Course Releases via External Grants

The College encourages faculty to work with the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts (ISLA) in locating sources of external funding. Grant activity should be weighed at the time of annual performance reviews. If a grant application requires additional space, renovation costs, or other infrastructure needs, it is important to consult with the Associate Dean for Research before submitting an application. All reasonable expenses should be included in a proposal. When possible, grant proposals should include funding for graduate students.

Teaching Relief via Grants

The College provides course releases for grants that meet the following thresholds:

  • Total grant must be at least $300,000.
  • The grant period must be no more than three years at $300,000. If the grant period is longer, then the total grant amount required must be increased by the same fraction. In other words, four years requires $400,000, etc. Note: one, two, or three years require $300,000.
  • The grant award must include at least $50,000 in indirect funds.

If a faculty member meets these thresholds, a one-course release will be granted to the PI team, which can be taken by one of the PIs on any year of the grant. By doing so, the PI cannot reduce his or her teaching load below 1:1 for that Academic Year. If the course release cannot be taken during the grant period for this reason or any other, it cannot be “banked,” i.e., it cannot be used outside of the grant period and is forfeited. The course release is tied to the specific grant project/PI and cannot be transferred or converted into any other kind of support.

To receive this supplementary support, PIs must appeal to the Associate Dean for Research and receive approval before the grant is submitted. The course release must be indicated as College-level cost-sharing in the grant proposal.

The Associate Dean for Research will consider multiple course releases based on multiples of the above thresholds (for example, two-course releases for two PIs winning $600,000 on a 3-year grant with $100,000 in indirect costs) on an ad hoc basis.

Course Buyouts

In addition, faculty can include in their grant applications a request for funds to buy out courses. Such requests must cover appropriate salary and benefits. (Please consult the Dean's office for the yearly fringe rate.)

To cover salary and benefits, the per-course buyout cost is determined by the following formula:

Cost per course = (50% of Base Salary / # Courses Taught Per Year) x (1.246 fringe rate)

For example, for a faculty member with a base salary of $85,000 and a 2:2 teaching schedule, the cost of a single course buyout would be [(85,000 x .5) /4] x 1.246 = $13,238.75.

Should a funding agency limit faculty compensation below the calculated cost of a course buyout, the faculty member may propose alternate funding models with his or her divisional Associate Dean. In many cases, the faculty member may need to forgo summer salary in order to fund a course buyout.

If a faculty member’s teaching schedule is not symmetric (i.e., not the same in each semester), course buyouts must be taken during the semester in which the higher number of courses are taught. Faculty cannot buy out courses to reduce their teaching schedule to 0 in any given semester.

The department chair and the faculty member’s divisional Associate Dean must approve all course buyouts. Approval will depend upon a) the department’s ability to accommodate a buyout request within the curriculum schedule, b) the availability of alternate instructors to replace the lost teaching, and c) an assessment of the individual’s own circumstances (e.g., research trajectory, teaching evaluations/performance, administrative/service assignments, etc.). If a course buyout is approved, the courses that may be subject to the buyout are at the discretion of the department chair.

Assistant professors are reminded that they must assemble a robust teaching portfolio prior to consideration for tenure.