(Last Updated: 3/27/2014)

A. General

Appointments, retention, salary, rank, tenure, and other personnel matters are governed by the Policies of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York and the current Agreement between the State and United University Professions. This handbook does not add to or alter basic University policies, but rather explains their application to the faculty of the State College of Optometry.

All policies are subject to change by the SUNY Trustees, collective bargaining Agreements, and other appropriate bodies.

B. Nondiscrimination Notice

Pursuant to State University of New York policy, the College of Optometry is committed to fostering a diverse community of outstanding faculty, staff, and students, as well as ensuring equal educational opportunity, employment, and access to services, programs, and activities, without regard to an individual's race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, familial status, pregnancy, predisposing genetic characteristics, military status, domestic violence victim status, or criminal conviction. Employees, students, applicants or other members of the College community (including but not limited to vendors, visitors, and guests) may not be subjected to harassment that is prohibited by law, or treated adversely or retaliated against based upon a protected characteristic.

The College’s policy is in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination and harassment. These laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as Amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, and the New York State Human Rights Law. These laws prohibit discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Inquiries regarding the application of Title IX and other laws, regulations and policies prohibiting discrimination may be directed to:

Mr. Douglas Schading
Director of Human Resources & Affirmative Action Officer
Room 933
Phone: (212) 938-5882

Inquiries may also be directed to:

United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights
32 Old Slip 26th Floor
New York, NY 10005-2500
Phone: (646) 428-3800


C. Affirmative Action

It is the policy of this institution to provide equal employment and educational opportunities to all and to ensure that no discrimination occurs against any employee or student on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, Vietnam Veterans, sexual orientation, or disability. This policy includes all aspects of recruitment, hiring, training, promotions, and all other terms and conditions of employment as well as admissions, access to programs, and all other services and privileges of student status. Affirmative Action will be taken to ensure that underrepresented, protected classes of employees and students are given an equitable opportunity for progress.

D. Faculty Financial Disclosure

The New York State Ethics Commission requires that State University employees serving in academic titles (with the exception of the librarian series) who earn annual compensation over a statutory threshold (set at the SG-24 civil service grade level) file abbreviated financial disclosure statements on an annual basis.

Covered faculty are required to file these abbreviated disclosure forms in two situations:

  1. Thirty (30) days after the beginning of the fall semester all covered faculty (i.e., those earning over the threshold compensation level) must file a statement of the nature and source of outside employment, honoraria and lecture fees for the previous academic year and the current academic year (SUNY 1 Form). New faculty must file within 30 days after appointment to their position.

  2. Academic employees who apply for sponsored grants or contracts which are not sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) or the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) and earn annual compensation at the threshold level are required to complete a SUNY 2 Form, but do not have to complete those portions of each section that pertain to NSF or PHS funding.

Academic employees who apply for sponsored grants or contracts which are sponsored by NSF or PHS and earn annual compensation at the threshold level are required to complete all sections of the SUNY 2 Form in its entirety.

Academic employees who apply for sponsored grants or contracts which are sponsored by NSF or PHS and earn less than the annual compensation at the threshold level are required to complete those portions of each SUNY 2 Form section in accordance with the instructions in each section for NSF and PHS grants.

For additional information refer to sections 73 and 74 of the Public Officers Law or contact the Personnel/Affirmative Action Office.

E. Faculty Hiring

Faculty openings are announced throughout the SUNY system, as well as in relevant academic and professional journals. Department chairs are responsible for screening candidates and presenting recommendations for prospective faculty to the Dean of Academic Affairs and Services and the chief administrative officer. In evaluating candidates, department chairs will solicit opinions from current faculty. Whenever possible, candidates will present a talk, lecture, or demonstration on a topic relevant to their area of academic/clinical expertise.

All faculty searches must satisfy affirmative action requirements. For current policies and procedures on hiring, please contact the Dean of Academic Affairs and Services.

