Republican lawmakers in Iowa want to cancel sabbaticals for university professors
December 2, 2010
Newly empowered Republican lawmakers in Iowa want to cancel paid research leaves for university professors in a budget-cutting move, even as the Board of Regents considers approving them for dozens of employees for next year.
Incoming House Speaker Kraig Paulsen said taxpayers cannot afford faculty sabbaticals, a sentiment backed by the president of Iowa's largest public employees' union, in an unusual alliance. But professors said the savings Republicans are promising won't materialize, and the move would cost universities in grant money and productivity.
Sabbaticals -- a paid semester or year off from teaching to write books, conduct research, create classes and write grant proposals -- are standard practice at major research universities across the nation. But at a time when other employees are facing pay cuts and furloughs, they have become an easy target for critics and an area where universities can cut to show they are making sacrifices, too.
Several schools across the country have already reduced or canceled sabbaticals, according to the American Association of University Professors. The University of Iowa has cut its sabbaticals in half over two years.