REG 05.20.24 – Scholarly Reassignment for Faculty

Authority: Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

History: First Issued: January 1, 2003. Last Revised: November 8, 2013.  

Related Policies: 
NCSU REG05.20.31 – Tenure Clock 
NCSU REG05.20.16 – Plans for Professional Development 
UNC Policy Manual 300.2.6[G] – Guidelines on Reassigned Time for Faculty

Additional References:
Scholarly Reassignment Form
Processing Scholarly Reassignments
IRS Code Section 415
IRS Code Section 414

Contact Info: Director, Human Resources-Benefits (919-515-4310); Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs (919-513-7741)


1. INTRODUCTION

It is essential that faculty members maintain high competence as professionals in their fields and keep abreast of the most recent developments in their special areas of scholarly interest. Recognizing that the pursuit of these scholarly interests often requires concentrated efforts which are not usually possible during long periods of heavy teaching loads and other campus responsibilities, colleges and departments are encouraged to foster, when possible, scholarly reassignments for their faculty members at intervals of about seven years.

A scholarly reassignment is an assignment that is requested by the faculty member for the purpose of permitting the faculty member to engage in activities that are not part of his or her normal academic assignments and that are designed to enable them to concentrate their efforts on recent developments in special areas of scholarly interest and to maintain high professional competence. Scholarly reassignment must be supported by the department head and approved by the dean according to the procedures set forth in this regulation. A change in normal academic assignments that may occur as a result of teaching rotations, temporary administrative assignments, or other circumstances in the course of university operations that may result in a faculty member having a reduced teaching assignment for one semester does not constitute a scholarly reassignment. A leave without pay, during which the employer paid benefits are not permitted, does not constitute a scholarly reassignment.

2. ELIGIBILITY

Full time tenured and tenure-track faculty members and permanent full-time, benefits eligible non-tenure track faculty with 0 .75 FTE or greater are eligible. Retired faculty and EHRA professionals are not eligible.

3. PROCEDURES

3.1 The faculty member requests scholarly reassignment by submitting a Scholarly Reassignment Form to the Department Head. The Form must include a statement describing the expected benefits from the reassignment to the university. If the Department Head supports the request, the Head forwards the Scholarly Reassignment Form to the Dean with a recommendation for approval. The Dean shall review the request and recommendation of the Department Head and notify the faculty member and the Department Head as to whether the request is approved.

3.2 Departments must complete the Processing Scholarly Reassignments in the Human Resources system to ensure timely reporting and dissemination of benefits information.

4. TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF APPROVED SCHOLARLY ASSIGNMENTS OFF CAMPUS

4.1 An academic year (9 month) faculty member may be granted a scholarly reassignment for one semester at full salary or for one academic year at half salary.

4.1.1 An academic year faculty member may be granted a scholarly reassignment for one academic year at less than half salary provided the compensation arrangement does not compromise IRS limits governing retirement contributions or other pre-tax benefit arrangements. Section 415(c)(1) of the IRS code limits contributions based on salary.

4.2 A fiscal year (12 month) faculty member may be granted a scholarly reassignment for 6 months at full salary or for 12 months at half salary.

4.2.1 A fiscal year faculty member may be granted a scholarly reassignment for 12 months at less than half salary provided the compensation arrangement does not compromise IRS limits governing retirement contributions or other pre-tax benefit arrangements.  See 4.1.1 above.

4.3 During the period of paid scholarly reassignment, the faculty member’s salary from the university may not exceed his/her regular full-time salary. Funds obtained by the faculty member for travel, per diem, housing, and similar expenses are not considered – salary. Exceptions to the cap on salary may be approved by the Dean in cases where a prestigious scholarship, fellowship or program provides a salary exceeding the faculty member’s regular full time salary.

4.3.1 Deviations from the plan described in the original Scholarly Reassignment Form require an amended Form.

4.4 In accepting a scholarly reassignment with full or partial compensation from university sources, the faculty member will be asked to indicate intent to return to his or her regular assignment and duties for at least one academic year following the termination of the scholarly reassignment. A faculty member who fails to return to the university will be responsible for repaying the university the amount of salary and benefits he or she received from the university during the scholarly reassignment.

