What is administrative leave?

Celestine J. Epps, [email protected], Assistant Arts and Features Editor

Students flocked to social media this week to voice their confusion and dissatisfaction with an email announcement of a faculty member being paid during administrative leave.

So, what is it, and what does administrative leave mean for faculty members and their students?

In an email interview discussing general policy regarding admin leave, the vice president of human resources and organizational development at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Shanna Chambers said, “Since we are not subject to the N.C. Office of State Human Resources, each college has their own policy.”

A complaint of inappropriate behavior or violation of conduct is all it takes to attract the attention of the administration. However, internal investigations take place whenever the university is made aware of a complaint against a faculty member involving discrimination, harassment, Title IX sexual harassment and misconduct.

“Administrative leave with pay may be used to temporarily remove an employee from work status. Placement on administrative leave does not constitute disciplinary action,” said Sarah Broberg, special assistant to the chancellor, on March 29. “It may be used during a personnel investigation, which may or may not result in disciplinary action if faculty members are placed on administrative leave when there’s a pending personnel investigation.”

A faculty member would be relieved of all work duties as a preventative measure to limit any distractions to the institution’s workflow, therefore allowing the designated administrators to investigate further into the complaint. Depending on the circumstances and employee classification, the administration decides whether or not a faculty member is paid during leave, and if their pay is based on salary.

“While on paid admin leave, the employee is paid their normal salary and their duties are assigned to others,” Chambers said in regards to general admin leave policy.

According to Chambers, administrations typically reach a decision on investigations within the first 60 days.

The administrative staff briefed students in a town hall meeting last Wednesday about internal investigatory processes and employees rights protected under federal law. Students questioned in the Zoom chat the wording and timeliness in which updates were sent.

Despite public scrutiny and opposing beliefs from individuals on social media, the personnel investigation is considered classified and limits what the university can share about past and present employees.

“We are committed to being as transparent as we can be under the law and are committed to preserving the integrity of privacy protections and personnel investigations,” Chancellor Nancy Cable and Provost Garikai Campbell wrote last Tuesday in an email sent to students.

On March 30, the Chancellor’s Office informed students and staff of George Heard’s resignation as a faculty member, reiterating the confidentiality of the investigation in their final comment.

For the remainder of the semester, Sally Wasileski, chair and professor of analytical and computational chemistry, will address the needs of Chemistry majors, minors and students within the department.

“All of us owe a sincere debt of gratitude to Dr. Wasileski and the chemistry department’s faculty and staff for their dedicated and over-and-above care for our students and university,” the Provost said.

Edited on April 5. for clarification.

Comments from Shanna Chambers at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College are in response to questions about the general policy of administrative leave and are unrelated to any personnel matters at UNC Asheville.