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Scholarly Leave of Absence

  Policy | Application

Tenure-track faculty

Unless specified otherwise in the hiring contract, conditional on the renewal of their initial contract, tenure-track faculty are eligible for a full year of leave with full salary and benefits to occur after six semesters in residence (i.e., in the fourth year of their initial four-year contract). 

Tenured faculty

Tenured faculty have the following options for obtaining scholarly leaves:

  • Regularly scheduled leaves: Tenured faculty can apply for one semester of paid leave or a full year of leave at half-pay after 8 semesters of teaching, research, and service since the conclusion of their last leave. 
  • Full-year leave after 6 semesters: Tenured faculty can apply for a full year’s leave at half-pay after 6 semesters of teaching, research, and service since the conclusion of their last leave. They can either take a year at half pay (and full benefits) or secure an external research fellowship, award, or grant to support a full year of leave.

i. If the faculty member applying for a full-year’s leave receives an external fellowship, award, or a grant that covers no less than 50% of their half-year salary (i.e., provides at least 25% of their academic year’s salary) the college will top off the external funding to provide a full year’s leave at full salary and benefits. 

ii. If the external fellowship, award, or grant covers less than 50% of a faculty member’s half-year salary (i.e., 25% of their academic year’s salary), the faculty member must seek prior approval from their chair/director and the dean before requesting the leave. In such cases, it will be critical to show that winning the fellowship, award, or grant is a major accomplishment that significantly enhances the prestige of the faculty member, the department, and the university. 

iii. Those faculty who receive funding from an internal Vanderbilt source (such as RSG, RPW, CFF, or DFF) and have evidence of multiple external funding applications are eligible to seek funding from the college to top off their salary. Those who have applied for and received only internal funding would not be eligible for any topping-off funds from the college. 

  • Off-cycle requests: A tenured faculty member who has applied for external funding may request a year’s leave after four semesters of teaching, research, and service if they are well-positioned to receive a major external fellowship in light of their current research and professional standing. 

i. All off-cycle requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis. 

ii. Requests of this kind must be discussed and approved by the chair/director and the Dean’s Office  prior to the leave application being made. 

iii. Salary during such an off-cycle leave would be at 50% of a faculty member’s full-time academic year salary, with the possibility that the remainder of their salary would be paid from the fellowship and/or topping off funds from the college. 

iv. The college will also consider all compelling requests for off-cycle leaves to allow faculty to complete an important research project/book or to undertake an important work of creative expression, archival research, or fieldwork. We expect such requests to be relatively rare. 

v. Eligibility for subsequent leave after having been on an off-cycle request remains as specified above (see the first two bullets on this page), unless another extraordinary opportunity presents itself in the meantime.

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The annual call for leave applications is circulated in late fall.