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Mathematics, Science and Technology

Document Type


Publication/Presentation Date

Spring 2024


A sabbatical – a period of paid leave granted to faculty for research or study - is a construct in higher education that has experienced ebbs and flows in its favorability, though there are persistent arguments that it is important for research-active faculty (Pietsch, 2011). Early career faculty are focused on achieving tenure as this is high stakes at most institutions. Once tenure is achieved, the next goalpost is full professor. The day-to-day responsibilities of faculty can distract from and dilute efforts aimed at strategic planning, long-term planning, and reflection necessary to achieve this level of promotion. So it follows that faculty place a very high value on sabbatical leave time for its impact on career progression, with one study ranking sabbaticals second only to successful external funding (Smith et al., 2016). Faculty and institutions can benefit from sabbaticals through collaborative ideation to reveal new research ideas, development of new expertise, strategic dissemination efforts, support of student research, and much more. Individual faculty members who have engaged in a sabbatical report stronger engagement with colleagues and sense of social responsibility, with a higher tendency towards teamwork, creativity, and innovation (Shirbagi & Gholami, 2020). Sabbatical could also serve as a tool to combat imposter syndrome and reduce the gap between academics and non-academics through “experimental” sabbaticals (e.g., a year of consulting) (Bothello & Roulet, 2019). It is important to note, though, that benefits to students are not inherent in sabbaticals, as one now-dated study reported no difference in student evaluations of teaching before and after faculty sabbaticals (Miller & Bai, 1998). Faculty overwhelmingly agreed that sabbatical improved their attitude, making them a better faculty member (Miller & Kang, 2006).

Publication Title

The Department Chair


Wiley Online Library