Leaves and Retirement

Learn more from the Faculty Handbook about Faculty Retirement and Leaves:  sabbaticals, non-medical leaves without pay, medical and family leaves (paid and unpaid), parental leave,  retirement, and early retirement and phased early retirement.

 Sabbaticals - Proposals Usually Due Early in Fall

Tenured, tenure-track and lecturer faculty are eligible for sabbatical leave every seven years. Section C.VI of the Faculty Handbook describes the purpose of and eligibility and procedures for receiving a sabbatical.

The successful planning of a sabbatical required having conversations about a number of other topics beyond the core goals of the sabbatical (e.g., research, teaching development). This FAQ answers many common topics regarding planning for the sabbatical.

From the Faculty Handbook Part Two, XII. Faculty Leaves

Sabbatical Leaves

1. Purpose

The sabbatical leave policy of Colorado College is designed to benefit both individual faculty members and the College. By providing opportunity for professional growth and intellectual enrichment not ordinarily possible under the demands of regular College responsibilities, sabbatical leaves enable faculty members to become better scholars and teachers and more effective members of the College community.

2. Eligibility and requirements

All tenure-track and lecturer faculty members are eligible to apply every sixth year for a sabbatical leave to be taken in the seventh year since the previous sabbatical leave (or, initially, since beginning employment at Colorado College). Faculty may choose full-year or half-year sabbatical leaves—an eightBlock leave at five-ninths salary or a four-Block leave at full salary. In addition to their initial seventh year sabbatical leave, untenured faculty members are also eligible for a four-Block sabbatical in the year following a positive third-year review. For lecturer faculty, six teaching Blocks count as one academic year of full-time service.

Colorado College regards sabbatical leaves as a valuable benefit but not an assured entitlement. Accordingly, sabbatical applications must make a convincing case that, if granted, the leave would contribute to the goals of the sabbatical policy. After consulting with the department chair, a faculty member desiring a sabbatical leave submits to the Dean, in early fall preceding the year the leave would be taken, an application letter that describes the proposed sabbatical project(s) and explains how the leave could be expected to make them a more productive scholar or a more effective teacher. The faculty member’s chair also sends the Dean an assessment of the proposed leave’s likely contribution to the applicant’s professional development and its impact on departmental staffing needs. Sabbatical projects may vary considerably in their aim and emphasis—from study, research, writing, or artistic creation to reading about pedagogy and devising new courses to travel, reflection, and personal renewal. Untenured faculty members are strongly urged to consider the diagnostic results of their third year review as they plan their sabbatical leave.

The Dean forwards all sabbatical applications to the Faculty Research and Development Board, on which they serve. The Board evaluates the merits of each sabbatical proposal, considers the likely impact of leaves on individual departments and the College, and alerts the Dean of any compelling reasons for denial or delay.

Faculty members who delay a sabbatical leave by a year, whether at their request for the purpose of professional development or at the request of the College, are not penalized by losing a year in the sabbatical cycle.

In general, the College does not pay travel expenses to anyone on sabbatical leave or to any part- time faculty member (except adjunct faculty when they are not on leave). If funds are available in the latter part of an academic year, the Dean may approve additional trips for faculty members.

Sabbatical leaves are usually taken within a single academic year, and faculty members are normally obligated to return to Colorado College for at least one year following a sabbatical.


Other leaves


 Unpaid Non-Medical Leaves

In order to accommodate individual needs that its sabbatical program is not designed to meet, Colorado College allows faculty members to apply for unpaid leaves that can range in length from a single Block to two years. An unpaid leave may be arranged through consultation with the department concerned and with the Dean as detailed below.

With the exception of leaves of absences to be funded by external grants, applications for planned unpaid leaves are due in the Dean’s Office early in the fall of the academic year preceding the year in which the leave is to be taken. Applications must be accompanied by a statement from the department chair that describes the effect of the leave on the department and provides the chair’s judgment regarding the need for a replacement.