4.4.1 Regular assignment is defined as the same research, teaching, and additional assignments for which the faculty member was responsible prior to the beginning of the scholarly reassignment.

4.5 By the end of the semester following the faculty member’s return, he or she must prepare and submit a written report to their department head describing the activities undertaken during the scholarly reassignment, and prepare and present a seminar to the department, college, or university community. It is the responsibility of the dean to assure compliance with this requirement.

4.6 A tenure-track faculty member who wishes to extend the tenure clock in the event a scholarly reassignment is approved must make a written request to the department head when submitting the request for the scholarly reassignment.  If the department head and the dean determine that a tenure clock extension is justified, the request will be submitted to the Provost as stipulated in REG 05.20.31 Tenure Clock. The Provost’s decision on the tenure clock extension is final.

5. APPEAL OF DENIED REQUEST

A faculty member may appeal a denied request for a scholarly reassignment to the Provost.

6. CONTINUATION OF BENEFITS

The University will continue making the employer paid contributions for retirement [Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) and the Optional Retirement Program (ORP)] and health insurance [options provided under the State’s health insurance program] for faculty members participating in a scholarly reassignment with full or partial pay.

6.1 Retirement

A scholarly reassignment will be considered as an approved absence for educational purposes. §G.S. 135-8(b)(5) provides that an employee can continue contributions and have a career total of up to six (6) years of approved educational leave. The Benefits office must submit a letter to TSERS requesting permission for the faculty member to continue retirement contributions for both ORP and TSERS while on scholarly reassignment so that the six year maximum allowable credit limit can be tracked.

6.2 Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS)

Members of TSERS must return to service as a full-time contributing member within 12 months after completion of the reassignment and contribute to retirement for at least three more years (except in the event of death or disability) or contributions will be refunded and the service credits canceled.

6.2.1 Full Pay

The University will continue funding contributions the same as prior to the scholarly reassignment. The faculty member is required to continue making his/her employee pre-tax contributions to TSERS through payroll deduction.

6.2.2 Partial Pay

The University will continue funding contributions the same as prior to scholarly reassignment provided the faculty member chooses to continue participation in retirement while on reassignment with partial pay. Faculty members who opt to continue participation are required to contribute the employee portion of the retirement contributions on an after-tax basis. Employer and employee contributions are based on the faculty member’s base rate of pay in effect immediately preceding approval of leave. The faculty member is responsible for submitting an after-tax payment by the payroll deadline for transmission to the State Retirement System.

6.3 Death Benefit Plan (Funded by the State of North Carolina) for TSERS Participants

Coverage under this plan will continue for eligible members contributing to TSERS. Faculty members who choose not to continue contributions to retirement while on scholarly reassignment with partial or no pay will be deemed in service at the date of death if the death occurs within 180 days from the last day for which salary was paid as a full-time employee.

6.4 Optional Retirement Program (ORP)

6.4.1 Full Pay

The University will continue funding contributions the same as prior to scholarly reassignment. The faculty member is required to continue making his/her employee pre-tax contributions through payroll deduction.

6.4.2 Partial Pay

The University will continue funding contributions the same as prior to scholarly reassignment provided the faculty member chooses to continue participation in retirement while on scholarly reassignment with partial pay. Faculty members who opt to continue participation are required to contribute the employee portion of the retirement contributions. Employer and employee contributions are based on the faculty member’s base rate of pay in effect immediately preceding approval of leave. The faculty member shall continue making his/her employee pre-tax contributions through payroll deduction.  If there is not enough compensation to deduct the required employee contribution amount, there will be no employee and/or employer contribution for that month.  Section 403(a) and 414(h)(2) of the IRS code prohibits after-tax contributions to ORP.

6.5 Disability Income Plan of North Carolina

Coverage under the Disability Income Plan of NC provided by the State of North Carolina will continue for eligible participants making contributions to the TSERS or ORP. Those participating in scholarly reassignment with partial pay but NOT making contributions while on reassignment will NOT be covered under the Disability Income Plan of NC.

6.6 Voluntary and Other Benefits

Continuation or eligibility for all other benefit programs is subject to each plan’s policies or provisions.