Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sabbaticals are expensive 

It's not clear to me why Richard Vedder and others in this article on the cost of faculty sabbaticals think these are exorbitant. Sabbatical is part of the terms of employment, like tenure or summers. These are given in lieu of higher base pay, sort of like throwing plane tickets into a ballplayer's contract when he says he wants his family to be able to fly out and see him (as I recall, the pitcher Kevin Brown had these; I understand the practice is not uncommon.)

Now people think anyone anywhere gets a sabbatical. At SCSU they are contractually obligated to faculty after ten years if the faculty member asks. That's a bit unusual, for in many other places there is a competitive process whereby one offers a plan for study, grantwriting or other academic endeavor to be done during the sabbatical. It's not being paid to sit on your duff but to be reassigned for a year to something outside the classroom. This is of course expensive, but then most of us faculty in fields where there are ample private industry opportunities work at a substantial discount, for which sabbatical, tenure, and June, July and August are repayment.

Do some faculty abuse sabbaticals? No doubt true, particularly when you get them as a contractual obligation. But the gist of the article seems to be that faculty not teaching are being lazy, and that's just not true.