In the event the leave of absence will be funded by an external grant, the faculty member discusses the opportunity and the notification timeline with their department chair in advance of grant submission. As part of the internal approval process for external research grants, the department chair will provide the Dean with a statement that describes the effect of the potential leave on the department and the chair’s anticipated plan of action once funding is announced, and that outlines whether augmented funding will be needed to secure a year-long visitor on a short timetable. Once notification of external funding has been announced, the chair submits an updated statement to the Dean’s Office, and if needed, a request for a one-year visitor, within three weeks. One-year visitor appointments are not guaranteed.

If a faculty member takes an unpaid non-medical leave of absence for a portion of the academic year, their academic year salary will be adjusted. The total number of days in the contract period (inclusive of all weekends, holidays, Winter Break, Half Block, etc.) minus the total number of days that the faculty member will be on the leave gives the total number of days the faculty member is working for Colorado College. The total number of days working for Colorado College divided by the total number of days in the contract period gives the fraction of salary paid for that academic year.

Faculty members on unpaid leaves of absence for scholarly purposes will receive support from the College for certain fringe benefits for up to one year. A leave for scholarly purposes is one that permits the faculty member to grow intellectually with the purpose of bringing those new experiences back to enhance their teaching, research or service at Colorado College. The Dean in consultation with the appropriate divisional executive committee will determine if a proposed leave meets these criteria. Faculty on unpaid leaves for scholarly purposes are expected to return to the college for at least one full academic year after such a leave concludes. It is expected that such leaves will happen rarely over the course of any particular faculty member’s career at the College.

During unpaid leaves of absences for scholarly purposes the faculty member may be paid a non- benefited stipend from another entity. During such leaves the College will continue to pay its portion of the employee and their family’s medical coverage premium for up to one year. In addition, the College will continue to pay its portion of the employee’s, but not the family’s, dental coverage for up to one year. Faculty may use COBRA to pay for their usual Dental and Vision benefits. Existing balances in a Flexible Spending Account may be used. Faculty may elect to fully fund a Flexible Spending Account before their leave begins. Although a faculty member may make retirement contributions to individual after-tax retirement vehicles directly with TIAA, the College will make no contribution on their behalf to the faculty member’s 403b retirement plan or Emeriti plan F. Tuition assistance benefits will continue for the remainder of a semester that had been approved.

Faculty on unpaid leaves of absence for other than scholarly purposes are responsible for making their own arrangements for continuing fringe benefit coverage and ordinarily will be expected to pay the full cost of such coverage. In the absence of special arrangements, Colorado College insurance benefits will terminate at the beginning of the leave, or at the end of the first month of leave, if paid through a monthly premium.

For detailed information on how each fringe benefit offered by the College is affected by an unpaid leave of absence, please consult Human Resources.

Full-year unpaid leaves may count toward eligibility for tenure or sabbatical leave only with the Dean’s prior approval. Such approval requires evidence that the requested leave would benefit the College by enhancing the faculty member’s professional development.

If untenured faculty receive a full-year leave (paid or unpaid) or a half-year leave (paid or unpaid) in addition to a paid post-third-year review sabbatical, the tenure clock pauses for one year unless that individual petitions the Dean that the clock not be paused. Untenured faculty will not be disadvantaged by such non-standard leaves in the tenure review.

In all cases, faculty who take an unpaid non-medical leave of absence will be eligible to receive cost-of-living and merit increases in their base salary, if such increases are supported by the salary model and if, upon review, an increase to the faculty member’s salary is recommended.

Medical Leaves 

(NOTE: Check with HR and Dean of the Faculty for most updated State of Colorado mandated leaves based on the FAMLI Act)

1. Paid medical leaves 
On a case-by-case basis, the College provides full-time and adjunct faculty members leaves of absence necessitated by health problems. The College requires a physician’s certification of the injury or illness that is the basis of the faculty member’s request for a leave. The College may ask for a second opinion, at its expense, from a physician of its choosing and may periodically evaluate the faculty member’s situation.

