The Alfred P. Sloan Projects for Faculty Career Flexibility
Research, conducted over the last decade and by a range of institutions, provides compelling evidence that higher education institutions can demonstrate a strong business case for providing flexibility for their tenure-track and tenured faculty. Flexibility constitutes an effective tool for recruiting and retaining talented faculty. Career flexibility is especially critical to retaining some of the most qualified female Ph.D.s in academe. Acquiring the best talent is essential to an institution's ability to achieve excellence and maintain its competitive advantage in a global environment.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has played a vital role in developing the field of work-family scholarship through its Workplace, Workforce, and Working Families program. In 2003, the Foundation partnered with the American Council on Education (ACE) to raise awareness throughout higher education about the need to create, implement, or enhance policies and procedures designed to support faculty lives throughout their careers.
The report was the first product of a grant to ACE from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to fund the project: Creating Options: Models for Flexible Tenure-Track Career Pathways. The focus of this ACE project was to tackle some of the structural barriers, with the objective of developing and using specific recommendations for augmenting the number of pathways to a successful academic career.
In the promotion and tenure processes, tenure-track and tenured faculty frequently encounter ambiguous and contradictory criteria, conflicting messages between institutional rhetoric and the reward structure, murky and secretive review procedures, and unmitigated stress. Added to this inhospitable combination, tenure-track and tenured faculty often find difficulty successfully navigating the promotion and tenure processes while simultaneously striving to fulfill personal responsibilities. These factors cause many talented academics to choose non- or marginal academic career paths.
The rigid, traditional model of academe particularly affects women and people of color. The barriers that they encounter in their climb up the academic ladder typically stem from the structure of academe (i.e., policies and practices) and/or from the culture of academe (i.e., experiences of isolation, marginalization, tokenism, exclusion, etc.).
Structural barriers include tenure and promotion policies, which dictate both the kind of work faculty must perform to earn tenure (research vs. teaching vs. service), as well as the way in which they must do the work (independently vs. collaboratively) to be rewarded. Another example of a structural barrier is the probationary period (the pre-tenure years), which poses a problem for women faculty because it often coincides with their prime years for childbearing. In addition, for some senior faculty approaching retirement, the lack of flexible employment options frequently translates into continuing in their full-time positions for longer than they wish and, in some cases, longer than departmental colleagues want them to stay.
To this end, the goals of Creating Options: Models for Flexible Faculty Career Pathways were three-fold:
To raise awareness of the problems that higher education faculty encounter, particularly those at research universities, regarding their recruitment, retention, revitalization, work life/family balance, and career satisfaction.
To initiate a national dialogue on the need to alter specific aspects of the structure of the academy and to, in turn, impact the culture, particularly with respect to tenured and tenure-track faculty at research universities. Such changes are needed in order to make tenured and tenure-track positions more viable career options for talented scholars who wish to pursue successful and fulfilling academic careers while simultaneously being able to manage personal life/family obligations.
To generate thoughtful, tested approaches to assist research universities in implementing promising practices in this area.
First Round of Sloan Awards—Research Universities
Building on the successes of ACE's Creating Options: Models for Flexible Faculty Career Pathways project, and the Families and Work Institute (FWI) When Work Works project, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation partnered with ACE and FWI to develop The Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Faculty Career Flexibility. The purpose of this Awards program was to push institutional efforts toward broader implementation and evaluation of structural and cultural changes needed at research universities to create more flexible career paths and to make academic careers compatible with family care giving responsibilities. The awards program was open to the 259 research extensive and intensive universities as defined in the 2000 Carnegie Classifications. In all, 55 institutions participated in the first round and 25 institutions advanced to the second round.
In September of 2006, five universities were granted these awards; Duke University, Lehigh University, University of California (Berkeley and Davis campuses), University of Florida and University of Washington. Each award included a $250,000 accelerator grant that enabled the universities to expand and enhance flexible career paths for faculty. In addition, Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, each were awarded $25,000 grants in recognition of innovative practices in career flexibility. To read about best practices from these institutions, please visit our Toolkit.
