My illusory award of two days of vacation

Last week, I mentioned this odd “gesture of appreciation” my university was making to thank us for all our hard work and sacrifices during these pandemic years. We could take two days off in the coming semester. I was baffled…no, I can’t. I’m in a salaried position with daily responsibilities to my students and colleagues — unless you’re telling me that I can send the students home, this is a meaningless, useless gift.

I said as much to one of our administrators, and whoa, I got a straight answer from them. They admitted that “the days off are not as meaningful a gift of time for faculty as for others.” They’re a good thing for staff with regular 9-5 working days, I agree — of course, I suspect that they’ll get eaten up with sick days, or days spent caring for kids who’ve been sent home for school. Then I was told I “can take a day off formally, in the system when you are not teaching”, which is great, except that teaching is something I have to do every day, and is my primary job responsibility. So basically this is a promise of a little extra free time that I’m not allowed to take, but hey, the administration at the Twin Cities campus gets to feel good about doing a little something which is actually nothing.

I suspect some out of touch bright MBA in the marble halls of the central administration wracked their brains really hard to come up with a sop to the workers that would look really good on paper to outsiders, yet wouldn’t cost the university a penny.



  1. notaandomposter says

    you might want to check with HR. Often, unused vacation days can be ‘cashed out’ for salaried personnel (something like 1 vacation day = 1/200 annual salary in $).

  2. PaulBC says

    Well, it is a benefit to those with regular hours, as you state, so it does cost the university. Universities have many non-teaching employees. Maybe they should have targeted the announcement better.

  3. Bruce says

    If you can’t sell the two days back for cash, then save them to use on days before or after the semester when you are “required” to attend faculty meetings or employee meetings. Aren’t those the only eligible days, so isn’t that obviously the administration’s intent?

  4. williamhyde says

    In the financial crunch of the early 1990s, at Dalhousie, we were told we had to take 3.5 days of without pay. I didn’t notice any of my fellow professors taking any days off, and nor did I.

    The administration, of course, knew that we wouldn’t.

  5. Skatje Myers says

    A little over a year ago, I received this lovely email that gushed over how hard university staff has been working despite the challenges:

    We are so thankful and appreciative of every member of our community for their contributions and efforts, despite so many obstacles. We also recognize that these efforts can come at a price in time away from family or in lost personal time that is essential for balanced health and wellness. To support everyone in regaining some work-life balance, the college would like to recognize your hard work by providing 4 days of paid administrative leave for employees during the winter break. The college highly encourages you to take this time off to recharge.

    They forgot to include the asterisk after “everyone” and corresponding footnote that clarified “Not you, you’re a grad student. Your work-life balance will proceed as usual.”