X. FACULTY LEAVES, BENEFITS, AND SERVICES
Rice University provides its faculty with a variety of benefits and services. This section describes the most important of those benefits, including holidays and leaves, medical and other insurance plans, and educational, cultural, and recreational opportunities for members of the faculty and their families. More specific and comprehensive information is contained in University Policies, which should always be consulted. To take advantage of these benefits, faculty members should work closely with the Office of Human Resources and read carefully the Annual Enrollment Guide, which is issued in the spring of each year during the annual enrollment period.
A. Leaves with Pay
1. Academic Recesses
In addition to certain national holidays listed on the Holiday Calendar, Rice has its own academic recesses for faculty and students: fall midterm recess (not held in 2020), Thanksgiving recess, inter-semester period, spring midterm recess, and spring break. Since faculty members are normally appointed for nine months, most also have their summer months for research, writing, and other creative activities. Some faculty have summer appointments. See Policy 206: Summer Recess for Faculty Members.
2. Medical Leaves
A faculty member may request a paid medical leave for a serious health condition, including pregnancy. A physician must determine that the faculty member is unable to work. During a paid medical leave, a faculty member may receive up to half of her/his nine-month salary in short-term disability payments (see Benefits, Policy 423: Short-Term Disability, Policy 204: Faculty Family, Primary Caregiver, Medical and Professional Leaves.
3. Primary Caregiver Leave
The primary caregiver is the person in the household who has primary responsibility in terms of time and commitment for the active care, custody and welfare of a child or children under the age of one year. A full-time faculty member who is a child's primary caregiver is entitled to one full semester teaching release at full pay, to be completed during the nine months following a child's birth or adoption. The faculty member will be free of teaching, research, and administrative responsibilities during this semester. For information on how primary caregiver leaves affect the tenure clock, see Policy 204: Faculty Family, Primary Caregiver, Medical, and Professional Leave.
4. Professional Leaves
B. Leaves without Pay
Faculty members may occasionally obtain professional or military leaves without pay (see Policy 418: Military Leave). They may also receive paid primary caregiver leave and/or family leaves without pay to care for a newborn child, a newly adopted or foster child, or a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition (see Policy 204: Faculty Family, Primary Caregiver, Medical, and Professional Leaves). It is important to note that during a leave without pay a faculty member is responsible for her/his share of benefits premiums if the faculty member wishes to continue them, and that during any unpaid leave there are no contributions to the retirement plan during that period of no pay. For information on how leaves affect length of appointments and tenure clocks, see Policy 201: Faculty Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure and "Guidelines."
C. Fringe Benefits
All tenured and tenure-track faculty members and full-time research faculty members are eligible for benefits. Annually appointed teaching faculty must teach at least three courses per academic year and be on an annual appointment for two semesters to be eligible for benefits (see Policy 403: Benefits Eligibility).
1. Medical Plans
Rice faculty members are eligible for several different group medical plans. Faculty members may enroll in one of these plans upon being hired, on becoming eligible for benefits, or during an annual enrollment period each year in the spring (with an effective date of July 1). The university also offers a Flexible Benefit Plan under which a faculty member may pay medical insurance and other premiums with pretax dollars as well as two spending accounts through which faculty members may be reimbursed for eligible medical and dependent care expenses to realize savings on federal income and social security taxes.
In addition, Rice offers two dental insurance plans and long-term care insurance (the latter being paid for by the employee as an after-tax deduction). For details, see the Benefits Booklet.
2. Other Insurance Plans
Faculty members are automatically enrolled in Workers' Compensation (see Policy 407: Workers' Compensation), in a basic group term life insurance plan paid entirely by the university, in a short and long-term disability insurance plan that provides some income in the event of total disability, and in a group travel accident and death insurance policy to cover them while traveling on university business. They may also elect to enroll in a group accidental death and dismemberment insurance policy, to purchase additional group term life insurance (including a policy that provides for the terminally ill to receive a portion of their life insurance benefits while living), to purchase dependent life insurance for a spouse and/or children, and to pay for their own long-term disability insurance.
The university's general liability insurance covers faculty members who are acting in good faith within the limits and scope of their faculty positions.
3. Faculty Financial Responsibilities for Benefits during Leaves without Pay
Faculty members going on leave without pay should contact the Benefits Team before their leave begins, to set up billing for their portion of the benefits they wish to continue while on leave. See Policy 204: Faculty Family, Primary Caregiver, Medical, and Professional Leaves. Rice continues to pay its portion of benefits for up to twelve months of leave, including medical insurance, basic life insurance, and long-term disability coverage. For continuing coverage of any benefits, including dental insurance, accidental death and dismemberment insurance, and supplemental life insurance, or other employee-paid benefits, faculty members should arrange to make post-tax payments before beginning an unpaid leave. Faculty members in an HMO or ACO will only have "emergency coverage" while on leave. Faculty who will be outside of the United States for an extended period should visit the Office of Risk Management's website for information on traveling abroad.
