HIGHER ED FACULTY

Colleges Must Embrace Workplace Flexibility in Practice, Not Just on Paper, Leaders Say

August 01, 2014 / Phil Lesch

The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 1st, 2014

The college presidents, provosts, and other senior administrators who gathered here on Thursday to talk about work-life balance on their campuses agreed: Higher education has made remarkable progress in making it easier for employees to work and manage their family responsibilities. But it also has a long way to go.

"Other sectors took on this issue ahead of higher education," said William E. (Brit) Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, who was one of about 70 leaders who attended a daylong meeting on the subject, held by the American Council on Education and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

What’s standing in the way of more progress? Often the culture at institutions doesn’t match up with the family-friendly policies on paper.

Sometimes the climate is marred by a department chair who isn’t up on all the details of how to help a professor stop the tenure clock or take a leave to have or adopt a child. Or maybe the chair—who hasn’t always been trained on how various workplace-flexibility policies operate—has a hard time recognizing his or her options for modifying the duties of professors who need to adjust their workload to care for children or elderly parents.

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