Cuts being made to next year’s budget may affect funding for faculty sabbaticals in a way that has some professors concerned about their ability to take academic leave in the coming school year. At this early stage of planning, no official decision has been made on whether the college will go forward with the cuts, or what the nature of the reduction will be.
According to Beth Rushing, Dean of Faculty, St. Mary’s currently allots over $300,000 to sabbatical benefits and salaries, as well as hiring temporary faculty to replace professors on leave. It is her hope that the college will be able to reduce the costs of faculty leave and replacement in a way that will mean the least possible disruption to students’ academic pursuits. One of the proposed solutions to reduce sabbatical spending would be to cover teachers on sabbatical at only 50% of their salary, a 20% reduction from normal sabbatical coverage. “I want to find ways to sustain our ability to offer sabbatical leaves, but within our more constrained budget. I’m confident we’ll be able to figure this out.” says Rushing.
Von Kellenbach also notes that decreasing funds for sabbaticals could potentially devalue the a student’s education if not handled properly. “What I would hope students appreciate is that we [professors] are not just transmitters of knowledge but producers of knowledge.” she remarks. She emphasizes that although having professors absent may seem in the immediate sense like a detraction from students’ academic experience. However, by having recognized experts in the field with a respected body of work as their instructors, the value of students’ academics increase exponentially. It is the hope of all that the issue of sabbatical funding will be resolved in a way that will be satisfactory to faculty and will create minimal impact upon student life.