Because faculty members are expected to pursue a lifetime of productive scholarship, Rice University is committed to helping its faculty develop and grow. Many resources related to faculty development can be found at the website for the Office of Faculty Development.
There are two types of normal academic leaves at Rice, a one-time junior leave for assistant professors and regular sabbatical leaves for tenured professors.
A junior leave is a fully paid, one-semester leave, devoted entirely to research, scholarship, or creative work, normally taken by assistant professors in their fourth or fifth year at Rice, after their initial contract has been renewed (see Policy 201: Faculty Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure). Tenure-track faculty members are eligible to apply for a sabbatical leave on a periodic basis during their service at Rice. These leaves are intended, in the words of Policy 208, "for the purposes of study, research, or other pursuit of value to the scholarly agenda of the faculty member and the University," which enables faculty members "to increase their effectiveness in teaching and research and their usefulness to the University." Sabbaticals are not granted automatically, but are authorized based on a written proposal from the faculty member, the recommendation of his or her chair and the approval of his or her relevant dean, the provost, the president, and the Board of Trustees.
Normally, faculty members are able to apply for one full semester of sabbatical support after twelve semesters of accumulated service credit, i.e. semesters where the faculty member has normal service obligations to the university. An exception exists, however, for those who have begun as assistant professors. They are eligible to request their first sabbatical leave only after the completion of sixteen semesters of service, which includes the one semester of junior leave provided by Policy 201. If, however, they do not take that semester of junior leave, they may request their first sabbatical leave after having completed twelve semesters of accumulated service credit, so long as they have received tenure in the meantime.
Faculty members have gained a certain flexibility with respect to sabbatical leaves according to Policy 208. In former years, they were only able to apply for a semester of sabbatical leave at full pay, or two semesters at half pay; now they are able to apply for sabbatical at pay prorated according to their accumulated service to the university. Following a minimum of six semesters of service, for example, a faculty member may apply for one semester of sabbatical leave at half pay. They may also accumulate more than twelve semesters of service and then apply for two semesters of sabbatical leave. These leaves are, however, granted with the interests of the department and the university in mind; in general, absent exceptional circumstances, sabbatical leaves will not be granted more frequently than every sixth year.
Sabbatical leaves are intended, as noted, to aid the university. As such, they presuppose that a faculty member will return to service after the leave, for at least one year following a sabbatical leave based on 15 or fewer semesters of service, and for at least two years for those based on 16 or more semesters of service. Any exception to this rule should be agreed upon by either the provost or president prior to the leave. The policy also assumes that the leave is being used for university purposes; as such, the policy assumes that no substantial work be done for remuneration during the period, without special approval by the president.
Other leaves, both with and without pay, are available to faculty members for a variety of reasons; these are described in Section IX below.
Active scholarly life involves a certain amount of travel for purposes such as attending scholarly meetings, visiting other academic institutions, or conducting research. Faculty members are responsible for ensuring that their professional travel does not become a conflict of commitment with respect to their other duties at the university, including teaching, advising students, and committee work. In particular, faculty members are responsible for finding qualified instructors for their classes or scheduling make-up classes. When travel does produce significant conflicts, in particular when more than two successive classes will be missed, faculty members should resolve these conflicts with their department chairs prior to traveling. See Policy 216 "Conflict of Interest and Commitment for Faculty (Including Faculty Fellows and Investigators."
There are many potential funding sources for travel expenses at both the departmental and school level. General guidelines for university travel are described in Policy 806: Travel, Business Meeting, and Entertainment Policy.
Rice has always valued and encouraged excellent teaching. Since 1966, it has recognized the best of its teachers with a variety of prizes and awards. The most prestigious of these prizes -- the George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching and the George R. Brown Awards for Superior Teaching -- are determined by the votes of recent alumni. All members of the classes that graduated two and five years ago are invited to vote for teachers who most impressed them with the substance of their courses and with the organization and enthusiasm of their teaching. Like the Brown prize and awards, the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management Award for Excellence in Teaching is also determined by the votes of those alumni who graduated two and five years ago. The Nicolas Salgo Distinguished Teacher Award, by contrast, is determined by the votes of current members of the junior and senior classes; the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize (reserved exclusively for assistant professors) by teaching evaluations for the previous year; and the Teaching Award for Excellence in Inquiry-Based Learning recognizes faculty who demonstrate excellence in the use of inquiry-based learning methods in undergraduate teaching.
The Charles Duncan Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement, established to recognize a tenure-track or tenured member of the faculty with ten or fewer years of service for outstanding performance in both scholarship and teaching, is determined by the president upon recommendations of the Deans Council. Occasionally Rice has also been successful in nominating members of its faculty for state and national teaching awards such as Piper Professorships and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education's national professor of the year award. Finally, Rice recognizes members of its faculty for service to the university and its residential colleges through the Student Association Mentor Recognition Award, The Graduate Student Association Faculty and Staff Service Award, and the Outstanding Faculty Associate and Distinguished Faculty Associate Awards for the colleges.
In 2018 a series of new awards were announced to honor faculty excellence in other dimensions. These include the following awards:
The Marjorie Corcoran Award recognizes major contributions to the advancement of women or underrepresentated minorities in STEM fields, either in support of students at Rice or through local, state, or national programs, with a particular commitment to engaged mentoring.
The Faculty Award for Excellence in University Service and Leadership recognizes signficiant and distinctive contributions to the mission of Rice through exceptional university service and leadership.
The Faculty Award for Excellence in Professional Service and Leadership recognizes signficiant contributions to the academic profession or to the wider community (local, national, or international) through professional service and leadership.
The Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, Teaching, and Service recognizes fulfillment of the Rice academic ideal by exhibiting exemplary achievement in all aspects of faculty responsibilities: research, teaching, and service.