Term Faculty Study Leave

Term Faculty Study Leave Guidelines


According to the GMU Faculty Handbook description of the Leave Program for Instructional Faculty (section 3.6.2), “the purpose of this leave program is to support professional development initiatives designed to advance scholarly research, teaching, and/or creative activity, including the development of innovative teaching approaches and methods.”  In planning study leaves, applicants should consider how the activities they propose to undertake support both their own professional development and the mission of their department or program, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS), and George Mason University (GMU). 

Term faculty study leave opportunities were established by Faculty Handbook revisions approved by the Board of Visitors in July 2021 (see Faculty Handbook section 3.6.2 Leave Programs for Instructional Faculty).  Applicants are encouraged to craft proposals that make explicit connections between their proposed activities and the purposes described in the Faculty Handbook.

For Term Faculty in CHSS, study leave activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Creation and/or revision of pedagogical materials and methods.
  • Scholarly and/or creative activities that draw or reflect on the faculty member’s teaching.
  • Scholarly and/or creative activities that maintain and/or develop knowledge, skills, and abilities relevant to the faculty member’s teaching.
  • Other activities which support the ongoing missions and/or current initiatives of the department or program, College, University, or other professional communities to which the faculty member belongs.

Eligibility Criteria

All term faculty who, at the time of application meet the following criteria, are eligible:

  1. The individual is a full-time instructional term faculty on a multi-year 9-month or 12-month contract.
  2. The individual has six (6) or more years of completed service at George Mason University at the time of application (Note: Only time spent under contract as a Mason employee in an instructional/research, administrative/professional, and/or librarian position with teaching responsibilities can be counted towards the six-year requirement). 
  3. The individual’s rank is NOT prefixed with Affiliate, Adjunct, or Visiting.

Faculty who have had previous study leave (or other leaves) must also meet the following eligibility criteria:

  1. Six (6) years must elapse between the end of the previous leave period (defined as the end of the academic year during which the previous leave was taken) and any application for subsequent study leaves. For example: An applicant may apply in year six (6) for a study leave in year seven (7), with year one being the first year back from the completed study leave.
  2. Any time spent on leave of absence, leave without pay, or time worked at another agency or institution (including Fellowships) may count towards the six (6) years, but only if authorized by the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Note: Please contact Jaime Lester, Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, if you are unsure about your eligibility.

Conditions of the Award

A term instructional faculty granted a study leave will be relieved of all teaching, service, research, and administrative duties during the study leave.

Term faculty granted study leave can make use of other grants/awards during their study leave period as long as the additional grants/awards are not used to compensate for faculty time or effort. For example, term faculty cannot use additional grants/awards to increase their salary, but may use additional grants/awards to purchase materials, travel, software, etc. related to the approved study leave proposal.

A faculty member who receives study leave must agree to remain a full-time employee of the University for at least one academic year after the conclusion of the leave unless the term faculty member’s contract is not renewed or extended by the University. A faculty member who accepts a study leave must agree to serve as a reviewer of future applications at least once.

Study Leave Period

Leave may be taken during the Fall or Spring semester of the academic year following the announcement of the award. Leave may be taken in one of the following ways:

  1. One semester at full pay (Fall or Spring semester)
  2. The full academic year at half pay (Fall and Spring semesters). Faculty choosing this option are strongly encouraged to consult with Human Resources regarding possible employee benefit implications.

The leave schedule must be approved by the Department Chair and Dean at the time of faculty study leave acceptance.

Application Materials

The following items must be included in the application:

  1. Study Leave for Term Instructional Faculty Cover Page: Use the cover page provided as part of this call for proposals.
  2. Curriculum Vitae: The CV should include accomplishments in teaching, research, and service (no page limit).
  3. Project Proposal: The proposal should include up to three (3) pages (1500 words) describing the objectives, work plan—including the timeframe for the proposed work and how, if applicable, the work extends previously-begun work or begins work that will extend beyond the study leave time frame—and products of the study leave. Of equal importance is the connection of the proposed work to the stated purpose of term faculty study leave, including courses taught previously or in the future.
  4. Previous Study Leave Report (if applicable): Include a brief report on products and outcomes from previous study leave. (Maximum of two pages.)
  5. Chair or Director Letter of Support: This letter should be completed by the Department Chair or by the Program Director and sent directly to facchss@gmu.edu. The letter should be no more than one page in length and include the following:
    1. The importance of the past contributions of the applicant to the Department and College including, but not limited to, teaching, service, research, publication, community engagement, etc.
    2. The potential future benefits of the proposed study leave to the individual, Department, and College.
    3. Any discipline-specific information/explanations to assist application reviewers outside of this discipline. 
  6. Institution Permission (if applicable): If the proposed study leave is to be spent in residence at another institution, a letter agreeing to the arrangement from an appropriate official of that institution should also be submitted.
    1. For a one (1) semester leave at full pay, no additional salary may be accepted.
    2. For a two (2) semester leave at half pay.

Application Process

The application process for terms faculty study leave involves the following:

  1. The call for study leave proposals will be sent to all term faculty near the end of the spring semester.
  2. Term faculty study leave proposals, and all associated documents, will be due on October 14, 2022 and should be emailed directly to facchss@gmu.edu.
  3. The Dean’s Office will convene a committee of previous awardees to review study leave proposals. Since the study leaves will be new in 2022, the Dean’s Office will convene a review committee of term faculty.
  4. Proposals will be ranked by the review committee and funding recommendations will be made to the Dean’s Office.

Proposal Review Criteria

Study leaves will be evaluated by the review committee on the basis of the following criteria:

  1. Significance of Proposed Work - The categories for consideration relate but are not limited to:
    1. Professional Significance for the Individual Faculty - Including, but not limited to:
      1. Professional development related to the improvement of professional knowledge, skills, and/or abilities that play a role in the applicant’s teaching
      2. Activities that have a direct or indirect impact on promotion and/or contract renewal
      3. Scholarly activities that benefit the individual faculty member and College/University while also contributing to the faculty’s field or profession
      4. Proposed work address a substantive topic and/or skill related to the professional and intellectual duties of the faculty member
    2. Significance for the Department, College, and/or University  - Supporting Departmental, College, and/or University goals including the stated mission, goals for the future and/or current initiatives, or other professional communities to which the faculty member belongs.
  2. Feasibility of Proposed Work - The categories for consideration relate but are not limited to:
    1. Appropriateness of Faculty Study Leave Usage
      1. Is the proposed work likely to utilize the full study leave period? 
      2. Are there other options (such as regular faculty workload, or any other current University or College level programs) that are better suited for the proposed work?
    2. Can this work be completed in the proposed study leave period?
      1. Has there been any groundwork laid for this work?
      2. Does the proposed work rely on external/uncontrolled parties, processes, and/or resources out of the faculty’s control/influence?
    3. Is there a method of reasonably deciding whether the work has been completed to a satisfactory degree? For example: Changes to course materials, Dissemination and access plans, etc.
    4. Does the proposal explain the significance and feasibility of the proposed work in a well-organized and clear manner that is easily understood?

All faculty who meet eligibility criteria may apply. However, the review committee may consider length of service in ranking proposals.

Study Leave Report

At the completion of the study leave, faculty must submit a study leave report that describes the accomplishments that were made possible by the faculty study leave, as well as any continuing plans related to the scholarly work.  The report should be emailed to chss@gmu.edu no later than August 1.