F. Faculty Appointment

Oath of Office

The Secretary of State is required by law to obtain and file an oath of office for each employee of New York State and a statement that the employee has received, read, and will conform with the provisions of the Code of Ethics.

Initial Appointments

Initial appointments are generally made for a one-year term. In rare cases two- or three-year terms are offered. Under certain circumstances, an initial appointment may be a continuing appointment. Under no circumstances can anyone except the chief executive officer make a firm commitment to an appointment or salary.

Faculty appointments may be either full-time or part-time. If full-time, appointments will be:

  1. Temporary. Temporary appointments are offered in accordance with Article XI, Title F of the Policies of the Board of Trustees.

  2. Term. A term appointment shall be an appointment for a specified period, generally not more than one year, which shall automatically expire at the end of that period unless terminated earlier because of resignation, retirement or termination.

The chief executive officer or his/her representative notifies faculty promptly and in writing of all changes in the terms and conditions of their appointments.

Continuing Appointments

A continuing appointment shall be an appointment to a position of academic rank which shall not be affected by changes in such rank and shall continue until resignation, retirement, or termination.

All full-time faculty are eligible for continuing appointments, except assistant instructors, faculty of qualified (clinical and adjunct) academic rank.

For instructors and assistant professors, continuing (tenured) appointment is possible immediately and mandated after seven consecutive years of employment.

For associate professors and full professors, continuing (tenured) appointment is possible immediately and mandated after three consecutive years of employment.

Renewal of Term and Continuing Appointments

Article XI of the Policies of the Board of Trustees spell out the timetable for reviewing faculty for extending contracts and awarding continuing appointment.

Notice of Non-Renewal

Articles 32 and 33 of the UUP Agreement elaborate the timetables and procedures for notice of non-renewal of appointment and subsequent appeal and review.

G. Grievance Procedures

A grievance is any dispute concerning the interpretation, application, or claimed violation of a specific term or provision of the UUP Agreement between the State of New York and United University Professions. Article 7 of the UUP Agreement outlines the procedures for processing grievances.

H. Personnel Files

The college maintains for each employee an official personnel file which is available for the employee's examination during normal business hours. However, statements solicited in connection with an employee's original appointment are not available for employee examination. Designated members of UUP have the right to examine the file in connection with the grievance procedure. The agreement explains the specific situations under which personnel files may be examined. (See UUP Agreement, Article 31.)

I. Transfer Rights

Employees who desire to transfer to vacancies in other colleges within the State University of New York will be given consideration for such vacancies. Employees whose services are satisfactory but who are terminated shall be given special consideration for appointment to available positions in other colleges. (See UUP Agreement, Articles 34 and 35.)

J. Termination of Service

Temporary appointments may be terminated at will by the chief administrative officer of the college. Prior to the expiration of a term appointment, written notice must be provided in accordance with the current UUP Agreement and the Policies of the Board of Trustees.

K. Retrenchment

Retrenchment is defined as the termination of any academic or professional employee as a result of financial exigency, reorganization of curriculum, reorganization of academic or administrative structure, programs or functions as the chancellor or his designee deems appropriate. Retrenchment shall be applied in inverse order of appointment. Conditions and procedures for retrenchment and reemployment possibilities are spelled out in the UUP Agreement, Article 35.

L. Benefits

1. Health Insurance (Optional)

The State College of Optometry participates in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) offering eligible employees and their dependents comprehensive health insurance protection. The Program offers two options for eligible employees: the Empire Plan or a choice of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). The two alternatives present a different approach to health insurance protection, but each provides a comprehensive range of benefits.

Whether an employee selects the Empire Plan or an available HMO, the state will contribute 90 percent of the cost for individual coverage and 75 percent of the cost for dependent coverage. Employees pay their share of the premiums by payroll deduction which can be on a pre-tax basis.