Duke University was recognized for plans to establish a Flexible Work Arrangements Policy, a Pre-Retirement Planning/Post-Retirement Work Program, and a Dual Career Recruitment/Retention Program that will utilize a variety of resources at Duke and neighboring institutions.
To accommodate faculty shifts to and from full-time status, Lehigh University plans to establish an Integrated Faculty Career Transition Program, which will provide funds for boosting research productivity, attending conferences, and collaborative efforts for faculty working less than full time. A newly appointed Career Transition Advisor will oversee the program and help facilitate smooth and productive transitions.
Working together, the University of California (UC) campuses at Berkeley and Davis will initiate a system-wide comprehensive educational campaign to promote equitable use of existing flexible career policies throughout the entire 10-campus UC System. As part of an effort to share best practices across the campuses, UC Berkeley will create and disseminate a comprehensive Family-Friendly Toolkit for department chairs/managers and deans, detailing family accommodation policies and laws, benefits, and resources, while UC Davis will create an innovative Family-Friendly Advisor Program for faculty considering having a family.
The University of Florida will introduce initiatives designed to establish additional policies, stimulate cross-campus discussions, standardize practices, and encourage career flexibility choices. A centralized administrative leaders' academy, a Presidential Council on Diversity and the Status of Women, and a Dual Career Services Program are among the additional initiatives.
"Eight by '08" is the title of an ambitious eight-point program to be launched by the University of Washington. Plans include expanding the Leadership Development Workshops developed for department chairs and emerging leaders in the sciences as a result of a National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant to all university departments to increase both awareness and participation. Other aspects of the programs include implementing a pilot paid parental leave policy for faculty, creating a tracking mechanism for policy use and faculty career outcomes, creating a peer support group for "new mom" faculty members, and increasing the number of infant and toddler childcare slots available to faculty.
Iowa State University was selected for a creative database and tracking system to quantify the benefits that can accrue from flexible career policies and to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of these policies, particularly as they relate to faculty career decisions and productivity. The University of Wisconsin, Madison, was recognized for the Vilas Life Cycle Professorship Program, which provides financial support and personal attention to faculty who encounter critical junctures in their careers that affect both their research and their personal lives.
Applicants were evaluated in a two-part process. During the first stage, an institutional survey about faculty career flexibility options was offered to participating institutions' leadership. The second stage included a faculty survey that was offered to tenured and tenure-track faculty (excluding medical schools), and the development of a university-wide plan for accelerating the development and use of career flexibility programs among faculty. Among the issues considered were faculty recruitment and retention, strengthening faculty commitment, engagement and morale achieving institutional excellence and maintaining academic competitiveness in a global market.
A blue ribbon panel of retired university and higher education association presidents, chancellors, and chief executive officers reviewed and rated the plans, including ACE President Molly Corbett Broad, former president of the 16-campus University of North Carolina; Rita Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation; John DiBiaggio, former president of Tufts University (MA), Michigan State University and the University of Connecticut; Stanley Ikenberry, former president of ACE and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; C. Peter Magrath, former president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, the University of Missouri System, the University of Minnesota and the State University of New York at Binghamton.
Second Round of Sloan Awards—Master's Large Institutions
Building on continued success from the first round of awards, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, ACE, and FWI conducted another round of awards to master's large institutions, as designated by the 2005 Carnegie Classification. The awards program was open to the 325 master’s institutions as defined in the 2005 Carnegie Classifications. In all, 56 institutions participated in the first round survey and 26 institutions advanced to the second round of competition.
In 2008, six universities received $200,000 accelerator awards, enabling them to continue creating flexible career paths that advance their institutional goals. These institutions were Boise State University (ID), Canisius College (NY), Santa Clara University (CA), San Jose State University (CA), Simmons College (MA) and the University of Baltimore (MD). Benedictine University (IL) and Plymouth State University (NH) also received $25,000 awards in recognition of innovative practices in career flexibility.
