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Fact of the Week 4/23/20: Sabbaticals Enrich Palomar Students’ Education

As You Know: Sabbaticals have been a topic of conversation at recent Governing Board meetings. This is not surprising given our shared desire to make sensible budget cuts that do not harm students. However, some misinformation about sabbaticals has been aired in the public square, and we want to explain the value of sabbaticals for students, the District, and faculty.

Sabbaticals are negotiated, earned leaves that tenured faculty take to complete 640 hours of work or benefit to the District and Palomar College students. These are projects that faculty could not complete while performing their regular service. Without sabbaticals, the student experience - and District offerings - would be poorer.

Facts:


California Educational Code 87767 explains that sabbaticals must benefit students: "The governing board of a community college district may grant an employee of the district employed in an academic position, a leave of absence not to exceed one year for the purpose of permitting study or travel by the employee which will benefit the schools and students of the district."


The Collective Bargaining Agreement (9.12.1) explains the process by which thoughtful approval of sabbatical projects occur: "All requests for sabbatical leaves must be processed through the Sabbatical Leave Committee established in this Article, must receive the positive recommendation of the Sabbatical Leave Committee, must also receive the positive recommendation of the Superintendent/President, and must be approved by the Governing Board of the District."


Sabbaticals benefit our students, and thus the District, in countless ways. Below are just a few examples of the valuable projects that faculty have undertaken:

One faculty member spoke about a project completed while on sabbatical: "The primary focus of research involved interviews with HIV positive women to understand the impact of HIV on their lives and the ways in which informal networks and non-profit organizations can facilities resilience among women. Data from this project has been incorporated into many of my classes. In the community, I have led workshops for retreats sponsored by Christie's Place, UCSD, and the LGBTQ Center in San Diego. This has changed how I think about, and approach, the topic of resilience in my course material and in my interactions with students within and outside of the classroom."

Another faculty member spoke about their project: "For my 2017 sabbatical I read and wrote a lot about the nature of place names (toponyms) in the context of semiotics, linguistics, and metaphor theory and developed curricula for my students based on these same subjects. It provided me with the means to study language theory with my students in a way they find immediate and engaging. I find my students' research projects have never been better."

Finally, another faculty member spoke about a project completed while on sabbatical: " studying Mathematical Statistics in preparation for teaching Elementary Statistics (Math 120) and learning video creation tools and applying this knowledge to Linear Algebra (Math 200) videos. My sabbatical prepared me for teaching Math 120; I created learning resources for my Math 200 students, and I learned much of what I am currently using regarding tablet PCs, virtual whiteboards, and computer video and audio to teach online. I would not be contributing to our Math 120 offerings, which have increased in importance due to implementation of Guided Pathways, ."

Bottom Line: Sabbaticals allow faculty time to complete projects that enrich the student experience and benefit the District. They are not "extra" or a vacation; they are necessary components of an institution of higher learning. Sabbaticals are valuable for students and the District, and we are grateful for the faculty who undertake these projects.

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