Sabbatical leave: Anything but a time to rest

Professors from all departments take one or two semesters to go on sabbatical leave, during which they pursue projects concerning their fields of study.

Dr. Patrick Fisher, associate professor of political science, and Dr. James Kimble, associate professor of communications were each on sabbatical leave for this past school year.

Fisher took his sabbatical as a Fulbright scholar in Slovakia, teaching two graduate level political science courses, political systems of the USA and American political culture, at Comenius University of Bratislav.

“Political systems of the USA was similar in content to classes that as a political scientist focusing on American politics I have taught many times in the United States,” Fisher said. “The content of American Political Culture was based to a large degree on my current ‘gapology’ research of cultural and economic divisions in American politics,” he added.

The second part of Fisher’s sabbatical focused on research of gapology, the study of marked political differences between demographic groups to better understand how Americans construct the political universe, according to Fisher.

He also completed additional research, to be published, in the field of political science during the second half his sabbatical. “Ultimately, my goal is to get a book on the subject published,” Fisher said.

Fischer described his time spent on sabbatical as “intellectually rewarding.”

Similarly, Kimble worked on a book project during his sabbatical.

“My primary goal involved finishing up a long-standing book project, so my main motivation was to complete it after a long preparation period,” he said.

Kimble stated that the greatest achievement of his sabbatical was realizing and developing his capacity for sustained and disciplined scholarship.

While on leave, Kimble said he has had been able to finish three book projects, both single and co-authored, submit a journal and magazine article for publication, and publish two book reviews. He has also taken up a research fellowship.

“I was worried that with no teaching or service commitments for a year that I would lose focus or lack discipline in staying on task,” he said.

According to Fisher and Kimble, their time was utilized to renew and better themselves as instructors at Seton Hall.

“The university has granted me this time to renew my research and myself, all with the idea that I will return to the classroom with new ideas, and that the scholarly work arising from the sabbatical will contribute to the university’s reputation,” Kimble said.

Fisher also said that he appreciated the opportunity of renewal Seton Hall has given him.

“I sincerely appreciate Seton Hall giving me the opportunity to pursue both my Fulbright Grant as well as my research on gapology,” he said.

Professors at Seton Hall take their time on sabbatical very seriously, according to Kimble.

“In talking with others about their sabbaticals, I think SHU’s professors take their sabbatical leave very seriously, and that it benefits everyone involved,” Kimble said.

Erin Williams can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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