Ohio State nav bar

Department of Microbiology Release Time Policy

Faculty may elect to show effort on externally funded projects in several ways. This includes- but is not limited to- Release Time or Release from Effort appointments. Again: this can ONLY be done via external awards; you cannot use University based funding/awards towards Release Time appointments.

(Please note: Release Time Appointments do not necessarily release you from teaching. A teaching release/course buyout is not what we are referencing when discussing a release time appointment on this page or within this guidance. Teaching Release/Course Buyout is a different topic that must be discussed with the Department Chair as a first step.)

The benefit of showing effort on your grant by setting up a release time appointment, is that the salary and benefits associated with said appointment come back to your release time work tag combination(s).

Release time funding can be carried forward into future fiscal years* and is used similarly to other university funding. Do keep in mind, though,  that there is currently a limit- in our unit- to how much funding you can keep in your release time to carryforward.

The process to set up a release time work tag combination and begin building the account is as follows:

  1. The Faculty member will notify the Department Manager and Grants Manager via email that they would like to request a release time appointment be set up on a specific grant. The Department Manager will then confirm the percentages required for your funding update in order to match required efforts.
    • Conversely, the Department Manager may reach out directly to provide you with a suggested plan for your release time appointment for the year.
    • Be aware that different funding sponsors have different requirements on how/when they want or prefer you to demonstrate effort (Academic vs Summer) and/or allowable percentages that you must stay within to be compliant. Please ask the Department Manager or Grants Manager if you are unsure what is allowable on your award.
  2. The Faculty member will provide their approval of the funding plan and a Costing Allocation will be completed to set up said appointment.
    • If the funding update would need back dating, that can also be done via a Payroll Accounting Adjustment (PAA) to fix the retroactive payments.
      • Please Understand: PAAs do NOT provide you with additional pay or generate additional income for you. PAAs are purely to adjust the source of funding for a pay period that has already passed and you have, therefore, already received salary for said period.
  3. During periods 6 and 12 of the Fiscal year (December and June, respectfully) transfers will be initiated and completed by the College to move salary and benefits from the Departmental general funds to the Departmental release time work tag combination (FD100 + PG100410)
    • Please note: the June transfer does not necessarily account for release time added for any PAAs that may have been processed for 9/12 faculty in the month of June, if the PAA processed after the appropriate monthly payroll processing deadlines. These funds will be returned in the Period 6 disbursement (December) of the next Fiscal Year.
  4. The Department Manager will review and verify the appropriate payroll reports and individual faculty member’s PI Portal. The Manager will then initiate a fund transfer from the Departmental Release Time fund, to the specific faculty member’s release time work tag combination.
    • Release time work tag combination example: CC12324 - FD100 - PG100410 - Assignee Tag (Example Assignee tag: buckeye.1)
  5. Once the transfer has been approved by the College, the funding will immediately be available for use by the faculty member.
    • Please note: Release time funds must still comply with University, College, and Departmental policies and procedures of which you have been notified and will be reminded if needed.

Additional policies, definitions, and or other information related to release time can be found below.

Please be aware:

  • In general, it is our intention to return 100% of release time salary and benefits generated back to the appropriate faculty member. However, we are not required to do so and we, as a Department, reserve the right to hold back funding as needed & where appropriate.
    • If you have a release time balance that exceeds $150,000 at the end of a fiscal year, the department will discuss a spending plan with you directly. Otherwise, available funds in excess of $150,000 will be kept in the Department and is available to be spent at the discretion of the Chair.
  • Should the Departmental Release Time balance go below $100,000 or into deficit by the end of a Fiscal Year, the amount returned to faculty will be 75% of the release time generated until we have reached a minimum balance available of at least $110,000.
  • While we currently see no reason to do so, the Department reserves the right to use faculty release time balances as needed at the Discretion of the Department Chair. Again, only should it be necessary. (You would be contacted first, should this ever occur.)
  • The Department reserves the right to change our policy as needed and we will only notify you of significant changes that would negatively impact your balances or how release time is generated.
    • Changes to these policies are at the discretion of the Department Chair in consultation with the Department Manager prior to implementation.

For 9/12 Faculty:

  • Release time appointments are only permissible from August 15 to May 15 (Academic 9 months). You cannot, and will not, have release time appointments from May 16 – August 14 for any reason.
  • Release time will not be applied to your account during the Summer months because 9/12 faculty are “Off Duty” in the Summer term. During this time, faculty are eligible to receive Off Duty Pay - provided they have adequate funding from various External and/or University sources.
  • Should you have a split appointment with another unit(s), you are also eligible to set up release time appointments on that record as well (provided the other unit allows such). Please notify the Department Manager if you need help discussing or would like this information to be communicated to your other unit.
    • Please Note: If you do have a split, your other unit will have different policies that you should discuss directly with said unit. The Department of Microbiology does not keep track of another unit's policies- it will be the sole responsibility of the PI to become familiar with such policies in another unit in which they are also employed. The Department of Microbiology will not break another units policy, just as we would not expect another unit to break ours.
    • Zero Percent faculty (commonly referred to as either Adjunct or Associated faculty) cannot collect release time from a unit they don't receive a salaried appointment.

