Policy on Absence from University Park during the Academic Year


An active mathematics research program often involves significant travel for the faculty member involved.  National and international conferences, meetings with collaborators, and research talks at other institutions are of great importance, and departmental policy should support travel for these purposes (especially in the early stages of a faculty member’s research career).  Faculty members are also active participants in the research community of the Penn State Mathematics Department; this participation, together with faculty members’ teaching and service obligations, requires their physical presence at University Park.  A balance must be struck, and this policy aims to provide it.



This policy covers travel away from University Park by Mathematics Department faculty members during the Fall and Spring semesters.  The maximum total amount of absence permitted under this policy is 7 weeks in any given semester. This policy does not cover

(a)    Absence for an entire semester, or more than half of a semester: such absences should be handled under the University’s procedures for sabbatical leave (HR17) or absence without pay (HR16).

(b)   Absence during the summer break, or at any other time when classes are not in session at University Park.



Faculty members with teaching duties

If a faculty member who is teaching a class wishes to travel for a research-related purpose, it is his/her responsibility to arrange substitute teaching for the period of his/her absence.  The faculty member should notify the undergraduate office of the period of his/her absence and the substitute arrangements that have been made.  It is expected that the period of any given absence should not exceed one week. Note: It is not permitted to make a change (even a temporary one) in the class meeting time (UFS Policy 34-83).



Faculty members wishing to reschedule teaching duties for academic travel

A faculty member may request, as part of the scheduling process, that one semester in the coming academic year be kept free of teaching duties, in order to permit more extended travel during that semester (but not to exceed seven weeks total absence from State College). Such a request should be made during the annual scheduling process, in the spring of the previous academic year.  The Department Head has discretion to grant or deny such requests.   The following conditions apply to this situation.

(a)    A semester free from teaching under this arrangement may not be contiguous with a period of sabbatical leave or absence without pay.

(b)   In many cases the department will require that the faculty member’s teaching account be brought back into balance in the academic year concerned; but an arrangement whereby some additional credits are “paid back” in a subsequent year is also possible.

(c)    If such an arrangement is made, the faculty member will be expected to teach an additional 1 credit in the subsequent year.  This compensates the department for the loss of his/her service contributions during the period of absence.  This requirement does not apply to postdoctoral scholars and others on fixed-term contracts; it applies only to tenure-line faculty.

Faculty members wishing to make such an arrangement should contact the department head as soon as possible, giving a brief academic case for the proposed travel.  The department endorses the value of academic travel and will endeavor to make arrangements to facilitate this.  However, scheduling and other constraints mean that this may not always be possible.