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University Policy 35

Professional Development Activities

Formerly Executive Memorandum 87-83
Initially approved May 15, 1987
Revised February 5, 2001
Administering Office: Chancellor's Office

Professional development activities may benefit employees and the University by improving job skills, updating job knowledge, and facilitating useful exchanges of information. Therefore, it is the policy of Western Carolina University to encourage employees' participation in job-related conferences, workshops, seminars, and other worthwhile professional development activities.

Employees may request to attend conventions, workshops, and other such meetings either in pursuit of personal interests or on official University business. Inasmuch as personal business is not under the purview of the University, employees who earn leave must apply for and be granted annual leave or leave without pay when their attendance at a meeting is for personal interests. (Since faculty members on nine-month appointments do not earn annual leave, their absences are subject to the leave provisions in the WCU Faculty Handbook, section 4.09.01.)

Professional development activities may be undertaken in official business status when administrative unit heads make the following determinations:

  1. Attendance at a conference or workshop has a clear relationship to improved job performance or professional development of the employee in his or her University employment.
  2. The absent employee's duties can be covered satisfactorily.
  3. If travel is required, an approved travel authorization has been filed in advance of the trip.

Travel and registration expenses for professional development activities may be paid wholly or in part by the University, subject to applicable State and University policies governing such expenditures. The administrative unit head or other designated supervisor is responsible for determining whether funds are available for this purpose. If the University does not pay the expenses, the employee may still travel in official business status at personal expense if the administrative determinations previously outlined are made.

Meetings of political parties, religious bodies, lobbying organizations, labor organizations, and civic and fraternal organizations are normally construed to be directed primarily to personal interests rather than to official University business. Employees who want to be absent from work to attend these meetings, unless named by the Chancellor or his designee as official representatives of Western Carolina University or otherwise on approved official business, must apply for and be granted annual leave or leave-without-pay and must pay their own expenses. (Nine-month faculty are subject to the leave provisions in the Faculty Handbook as previously noted.)

The policies set forth herein apply to all Western Carolina University personnel.

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