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The policy on Involuntary Leave of Absence was developed over the summer at the request of President Rodin and myself and subsequently sent to the Council of Undergraduate Deans and the Council of Graduate Deans for their comments and input. A final version of the policy was then reviewed by the Council of Deans. The policy became effective August 28, 2002.

-- Provost Robert Barchi

Involuntary Leave of Absence

I. Introduction

The University of Pennsylvania provides a wide range of services to support and address the mental and/or physical health needs of students including assessment, short-term care as appropriate, and referrals. Our first concern is for the health and welfare of each individual in our community. Our goal is to enable all of our students to participate fully as members of Penn's academic community. However, students whose psychiatric, psychological, or other medical condition causes them to pose a threat to themselves and/or others, or causes them to significantly disrupt the educational activities of the University community, may be required to take a leave of absence from the University. Under these circumstances, students will be given the opportunity to take a voluntary leave. Should a student decline to take a voluntary leave, the University may determine that the student's health and welfare, and/or the needs of the community, require a period of involuntary leave of absence. The following policy establishes the protocol under which an involuntary leave of absence may occur and the process for return from leave.

II. Guidelines

The University may place a student on an involuntary leave of absence or require conditions for continued attendance under the following circumstances when the student exhibits behavior resulting from a psychological, psychiatric, or other medical condition that:

  • harms or threatens to harm the health or safety of the student or others;
  • causes or threatens to cause significant property damage; or
  • significantly disrupts the educational and other activities of the University community.

III. Withdrawal Process

When a student exhibits any of the behaviors described above, the matter may be brought to the attention of the School Dean's office or the Provost's office. The Provost, in consultation with the School Dean, may place a student on an involuntary leave of absence or impose conditions upon the student's continued attendance. The Provost will seek an immediate assessment of the student's psychological, psychiatric or other medical condition from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the Student Health Service, or from other appropriate professionals regarding the student's circumstances.

The student will be notified that the Provost is seeking to determine whether he/she should be required to take a leave of absence. When reasonably possible, the student will be given the opportunity to confer with the Provost and to provide additional information for consideration.

The Provost will conclude the review of available information with a decision that may include the following:

  • that the student remain enrolled with no conditions;that the
  • student remain enrolled subject to conditions (including a description of those conditions); or
  • that the student be placed on an involuntary leave of absence.

If the Provost's decision is to require an involuntary leave of absence, the decision will also indicate the length of the leave and, in consultation with the student's school, describe the conditions (if any) under which the student may seek to return from leave.

The student shall be informed in writing by the Provost of the leave decision, the effective date of the leave, and conditions for return (if applicable). If a student is permitted to remain enrolled subject to conditions, the student shall be informed in writing of the effective date and the duration of the modified attendance. The student's school will also be notified, in writing, of this action.

IV. Process for Return from Leave

A student seeking a return from leave must meet the conditions specified by the Provost. The student must apply in writing to the Provost with a copy to the School Dean.

It is the responsibility of the Provost to review the student's compliance with specified conditions for the return from leave and to advise the School Dean accordingly. Appropriate administrative duties with respect to convening this leave process and maintaining its records will be the responsibility of the Provost's Office.

V. Confidentiality

All records concerning involuntary leaves of absence will be kept in accordance with the University confidentiality policy and other applicable policies. The student's transcript will indicate only the notation of "leave of absence."

  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 6, October 1, 2002