- The Empire Plan is available to all employees who qualify for the New York State Health Insurance Program. It pays for covered hospital services, physicians' bills and other covered medical expenses. The Empire Plan provides you and your eligible dependents:

-- Inpatient and outpatient hospital coverage for medical, surgical and maternity care through Blue Cross. Covered inpatient services are paid in full.

-- Medical and surgical coverage administered by United Health Care. Coverage under the Participating Provider network, or the Basic Medical Program if you choose a non-participating provider.

-- Home care services, diabetic supplies, durable medical equipment and certain medical supplies through the Home Care Advocacy Program (HCAP).

-- Physical medicine (chiropractic and physical therapy) coverage administered by Managed Physical Network, Inc. (MPN).

-- Mental health and substance abuse coverage administered by Value Behavioral Health (VBH).

-- Hospital and Medical Benefits Management Program, HealthCare, through Intracorp.

-- Prescription drug coverage, administered by Value Rx.

- To enroll in an HMO participating in NYSHIP, enrollees must work or live within that HMO's geographic service area. All HMOs provide a wide range of health services. Each offers a specific package of hospital benefits, medical and surgical care and preventive care. These services are provided or arranged by a primary care physician whom you have selected from the HMO's staff or physician network.

All HMOs cover inpatient hospital care in full and offer prescription drug coverage.

There are different types of HMOs:

-- A Staff Model HMO employs or contracts with physicians and other medical specialists directly and maintains its own health centers. Most centers are equipped with X-ray, laboratory, pharmacy and other services. Members receive most of their care under one roof.

-- A Group Model HMO contracts with one or several groups of physicians to provide services. Groups may work for only one HMO, or be free to contract with others and see fee-for-service patients.

-- A Network HMO provides medical services within a "network" that can include its own health centers as well as outside participating physicians, medical groups and multi-specialty medical centers.

-- An IPA (Independent Practice Association) provides medical services through private practice physicians who have contracted independently with the HMO to provide services in their offices.

Members enrolling in Group, Network and IPA model HMOs may be able to select a doctor with whom they are already familiar if that doctor participates with the HMO.

There is a waiting period of 42 days after the date of eligibility before coverage will become effective for both health insurance options.

The Personnel/Affirmative Action Office will provide informational booklets describing each of these options. Employees should read the materials on their specific plan and keep them for future reference.

2. Retirement (Enrollment mandatory for full-time professional employees)

Members of the academic staff may be retired by the Board of Trustees for physical or mental incapacity. (See Policies of the Board of Trustees and UUP Agreement.)

Full-time faculty or professional employees of the State College of Optometry; and those part-time faculty or professional employees with "Term Appointments," are eligible to elect one of three retirement programs:

- New York State Teachers' Retirement System (TRS), defined benefit plan -- State pension based on years of service and final average salary. Vesting period: 10 years of New York State service.

- New York State Employees' Retirement System (ERS), defined benefit plan -- State pension based on years of service and final average salary. Vesting period: 10 years of New York State service.

- The Optional Retirement Program (ORP), a defined contribution plan. Employer contributes 8% of gross calendar year earnings for the first seven years of employment and 10% of gross calendar year earnings thereafter. Vesting period: 13 months of service.

In addition, there are three Alternate Funding Vehicles approved under the Optional Retirement Program to which you may direct and or transfer your retirement accumulations during your employment. These alternate Funding Vehicles (AFC) are:

-- Aetna Life Insurance and Annuity Company (ALIAC)

-- Metropolitan Life and Affiliated Companies

-- The Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company (VALIC)

Part-time employees with other than "Term Appointments," are eligible to join the Employees' Retirement System (ERS) or the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS). These employees are not, however, eligible to join the ORP.

Full-time employees must elect to participate in one of these programs within thirty (30) days of their appointment. If an election is not made within this period, employees will be required to join TRS, and will have no further opportunity to change their program. Part-time employees who elect to participate in a retirement program must do so within thirty (30) days of their appointment.

Under each of these plans, employees who join a retirement program after July 1, 1976 are required to contribute 3 percent of their salary toward retirement benefits.

