Policies and Procedures

Introduction 

 

Disclaimer Regarding Professional Development Programs and Resources

 

Professional Development Opportunities

 

Supportive Services for Professional Development

 

Sources for Support of Professional Development

 

Criteria for Award of Professional Development Resources

 

Procedures for Application for Professional Development Funds

 

Tax Information

 

Introduction

SUNY Cobleskill provides the coordination and support of a consolidated program of professional development activities to support employees from all areas of the campus to develop their continued growth, enhance performance of professional responsibilities, prepare for advancement, and contribute to the body of knowledge in their respective fields. Professional development activities should be driven by annual professional goals established by each employee, the goals of an employee’s unit, and the mission and strategic goals of the College. Individual employees should take the initiative in promoting their own professional growth.

As part of SUNY Cobleskill’s 2011-2016 strategic plan, The Second Century Enterprise, professional development opportunities have been reorganized and enhanced. The following overview describes the allocation of funding for specific initiatives related to the general College mission and strategic plan, sources of funding, supportive services, and criteria for award of funds, and procedures for application.

 

Disclaimer Regarding Professional Development Programs and Resources

The purpose of this overview is to describe the allocation of funding for specific initiatives related to the general college mission and our strategic plan. This pool of money does not reflect any kind of contractual change to professional development but does reflect the unique nature of funding for our initiatives moving into our Second Century. Programs and resources are available one year at a time and expire each year on June 30th with no guarantee of future continuation. SUNY Cobleskill Administration reserves the right to change or discontinue any and all supplemental funding and programs at any time at their discretion.

 

Professional Development Opportunities

 

Community of Scholars: Under the direction of the Vice President for Academic Affairs or his/her designee, “reconsidered” scholars may share their work internally for “friendly fire” criticism as a first step in seeking external support or critical acclaim.

 

Fellows Program: Up to three to four interdisciplinary teams of three (faculty and/or professional staff) may be approved to receive an adjustment to their regular professional obligation (amount to be determined) for up to one semester to work with the Offices of Sponsored Projects and Extended Learning (SPEL) in regularly scheduled gatherings to learn about SPEL tenets and develop joint proposal(s). Ideally, support for replacement work by adjuncts will be a match of department, school and college using IFR surplus and/or indirect revenue returns as per the SUNY Cobleskill IFR policies and procedures. Each team will be expected to respond to a published “Request-For-Proposals” in line with the normal and appropriate campus processes for administrative approval of external projects.

 

IFR (Income Fund Reimbursable) Incubation: Consultative services crossing campus cabinet areas will be provided in order to develop and implement self supporting, discipline based enterprises that provide added-value to the concept of “real life : real learning.” Like mission achievement grants, IFR incubation must adhere to established college wide and/or school specific strategies, tactics, and policies.

 

Mission Achievement Grants: Projects will derive from a list of predetermined initiatives and other activities directly related to strategic implementation of the college’s strategic plan.

 

Professional Travel: With the key component of consideration being a competitive combination of enhancement of a discipline’s “body of knowledge” AND national professional visibility/recognition of the department and the college, funds, if available, will be disbursed per state travel policies. Total number of awards per year will depend on programmatic and budgetary circumstances and may be limited to no more than one per year per employee.

 

Scholarly & Creative Activity Grants: Support is provided for entry level (seed) opportunities to develop sponsored projects in any “reconsidered scholarship” area including discovery (research), teaching (pedagogy), application (service) and integration (all scholarship areas seamlessly related). Support can take the form of

  1. Assigned time with concomitant adjustment to regular professional obligation during a single semester of the regular academic year.
  2. Operating expenses, including supplies and services, consistent with current college policies regarding the approval and purchase of supplies and expenses.
  3. Extra service funding may be available for voluntary summer work outside the normal professional obligation for work on an approved project. As with all extra service, projects of this nature must be pre-approved.

 

Personal Professional Development: In conjunction with the development of professional improvement programs, a formal project will allow for the proposal by an employee, in consultation with the appropriate vice president, of a “professional development plan” with three levels of campus support. :

  1. Short-term targeted activities, which can be accomplished on-campus via a combination of assigned time and/or established contractual tuition scholarship/reimbursement programs for appropriate course work that will improve the employee’s capability to handle his/her job responsibilities more efficiently and/or effectively.
  2. 2. Medium-term targeted programs of instruction or related improvement leading to certification, advanced degrees, etc., which require off-campus undertakings that may involve extended and/or irregular assigned time and added educational expenses (e.g., the pursuit of an MBA at U Albany). On a case-by-case basis, determinations will be made regarding the nature of the support, ranging from reimbursement of approved expenses (based on normal SUNY charges for educational programming) to a “forgivable loan” (see below) for more complicated and expensive undertakings (e.g., the aforementioned MBA program).
  3. Long-term formal educational and/or experiential programming aimed at full-time acquisition of a “terminal” degree, requiring an approved professional leave for a semester or more, but not to exceed three years in the case of full time doctoral study. These educational support grants, applied for through, and funded by, the SUNY Cobleskill Foundation are support packages in the form of a forgivable loan (maximum of $10,000 per year not to exceed $30,000 total) and a promise of priority in rehiring for appropriate positions on-campus. If individuals receiving this loan return to work full time at the campus, the loan will be forgiven by the Foundation at a rate of 20% of the loan amount per each year of continuing employment (i.e., five years will fully repay the loan).

