Questions About Release Time

What is the academic year Release Time?

Academic-year Release Time is the non-teaching component of a full-time faculty member's effort. Often, it is related to sponsored research. There are four varieties of release time which are dependent upon funding sources.

Externally funded research release time (FRS object code 1007) funded as a direct charge to a grant, according to the grant budget.

Grant match release time (FRS object code 1008) funded from the departmental account according to the grant cost sharing (or match) budget.

NJIT-funded release time (FRS object code 1008) funded by accounts for departmental research, Separately Budgeted Research, a Sponsored Chair, or a Research Center.

Other Release Time (FRS object code 1009) for work on an approved committee, departmental chair duties or other reasons.

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Why is it important to track and document release Time?

Timely and accurate faculty-effort reporting is required by federal (and state) laws and regulations. NJIT compliance with those laws and regulations is monitored by auditors and inspectors representing sponsor organizations. If we do not account for release time and other labor and salary distribution, then NJIT participation in federal and state funding programs could be jeopardized.

In addition, release time has implications for the budgets of Deans and Department Chairpersons. Therefore, Departmental and Dean approval signatures are required on all PAFs, budget transfers or other transactions involving release time, to record their approval.

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How is Release time awarded?

Two-step Process:

Determining the Award of Release Time

Academic year release time is part of the outcome of a department's planning process. The Department Chairperson is responsible for coordinating total faculty effort, taking teaching and non-teaching activities into consideration. During the academic planning process, grant funded or NJIT match required release time needs to be considered in relation to other faculty efforts. To facilitate planning, several screens (N29 and N30) were developed in the Student Information System (SIS) that records the types of faculty effort, and allows the department to assign load credit for these activities. Several reports are provided to the department chair throughout the planning process, assisting in full and accurate faculty effort recording. Upon completing departmental faculty effort, which should occur weeks prior to the semester, the department chair forwards to the College Dean for discussion and approval.

Implementing the Award of Release Time

Once the planning phase has been completed, implementation of faculty effort commences. Any faculty release time awarded will require a Personnel Action Form (PAF), indicating the percent effort applied to non-instructional activities for the particular time period. If the faculty member is receiving grant-funded or grant-match release time, the grant account needs to be clearly indicated. This will facilitate timely adjusting salary distribution to the correct account(s). Preparation of the PAF is the department chairs responsibility. The approved (Chair, Dean and VP) PAF must be submitted to the Budget Office prior to the start of the first biweekly pay period for the semester, in order to accurately reflect faculty effort on Time and Effort certifications required as part of the grant agreement.

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What are the procedures for processing release time?

 Here is a procedure for processing release time:

During grant proposal process

  • Review release time in proposed grant budgets in light of already-approved release time awards. Alternatives to cost sharing should be offered in proposals from faculty who already have a full release-time commitment. More release time is impractical for faculty members with 3/4 or even 1/2 release time already.

During the semester prior to release time

  • PI communicates information to Department Chair and departmental administrators about release time in approved grant and cost-sharing budgets, or other release time requirements and the appropriate semester.
  • Department Chair and departmental administrators use SIS 29 and 30 screens to plan faculty workload, including release time.

One month before semester in which release time is to be paid

  • Principal Investigator initiates PAF for labor distribution in the next semester, including release time paid from the grant (object code 1007), any grant cost-sharing release time approved to be paid by NJIT (object code 1008), and other labor distribution items.
  • Department and Dean review and approve the release-time PAF,consisent with previous faculty labor distribution plans.

Two weeks prior to first pay period in which release time is to be reflected

  • Release-time PAF is logged-in at Budget Department, subsequently processed by Grant and Contract Services, Budget Department, Human
    Resources Department and Payroll Department to enter the release time into the payroll system.
  • Late changes are handled by Budget Department and by Grant and Contract Services on a case-by-case basis, to effect timely implementation.

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Why are both SIS and PAF are needed for release time?

Release time is recorded in two ways for the funding agency. It is monitored in the planning process, using the Student Information System. It is monitored during implementation on a Personnel Action Form. In order to record release time in FRS, a PAF must be processed. Release-time Personnel Action Forms are needed in addition to SIS records because SIS is a volatile (non-permanent) planning system with little security or capability to prevent subsequent alteration of records. PAFs are permanent records, reflecting the outcome of the planning process using SIS. In addition, SIS provides a finer breakdown of faculty activities.

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Is there a source of information about the Faculty Workload Reporting System in SIS?

Documentation of the Faculty Workload Reporting System within SIS is available from the Office of the Associate Provost for Information Services and Technology. He has distributed this information to all NJIT Departments.

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How much release time should be charged?

The amount of research-related academic-year release time to which a grant participant is entitled is recorded on the match and direct-cost budgets of the grant agreement between NJIT and the external sponsor. Grant and match budgets are sent to the Principal Investigator (and to their department head and dean) by Office of Grant and Contract services upon award of each grant. These budgets, and other award documents, are also on file in the Office of Sponsored Programs and in Grant and Contract Services.

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