The Personnel/Affirmative Action Office will provide informational booklets on each retirement plan and will meet with new employees to discuss the election.

3. Tax Deferred Annuity Programs (Optional)

The Tax Deferred Annuity and Supplemental Retirement Annuity programs for employees of the State College of Optometry permits employees to reduce the current tax burden by setting aside a portion of salary toward the purchase of annuities. The income tax is deferred until benefits are withdrawn, usually at retirement. The amount that may be set aside by a staff member from the annual salary will vary according to his/her salary, years of service, and retirement program.

Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) will issue annuity contracts under this program. An alternative annuity program is available through UUP. (See UUP Agreement.)

In addition, employees may participate in the New York State Deferred Compensation Program through the Copeland Companies.

Employees interested in the tax-deferred annuity programs or the NYS Deferred Compensation Program should contact the Personnel/Affirmative Action Office for further information.

4. Death Benefits

Generally, death benefits are determined by the Retirement System selected. However, New York State Law provides a Survivor's Benefit regardless of which system is chosen. Further information is available in the Personnel/Affirmative Action Office.

5. Credit Union

A membership is available to all faculty and professional staff members in the Municipal Credit Union. Enrollment forms are available in the Personnel/Affirmative Action Office.

6. U.S. Savings Bonds (Optional)

Employees may elect to purchase variable-rate U.S. Savings Bonds (EE Bonds) through payroll deduction by completing a bond authorization card available in the Personnel/Affirmative Action Office.

7. Group Disability Insurance Program

All active full-time professional staff members and certain part-time members will be covered on the first day of the month following one complete year of service with the State College of Optometry within the past five years.

This program assures that in the event of total long-term disability employees will receive a regular monthly income following six consecutive months of total disability.

For more information refer to the booklet, Group Disability Insurance Program for Professional Staff, available in the Personnel/Affirmative Action Office.

8. Worker's Compensation

Worker's Compensation Insurance protects professional staff members who are disabled or die as a result of an injury arising out of and in the course of their employment. Benefits include reimbursement of specified medical expenses, scheduled payments for permanent disabilities, and weekly benefits during time lost from the job because of an occupational injury. All accidents must be reported to the College Public Safety Office within 24 hours.

9. Tuition Assistance Program

When space is available, employees may enroll in a course on a tuition-free basis, subject to requirements outlined in the UUP Agreement and the State of New York and United University Professions Reference Compendium as follows:

  1. The University determines when space is available, recognizing that such determination must be made in sufficient time to permit enrollment by employees;
  2. Employees must meet course prerequisites;
  3. All fees other than tuition shall be paid by employees;
  4. Employees may enroll in a maximum of one course per semester and special session, for example, summer session and intersession;
  5. Minimum enrollment requirements established by the University as a necessary condition for offering a course shall not be affected by students interested in enrolling in a course on a space available basis; and
  6. The program shall continue for the term of the Agreement.

Note: Tuition assistance benefits are not available for members of the employee's family under the program outlined above.

10. United University Professions (UUP) Employee Benefit Fund (Optional)

All employees in positions designated as part of the UUP bargaining unit will have membership dues or the equivalent agency shop fees deducted from their paychecks and are entitled to various benefits. The UUP Benefit Fund provides dental insurance and vision care coverage for employees who meet the eligibility requirements.

Delta Dental of New York

For eligible employees, diagnostic, preventive and restorative services, coverage is 50% of the local Usual, Customary and Reasonable (UCR) fees. When using a participating dentist, the dentist will receive payment and the employee will receive an "Explanation of Benefits." The dentist will bill the patient the remaining 50%. When using a non-participating dentist, the employee will receive the payment (50% of the local UCR) and the member will be responsible for the balance of the dentists charge.

For major services, coverage is limited to the fee schedule. For charges in excess of $300, a pre-determination is required.

