Sabbatical Guidelines

Purpose and Procedures

University of Maine Cooperative Extension faculty and professionals are eligible for sabbatical leaves.

By agreement with Associated Faculties of the University of Maine (AFUM) and University of Maine Professional Staff Association UMPSA), the University of Maine (UM) offers a certain number of sabbaticals each year, most of them paid for by departmental or unit budgets. A few (called “University sabbaticals”) are paid for out of the general university budget. University sabbaticals, because they are funded by the university and are few in number, are highly competitive; applying for one does not hurt one’s chances for a regular sabbatical. University sabbaticals are available for faculty only and usually not to Extension faculty, as the intention is to support for-credit instruction while a faculty member is away.

Faculty (except unit members in the rank of professor) and professionals in their sixth year or more are eligible to apply for sabbaticals. Faculty in the rank of full professor are eligible for another sabbatical leave after completion of five years of full-time service. Sabbaticals maybe for 6 months at full pay or 12 months at half pay.

Faculty and professionals supported by grants and contracts may not be able to avail themselves of a sabbatical leave due to the expectations of the funding source. Please check with your supervisor to discuss your intentions before crafting a sabbatical request.

The main purposes of sabbaticals are to enable faculty and professionals to improve professionally, and to contribute in measurable ways to the university’s programs. In other words, the university encourages sabbaticals generally but wants to make sure that each sabbatical is appropriate to one’s past work and future contributions to the university. For Extension, the sabbatical must enhance the ability of the faculty member to address a high priority need for Maine people and transform our capacity in a specific area.

If you’re thinking about a sabbatical, the first thing to do is assess your own situation–your past Extension experience and your future hopes and goals. A sabbatical is an opportunity to engage in a focused, directed effort at continuing education that results in a tangible difference to the organization and in the staff member’s future work for the benefit of Maine people.

If you and your supervisor agree that a sabbatical seems appropriate at this point, you should then explore the idea with your immediate colleagues (in the case of county staff, the county executive committee also). Since the University of Maine Cooperative Extension does not provide funds for sabbatical replacements, it’s important to plan with your colleagues how your absence can be covered.

Convening a small circle of colleagues within the University of Maine Cooperative Extension is one way to receive support in

  • Conceptualizing and developing your sabbatical proposal
  • Reviewing your proposal draft before submitting it
  • Returning from your sabbatical experience and integrating your experience into your future work.

For additional support, consider talking with UMaine Cooperative Extension colleagues who have been on sabbatical to learn from their experiences in developing the proposal; being on sabbatical; and returning to the organization.

Contact our Assistant Director for the names of those who have been on a sabbatical.

The formal application procedure begins with this preliminary reflection and planning with supervisor and colleagues. Throughout this initial process, you should be working on your sabbatical plan. Keep in mind that your proposal will be reviewed for the benefits to you, UMaine Cooperative Extension, and the people of Maine. Also, when the sabbatical is over, you are required to submit a report on your activities and the administration will consider the quality of one sabbatical when considering future leave requests. It is to your benefit if your planning is as careful and specific as possible.

Following is the format for a sabbatical request.

(Rev 11/09)

Format for a sabbatical request

1. Obtain and complete the University of Maine Request for Sabbatical or Unpaid Leave of Absence for Professional Improvement or Education Purposes Form (PDF).

2. The first nine (9) sections of the form are informational.

3. Describe your proposed leave program. Use the following major headings: Summary, Goals, Objectives, Project Description and Benefit (to yourself, clients and UMaine Cooperative Extension) and how your POW and organizational and administrative responsibilities will be covered in your absence. The following statements give some ideas for inclusion of specifics.

Highlight your major Extension efforts and achievements in the recent past, specifically those that relate to your sabbatical project, and how they have led to your sabbatical objective.

Include a general description of what you plan to do, including travel. Specify the courses, workshops, conferences, visits to Extension offices in other states – whatever the activities, list them in detail. A personal budget may be helpful for anticipated expenses.

Development of an Extension program, publication or other tangible product as well as the addition of the measurable outcomes and impacts of your sabbatical is important information to include. How will Cooperative Extension be different because of the proposed sabbatical? How will Maine people benefit from your sabbatical experience?

4. Section 11 of the form requests answers to the following questions.

  • If you previously had a sabbatical leave, what specific changes occurred in your professional activities as a result of that leave?
  • What will your proposed leave accomplish, specifically for you?
  • What is there about this proposal that would require a leave?
  • What are the expected benefits to the University?

5. Each faculty and professional sabbatical application going forward to the University must have a peer committee recommendation attached. For faculty, the peer committee is the Peer Committee (PC). For professionals, the peer committee is Extension Professionals Promotion Review Committee (EPPRC).

6. Co-workers should write a letter of support for your application indicating how responsibilities will be covered during your absence. Letters of support and interest from potential sabbatical contacts would be added here. County staff members should ask the president of the executive committee to write a supportive letter that also indicates how your absence will be covered. State specialists should consult with advisory groups and grant/contract sponsors if relevant. UMaine Cooperative Extension faculty and professionals seeking sabbatical leave must submit their request to their Program Administrator’s Office. Sabbatical proposals are due in late January. The exact due date will be announced via e-mail to the faculty and professional logins. Sabbaticals may begin six months later.

7. The request must contain a list of all expected/required reporting that will be completed prior to the beginning of the sabbatical including but not limited to POW reporting, Civil Rights reporting, County Annual Report contributions, interim and final grant reports, ES-237, EFNEP, and any other federal reports.

