Great (Read: Well-Funded) Places to Work

July 14, 2008 | Blog

Today the Chronicle of Higher Education released its Great Colleges to Work For report and also the findings from a Michigan survey about family friendly policies in higher education. There is a single clear cross-cutting finding that brings “duh” to mind: The best colleges and universities to work for are those flush institutions which have the funds to do nice things for their professors.

Appearing at the top of nearly every list for the big schools (whether it’s best compensation & benefits, best facilities, work-life balance, job satisfaction, or confidence in senior leadership) are wealthy public & privates: Stanford, Emory, U.Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ohio State… Sure, there are several lesser-known schools on the list (among the best small schools for example), and there are plenty of wealthy places not on this list. But on the whole, it’s clear that providing faculty with what they need to do their work & enjoy it requires money. Legislature: listen up!!

Now… where are we on this “balance” thing? Ha! Read the report for more….

Here is where we need to go, now:

1. PAID time off for new biological mothers during AND after the pregnancy.
2. PAID time off for new biological fathers.
3. Stop the tenure clock for new mothers and new fathers, and grant ADDITIONAL extensions for the biological mother (who therefore experiences a pregnancy) and the nursing mother (which in itself is a medical event).
4. Grant UNPAID leave to care for children beyond the 12 weeks (!) allowed by FMLA.
5. Allow for negotiated reduced appointments for parents with child care responsibilities (need not be extraordinary!)
6. Provide for a period of modified duties (e.g. reduced teaching), for example for 1 year, for new parents.

Where should the $$ come from? The report has many good ideas, but most importantly moves beyond simply drawing down the professor’s sick leave , vacation leave, and disability benefits. There should be special university AND departmental funds for this purpose. It is absolutely appalling that many schools continue to treat pregnancy and childbirth as any other disability AND simultaneously exert special requirements on moms taking time off (e.g. forcing them to “pay back” their time off, making up teaching later for example) but not imposing those requirements on others taking disability leave (e.g. because of a heart attack).

I could go on and on, and perhaps since I am going through this personally on a daily basis, I’m not in the best position to make policy recommendations. Plus, I have this incredibly supportive husband who’s decided to prioritize my career and our family… we should all be so lucky!

Have a good day, folks.


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