Boise State University plans to develop mentoring programs for faculty to address the work-life balance issues inherent in all career stages; create policies and processes that allow for part-time tenure-track and tenured appointments for faculty at all stages of their careers; and educate promotion and tenure committee members and faculty regarding policies and procedures that speak to career flexibility, thereby ensuring consistency in opportunities and decision-making across the university.
Canisius College will implement several new policies and practices: instituting a second extension of the probationary period; establishing a half-time or part-time appointment with proportional salary; allowing faculty to count summer teaching as part of their annual course load; providing employment assistance to faculty spouses as well as use of the employee assistance program; and creating an emergency family travel loan in the event of a distant family emergency such as a death, accident, or sickness.
San José State University has proposed an academic career life cycle approach for early, middle, and late career faculty. An example of one of the proposed initiatives is the development of a special retreat for tenured faculty members who are evaluated in the post-tenure review process. The retreat will focus on a "development option," to reinforce the importance of reflection on past achievements and to plan for future academic accomplishments.
Santa Clara University will implement initiatives in several areas, one of which will include the development of a pedagogy for change by offering undergraduate courses focusing on work-life balance for both female and male students. The courses will include both cognitive and experiential approaches to helping students develop the knowledge base and the skills needed to navigate issues associated with work-life. Students will also engage in simulated work-life decision-making exercises, requiring them to make and explain their choices in career planning, budgeting, partnership or marriage, child care, scheduling, and housekeeping. All advances made at Santa Clara University will be shared with the 28 members of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.
Simmons College will implement a training program for department chairs, deans, and search, tenure, and promotion committees to help them understand and advance existing flexibility options on their campus. Simmons will encourage scholarship excellence without creating additional workload by systematically reducing faculty loads from three-three to three-two and by creating a fund to hire temporary replacement faculty for those faculty members who are on leave. Finally, Simmons will implement an innovative succession planning program for mid- and senior-level faculty interested in academic administration.
The University of Baltimore will address the needs of "Generation X" faculty by developing a new hire transition package, including dual-career support. The university also will facilitate and formalize a program of career mentoring by peers. Additionally, the University of Baltimore will define, formalize and communicate a liberal policy of phased-in retirement for faculty. All best practices developed will be shared with their sister institutions in the University System of Maryland.
Benedictine University will commence an Appreciative Inquiry Summit on Academic Career Flexibility using the internal expertise of their Ph.D. program faculty in Organizational Development. They will develop a compendium of career flexibility best practices from focus groups of key experts to be selected from more than 150 alumni and current doctoral students. By establishing action projects around the institution's academic priorities from the Summit, Benedictine will incorporate those projects into their existing Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) strategic plan. Plymouth State University has effectively used, on an ad hoc basis, paid leave for extenuating faculty health and family reasons; the university will work in conjunction with the University System of New Hampshire to determine if, and how, this practice can be formalized into policy.
Applicants were evaluated in a two-part process. During the first stage, an institutional survey about faculty career flexibility options was offered to participating institutions' leadership. The second stage included a faculty survey that was offered to tenured and tenure-track faculty (excluding medical schools), and the development of a university-wide plan for accelerating the development and use of career flexibility programs among faculty. Among the issues considered were faculty recruitment and retention; strengthening faculty commitment, engagement, and morale; achieving institutional excellence; and maintaining academic competitiveness in a global market.
A blue ribbon panel of recently retired college and university presidents and chancellors reviewed and rated the plans, including Charles I. Bunting, former chancellor of Vermont State Colleges; Anne L. Deming, president emerita of Notre Dame College (OH); Gladys Styles Johnston, chancellor emerita of the University of Nebraska at Kearney; Dale Rogers Marshall, president emerita of Wheaton College (MA); and Bob H. Suzuki, president emeritus of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
Third Round of Sloan Awards—Baccalaureate Colleges (Arts & Sciences)
Following the success of the first two rounds of Sloan Awards, a third round of awards was conducted for institutions which were designated as baccalaureate colleges by the 2008 Carnegie Classification. The awards program was open to the 287 institutions defined in the 2008 Carnegie Classifications as baccalaureate-arts and sciences institutions. In all, 60 colleges participated in the first round survey and 30 advanced to the second round of competition.
