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University Council December Meeting Coverage
December 15, 2009, Volume 56, No. 15

The December 9 University Council meeting consisted of a discussion of health and work-life resources at Penn related to parenting and childcare opportunities for students, faculty and staff, followed by an Open Forum. This month’s focus issue included presentations by four speakers.

Marie Witt, vice president for Business Services, spoke about Penn’s commitment to child care and how it has grown over the past few decades. The Penn Children’s Center has moved, expanded and become accredited, and offers discounts and a sliding scale to make it more affordable.  Penn has also helped local area providers to expand their services to Penn constituents in order to have additional accredited slots for children.

Marilyn Kraut, director of Quality of Worklife Programs for HR, explained how that office was developed in 1995 to connect with campus services and create a cohesive initiative for faculty and staff, offering dependent care pre-tax accounts, sick day for dependent care, family and medical leave, and child care referrals. The QOWL programming includes monthly lunchtime sessions, snow day backup child care, school strike guidance and flexible work option guidelines. As a result of the 2006 child care survey co-sponsored by HR and the Provost’s Office, additional resources have been made available including: adoption benefits and the new backup care which begins on January 4, 2010 (Almanac December 8, 2009).

Lubna Mian, associate director for Faculty Affairs, in the Office of the Provost, discussed the context of work-life balance which has a particular importance for faculty, particularly women faculty.  There is a new brochure, Recognizing the Changing Definition of Family, which the Provost’s Office produced and distributed at the meeting. It explains that Penn is committed to helping faculty at every stage of their career and family lives, and has policies such as the Faculty Parental Policy, and the Family and Medical Leave Policy.  There are child care and educational resources, both public and private.

Anita Mastroieni, director of the Graduate Student Center, spoke about the family-friendly policies for PhD students such as the recently expanded Childbirth and Adoption Policy and Family Leave  Absence Policy for PhD Students. The Graduate Student Center provides programs and information for students with children such as a monthly brunch and play date series, family-friendly tours of campus for families new to Penn, online information about local child care options, schools, and healthcare. The newest hat she will also be wearing is that of the director of the Family Resource Center which opens next month in Houston Hall (Almanac December 8, 2009).

The Open Forum included nine topics that were presented and then a response was give to each.

Almanac - December 15, 2009, Volume 56, No. 15