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Announcement sent to Stanford faculty members on February 11, 2021

Subject: Post-Pandemic Support for Faculty Research

From: Provost, Persis Drell

To: All Stanford faculty


Dear Faculty Colleagues,

We are approaching one full year since the pandemic’s arrival in our community. Let me start this note by recognizing the extraordinarily difficult year that we have all been through. The level of disruption to our society is something most of us have never experienced before. And although the vaccine news encourages us that there is an end in sight, we still have many months to go.

Against this backdrop, I would like to focus on the disruption to University’s research programs in the past year. Producing world-class research is one of the most important missions of Stanford University. And yet, much research has been scaled back or rendered impossible by the inability of faculty to travel, capacity restrictions in laboratories and experimental facilities, and reduced ability to collaborate and interact. Adapting to online teaching has taken faculty time away from conducting research. The inability to rely on societal infrastructure, such as schools and daycare, has increased burdens on many in the research community, adding to the disruption of research programs.

Our untenured faculty are at a particularly vulnerable moment in their careers. When they are evaluated for tenure, they must be able to demonstrate that they have achieved true distinction in scholarship and that they are not only among the best in their experience cohort, but also likely to become one of the very best in their field. We have already extended the tenure clock for our untenured faculty in recognition of the impact of the pandemic on their research programs.

To further mitigate the negative impact on their research, I am writing now to announce that current junior faculty who have not received tenure by September 1, 2021 are automatically eligible for a Post-Pandemic Research Quarter to be taken in the 2021–22 academic year or subsequent years pre-tenure. This will give them extra time to get their research back on track toward tenure as we emerge from the pandemic. During this research quarter, the faculty member will be able to focus exclusively on their research and will be exempt from any teaching or service obligations to the department. The Post-Pandemic Research Quarter is expected to be taken prior to assembly of the faculty member’s tenure packet. In order to avoid disruption to necessary course offerings, departments should work with faculty taking a Post-Pandemic Research Quarter to find mutually agreeable timing.

Significant setbacks to research have also been suffered by many of our senior faculty. To mitigate some of the negative impacts of the pandemic on the research of our senior faculty, all sabbatical-accruing Academic Council faculty who will have begun their appointments at Stanford prior to September 1, 2021 (including current junior faculty eligible for a Post-Pandemic Research Quarter who choose not to take it) will automatically receive an additional three quarters of service in their sabbatical credit accrual for the 2020–21 school year; those who arrived midway during the 2020­–21 year will receive a pro rata accrual based on the number of quarters here. For most faculty, these service credits, combined with the three units faculty already will accrue for the year, will confer one additional quarter of sabbatical at 50 percent pay, among other options.

Similar programs for Medical Center line faculty in the School of Medicine will be communicated from leadership in the School of Medicine.

Departments may work with their deans to accommodate any significant shortfalls in critical teaching and/or administration resulting from additional faculty leaves as a result of these policies. Wherever necessary in addressing teaching needs in the next two years, departments shall give priority to junior faculty taking a Post-Pandemic Research Quarter as compared to tenured faculty taking sabbatical leave.

I do not believe any of us can truly know the full impact of this pandemic on our society and our institution. Only time and thoughtful retrospection will allow that. But these actions are meant to support the research programs of our faculty and help blunt the effects of some of the disruptions that we know have happened. We are continuing to assess other measures we can take to support our community in the weeks and months to come.

Warm regards and thanks for all that you do and continue to do,

Persis