The six recipients of the 2009 Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Faculty Career Flexibility were Albright College (PA), Bowdoin College (ME), Middlebury College (VT), Mount Holyoke College (MA), Oberlin College (OH), and Washington and Lee University (VA). Each award of $200,000 will enable the institutions to expand and enhance flexible career paths for faculty. In addition, Dickinson College (PA) and Smith College (MA) received $25,000 awards in recognition of innovative practices in career flexibility.
Albright College will address faculty issues by analyzing faculty work load, governance responsibilities, and promotion and tenure criteria, and how these variables affect faculty members' work/life balance. Additionally, Albright will establish a shared position policy. A database pulling on the prior two years' usage of flexibility will be developed and monitored.
Bowdoin College will continue its work to accommodate partners using half-time tenure-track positions, job sharing for academic couples, and a "research associate" title for partners seeking an institutional affiliation. Bowdoin recently re-apportioned committee and governance responsibilities to promote a better balance between teaching, service and scholarship.
Middlebury College will extend its "associate status" program, currently offered to faculty phasing into retirement or pursuing demanding scholarly activities, to new faculty parents. Middlebury also plans to develop a "clipping service" or RSS feed on a new work/life web site that will highlight significant articles or new initiatives to increase awareness about work/life strategies.
Mount Holyoke College will increase the attractiveness of phased retirement for senior faculty by consolidating several flexibility options into a standard comprehensive work plan for phasing faculty. Additionally, the dean will provide monies for faculty to keep their research going during and after a family leave.
Oberlin College will promote their generous policies, such as full-paid maternity leave for full- and part-time faculty, temporary shifts to part-time appointments for dependent care and tenure clock extensions. Oberlin also will incorporate discussion of career flexibility into its junior mentoring program.
Washington & Lee University recently launched a study of key issues related to work-life balance in relation to expectations for teaching and research. The resulting initiatives will provide more options for child care, offer technological alternatives to compensate for necessary time away from campus, and create a culture of acceptance for flexible career trajectories that are different from the more rigid timetables for tenure and promotion of the past.
Dickinson College will enhance its Faculty Career Cycle Program to include support for faculty dealing with health and family issues. The Career Cycle Program is currently limited to faculty who are completing a period of intense, significant service to the college and are returning to their teaching and scholarship activities. Smith College has established a Center for Work and Life that focuses on the challenges of negotiating career, family responsibilities, and personal well-being. Faculty report that one of the most challenging aspects of work-life balance is caring for an aging parent. The Center for Work and Life will develop a model for eldercare support, including a comprehensive web site with referral information, local support groups, and information on new research findings.
Applicants were evaluated in a two-part process. During the first stage, an institutional survey about faculty career flexibility options was offered to participating institutions' leadership. The second stage included a faculty survey that was offered to tenured and tenure-track faculty (excluding medical schools), and the development of a university-wide plan for accelerating the development and use of career flexibility programs among faculty. Among the issues considered were faculty recruitment and retention, strengthening faculty commitment, engagement and morale, achieving institutional excellence and maintaining academic competitiveness in a global market.
A panel of recently retired college and university presidents and chancellors reviewed and rated the plans, including Ann H. Hasslemo, former president of Hendrix College (AR); Stanton Hales, former president of College of Wooster (OH); Barbara Hill, former president of Sweet Briar College (VA); Richard Kneedler, president emeritus of Franklin and Marshall College (PA); and Bette Landman, former president of Arcadia University (PA).
Faculty Retirement—All Institutional Types
In 2012, a 4th round of Sloan Awards was conducted, for Best Practices in Retirement Transitions. ACE will be working with the fifteen winning institutions (from research, master's large, and baccalaureate-arts and sciences Carnegie classifications) to collect data about how to best support faculty transitions into retirement while also supporting institutional needs. ACE will disseminate these best practices to academic leaders—first through the wide release of a monograph, and then by disseminating the findings through various venues.