Professional Development Assignments

Program Description

The Professional Development Assignment (PDA) Program at the University of Memphis encourages faculty members to continue their professional growth as scholars and teachers. 

A comprehensive list of recent PDA recipients can be found in the index on the left-hand side of this webpage. 

Eligibility & Duration

  • All full-time faculty members are eligible.Untenured and teaching faculty members may apply for a PDA that would begin after their third-year review.
  • One semester PDA recipients receive full pay.
  • One academic year PDA recipients receive half pay.
  • Faculty approved for a full academic year PDA cannot change to a semester after the approval has been granted.
  • Prior PDA recipients may apply again after seven years have elapsed since approval of the prior leave.
    • E.g.,: PDA Fall 2019 eligible again in Fall 2026
  • However, a faculty member may apply after only five years from the approval of a prior award provided they propose to spend a full year on PDA, at one-half pay.
    • E.g.,: PDA Fall 2019 or AY 2019-2020 eligible for AY 2024-2025

Application Guidelines 

Applications open early in the Fall semester of the year prior to the anticipated PDA. 

Proposals must include: 

  • A brief but specific plan (1-3 pages) for the work the faculty member intends to complete during the PDA. 
  • A statement about the expected benefit to the faculty member, the College, and the University.
  • Applicants are encouraged to seek non-University support for the period of their leave and attempts to obtain funds should be described in the proposal.
  • Faculty members anticipating financial support from external funding should discuss this with their Chair or Director prior to submitting the proposal.
  • Current curriculum vitae must accompany the proposal.
  • A Chair/Director endorsement email and course and service coverage plans (the Associate Dean will solicit these; applicants should discuss coverage plans with their Chair/Director in advance). 


  • PDA recipients must agree to remain at the University of Memphis for at least one full academic year after the assignment is completed.
  • PDA recipients sign a contract and submit a signed memo along with a one-paragraph description of the proposed work to Dr. Keri Brondo (kbrondo@memphis.edu) in 108 Scates.
  • Full year PDA recipients with sufficient external grant support can draw up to 50% of available funds that, in turn, can be applied toward their salary.
    • Approval to draw against external grant funds must be secured by the time they sign their contract accepting the PDA. 
    • Incentive pay cannot be drawn during a PDA period.
  • Within three months after the end of the leave period, the faculty member must submit a report to the Dean, describing the accomplishments and benefits of the leave.

Priorities To Be Used By The Selection Committee

  • Proposals that advance the faculty member's scholarship and/or teaching.
  • Proposals that show clear potential to enhance the faculty member's contributions to the department or division, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the University.
  • Proposals that clearly specify the plan for work during the leave period.
  • Faculty members who have not received a previous PDA.
  • Tenured faculty members.
  • For non-tenured and teaching faculty, priority given to those who have completed their third-year review.

CAS PDA Selection Committee Composition 

  • The committee is constituted by members of the College of Arts & Sciences Council for Graduate Studies and Research and coordinated by the Associate Dean of Research.
  • The committee members represent the three disciplinary areas of the College (Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Science and Mathematical Sciences).

Selection Process

  • After each member has reviewed the proposals, the PDA Committee meets with the Associate Dean overseeing the PDA program.
  • Each committee member reports their decision as to whether the candidate (1) should definitely be funded, (2) should be funded if budgetary considerations permit, or (3) should not be funded even if there are sufficient funds.
  • A supporting rationale is provided. 
  • If possible, the committee arrives at a consensus about each candidate.
  • Based upon the PDA Committee's recommendations, the Associate Dean works with Chairs/Directors on course and service coverage for recommended applicants, and associated costs. 
  • The Associate Dean overseeing the program discusses committee recommendations and financial feasibility with the Dean and the Dean’s professional staff. 
  • Final decisions are made by the Dean and Dean’s professional staff, based on budget availability. 
  • The Dean and Associate Dean issue decision letters to each applicant by the end of the fall semester. The faculty member’s Chair/Director is copied.

Electronic PDA Application

For older copies of Professional Development Assignments final reports, please contact Dr. Keri Brondo.