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The primary purpose of a sabbatical leave is to provide enrichment for faculty by release from campus committees and teaching responsibilities in order to pursue transformative endeavors. Sabbaticals are designed to contribute to the faculty member’s academic development and educational enrichment and to encourage scholarly activities that significantly enhance the person’s continued role at EMU. Faculty pursue scholarly development, which may include pedagogy and praxis, in order to increase the usefulness, the effectiveness, and the productivity of the faculty member to the university. Sabbatical requests may include independent or group research, writing, creative work, approved travel, formal study, and/or transcultural/service assignments that contribute to the university.

Sabbaticals are available to tenured faculty and professional librarians with faculty status. Eligibility for a sabbatical is dependent upon the tenured faculty member being on a six-year contract. Those eligible may receive a sabbatical leave in the eighth year of full-time service at EMU and at subsequent seven-year intervals. 

Eligibility does not guarantee a sabbatical. The number of sabbaticals is determined by the President’s Cabinet. A minimum of six shall be available annually. 

If a faculty member waits to submit a sabbatical proposal at the request of the program or dean because of institutional needs, the interval until the next eligibility for a sabbatical leave will be decreased accordingly. For example, if the dean requests that the faculty member wait until the eighth year instead of the usual seventh year because of program needs, the next interval will be decreased to six. Similarly, if the institution approves an early sabbatical, the interval until the next eligibility will be increased accordingly.

If a faculty member waits to submit a sabbatical proposal for personal reasons, the eligibility will rollover to the next year. A faculty member may defer for personal reasons no more than two consecutive years. The interval until the next eligibility for a sabbatical leave will remain at subsequent seven-year intervals.

If a faculty member applies for a sabbatical but is not approved, they may reapply in the following year, with their sabbatical “clock” being reset from the year of the approved sabbatical. Reapplication may only occur once per cycle.

For purposes of calculating sabbatical eligibility, a loading of 12-17 hours will count as a half-year, and 18-24 hours will count as a full year. Years on leave do not count toward the sabbatical years. Faculty whose loading is affected by FMLA leaves will be considered according to their normal loading during that time period.

A sabbatical leave may be taken in one of the following forms:

  • One-half salary (12 SH) for one year (i.e., two semesters within an academic year).
  • Full salary (24 SH) for one semester.

When external funding is secured for a sabbatical assignment, total funding for salary shall not exceed full salary but can be up to that amount. This expectation may be waived if the sabbatical takes place in a high cost-of-living area.

Faculty remain eligible for health insurance while on sabbatical. Payments toward social security and retirement are scaled according to sabbatical salary. Full disability and life insurance coverage are provided during the sabbatical.

Sabbatical Request Guidelines for Eligible Faculty (3-4 pp.):

  • Briefly, in a few sentences, describe the intellectual, professional, and/or creative project.
  • Propose starting and ending dates of the sabbatical.
  • List goals for the sabbatical, articulating clearly the value of the sabbatical to the faculty member (how it fits within the context of faculty member’s work) and to Eastern Mennonite University (how the project fits within the faculty member’s program and broader EMU community).
  • Propose a plan to meet specific and achievable goals, making clear connections between goals and utilization of results upon return to EMU.
  • Provide a timeline of proposed dates and activities.
  • Explain the benefits of the specific project to the faculty member’s discipline, intellectual and professional development, and to EMU.
  • Describe how EMU can assist the faculty member in meeting these goals.
  • List proposed activities; be as specific as possible with locations and connections with institutions and organizations.
  • Describe plans for sharing results with EMU community.
  • Provide a current and complete curriculum vitae.
  • Include a letter of support from program director supporting sabbatical in program.

Since a sabbatical leave is designed to prepare one for further service at EMU and is not primarily a reward for past services, a faculty member who does not return for at least one year immediately following the sabbatical shall reimburse the institution for the sabbatical stipend. (The administration may make an exception to this policy when it is deemed to be of mutual benefit to the faculty member and the university.)

Following the sabbatical, faculty will be asked to provide a written report, three pages maximum (click here for Sabbatical Report Guidelines form), and will also be asked to share results in a public forum. The written report is due to the Provost’s Office thirty days after the completion of the sabbatical, according to the dates submitted with the sabbatical proposal. The Provost’s Office maintains a file of sabbatical reports, which is available to the Faculty Status Committee in evaluating a faculty member’s subsequent sabbatical request(s).

Sabbatical Application Process

  • In June, when upcoming academic year salary statements are issued, the Provost’s Office will notify faculty members of sabbatical eligibility and copy the appropriate program director.
  • The applicant submits a letter of request and current curriculum vitae to the program director or seminary dean by September 1. The letter of request follows the “Sabbatical Request Guidelines.”
  • If the program director approves the request, s/he submits a letter of recommendation, along with the above materials, to the dean by September 15.
  • If the dean approves the request, the dean submits the above materials and a letter of recommendation to the chair of the Faculty Status Committee by October 1.

The Faculty Status Committee meets in October and indicates support or denial of each request, prioritizing the requests if necessary. The chair of the committee reports the action of the committee, including the rationale in cases of denial, to the faculty member in a letter immediately after the meeting.
The Faculty Status Committee will evaluate the proposals based on the criteria listed under Sabbatical Request Guidelines. Sabbatical applications will be evaluated by the FSC on the basis of the coherence and depth of the faculty member’s engagement in activities, not on the number of different activities proposed for the sabbatical period.

Appeal Procedures

If the faculty member wishes to appeal the dean’s or the committee’s decision, it must be done in writing to the chair of the Faculty Status Committee within ten working days of notification. All appeal procedures shall provide a fair hearing for all interested parties.

Addendum to Sabbatical Policy

  • Current (as of 2002) faculty, librarians and eligible coaches who waited until year 11 for the first sabbatical will receive two-thirds salary for any future full-year sabbaticals.
  • All other current (as of 2002) faculty, librarians and eligible coaches may choose either the revised policy or wait until the 11th year for the first sabbatical and then receive two-thirds salary for any future full-year sabbaticals.


Approved by Board of Trustees, March 24, 2002
Revised April 15, 2010
Approved by Faculty Senate May 7, 2010
Approved by President’s Cabinet, May 12, 2010
Approved by Board of Trustees, June 19, 2010

Revisions Approved by Provost's Council, March 2, 2021