 

NYS/SUNY/UUP/CSEA: The State of New York, SUNY, UUP, and CSEA may regularly, or occasionally, announce and fund a wide variety of professional development programs, each with their own criteria and processes.

 

Sabbaticals and Other Professional Leaves with Pay: Regular SUNY approved programs for sabbatical and other professional leaves with pay, including but not limited to, a semester off at up to full pay or a year off at up to half pay, are available, subject to Board of Trustees’ policies and funding. Proposed end products must be approved by the president and delivered immediately upon return to campus.

 

Professional Leaves without Pay: Regular SUNY approved programs for professional leaves without pay are subject to the same requirements as professional leaves with pay.

 

Supportive Services for Professional Development

Research, Sponsored Projects and Gifted Fund Development: Consultative services, workshops, and training that cross campus cabinet areas may be provided for idea development, funding identification, grantsmanship, and philanthropic training and support.

Institutional Research: As appropriately necessary, the Institutional Research office may provide essential data collection and analysis in support on a sliding scale “charge back” basis, depending upon specific circumstances.

Grants, Contracts and Designated Gifts: Existing, secured or promised awards to the campus may include opportunity for specified professional development with stated input and/or output qualifications, products and/or other requirements.

 

Sources for Support of Professional Development

  •  Dedicated college general funds, financial or in-kind (college, school or equivalent unit, department)
  •  Earmarked and/or distributed recovered indirect revenue or surplus IFR funds
  •  C.A.S. funds allocated to professional development
  •  Coby Foundation funds (including annual fund designations) allocated to professional development
  •  Voluntary Separation and other special project requirements and “product” expectations
  •  Dedicated funding categories within awarded grants, contract, and/or designated/restricted gifts
  •  Individual self-support, which may be tax-deductible

 

Criteria for Award of Professional Development Resources

While activities considered “professional development” may have explicit requirements and expectations that affect the priority of qualifying criteria, a commitment to the assurance of “added value” is essential in the resource challenged times facing public higher education. At the same time, there must be some degree of flexibility in determining which “added values” are most appropriate for a given set of circumstances. Thus, the prioritization of professional development proposals and awards will always take into account a menu of proposed benefits to the college, higher education, academic or related disciplines and the individual SUNY Cobleskill employee. That menu will provide multiple criteria from which individuals seeking professional development support may identify 3 or more direct benefits that will result from the proposed project or other activity. Criteria include:

  •  Specific centrality to the “real life: real learning” mission of SUNY Cobleskill.
  •  Improvement of an academic discipline’s body of knowledge/skills through critically acclaimed work.
  •  Enhancement of the student learning experience particularly in field work and internship endeavors.
  •  Support of strategic commitments by the campus to issues including diversity, sustainability, etc.
  •  Enhancement of replicable pedagogical approaches to instruction.
  •  Improvement of stakeholder support, financially or in another significant way.
  •  Expansion of entrepreneurial partnerships and related activities aimed at increasing self-support.
  •  Addition of other identifiable and accountable benefits.

 

Procedures for Application for Professional Development Funds

All professional development programs described in this document may be applied for using a common application form available online at www.cobleskill.edu/professional-development or by email request through profdev@cobleskill.edu. NOTE: The applicant’s supervisor must submit a letter of support. Completed applications will be forwarded by the coordinator of professional development to appropriate review bodies. Applicants will be notified of the results of their applications by the coordinator of professional development.

 

Tax Information

SUNY Cobleskill's Employee Education Assistance Program details can be found here.  Education benefits under the College’s professional development program are considered an employer education assistance program as defined by the Internal Revenue Code. As such, education benefits under this program up to $5,250 are generally not taxable and will not appear as income on an employee’s W-2 form. Benefits that exceed the $5,250 limit are generally taxable and will be included in the employee’s wages (Form W-2, box 1). Tax-free educational assistance benefits include payments for tuition, fees and similar expenses, books, supplies, and equipment. The payments may be for either undergraduate- or graduate-level courses. The payments do not have to be for work-related courses.

Educational assistance benefits do not include payments for the following items.

 

    • Meals, lodging, or transportation.
    • Tools or supplies (other than textbooks) that the employee can keep after completing the course of instruction
    • Courses involving sports, games, or hobbies unless they:
      • Have a reasonable relationship to the business of the College, or
      • Are required as part of a degree program.

Forgivable loans for educational assistance that are issued under the College’s loan program are generally considered taxable to the employee. Forgiven (cancelled) loans will be included in the employee’s wages (Form W-2, box 1) the year the loan is forgiven, not the year the loan is distributed.

Employees of SUNY Cobleskill are encouraged to seek the advice of a tax professional regarding the tax implications of any employer-provided tax assistance. See IRS Publication 970 for additional information regarding educational assistance programs.

 

Approved June 2011

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