Sabbaticals awarded to nine NMU professors

Adelle Whitefoot

Northern Michigan University approved nine faculty members for sabbatical leaves for the 2011-12 school year.

A sabbatical leave can be granted to eligible full-time tenure-earning faculty member to improve professional competencies through study, research or other suitable experiences. Susan Koch, the provost and vice president for academic affairs, does the final review and approval for sabbatical leave.

“Sabbatical leaves are positive investments that enable our faculty to increase their scholarly productivity, enhance the intellectual climate on campus and improve our students’ educational experience,” Koch said.

To apply for a sabbatical leave, the faculty member must present a plan that includes an explanation of the proposed activities, a description of their qualification to undertake the activities, a projected timetable for the work to be completed and expected outcomes. Successful applicants are required to submit a final report on the accomplishments of their sabbatical and must agree to either return to the university for at least one full academic year following the leave period or repay in full all compensation paid by the university during the period of leave.

“We had several outstanding and ambitious sabbatical proposals this year,” Koch said.  “I am particularly pleased that so many sabbatical awards relate directly to the goals and priorities in the Road Map to 2015.”

Catherine Terwilliger, associate professor of English, was one of the nine faculty members who had their sabbatical proposal approved. Terwilliger said she will use her sabbatical leave to enhance her professional competency in multimedia journalism.  She will begin her project by attending multimedia training at either the Poynter Institute or the Knight Digital Media Center.  After training, Terwilliger will work pro bono in the newsroom at the Colorado Springs Independent newspaper.

“Faculty are incredibly fortunate to be given the privilege of a sabbatical leave. The time, financial and philosophical support from an employer to pursue professional development or a creative or scholarly project,” Terwilliger said.

Terwilliger said her goal is to acquire new high-tech skills of journalism during her sabbatical and bring them back to NMU students by adding multimedia components to existing classes within the journalism minor and contributing to the development of a proposed new major in multimedia journalism.

“I can’t think of a working-world equivalent (to sabbaticals) outside academia,” Terwilliger said.

Eileen Smit, a nursing professor, is taking her sabbatical leave for just the Fall 2011 semester.  Smit will be traveling to Honduras to conduct a research study describing the experiences of Honduran nurses who act as clinical teachers for American students in short term study abroad programs.

“I feel very fortunate to have the support of NMU and Provost Koch that allows me this time during the Fall 2011 semester to focus on my scholarship interests,” Smit said.

Since there is little research on the experience of clinical preceptors in developing countries, Smit will use this study to contribute to the understanding of the experiences of nurse-preceptors, as well as to the maintenance and enhancement of preceptorship programs in developing countries.