Davis Vision

Eligible employees and dependents may call Davis Vision for a voucher once every 24 months. A voucher authorizes payment for an examination by a participating provider and one pair of glasses without co-pay (from a select frame assortment) or plan-covered contact lenses with a $25 co-pay.

Employees going on an authorized leave without pay (LWOP) may continue coverage by making direct payments to the Fund.

Further information and enrollment forms can be obtained from the Personnel/Affirmative Action Office.

M. Attendance Records

Faculty must certify their attendance and record absences on monthly forms provided by the Personnel/Affirmative Action Office. All absences from work require prior approval. Sick leave should be called in to the appropriate department in accordance with department guidelines. Employees who are absent a full or partial day should charge accruals according to the number of sessions missed, i.e., three sessions would equal one and one-half days.

Excessive use of sick leave may result in the employee being required to provide doctor's notes.

N. Leaves

1. Sick Leave and Additional Sick Leave

Sick Leave

- Full-Time Employees

Under the Agreement between the State of New York and United University Professions, full-time employees hired prior to July 1, 1982, are eligible to accrue sick leave credits at the rate of 1 3/4 days a month for each month of their professional obligation.

Employees hired on or after July 1, 1982, are eligible to accrue sick leave benefits for each month during the term of their professional obligation as follows:

Years of Service

0 - 1
3 - 5
Sick Leave Accrual Rate

1 1/4 days a month
1 1/3 days a month
1 1/2 days a month
1 2/3 days a month
1 3/4 days a month


Part-Time Employees

Part-time employees shall be eligible to accrue credits for sick leave as follows:

Academic Employees Who Teach:

1 course
2 courses
3 courses

1/4 day per month
1/2 day per month
1 day per month

Professional Employees Who Earn:

up to $8,499
$8,500 to $12,749
$12,750 to $16,999
$17,000 or higher


1/4 day per month
1/2 day per month
1 day per month
1 1/4 days per month

Accumulation of sick leave credits shall not exceed 200 days.

Additional Sick Leave

Any employee, after exhaustion of all leave accruals available, may be granted additional leave with or without salary.

2. Vacation Leave and Holidays

Academic year employees accrue no vacation leave beyond those periods during which they are permitted to be absent by reason of their professional obligation.

Calendar year employees are entitled to accrue vacation leave. The accrual rates are the same as those outlined above in the section on sick leave. Accumulation of vacation leave credits may exceed 40 days, however on January 1st each year an employee's vacation accrual record will be adjusted, if necessary, to reflect a maximum of 40 days. Upon termination, resignation or retirement, or upon change of the professional obligation (e.g. a change in commitment from the calendar year to the academic year), an employee is compensated for vacation credits up to a maximum of 30 days.

Vacation requests should go to department heads. Holidays that fall within a vacation are not charged as leave. College observed state holidays are as follows: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Lincoln's Birthday, Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans' Day, Election Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving has been viewed as a holiday in lieu of Lincoln's Birthday. A calendar-year employee required to work on a holiday will receive an equivalent day off.

For further information on sick leave and vacation leave, refer to the Policies of the Board of Trustees and the UUP Agreement.

3. Sabbatical Leave (Approved 9/1/2009 – President)

Sabbatical leaves are for formal or informal study, research, scholarly-related travel, writing, formal education or other experience of professional benefit.  The objective of such leave is to increase a faculty member’s value to the College and thereby improve and enrich its programs.  (Also see UUP Agreement, Article 23.6, or SUNY Policies of the Board of Trustees, Article XIII - Title E)

Eligibility is restricted to faculty with continuing appointment (tenure) who have completed six consecutive years or more of University service as well as six consecutive years or more of service since returning from any prior sabbatical.  Sabbatical leave may be granted for one year at rates not to exceed one-half basic annual salary or for periods of one-half year at rates not to exceed full basic annual salary.  Academic employees on sabbatical leave may, with the prior approval of the College President, accept fellowships, grants-in-aid, or earned income to assist in accomplishing the purposes of their leaves.  In such cases, the College President may adjust the sabbatical leave salaries to reflect such income provided, however,  in no case shall sabbatical leave salary be reduced if total earnings are less than full salary.

