When a professor stays in another university as a visiting professor during his sabbatical leave, his salary is partially paid by his home university. Then, he is not a regular employee of host university, but how is the official processing?

For example, he needs lots of employment stuff such as ID, parking, etc. Thus, he should have a profile with the human resource.

  1. Is he hired by the university (HR) or directly by a department?

  2. Does he need to provide regular documents such as academic credentials (diploma, transcript) or an employment status from the home university is enough?

  3. Following these questions, when he teaches a course or supervises a student, what is his employment reference in official records? I mean can a guest professor teach/supervise without official records in the university HR?

EXAMPLE: A full professor goes to another university on sabbatical leave whether for teaching or research. He needs ID card, and normally HR or similar central unit issues the ID card, not individual departments. Shouldn't he have a record in the HR files as the reference for the ID card issued?

My question is: When the HR is creating a file for a visiting professor/scholar/researcher, what documents should be supplied?

  • 6
    This is likely to vary from university to university. Why do you want to know?
    – StrongBad
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 5:46
  • Too broad because your question is highly dependent on the host and home universities' policies.
    – enthu
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 8:28
  • 3
    Parking permits have nothing to do with employment. The contractor who fixes the photocopier probably needs a parking permit and he's not an employee. Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 8:54
  • @DavidRicherby easy mate, it was just an example!
    – user13854
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 4:26
  • 1
    @StrongBad I am searching for a visiting position in North America or Western Europe, and thus, I wish to know more about possible circumstances.
    – user13854
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 4:27

2 Answers 2


Let me clarify some terms:

  • Despite the language, Visiting Faculty are not usually faculty who are gainfully employed at one university who are just staying at another university during their research leave.
  • Most visiting faculty are "Visiting Assistant Professors" who are (usually recently graduated) scholars who do not yet have full-time employment and are hired as one-year (or two-year) replacements for professors who have gone on sabbaticals. This is different from an adjunct as the recipient university is hiring you full-time (not per course) for a term of one or two years.
  • Visiting (Full or Associate) Professors: Only rarely would a tenured, senior faculty use their sabbatical year to go to another university solely to teach. Exceptions would be: 1) they aren't being paid during their sabbatical year and need the money; 2) the recipient university has resources that they would like access to (archives, etc.); 3) they want to live in the recipient city for a year, etc. This last one is the most common -- especially with American faculty visiting European capitals (sigh... Paris...). Some faculty are contractually forbidden to use their paid sabbaticals in outside teaching -- at my university, a sabbatical is a leave from teaching responsibilities but it is ultimately a time when I am supposed to be doing research.
  • There is also the category of Visiting Researcher - this is the category which most visiting full faculty would use on sabbatical at another institution if they had no teaching responsibilities. It would not normally come with pay or any benefits except library/archive/gallery access, e-mail, and an office.

Thus if Prof. Smith@UniX goes on sabbatical, then Visiting Asst. Professor Jones@Unemployed is hired by UniX to replace Professor Smith.

To answer your specific questions, UniX is entirely responsible for Prof. Jones' salary and benefits.

  1. Hiring is usually done by the department who needs a replacement. Often a full search is not run and sometimes the hiring is done on the Chair's prerogative. While HR of course handles the details after the department makes their choice, it is rarely HR that runs the search from the very beginning.
  2. Credentials may not be checked as thoroughly since it is a temporary hire.
  3. Visiting Faculty have appointments in their recipient universities and can serve as the instructors on record for courses. Depending on their term (and the rules of the institution) they can also serve as readers for senior essays, but usually they do not serve on doctoral dissertation committees. They are also usually exempt from most service work.

Biographical note: After I received my PhD, I taught for a year as a visiting assistant professor, as a sabbatical replacement. This was before I received my first tenure-track job. [note: simplified version of a complex reality]

  • 1
    I know a few examples of math faculty taking visiting professorships elsewhere during their sabbatical year. I think the usual idea is that they want to work with a particular person or group during that time, and if they are going to live in another city for a semester it's nice to have some extra salary even if they are being paid for the sabbatical. (They may now have two housing bills, etc.) There is so much teaching in math that, at a large school, if the department chair wants to, she can almost certainly find a few courses for someone to teach. Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 10:51
  • Again, all this varies from one university to another, and from one department to another. Public universities tend to forbid their faculty from teaching while on sabbatical; private universities tend not to. Replacement hires for faculty on sabbatical are more often called adjunct faculty or lecturers, rather than visiting faculty, in my experience.
    – JeffE
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 12:18
  • Ok, I'll weaken my language on frequency.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 12:50
  • 1
    I have seen many meanings of "adjunct". I once worked for a university where the official title for one-year full time faculty was "adjunct", as in my position of "adjunct assistant professor". This was required by the state policies governing the institution. Other schools use "adjunct" only for part-time faculty. (Also, my fixed-term postdoc was just "Assistant Professor", with no modifier before "assistant") Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 12:12
  • 1
    Another note is that at many institutions, the standard sabbatical is "one semester at full pay, or one year at half pay". Someone who takes the half pay option would certainly be allowed to pick up some teaching duties at the host institution to help make up the difference. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 3:33

Assuming a professor will teach at a temporary university during sabbatical, the official processing can be done several ways, depending on the situation and the specific institutions. Because the teaching is something extra, the professor would almost certainly expect the temporary institution to pay for it.

  • Some institutions just hire the visiting professor as normal, the way they would hire an adjunct. If the sabbatical already has some pay, the professor receives pay from both institutions.

  • Some institutions would make a deal with the professor's home institution. In this type of deal, the temporary institution sends money to the home institution, which then continues to pay the professor's salary as normal, and the professor receives no direct pay from the temporary institution.

In any case, setting up this type of visiting position during a sabbatical requires planning well in advance, so that both institutions can approve it.

To address some specific questions:

  • In the U.S. I am only aware of hiring by HR departments. I have never heard of someone hired "directly by a department". The department will make an offer, with the approval of the dean, and then the actual employment is always done by the university HR department.

  • It's likely the visiting institution will need to review his academic credentials, as part of their hiring policy, but that is really just a minor detail.

  • The third question seems to be very university dependent. There will be some form of record keeping.

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