COLA Faculty Travel Policy

In addition to the COLA Travel Policy that applies to all COLA employees, the following policy and procedures apply to faculty travel:

  1. All faculty travel must be approved in advance by the supervising Department Chair or Center/Institute/Program Director or their designee, using the RTA/TAR process designated by the department/unit. 
    1. A designee can be a staff or faculty member with sufficient authority to approve travel requests as determined by the Chair/Director.
      1. For unusual or emergency travel requests, designees should consult with the Chair/Director regarding approval.
    2. While RTAs are not required to route through DEFINE to Chairs/Directors, each department/unit must have a formal process for seeking Chair/Director approval.
      1. At a minimum, faculty must email their Chair/Director or the unit’s designee, requesting advance approval for travel, to which Chairs/Directors/designees should reply in writing with approval or denial of the travel request.
        1. In units where faculty submit TARs, the faculty should upload the email approval when submitting the TAR, to show proof of chair approval.
        2. For units using RTAs only, faculty should provide the email approval to any departmental staff member preparing RTAs so that they may show proof of chair/director/designee approval.
      2. If a Chair/Director has access to DEFINE, they may choose to be included in the approval routing for the department/unit. This step in the process should be determined by the Chair/Director and be detailed as part of the department’s/unit’s process.
      3. For departments using TARs, approval requests may be routed to the Chair/Director in accordance with the department/unit designated process.
      4. If the Chair/Director is not part of the DEFINE or TAR approval routing, their email approval must be stated in the Notes section in the DEFINE VE5 (RTA) document. 
    3. If authorization has not been requested prior to travel, the faculty member will be asked to complete a signed memo acknowledging that they did not know that an approved RTA was required in advance of their travel and submit this with the reimbursement request.
    4. The Dean’s office will consider a maximum of one exception to this policy, typically for faculty members who are new UT employees traveling for the first time. Any further exception requests will be denied, and the cost of the travel will be the personal responsibility of the faculty member.
  2. Trips beyond 1 week while teaching:
    1. For faculty who are teaching classes during Fall, Spring, or Summer terms, trips beyond 1 week that will involve missed classes will be approved in exceptional cases and require an additional advance approval process. 
      1. In these cases, the Chair/Director (or their designee) must send via email to the COLA Associate Dean for Academic Affairs a written justification and coverage plan, which must identify specific faculty members who will cover missed classes. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will provide an email reply indicating approval or denial of the request.
        1. TAs, AIs and/or GRAs may not cover missed classes for a traveling faculty member who will be gone for longer than one week.
      2. In the Notes section of the VE5 document, the department/unit must include notes detailing the approval from the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, including the name(s) of the faculty member(s) who will cover any missed classesin the “Disposition of Duties” section. 
  3. Travel during the first or last week of classes and finals periods.
    1. For faculty teaching classes during Fall, Spring, or Summer terms, travel during the first or last week of classes and/or finals periods will be approved in exceptional cases and requires an additional advance approval process.
      1. In these cases, the faculty member must email the Chair/Director requesting advance approval for such travel and must include the following information:
        1. Travel dates, missed classes, name(s) of faculty member(s) who will oversee missed classes, final exam dates and how exams will be administered, a plan for on-time grade submission, and a method of contact for student queries.
      2. The department/unit must include detailed notes of the advance approval from the Chair/Director in the RTA (VE5) document notes.
    2. For Chairs or Directors traveling during the first or last week of classes, finals period, or longer than a week, prior approval from the Dean’s Office is required. 
      1. This approval can be obtained via email between the Chair or Director and the Dean or Associate Dean they report to.
      2. They should indicate the reason for travel, who will be assuming their administrative duties, if any, method of contact during their travel either for the representative assuming the administrative duties or themselves, as well as any information regarding missed classes or finals as listed above
      3. Once the approval is obtained, if the travel is to a Restricted Region, a copy of this documentation will need to be included in the Restricted Regions request.
  4. Personal Travel
    1. Personal travel must be documented through an RTA/TAR when such travel will take a faculty member away from their research and teaching duties during the fall and spring semesters or during a summer session when the faculty member is teaching, even though the university is not covering the cost of the travel. This is done to document the plan for any classes missed and/or to identify the disposition of duties while the faculty member will be absent.
    2. The travel of family members of university employees may not be reimbursed with university funds.
  5. International Travel
    1. All international travel must follow the processes outlined above as well as the University International Travel Process. These include:
      1. Register for Travel through UT-Austin’s International Travel Registry (ITR)
      2. Restricted Regions Travel policy for UT Austin.
        1. Any advanced Chair/Director/Associate Dean approvals required for a faculty member’s travel should be noted in the Restricted Regions request.
        2. If a faculty member is on leave during travel to a restricted region, that information must be included in the “Traveler’s Additional Comments” section of the Restricted Regions request.
    2. International Travel on State Funds
      1. International travel using state funds requires advance approval from the Chair/Director and the Dean.
        1. Chair/Director approval is required to be obtained prior to submitting the Foreign Travel on State Fund request form for Dean’s approval.
        2. The Foreign Travel on State Fund request form must be approved by the Dean before submitting a VE5 for approval.
          1. The VE5/VE6 should be in the “created” status when this form is submitted.
        3. Both the Foreign Travel on State Fund request form and the VE5 must include a note detailing Chair/Director approval as well as the specific name(s) of the faculty member(s) who will cover any missed classes in the “Disposition of Duties” section.
          1. The power form now includes an attachment button and an additional notes box to ensure you are able include the required information.
      2. Any request for foreign travel on state funds that does not include the required prior approvals will not be processed.