After consulting with the department chair and the Dean, the Provost may approve the continuation of the faculty member’s salary for a period not to exceed 180 calendar days for full- time faculty, the number of days pro-rated for adjunct faculty.

The College grants maternity leaves to full-time faculty on the same conditions as those that apply to leaves for illness or injury. A maternity leave during the academic year is normally for two Blocks and begins with the Block in which delivery is expected.

Paid medical leaves are counted toward the twelve weeks of unpaid leave provided under the Family Medical Leave Act.

2. Unpaid medical leaves

Under provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act, the College provides unpaid leaves of absence to full-time faculty who have been employed at the College for at least one academic year. Legitimate grounds for such leaves include medical or family exigencies—for example, a faculty member’s illness, injury, or pregnancy; childbirth and the care of a newborn; caring for a spouse, parent or child with unusual needs. A leave request occasioned by injury or illness must be supported by a physician’s certification, and the College may request a second opinion, at its expense, from a physician of its choosing.A faculty member who has been granted a paid medical leave is eligible for an unpaid leave only after the termination of the paid leave. Unpaid medical leaves are limited to one per calendar year and may not exceed a period of twelve weeks. A paid leave counts toward the twelve weeks of unpaid leave provided under provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act.

Normal benefits continue for faculty members on unpaid medical leave, but benefit costs that are calculated as a percentage of salary (for example, FICA and contributions to the Defined Contribution Retirement Plan) will not be the same.

Parental Leaves

Colorado College’s Parental Leave policy provides a full-time faculty member time away from normal College responsibilities in order to care for and bond with their newborn or newly- adopted child. The paid leave provided by the College is taken concurrently with the first eight weeks of the twelve- week parental leave guaranteed by the Family Medical Leave Act. Faculty members who anticipate taking parental leave should discuss their plans with their department chair, submit any necessary documentation to the Human Resources Office, and request the Dean’s approval of the leave. Someone who wishes to take parental leave as a domestic partner must file an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership with the Human Resources Office. Additional information regarding parental leaves is available from the Human Resources Office.


Replacements for Faculty Members on Leave

When possible, the College provides replacements for faculty members on leave. The chief purpose of the College’s practice of leave replacement is to ensure the continuing quality of the academic program.

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XIII. B. (Regular) Retirement and C. Early Retirement Program 

B. Retirement

A faculty member who plans to retire from Colorado College should so inform the department chair and the Dean, in writing, at least one year prior to the effective retirement date.

Upon retirement from Colorado College, all faculty members (tenure-track, adjunct, lecturer) with at least ten years of service to the college will be recommended to the Board of Trustees for emeritus status.

Faculty members who retire from Colorado College at age 60 with 5 full- or part-time years of service or age 55 with 10 full- or part-time years of service and who are not participants in the College’s Early Retirement program are eligible for retirement benefits that include medical, dental, vision, and longterm care insurance—although the manner of paying for these benefit programs changes. Retirees enrolled in Medicare may participate in the Emeriti Retirement Health Plan. The College provides a $5,000 life insurance policy for every retiree.

Retired faculty members continue to have many of the privileges that they enjoyed during their teaching career. Among these privileges are the use of Tutt Library and Gold Card privileges including access to the Adam F. Press Fitness Center, the Lunch Club (maximum of 1 guest), free admittance to the Fine Arts Center, a College email account, tuition benefits, and concerts and lectures at the College. Retirees may also attend faculty meetings, but they cannot vote. Although they no longer have a role in departmental decisions regarding curriculum, pedagogy, resource allocation, and faculty or staff hiring, retired faculty may teach at the College on a Block-by-Block basis (at Block visitor rates). Retired faculty do not ordinarily serve on college committees, but may serve on the Compensation Committee.

Further details about benefits for retirees are available from the Human Resources Office.