4. Retirement Plans
Rice University enrolls its faculty members in a defined contribution retirement plan through TIAA or Fidelity Investments and contributes to each account according to the age and salary of the individual faculty member. Vesting takes place after one year of service in a benefits eligible position. The university also offers Tax Deferred Annuity accounts through salary reductions in pretax dollars up to the limit allowed by the Internal Revenue Service, currently through Fidelity Investments or TIAA, or both. Faculty members who wish to continue their health insurance after retirement should consult Human Resources. The university does not contribute to retirement accounts for faculty members who are on leave without pay. For more information on eligibility for retirement plans, see Rice Retirement available at the Benefits Website. See also Policy 422: Retiree Definition and Benefits for more information on the definition of a Rice Retiree.
5. Other Benefits
Rice faculty members are eligible for a variety of additional benefits. They and their families may obtain professional counseling, through UTEAP, to help resolve issues that they need to address at home or on the job. They may take job-related courses at other colleges and universities and be reimbursed for 75 percent of tuition up to $2,500 per fiscal year; see Policy 432: Tuition Reimbursement. Faculty and their spouse/domestic partners may audit Rice courses under Policy 409: Tuition Waiver and Auditing Courses and Rice. Additionally, faculty members' dependents may be eligible for tuition remission at Rice or reciprocal schools under Policy 430: Tuition Remission for Dependents. Faculty members may purchase yearly pre-tax permits to park their cars on campus (free shuttle bus service is provided to distant lots, seven days a week). They may receive discounts at the Rice University Bookstore, athletic events, theatrical productions, the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, executive development courses, and concerts (most concerts and recitals at the Shepherd School of Music are free). They are eligible for free notary public services (through the human resources office) and may purchase membership to the Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center. Finally, faculty members may elect to become members in the Smart Financial Credit Union.
6. Benefits for Spouses and Families
Rice welcomes the participation of faculty spouses and families in university life. It offers them library privileges, elective membership in the Gibbs Recreation Center, subsidized parking space, spousal seating at commencement, and membership in the Faculty Club. An eligible spouse or or an eligible biological or adopted dependent child or stepchild under twenty-five (of a faculty member who is eligible for benefits) may apply for tuition remission upon admission or transfer as a full-time student pursuing a first undergraduate degree (see Policy 430: Tuition Remission to Dependents). Spouses may also audit one course per semester with the permission of the instructor (see Policy 409: Tuition Waver and Auditing Courses).
D. Faculty Club
Since 1927, the Rice Faculty Club has been housed in a building provided by Esther and George Cohen entitled the Cohen House and Garden. All of the Rice faculty are eligible to become members of the Faculty Club and to use the facilities of Cohen House. Members of the Club elect a board of directors, which in turn sets policies for the operation of the club and Cohen House. The club serves lunch for members and their guests, Monday through Friday. The club is also available on other occasions for use by members or by individuals and organizations sponsored by members. Academic schools and departments regularly reserve rooms in the club for meetings, receptions, and dinners. Faculty pay a one-time initiation fee on joining the club (visiting and adjunct professors pay annual dues); thereafter all faculty are billed monthly for meals or other expenses they incur.
E. Faculty Women's Club
Female faculty members, and female wives/partners of faculty members, are among those who are eligible to join the Women's Club of Rice University. The Women's Club is one of the oldest groups on campus, founded in 1921. Throughout the years, the group has provided opportunities for friendship, fun, learning, and service. To learn more about the Women's Club, how to join as a member, our service projects, or our special interest groups, go to our website Women's Club of Rice University.
F. Compensation Policies
Faculty are paid on a semi-monthly basis, and the university provides direct deposit of payroll checks to most banking institutions and credit unions. The effective date of the direct deposit is the fifteenth and last workday of the month. Although salaries are for nine months of service, annually appointed faculty may elect to be paid over either a nine-month or a twelve-month period. To change the election, faculty must contact Human Resources. Additional information on Rice pay policies and practices is included in Policy No. 410: Pay Practices/Hours of Work.
G. Directories and Guides to Services
Faculty members will find a variety of very useful information in the Rice University Campus Directory, published late in the fall semester each year, and its regularly updated web version. The directory includes not merely telephone numbers and addresses for faculty, staff and students but also maps, hours of operation, and directions for finding and using many campus services. New faculty members will be able with the assistance of the directory and of departmental coordinators to establish e-mail accounts, obtain audiovisual equipment, order books or arrange photocopying of materials for courses, and get advice on using personal computers. They will also find the directory useful in dealing with crime, emergencies (for on-campus fire and crime, call the Campus Police at extension 6000, but not 911), and emergency closings. In addition to containing most of the information available in the directory, the faculty portal of the Rice University website (www.rice.edu/faculty-staff-resources) is a constantly growing resource for information about Rice University, including this handbook as well as many other guides and resources.