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June 2016

 

Conference reimbursement: Promotion's about being healthy, not filling buckets
Sean Tvelia

 

phone at beach
Take some time at the beach this summer to look into conferences for the upcoming academic year. It'll help you get fit, stay healthy and be prepared for your next promotion. (photo by Cynthia Eaton)

A former administrator once compared the three areas assessed for faculty promotion—the traditional tripartite of teaching (performance of teaching or other duties), service (college and community service), and research (personal and professional growth)—to three “buckets” that each needed to be “full” in order to merit promotion.

Just as Socrates described education as “the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel,” I’m not a big fan of the bucket metaphor. Perhaps a more useful comparison would be developing our healthiest selves in terms of our bodies, minds and spirits.

With summer fast approaching, it’s time to think about keeping in shape! One of the best ways to do so, academically speaking, is by attending and presenting at conferences in our respective disciplines and areas, and summer’s the perfect time to look into next year’s conferences.

And to make keeping fit more palatable, the FA has negotiated contract language to ensure that funding is available for you to do just that. Below is my overview of the procedure for conference reimbursement. Details are available here on the FA website.

Before the Conference

  1. Complete the pre-approval form titled Application for Contractual Conference Attendance and submit it at least six weeks before the conference (to ensure notification at least two weeks before your conference begins).
  2. Estimate the maximum amounts for each line item, in keeping with college policy, and double check the list of expenses that are not covered to avoid having your reimbursement delayed or denied. The food allowance is $12 per meal, no receipts required, provided that the conference agenda indicates that no meals were provided for you during the conference. (Eligibility for breakfasts and dinners requires the start or end of the conference four hours before or after your normal work hours.)
  3. Attach to the form your documentation verifying the conference and your intent to attend, i.e., a preliminary program, acceptance of a presentation or paper, etc.
  4. Obtain your supervisor’s signature indicating approval.
  5. Submit the form to your department secretary, who will send it to your campus business office where they will review all forms and may contact you with questions/suggestions for conforming the form to college/county policy, ensuring timely payment and processing, etc. It then goes to your campus executive dean and, once approved, your department secretary will create the necessary forms in Banner. A confirmation purchase order (P.O.) number will be sent to your home once the process is complete.

After the Conference

  1. Within three months of your return from the conference, complete a Travel Expense Voucher as well as a College Business/Contractual Travel Payment Request form, and attach to it the original conference application signed by your campus executive dean.
  2. Attach all the following mandatory documentation verifying our conference attendance including:

    a) original receipts for all itemized expenses, with separate receipts for any shared expenses like hotel rooms;

    b) the original badge, brochure and registration receipts;

    c) a conference report summarizing your conference activities;

    d) proof of meals provided (or not) at the conference, e.g., the brochure/agenda, and itemize all claimed meals, indicating date and type of meal; and

    e) your airline ticket/itinerary, if applicable.

  3. Submit the voucher to your department secretary who will forward it for final processing.

You should know that unless the total amount claimed is more than the initially approved cost or additional items not originally included have been added, you should need to do no more and you should receive timely payment.

So as you head to the beach to relax with your healthy snacks and you’re surfing the web, check out all of the conferences in your discipline and get ready to attend or—better yet—present at one in the upcoming academic year.

Be well!