C. Early Retirement

Colorado College offers tenure-track and adjunct faculty members two other options for retirement between ages 59.5 and 70—Full Early Retirement and Phased Early Retirement. The benefit period is three years if the early retiree is between the ages of 59.5 and 67, two years at age 68, and one year at age 69. After the change of status from regular tenure-track faculty to early retiree, a participant in the program may not return to full-time teaching at Colorado College. A faculty member relinquishes tenure irrevocably upon entering Full Early Retirement and upon completing Phased Early Retirement. Compensation for any teaching after a retiree has completed Full Early Retirement or Phased Early Retirement will be at Block-visitor rates.

Eligibility and approval

Any full-time or adjunct faculty member who has completed at least 20 years of service at Colorado College by the end of an academic year and who will be 59.5 years old by August 31 of that year may submit a written application for Early Retirement to the Dean of the Faculty. The application must be received in the Dean’s Office by September 30 of the academic year preceding the year that early retirement would begin. The Dean forwards the application and their recommendation to the President. The President must approve all requests to enter the Early Retirement program. The Dean, in consultation with the President, may deny a request for Early Retirement for any of several reasons: their approval would jeopardize the goals of a College program or academic department; the College would likely be unable to replace the prospective early retiree with a similarly qualified person at an appropriate compensation level; approval would make it more difficult for the College to meet its financial, legal, or other contractual obligations; approval would entail the risk of negatively affecting audit, accreditation, or other reviews.

If the Dean is unable to approve all applications for Early Retirement in a given year, they will normally give priority to applicants who are oldest, those with the most years of service to Colorado College, and those whose request was earlier denied. A person whose application for Full Early Retirement is not approved by the Dean may decide to continue as a full-time faculty member the following year or may apply to participate in Phased Early Retirement the following year. In either case, in the following year the faculty member may reapply for Full Early Retirement. In no case, however, may the Early Retirement benefit period—that is, the total time in Full Early Retirement only or in Phased Early Retirement only or in a combination of Phased Early Retirement and Full Early Retirement—exceed three years.


1. Full Early Retirement compensation and benefits


Full Early Retirement participants receive Early Retirement Compensation equal to 50% of what their salary would have been had they continued as regular tenure-track faculty. Any adjustments for inflation are included in subsequent salary calculations. The College makes normal-rate contributions to the faculty member’s Defined Contribution Retirement Plan (TIAA) on the basis of their Early Retirement Compensation, and participants remain eligible to contribute to supplemental tax-deferred retirement plans offered by the College through TIAA.

Full Early Retirement participants receive the same medical insurance coverage provided regular faculty and staff, and the College continues to pay the same percentage of insurance premiums. College and employee contributions to the Emeriti Program also continue. The long-term disability benefit is not available to Full Early Retirement participants; but other benefits funded by voluntary contributions, including group optional life insurance, continue to be available. If a faculty member dies while a Full Early Retirement participant, the College’s life insurance benefit is 1.5 times the decedent’s Early Retirement Compensation

Full Early Retirement participants may not teach at Colorado College except in emergency situations and by agreement with the department, the Dean and the President. Compensation for teaching under such circumstances is at Block-visitor rates. Early Retirement Compensation for Full Early Retirement adjunct faculty is based upon the average number of courses taught during the five years prior to beginning participation in the program. Fringe benefits previously available continue.

The academic department or program of a Full Early Retirement participant may submit a written application for a full-time replacement to the Dean of the College. Any replacement is at the discretion of the Dean.

2. Phased Early Retirement responsibilities and benefits

Phased Early Retirement participants teach half time (three Blocks per academic year) and are expected to continue to fulfill all normal faculty responsibilities. They receive Early Retirement Compensation equal to 70% of what their salary would have been had they continued as regular tenure-track faculty. Participants remain eligible for all the benefits available to regular faculty members except sabbatical leaves and long-term disability insurance. If a faculty member dies while a Phased Early Retirement participant, the College’s life insurance benefit is 1.5 times the decedent’s Early Retirement Compensation.

The Dean may authorize part-time replacements for Phased Early Retirement participants to the extent that in a given year replacements can be funded by the difference between the salaries and benefits of Phased Early Retirement faculty and the salaries and benefits these persons would have earned had they remained regular faculty members.


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