Announcing “Family Friendly” Policies
for Faculty and Graduate Students
Provost Ronald Daniels and Deputy Provost Janice Bellace are pleased to announce that the University of Pennsylvania has revised its policies relating to faculty members’ career-life balance and has adopted a uniform policy regarding dependent care leave for Ph.D. students. These policies have been developed to allow Penn scholars to nurture both their careers and their families.
Faculty Career-Life Balance
Last spring the Provost’s office convened the Task Force on Career-Family Balance. After evaluating existing policies, and in consultation with key University stakeholders, several revisions have been made regarding faculty members’ work-life balance. New adoptive and biological parents who are the primary caregiver for a new child in the home are now entitled to a 50% reduction in teaching responsibilities over the course of one academic year without a reduction in compensation. In addition, faculty members wishing to reduce their duties for a longer period can do so with a reduction in compensation. Under the new policies, junior faculty members are no longer required to request an extension of the probationary period to take into account their family-care responsibilities. Rather, junior faculty members who will be primary care givers will notify the Provost’s Office of their eligibility for this extension and will be granted an additional year on the tenure clock.
“This policy relieves unnecessary pressure from young faculty members who are devoted to their research and teaching, but also want to begin or expand their families while they are still in the early stages of their career,” said Provost Daniels. “It has been difficult for some faculty members to strike a balance between work and family and we are committed to retaining our talented junior faculty members who wish to do so.”
Dependent Care for Ph.D. Students
Ph.D. students may also face undue pressure when attempting to advance their careers while starting families. Last year the Provost’s office convened an ad hoc Women in Academe working group. As a result, two new policies will help guide students and departments by creating University-wide standards on dependent-care leave for Ph.D. students. Doctoral students who give birth during the school year will now be eligible for eight weeks paid time off (unless other conditions apply to prevent them from doing so under a grant from an external source). During this period, doctoral students will be relieved of academic duties while retaining full student status. In addition, doctoral students who find themselves responsible for the care of a dependent can request a Family Leave of Absence that will stop the clock on all academic requirements for up to two semesters.
Since 2003, the Office of the Provost, the Vice Provost for University Life, the Graduate Student Center and GAPSA have worked together to improve conditions for graduate and professional students with or planning to have dependents. Adoption of this policy builds on the accomplishments already made on behalf of students with dependents: the creation of a part-time fellow position dedicated to providing information to aid student life as a parent (including health insurance policies and dependent care) and the procurement of baby-changing tables in restrooms in key buildings across campus such as the Graduate Student Center and Houston Hall, as well as school facilities. Private health spaces for graduate student women who are in the midst of breast-feeding will also be put in place.
“GAPSA has devoted itself to working on behalf of students with dependents, and our efforts and partnerships on this front are continuing to produce tangible results,” said GAPSA Chair Lela Jacobsohn. “I consider the Dependent Care Policy a tremendous step forward in addressing the particular needs of student mothers at the time of childbirth as well as the needs of all students with dependents. There is still much progress to be made, and GAPSA remains steadfast in its commitment to establishing a family-supportive environment for graduate and professional students at Penn.”
“There has been a lot of attention paid recently to the relatively slow progress of women in academic careers. Untenured faculty members and Ph.D. students are of particular concern to us because many find themselves in the position of trying to launch careers and families at the same time,” said Deputy Provost Bellace. “The University hopes that these new policies will encourage both faculty members and graduate students to view their scholarly and personal lives as in support of, rather than in competition with, one another, and will result in the promotion of a more diverse professorate.”
Ed Note: See the Almanac Supplement for the approved revised polices relating to junior faculty members: Faculty Leaves of Absence Reduction in Duties; Policy on Extension of the Probationary Periods that Apply to Granting of Tenure or Promotion to Associate Professor; and Faculty Parental Policy: Active Service Modified Duties and for the new policies relating to doctoral students: Policy on Childbirth Accommodation for Ph.D. Student Mothers and Family Leave of Absence Policy.
Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 24, February 28, 2006