In January, the President’s Council at Goshen College announced that all sabbaticals are to be frozen for the next two school years, starting this fall.The decision was made during the process of developing the budget for the fiscal and academic year of 2017-2018, as the college identified cost savings.
Sabbaticals are given to full-time teaching faculty after 10 years of employment, subject to approval from the academic dean’s office. There is a limit on the number of sabbaticals granted each year. A professor may choose one of the following two plans: (a) one semester with full pay, or (b) nine months with two-thirds pay. Administrative faculty and staff are not eligible for sabbatical leave.
Often these sabbaticals are a time for professors to work on projects that will advance their skills and more often than not benefit Goshen College.
Beverly Lapp, professor of music and director of the Goshen Core, the college’s general education program, is a couple of years overdue for a sabbatical and was one of several faculty members directly affected by the freeze. Lapp, who is leading a group of students on SST in China this coming fall, was planning on a rather different year. Her sabbatical proposal for the spring semester of 2018 was to research music alumni and careers in music.
“Over the years, I’ve kept a lot of records of what our music alumni are doing,” she said. “I find it interesting to analyze that as we think about encouraging students to consider music majors, what are the career trajectories? How do we make those exciting to consider while also maintain the idea that studying any of the humanities is great preparation for any career path? I hope some of that can still happen.”
Lapp did receive a sabbatical once before and says she’s very grateful for that. This helped her get her doctorate started. In this year’s group of people who were eligible for sabbatical and chose to apply, there were some who had never had one.
“I wasn’t entirely sure I would get one, but I was hopeful,” Lapp said. “Over my time here, I think the sabbatical opportunity has become more competitive and there’s some good things about that. So to have them all frozen, the concern is more for the institution than a huge sense of disappointment for myself, although there is some of that too.”
Lapp also added that many other institutions of higher education are going through a similar struggle so she doesn’t feel angry.
“It’s just the situation we’re in,” Lapp said. “I think the Goshen College administration understands how important this really is and they consider it temporary too.”
Ann Hostetler, professor of English, will also be affected by the upcoming freeze. Hostetler’s plan for the upcoming year had included working on a book project, as well as teaching in the spring semester at Lithuania Christian College.
“In that sense it’s disappointing,” said Hostetler. “The sabbatical is a tradition we should not give up.”
Lapp’s biggest hope is that those faculty members who have not yet had one can receive one soon. She also mentioned that the college did make some research money available from the Mininger Fund, which is designated for faculty research and development.
“Sabbaticals are really important, and I believe in them strongly,” Lapp said. “I trust that this is a temporary freeze and we need to fulfill this sabbatical commitment for faculty.”