More information on ODP can be found here.


For 12/12 Faculty:

  • Release time appointments can be year-round for our 12/12 faculty. However, 12/12 faculty are not eligible for ODP.
  • Typically, our 12/12 tenure track faculty have a TIU that is separate to that of Microbiology. In these cases, you will only have your effort as a release time appointment on your Microbiology record. (Usually, as a 12/12 faculty, you will be directly appointed to your grant on your TIU record. However, it is in your best interest to review policy and procedure information directly from your TIU administration)
  • Only Microbiology administrators will update your Microbiology funding record. This is to insure consistency in funding updates, specifically in relation to release time appointments. Please communicate with your TIU as such.
    • If there are continued issues with your TIU following our Departmental Policies, the PI will either need to assist the Department in stopping such practice or we may need to discuss no longer applying such appointments.
  • Special note for using Release Time funds for 12/12 faculty: You must notify and/or ask the Department about using your funds prior to submitting requests in Workday. If your TIU initiates a Requisition, Spend Authorization, Expense report, etc. with university funding that lives in Microbiology and they have failed to contact the Department prior to purchase- the request will likely be denied.
    • For Example: If a requisition is submitted for a PO without the Cost Center Manager of your TIU waiting for Microbiology's approval and the department is contacted to approve releasing funds at a later date- we can/will deny the request as no prior information was provided from the faculty member or his/her TIU.
    • If requests are submitted using your Microbiology release time fund, please be advised that you are agreeing to comply with the College of Arts & Sciences processing policies and procedures, as well as the Department's.
  • For 12/12 faculty whose TIU is not Microbiology- these funds are not to be used to help cover deficits created in your TIU and we will not approve the transfer of funds in that manner.

For 12/12 Research Faculty:

  • Research faculty salaries are not funded from the Department's general funds. For this reason, Research Faculty are not eligible to receive release time.

For 12/12 Teaching Faculty:

  • Teaching faculty salaries are eligible for release time appointments year round, should you receive an external award.
  • You must first get written approval from the Chair for such an appointment to be set up, as the primary duties  to the unit are teaching and service for such individuals.
    • We suggest getting this approval and come to a planned agreement about effort and timeline of demonstration of effort with the Chair prior to even submitting the proposal.


Special Note for DTI faculty:

  • For our DTI faculty (both 9/12 and 12/12), 50% of release time funding is retained by OAA.
  • DTI faculty members will have an equal percent release time AND direct appointment on their grant when collecting release time. You will NOT receive release time for that portion of your effort.
    • For Example: If you want a 10% release time appointment on GR12345 which will total $10,000 salary + benefits for the year, 5% of the appointment will be a DIRECT non-release appointment (no release time returned) and 5% will be a release time appointment. You would then only receive $5,000 salary + benefits for such an appointment.
    • Please contact the Department Manager should you need more clarity.


Further policies and procedures on Release Time:

  1. NIH Salary cap salary and benefits overages are expensed to the Departmental General funds by default. These expenses will be transferred to/covered by the faculty member’s release time work tag combination.
  2. Cost sharing effort does NOT collect release time. Please keep this in mind when applying for awards.
  3. Grant overruns and disallowed costs will be transferred to the faculty member’s release time work tag combination after the expense initially comes back to the department.
  4. Gas Cylinder/billing expenses that come back to the departmental release time funds, will be transferred to the appropriate faculty release time work tag combination.
  5. Should the Department cover an expense using the Departmental release time work tag combination prior to your having a release time account, the Department will discuss setting up an appropriate account with you in order to best move forward.
    • In this situation, the next time a release time dispersion is processed- it will be transferred to the faculty member less the amount owed to the Department.
    • If a PI is unable to generate funding to pay back the Department, a further discussion will take place regarding financial responsibility. The Department is not required to continuously cover deficits created in a faculty lab and will therefore deny requests as needed. Please plan accordingly.
  6. Any misc. charges to the Departmental release time work tag combination will be transferred to the faculty release time as necessary.
  7. Should you ever depart the University and therefore the Department, these funds are retained by the Department and are available for immediate use in our general release time budget.
  8. Research Staff and students CANNOT be placed on release time appointments.
  9. Please check back regularly for edits and updates as needed.


*Fiscal Years follow the same schedule every year: July 1 to June 30


Again: Should a release time balance not be available to you at this time, we will determine which other appropriate university work tag combination will be used in place of release time to cover associated expenses noted above. We will also work with you on a pay back plan in order to appropriately reimburse the Department as noted above.

If you have questions or need further clarity on the Department of Microbiology’s Release Time Policy and related procedures, please contact Staci McKinniss at mckinniss.17@osu.edu


Special Note: Previously, there was what we would refer to as a 9/12 Clearing Fund. This fund was a payroll system clearing fund. Funds that drop into this account automatically each month for payroll clearing, get moved to the main Department Release Time fund. This fund will no longer exist after FY21 year end clean up is completed.

Policy Implementation: circa 2013

Document Created: June 2017

Policy Last Updated: February 2024 (to update language in compliance with Workday and to include Teaching Faculty)