Every spring the Dean sends around a list of who is eligible for sabbatical leaves. Look this over to see when people in your department are coming up. Family leaves also affect staffing in the department. For obvious reasons, these are often scheduled on shorter notice than other leaves. Requests for family and medical leaves go directly from the prospective person on leave to Human Resources, and the "FMLA Request Form" is available online at the Human Resources website. Employees sometimes prefer confidentiality during medical leaves, or during the early months of a pregnancy or adoption process. (Regulations about leaves can be found in the Faculty Handbook.)
Talk with any faculty members who are eligible for a leave within the next year or two. Encourage them to take the leave as soon as they're eligible (unless there is reason for delay-see below). Encourage them to plan ahead for a project to work on during a leave, and to apply for external grants that will help them accomplish the project and perhaps even extend the period of the leave. The Office of Academic Affairs also supports leave projects, so faculty should apply for internal funding as well. Encourage them to go away from Cornell during the leave if they can. Even though one loses some time in moving away and back, there are many benefits to taking advantage of resources elsewhere and to extending one's professional network.
Do put in a request with the Dean for leave replacements. Sometimes the request will be approved, sometimes not, so you'll need to make a case. Give enrollment figures to help justify replacement and/or explain the importance of a certain subject coverage that will otherwise be absent.
The timing of sabbatical should be considered well in advance. The Office of Academic Affairs will let you know who is eligible to apply for leave and when. (They will also prompt the person who is eligible to apply, about one year in advance.) What happens if more than one person in the department is eligible for leave in the same year? Here are the possibilities (assuming just two people eligible):
- Both go ahead and apply for their leaves. It's likely that not both are taking a full-year's leave, so you may be able to time the leaves in such a way that only one person is gone in any given term. Clumping the leaves may make it more likely for you to get permission to hire a replacement. It is possible, however, that the Dean will not approve both leaves.
- In speaking with those eligible for leave, you may work out a plan for one person to take a leave first, and the other person to delay it a year. Consult with the Dean as you are considering any such plan.
If a sabbatical is delayed for reasons of convenience to the college, then the clock will keep ticking for the next leave. That is, if you're eligible for a full-year's leave in the 7th year since your last leave, but you wait until the 8th because it is better for the college, you'll be eligible for the next full-year leave after that one in six years rather than seven. Such arrangements are made in consultation with the Dean, and will be put in writing.