Faculty Modified Duties Assignment (FMDA)

With a Faculty Modified Duties Assignment (FMDA), departments and colleges support the work-life balance of faculty by facilitating the temporary reconfiguration of faculty duties, as specified in the Position Responsibility Statement (PRS), for one semester as associated with the birth of a child, the adoption of a child, or the foster care placement of a child. Faculty responsibilities remain at a 100% effort level as specified in the faculty member’s PRS, but the effort levels in areas of responsibility (e.g., teaching, research, professional service, clinical service, and extension and outreach) are rebalanced for one semester so as to provide the faculty member with greater flexibility during that time period. Central coordination and funding intend to standardize such reconfigurations of a faculty member's PRS for one semester.

Modified duties assignments occurs in the context of the arrival, adoption, or placement of a child. Faculty are encouraged to be mindful of this context in outlining scholarship goals and hence, rebalancing position responsibilities. In their efforts to achieve greater flexibility for one semester, faculty may wish to review the Meaning of Scholarship (Faculty Handbook in their departments/schools and consider a variety of activities that may be fruitful in furthering their position responsibilities, while meeting department needs. For example, rather than doubling the expected research productivity (e.g., submitting twice the grants and publications in a time period), faculty are encouraged to consider a broader spectrum of other research activities and goals to advance their research program (e.g., focusing on unfinished projects, synthesizing literature, networking with potential collaborators, participating in virtual meetings and events). Related to teaching activities, faculty are encouraged to consider activities described in Scholarly Teaching (FH such as directing student projects, serving on student committees, and contributions to curricular development and professional societies and organizations that seek to improve teaching.

All 12-month and 9-month faculty members are eligible for an FMDA. An eligible faculty member who is designated as the primary caregiver for a child may request a one-semester modification of their PRS (“standard PRS” or “standard responsibilities”) with reassignment from certain areas of faculty responsibility to other areas of faculty responsibility. The modified duties assignment must be completed within 12 months of the birth of a child, the adoption of a child, or the foster care placement of a child. The maximum period for which PRS duties will be reassigned through an FMDA is one semester. A faculty member is eligible for FMDA only twice in the course of their employment at Iowa State.

A 12-month or 9-month faculty member who is a birth parent may use sick leave for maternity according to Iowa State University policy, in addition to FMDA, if eligible. For periods when full leave is appropriate (e.g., directly following a birth), a faculty member must consult University Human Resources (515-294-3753 or fmla@iastate.edu) to apply for FMLA and/or to inquire about the use of available balances of sick leave during the modified duties semester.   

Tenure-eligible faculty who are eligible for FMDA may also request an extension of the tenure clock (see Faculty Handbook, section

A faculty member having duties temporarily reassigned through FMDA must return to their standard duties, as articulated in the standard PRS, following the FMDA.

Additional details are provided in the Faculty Modified Duties Assignment FAQ (PDF, 74KB).

Process for requesting an FMDA

A faculty member must notify their department chair of the desire for FMDA as early as possible, and typically no later than four months in advance of the semester in which the FMDA would commence. To formally request the FMDA, the faculty member submits an FMDA Request Form (DOC, 25KB) to the department chair certifying that they will have primary responsibility for the child during the indicated modified duties period. The faculty member must consult with University Human Resources on the use of FMLA and/or sick leave associated with the arrival of a child.

The faculty member and department chair will discuss and develop modifications to the PRS for the period under discussion. Once the modifications are agreed upon, the faculty member and department chair sign the PRS. For the purposes of a modified duties assignment as described here, the process is not subject to the provisions of PRS mediation.

The department chair completes the remainder of the FMDA Request Form (DOC, 25KB), indicates any funding that is needed to facilitate the modified PRS, and forwards the form to the corresponding dean for review. The dean will review the proposed modified duties for consistency and fairness, will indicate whether or not funding is sought, and will forward the FMDA Request Form (DOC, 25KB) for approval to the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost.   

In order to facilitate the FMDA, the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost will contribute centrally half of the cost associated with the modified PRS. The remaining half will be covered through college and/or departmental resources. The cost of FMDA for a faculty member with a joint appointment between two colleges or between a college and a center will be split proportionally. These costs can include replacement hiring to cover teaching, clinical duties, research supervision, and/or service needs during the modification of the faculty member’s position responsibilities.

Please see the Faculty Modified Duties Assignment Workflow (PDF, 31KB) for a visual illustration of the process for requesting a FMDA.



Woman and child sitting on the grass


Kaela Black,
Faculty Personnel and Policy Director,