Application for sabbatical leaves shall be submitted to the College President no later than December 31st of the calendar year for consideration for the following Academic Year.  The applications will then be reviewed by the Committee for Professional Qualifications (CPQ) and their recommendations will be forwarded to the President for his consideration by March 1st.   The review process will be completed and notification given to the applicants by March 31st of a given calendar year.

In addition to a review based upon the merits of the proposal, the President may also seek input from the Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs (VPAA) regarding the logistics and budget needed to ensure continuation of the College’s program activities, and the value of the project to the institution.  Applicants for a sabbatical should work with the VPAA during the development of the application to facilitate the planning process.

Each application shall include:

  1. a detailed statement outlining the program to be followed while on sabbatical leave with clearly defined goals; 
  2. a statement outlining clearly defined outcomes;
  3. a statement of benefit to the College;
  4. letters of support from all collaborating institutions (if any);
  5. letters of support from Department Chairs, Dean, etc. as appropriate;
  6. a declaration of any prospective income during the sabbatical should be provided as well as;
  7. a statement that the applicant will continue as an academic employee for a minimum of one year upon the employee’s return. 

In addition, upon returning, the applicant will submit to the College President a detailed report of professional activities and accomplishments while on sabbatical leave.

The number of sabbaticals available during a given academic years may be limited by available resources.

4. Military Leave

Any college employee is entitled to leave without pay while serving in the military. Employees who are members of the National Guard or any reserve force called to active duty are entitled to leave with full pay.

5. Employee Organization Leave

Certain officers, delegates and committee members of the United University Professions are granted leaves for performance of specific duties. Article 11 of the UUP Agreement describes the circumstances under which employee organization leave may be taken.

6. Maternity Leave

The employee's department chair will grant pregnant employees (other than employees having temporary appointments) a leave without pay, upon competent medical proof that such employee is unable to perform her regular duties or at such date as may be mutually agreeable. Employees granted maternity leave may reduce the amount of leave without pay by the use of any and all accumulated leave credits as may be available to them.

Leave without salary under this provision may not exceed one year. Leave of absence with or without salary may also be granted, under appropriate circumstances, for the purpose of child care.

For more information refer to the State of New York and United University Professions Reference Compendium located in the Personnel/Affirmative Action Office and UUP Agreement.

7. Jury Duty

Employees who are required to serve on a jury will receive their full salary during their absence, after providing appropriate documentation that such service was met. (See UUP Agreement.)

8. Other Leaves

The President may recommend to the Chancellor other leaves of absence for employees at full salary or reduced salary, or may grant employees leaves of absence without salary, for the purpose of professional development, acceptance of assignments of limited duration with other universities and colleges, governmental agencies, foreign nations, private foundations, corporations, and similar agencies, as a faculty member, consultant, expert, or in a similar capacity, or for other appropriate purposes consistent with the needs and interests of the University. Leaves of absence at full or reduced salary shall be subject to the approval of the Chancellor, and such leaves granted shall be reported to the Board of Trustees. (See Policies of the Board of Trustees, Article XIII, Title F.)

9. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 entitles eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period (defined by the State as the typical calendar year) for the following reasons:

- to care for a newborn child or a child that has been placed with the employee for adoption or foster care;
- to care for a seriously ill spouse, child or parent; or
- because the employee is unable to perform the functions of his or her position due to a serious health condition.

Employees eligible for leave under FMLA are those who have completed one year of service and have worked at least 1250 hours during the twelve months prior to the leave period. An employee may elect to use accrued leave as part of the Family Medical Leave before going on unpaid leave.

Health and certain other benefits are continued for an employee on leave, in a paid or unpaid status, under the same terms and conditions offered to the employee prior to the leave.

[Further information is available in the Personnel/Affirmative Action Office.]

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