by Sarah Kain Gutowski, Chair, New Member Mentoring Program
By now, hopefully you've settled into your second semester as a full-time faculty member quite nicely. You're fully prepped for classes or you resumed your duties shortly after the holiday -- and now you feel comfortable enough with your regular job duties to venture out to some conferences or seminars for a little professional development.
Maybe you feel like engaging in some pretty major professional development. In fact, maybe the professional development opportunity takes place in another state. Maybe that state is far away, like, say, California. Maybe the city in California is a fairly expensive city, like, oh, Los Angeles. Maybe you need to stay for three or four days just to attend all of the panel discussions and workshops and poster sessions that would make a trip like that worth the trouble and expense.
And maybe your bank account will be flat-out busted by the time you're done paying for expenses like registration fees, air fare, lodging, and meals.
|Who's going to Los Angeles in March? This girl!|
Or wait -- maybe it won't be!
One of the most beneficial parts of the contract negotiated by our Faculty Association is the part that provides for 1) "T" days that you make take (instead of sick days or personal leave days) for conference attendance and 2) reimbursement for expenses such as the ones listed above. According to our most recent Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), each faculty member is allotted a total of $1700 to attend conferences over the next two years -- from September 2015 to September 2017. In September 2017, the amount allotted increases to $1800.
How do I access this money? you ask. Great question! The answer is, like at most institutions, slowly and sometimes painfully and through the careful application to the college's administration via forms -- a necessary evil, and one that shouldn't prove too cumbersome or unwieldy provided that you download the right forms and follow the proper steps.
- First, you need to submit a request at least six weeks prior to the date of the conference or professional obligation. The request form requires you to estimate the cost of travel, hotel, registration, meals, etc. and support it with documents that prove your intention to attend the event (like a conference registration receipt, or the letter that confirms your participation as a reader or panelist). You can find this form here, as well as the Travel Expense Voucher (see below) on the front page of the college's governance web site. (Wait -- you didn't know we even had a college governance web site? This post is chock full of information, isn't it? More on college governance later -- that's a story for a later blog!)
- You'll need to have this form signed by your academic chair -- he or she must approve your attendance first -- and then you (or the chair) needs to give the form to your department's administrative assistant. He or she will forward this on to the Executive Dean's office for your campus.
- Note: Why can't you just forward it to the Executive Dean's office yourself? Well, the administrative assistant for your department needs to know about (i.e. actually see; become familiar with) the request because eventually, after the Executive Dean approves the request and forwards the appropriate material to the Business Office, he or she will need to enter a requisition into Banner for you, which will generate a Purchase Order Number, which will result in you being reimbursed the requested funds. If these steps aren't followed, you won't receive a payment. So long story short is: fill out the paperwork, have it signed, give it to the department administrative assistant.
- The Payment Request Form
- The Travel Expense Voucher
- Your conference badge
- Your conference brochure (hang on to all of the handouts, people)
- The conference daily agenda or program
- A conference report (an account and evaluation of the meetings you attended along with comments about its usefulness to you as a faculty member)
- Relevant receipts, including those for payment of the conference fee, payment for hotel accommodations, payment for an auto rental, payment for tolls, payment for parking, payment for cab fare if a shuttle isn't available, and payment for airfare or train tickets, etc. If you drive to the conference, you can submit a mileage request form, also available on the college web site.
It's important to note two things: The first is that you should submit your travel vouchers and supporting documentation and mileage requests within two and a half months of attending the conference -- otherwise reimbursement may be denied. The second is that it generally takes a campus Executive Dean's office two weeks to process the paperwork, and sometimes longer. So while you shouldn't expect to be reimbursed instantly, if you follow the guidelines and fill out everything correctly, you'll receive a reimbursement check before too long.