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Research-Funded Conversion to a 12-Month Faculty Contract


    Faculty on academic year (AY) appointments often desire to work during the summer months to continue their research, instruct graduate students in thesis and dissertation research, and supervise research staff. During the summer, between AY appointments, many faculty consistently earn summer compensation from sponsored research grants or contracts but the income derived from these sources is not considered part of the annual employment contract. Under current retirement program policy, the Commonwealth only recognizes annual contract pay when administering the employee retirement program. In recognition of their year-round commitments and contributions, AY faculty with a consistent history of sponsored project income from research grants and contracts should be given the opportunity to convert to a 12-month contractual period provided sponsored funds are available for summer salary payments and approval is given by the department chair and the college dean.


    A faculty member on an academic year appointment who consistently generates support in the summer through sponsored projects may request conversion to a 12-month appointment reflecting all AY income and summer research payments. Conversion to a 12-month appointment allows retirement contributions to be made on summer income since the summer research payments would become part of the faculty member's annual salary. The conversion from an AY appointment to a 12-month appointment shall be made under the following guidelines:

    1. The faculty member presents written assurance that the required funds are available for the summer pay period and will cover the additional summer salary and fringe benefits costs. The source of such funds must come from sponsored project agreements. No conversion will take place without the appropriate confirmation of these salary funds.

    2. The faculty member initiates a request to a 12-month appointment which is reviewed for approval by the department chair and college dean. Approved requests must be forwarded to Academic Affairs no later than the second week in April. The new 12-month appointment will begin on May 25 and end on May 24 of the following year.

    3. The 12-month appointment must be requested on an annual basis. If a request for the continuance of a 12-month appointment is not provided, subsequent faculty appointment letters will be issued as academic year appointments.

    4. If a 12-month appointment letter is issued and the funding guaranteed in support of the conversion is not received, the funds already expended to extend the length of the appointment contract will be reimbursed from the faculty member's department and/or college's F&A cost accounts.

    5. The 12-month salary will be calculated by adding to the AY salary a minimum 1/9 of the AY salary up to a maximum of 3/9 of the AY salary.

    6. Faculty members on 12-month appointments may receive additional compensation for summer school teaching or other academic support activities on an overload basis. The combined summer pay from all university and grant/contract resources cannot exceed 3/9 of the AY annual salary. Only funds received from research activities will be used to convert AY appointments to 12-month assignments.

    7. Faculty on 12-month conversion appointments are not eligible for annual leave benefits as cited in this Handbook under the section on Annual, Military and Administrative Leave Policy for Administrative and Professional Faculty and Faculty on Twelve-Month Contracts. All other benefits remain the same.

    8. Requests for retroactive conversions will not be considered.

    The Virginia Retirement System (VRS) takes into consideration for retirement benefits the length of service, employee age, and the highest consecutive 36 months salary. In terms of salary, the 36 consecutive months translates into the three highest consecutive annual salaries for a three-year period. The annual employment periods must be consecutive with no breaks between them. Since VRS is using the annual contract amount for each of the three years, any amount added to the AY salary rate will add to the retirement benefit of the faculty member. Retirement benefits in other retirement programs (i.e., TIAA-CREF) are based on contributions. Thus, any extra contributions based on additional summer salary payments will benefit the faculty member's retirement account. The minimum amount needed to participate in the research supported conversion to a 12-month faculty appointment is 1/9 of the academic year salary.

-Approved by the provost and vice
president for academic affairs
September 5, 2003
Revised July 17, 2006

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