The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Professors to be eligible for teaching breaks more often

By Matthew Stone

Faculty members have voted to give themselves sabbaticals more often, topping off more than a year of discussion that focused on how to provide faculty with more support to do their jobs. The vote took place Wednesday afternoon at the faculty’s monthly meeting.Beginning in the 2010-11 academic year, faculty could be eligible for a semester-long sabbatical after three years of teaching. They are currently eligible for sabbaticals after six years of teaching.

Political Science professor Andrew Latham, who chairs the faculty’s Resources and Planning Committee, said the change in sabbatical cycle would bring a “net benefit” to the college “although it is not cost-free.” The RPC developed the proposal.

RPC members considered an option last fall that would have reduced faculty members’ teaching load by one course–to four courses per year from the current load of five. If that change had been made, RPC members agreed in discussions, the college would have had to hire additional faculty–at a high cost–to ensure that the college could offer the same number of courses.

“The cost of that particular item was astronomical,” Latham said in an interview with The Mac Weekly in October. “The sense was that the faculty would find it more beneficial if we accelerated the sabbatical cycle.”

Changing the sabbatical cycle would not cause a major strain on the college’s resources, Provost Diane Michelfelder said.

“I’m not sure that would add much of an impact to that,” she said.

Biology professor Lin Aanonsen, who chairs her department, opposed the change, saying it would put more stress on departments to hire adjunct faculty to replace faculty members who are on sabbatical leave more often.

“I’m not in favor of this tax break because I think it will do harm,” Aanonsen said. “This will not have a beneficial effect on our students.”

Jan Serie, a Biology professor and chair of the Center for Scholarship and Teaching, echoed Aanonsen’s concerns, saying department chairs will have more work on their hands in hiring replacement faculty more frequently.

“This may be a stress release for the faculty, but this is a stress transfer to the chairs,” Serie said.

Faculty members are allowed sabbaticals to perform research in their fields, develop courses and improve pedagogy.

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