabbatical leave in advance of the completion of the tenure review; approval of paid sabbatical leave will be contingent on a successful tenure outcome.

If a faculty member is seeking a one-year sabbatical at 50% of academic-year salary, the application requires a statement of proposed support for the remaining 50% of the professor’s salary. This can be in the form of grant applications, letters from other institutions committing funds, etc. Applicants are expected to inform the Dean of any external funding subsequently received. External funding to support salary should be paid through Boston University where practicable, and should in no case exceed the recipient’s regular salary during the sabbatical period. If the source of financial support does not materialize, the candidate must notify the department Chair and the Office of Faculty Actions. When faculty members receive prestigious fellowships that do not cover the full salary for the period of the fellowship, the College, at the discretion of the Dean, may fund up to the difference between the amount of the fellowship and the recipient’s salary and fringe benefits during the leave period (see full policy here).

The applicant must provide a detailed plan for the scholarly or professional development activity to be undertaken during the sabbatical, with an indication of why the leave is necessary to accomplish the stated goals. The quality and appropriateness of the plan is the major criterion for judging whether the sabbatical will be awarded.

Faculty must submit a brief (approximately one page) report following the conclusion of their sabbatical leave. The report should outline research activities during the leave period, as well as any publications, grants, or other research outcomes stemming from the sabbatical leave, and should be submitted via e-mail to Alexandra Adams within one month of the end of the sabbatical period.

Sabbaticals are awarded for the purpose of allowing faculty members to devote their time to their stated research and professional development activities. Faculty should not be asked to undertake any significant service activities during the sabbatical period and they should not undertake any significant service activities during that period.

For the complete CAS policies on sabbaticals and leaves of absences in general, please review the below sections; Voluntary Deferral of Sabbatical Leaves, Spacing of Sabbaticals and Leaves of Absence, and Leaves of Absence and the Tenure Clock. Faculty should also refer to the section of the Boston University Faculty Handbook on sabbaticals and leaves, which governs College policy.

Voluntary Deferral of Sabbatical Leaves

The Dean will normally allow voluntary sabbatical leave deferrals for up to 4 semesters with the deferred semesters to be counted towards the next sabbatical when the department Chair certifies that such deferral would contribute substantially to the professional development of the faculty member and that the department can otherwise meet its teaching and/or service needs. Certification will include a brief explanation of the reasons for the deferral.

Spacing of Sabbaticals and Leaves of Absence

The distribution of faculty lines in the College of Arts and Sciences assumes that faculty are fulfilling their full-time duties for the vast majority of their contract time. Although many excellent professional opportunities might lead faculty to seek leaves of absence or course buy-outs, situations in which faculty seek to reduce their teaching and service obligations too often or for too long stretch the capacity of departments and the College to fulfill our obligations to our students. It places burdens on the colleagues who are left to fill service, advising, and other institutional maintenance functions that faculty do, and it diminishes our capacity to be a vibrant academic community.

Thus, the Dean will generally not approve more than two semesters of consecutive leave of absence/sabbaticals (fall to spring or spring to fall) except under unusual and compelling circumstances. The Dean will not approve more than four semesters of leave or sabbatical in any six-year period except under unusual and compelling circumstances. This amounts to a requirement that members of the CAS faculty fulfill their full set of obligations as faculty at least 2/3rds of their contract time on an ongoing basis. This does not include non-academic leaves such as workload reduction, medical, and childbirth. Department Chairs are responsible for keeping track of the status of faculty leaves and sabbaticals and should take these policies into account when considering whether to sign off on leave or sabbatical requests.

Leaves of Absence and the Tenure Clock

In the College of Arts and Sciences, leaves of absence for purposes that resemble the normal duties of the faculty member or that are likely to promote the ability of the faculty member to establish a tenurable record are normally not approved by the Dean for exclusion from the years of service counted in computing the date for mandatory tenure review. Leaves of absence for purposes that are substantially different from the normal duties of the faculty member or that are likely inhibit the ability of the faculty member to establish a tenurable record are normally approved by the Dean for exclusion from the years of service counted in computing the date for mandatory tenure review.

Thus, leaves of absence for the purpose of conducting research or for the purpose of teaching at another institution would normally not be excluded from the tenure clock. By the same token, Junior Scholar Leave is not excluded from the tenure clock. Examples of leaves of absence that are normally excluded from the tenure clock include but are not limited to medical, childbirth, and adoption leaves, and leaves devoted primarily to working in a public service capacity (such as in a government agency in a non-research capacity) or pursuing a major program of training (such as gaining proficiency in a new language).

University policies and leaves of absence for academic and non-academic reasons such as parental leave are available in the BU Faculty Handbook. Forms are available at the Forms Library on the Provost’s website.