Sophomore Face

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 Guidewhich 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, 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 BenefitsPolicy 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 tenured/tenure-track faculty member or someone in one of the teaching professor ranks who is a child's primary caregiver is entitled to one full semester leave at full pay, to be completed during the nine months following a child's birth or adoption. Other non-tenure track faculty may also be eligible for a primary caregiver leave; for more information, see Policy 205: Non-Tenure Track Faculty Leaves. 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

See Chapter VII on Faculty Development.

B. Leaves without Pay

Faculty members may occasionally obtain professional, personal, or military leaves without pay (see Policy 418: Military Leave). 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 benefits, and that during any unpaid leave there are no contributions to the retirement plan. For information on how leaves affect length of appointments and tenure clocks, see Policy 201: Faculty Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure.

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. Health Plans

Rice faculty members are eligible for several different group medical plan options, all of which include pharmacy coverage. 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 offers two different spending accounts through which faculty members may be reimbursed for eligible health care and dependent care expenses to save on federal income and social security taxes. If the consumer directed health plan option is chosen, the faculty member can save into an "HSA" (health savings account).

In addition, Rice offers two dental insurance options, a vision plan, and other insurance options. For details, see the benefits website.

2. Other Insurance Plans

Faculty members are automatically enrolled in Workers' Compensation (see Policy 407: Workers' Compensation). Additionally, benefits eligible employees receive basic group term life insurance plan paid entirely by the university, short- and long-term disability coverage that provides income in the event of a disability, and a group travel accident and death insurance policy to cover them while traveling on university business. You may also elect to enroll in and pay for supplemental life insurance for yourself or your dependents, and accidental death and dismemberment 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 at active employee rates while on leave. See Policy 204: Faculty Family, Primary Caregiver, Medical, and Professional LeavesAll medical plan options provide "emergency coverage" world-wide for those on vacation. 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, and should initiate a qualified life event in the iO system if they want to drop their medical coverage while they are out of the country. 

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 after six months of service according to the age and earnings of the individual faculty member. Vesting takes place after three years of service in a benefits eligible position. The university also offers the opportunity for you to save for your retirement via salary reduction in pre-tax or post-tax (Roth) dollars up to the IRS limits. You have the choice of record-keeper for your account, either Fidelity Investments, TIAA, or both. If you are on unpaid leave, the university does not contribute to retirement accounts for faculty members who are not being paid (i.e., on unpaid leave).   Non-Medicare eligible faculty members or their non-Medicare eligible dependents who wish to continue their Rice health insurance after retirement should contact Human Resources to complete the necessary enrollment forms.  Medicare eligible retirees may access a university-sponsored service, ViaBenefits, to assist them in selecting a Medicare supplement plan. For more information on eligibility for retirement plans, see Rice Retirement available on the Benefits Website.

5. Other Benefits

Rice faculty members are eligible for a variety of additional benefits. You and your families may obtain professional counseling, through SupportLinc, to help resolve issues that you need to address at home or on the job. You may take job-related courses at other colleges and universities and be reimbursed for 75 percent of tuition up to $5,200 per fiscal year; see Policy 432: Tuition Reimbursement. You and your spouse/domestic partner may audit Rice courses under Policy 409: Tuition Waiver and Auditing Courses and Rice.  Additionally, your dependents may be eligible for tuition remission at Rice or reciprocal schools, or a portion of Rice's tution at any other U.S. accredited college or university 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). You 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). You are eligible for free notary public services (through the human resources office) and may purchase membership to the Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center

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 and Wellness Center, subsidized parking spaces, spousal seating at commencement, and membership in the Faculty Club. An eligible dependent under twenty-five (of a benefits eligible faculty member) 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 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 called 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 are paid over either a nine-month or a twelve-month period. Additional information on Rice faculty compensation policies and practices is available from the Payroll Office.

G. Directories and Guides to Services

Faculty members will find a variety of very useful information on the Rice University website, which contains a search bar and will point users to directory information for university offices and employees. 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. See also the website of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the Provost for useful information and links to resources.


Updated 6/13/24