Following Sabbatical Approval

  1. Finalize sabbatical itinerary, contacts.
  2. Bring closure to Cooperative Extension commitments.
  3. Focus on travel, housing plans (consult with colleagues for assistance).
  4. A sabbatical report outlining your sabbatical activities and how you plan to integrate the sabbatical experience into your work is due upon return. Plan to spend time at the end of your sabbatical to write this report.
  5. Reports are sent to PA’s and then put in the staff development library.
  6. Upon return from sabbatical, discuss with your supervisor what support you want for re-entry: relationships with colleagues, shifts in Plan of Work, and sharing your experiences and learnings with colleagues.

Sabbatical Leave – General Considerations

  1. Decisions on sabbatical leave requests will be made within 30 days.
  2. FSD funds may be used to cover travel expenses incurred while carrying out activities approved as part of the sabbatical plan.
  3. Replacement staff is not available. Funding is not available to replace staff who are funded through grants, earmarked funds, etc.
  4. Diversity of staff making sabbatical requests will be a factor in decisions
  5. If the quality of proposals is approximately equal, then priority will be given to first-time requests.
  6. The number of sabbatical proposals granted from any one unit will be considered to minimize negative programmatic and organizational impacts.

Criteria for Reviewing UMaine Cooperative Extension Sabbatical Proposals

To support faculty and professionals in preparing their sabbatical proposal we have developed these criteria as elements of a well thought out proposal. In reviewing the proposal, one’s peer committee, supervisor and UMaine Cooperative Extension administration will use these criteria for analysis and feedback.

Alignment with UMaine Cooperative Extension and individual’s plan of work:

Do the sabbatical goals and objectives enhance the individual’s capacity to carry out their organizational work while contributing to the knowledge and skills base of UMaine Cooperative Extension for serving the public?

Documentation of the expressed need for pursuing the sabbatical goals:

Does the proposal include clear documentation of the need for pursuing the sabbatical goals and objectives? Has the applicant assessed the need for study in this area including an analysis of audience, review of the appropriate literature and colleague perceptions?

Clearly expressed personal, organizational, and client benefits to be derived from the proposed sabbatical:

Does the proposal effectively outline the desired impacts, measurable outcomes and/or products expected from the sabbatical for the individual, UMaine Cooperative Extension and Maine people and the issues to be addressed through Extension programming upon return?

Practical approaches for achieving stated goals and objectives:

Does the proposal include multiple approaches for reaching the expected sabbatical impacts and outcomes that exhibit clearly conceived advance planning and commitments? If the leave is in cooperation with other institutions or organizations, is there documentation of preliminary arrangements made with them?

Proposed integration with one’s work after sabbatical completion:

Does the proposal include possible approaches to integrating one’s sabbatical study upon return from the sabbatical: e.g. seminars with colleagues and/or public audiences; contributing to staff development initiatives; initiating new or enhancing progressive program development?

Evidence of professional accountability:

Has the applicant demonstrated a commitment to organizational expectations of program accountability through up-to-date and complete reporting of program activities and impacts on the Maine Planning and reporting System?

Prior consultation with supervisor:

Has the applicant met with a supervisor to discuss the sabbatical proposal in its initial and ongoing development for guidance and support?

Consultation with colleagues and public stakeholders for program coverage during the sabbatical leave:

Does the proposal include clearly outlined commitments from colleagues for program coverage as well as indication of programs and activities that will be deferred during the leave? In the case of county-based employees, does the proposal include letters of support from all relevant county executive committees?

Evidence of ongoing scholarly activity (see Section IV: UMaine Cooperative Extension Faculty Reappointment, Promotion, and Continuing Contract Evaluation Form):

Has the applicant produced scholarly work, participated in professional presentations and engaged in other scholarly activities on an ongoing basis?

Considerations When Developing the Sabbatical Proposal

At least one year prior to planned sabbatical:

I. Personal evaluation

  • Ask yourself:
    • why a sabbatical?
    • why at this time in my life/career?
    • what benefits from a sabbatical do I envision for: myself personally, professionally, my clients, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
  • Look at this proposal writing process as an opportunity to clarify your goals, objectives and sabbatical plans for yourself.

II. Conferring with others

  • Discuss your sabbatical plans/ideas with family, colleagues, supervisor and/or others who recently earned a sabbatical.

III. Proposal guidelines and reaching out

IV. Sabbatical Proposal

  • Draft a proposal outline
  • Consult other colleagues’ sabbatical proposals for form, style, content.
  • Consider the following outline components:

1. Summary including sabbatical, purpose, objectives, and benefits.

In greater detail:

2. Background/rationale–Include a review of the literature when appropriate.

3. Objectives

4. Expected benefits

  • To self
  • University of Maine and clientele
  • Profession

5. Project Description

  • Detail of your plans, how you’ll spend your time during the sabbatical (include here any contracts you have already made and list).
  • For example:
    • Professional – agency interviews
    • Workshops/conferences
    • Readings
    • Writing

6. Proposed post-sabbatical activities.

  • What would you like to do when you return.

7. Impact of your leave on your programs; how you will bring closure to activities; office support in your absence.

8. Documentation of collegial support for your leave.

9. Financial resources requested above salary to support your leave (e.g. books, travel expenses, registration fees); include a budget. These requests will be funded by personal staff development funds or outside sources.

10. Appendix

  • Letters of support from colleagues and relevant advisory committee(s).
  • Letters of interest from potential sabbatical contracts.

V. Submit the proposal to the office of the PA (Orono) by late January. The exact due date will be announced via e-mail to the faculty and professional logins.

VI. Continue exploring sabbatical contacts while waiting for sabbatical approval.