Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Toolkit: Common Policies and Practices at Liberal Arts Institutions

 

​The Alfred P. Sloan Projects for Faculty Career Flexibility

The following statements are based on the results of an Institutional Survey completed in the Fall of 2008 by institutions which applied for an Alfred P. Sloan Award for Faculty Career Flexibility.

 
Baccalaureate Institutions and Stopping the Tenure Clock

Policy: Out of sixty institutions answering this question, 72% allow faculty members for stop the tenure clock under certain circumstances. Only 8% of institutions claim that stopping the tenure clock is not allowable on their campus.

Reason: Listed below are allowable reasons for requesting an adjustment of the tenure clock.

For what reasons can tenure-track faculty stop the clock?  

​Reason​​     Percent​​
​Childbirth​ ​82%
​Adoption ​​ ​​78%
Family care/Eldercare ​​55%
Temporary part-time appointment ​ ​​23%
Faculty members' own disability​ ​70%
Other​ ​8%

 

Institutional Structures and Climate that Support Faculty Adjusting the Tenure Clock

Arrangements before and after adjusting the tenure clock: Unfortunately, the majority of institutions (59%) do not provide some type of written statement to internal Promotion and Tenure committees indicating how the time to tenure and how the work of faculty who stop the tenure clock should be evaluated. Likewise, at the liberal arts institutions which use external reviewers, no written statement is likely to be provided to outside reviewers.

Climate: At more than half of the institutions, faculty have an unlimited amount of times they can adjust the tenure clock for family care (i.e., childbirth, adoption, eldercare) as well as their own disability.

 
Baccalaureate Institutions and Modified Duties

Policy: Out of sixty institutions answering this question, a little more than half (52%) had some type of a formal, written policy that allowed for a temporary period of modified duties with no reduction in pay. When institutions did not have a formal, written policy, they were likely to have practices available on an ad hoc basis (35%).

Faculty who are eligible:

Faculty: Both tenured and tenured track faculty were eligible for a reduction of duties. 85% of institutions allowed both men and women to be eligible for a modification of duties, with 3% of institutions allowing only women to be eligible.

Reason: Listed below are eligibility rates based on reason for requesting modified duties.

What groups of faculty members are potentially eligible for temporary relief from teaching, research or service duties with no reduction in pay?

​Groups Percent​
​New biological mothers ​83%
​New biological fathers ​67%
​New adoptive mothers ​72%
New adoptive fathers​ ​65%
​Faculty members caring for a seriously ill or injured child ​48%
​Faculty members caring for an elderly family member ​40%
​Faculty members providing ordinary child care beyond the period of medical disability ​13%
​Faculty members with a serious personal illness or injury 77%

 

Institutional Structures and Climate that Support Faculty Taking Modified Duties:

Funding: In institutions which provide funding for replacing instructional faculty who on leave, 71% provide funding from a centralized source. For the remaining schools, colleagues were likely to take up the slack without additional compensation.

Arrangements before and after the period of modified duties: Unfortunately, liberal arts colleges were unlikely to have written policies about how faculty will be evaluated for tenure with a period of modified duties in their dossiers. Liberal arts colleges were also unlikely to have written policies about how workload would be determined during the period of modified duties.

Climate: Instructional faculty are not likely to be asked to makeup their teaching duties before or after the period of modified duties. At most institutions, there is no maximum number of times a modification of duties can be requested and the period of modified duties can be extended beyond two semesters.

 
Baccalaureate Institutions and Maternity Leave

According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers are required to treat pregnant women the same as they would another employee with a medical disability. Therefore, this section lists policies and practices for biological mothers only.

Policy: Out of sixty institutions answering this question, 93% had some type of a formal, written policy providing full or partial pay during the academic year for new biological mothers for disability related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Faculty who are eligible:

Faculty: In all instances save one, institutions did not make distinctions as to who was eligible for maternity leave based on tenure status.

Institutional Structures and Climate that Support Faculty Taking Maternity Leave:

Funding: The sources for funding during the period of medical disability are listed below. Note that some states (e.g., California and New York) use state-funded disability pay to cover these costs.

What is the source of this pay during the period of disability?

​Source Percent​
College/University sponsored short-term disability​ ​43%
General college/university funds​ ​45%
​Special college/university funds ​15%
​The faculty members own accrued sick leave time ​12%
​The faculty members own accrued vacation time ​2%
​Salary savings that are not used to hire replacement teaching ​7%
 
 

Climate: The majority of institutions (67%) fully paid women during the period of medical disability. At some colleges, the amount of pay (i.e., partial pay) was related to length of service.

Baccalaureate Institutions and Parental Leave

Adoptive parents, women after the period of medical disability, and biological fathers are generally grouped together when considering parental leave not covered by disability or pregnancy–related legislation. This section compares the parental leave policies of these faculty members.

Policy: Out of the sixty institutions answering these questions, most liberal arts colleges have some type of policy providing full or partial pay for faculty members on leave.

Does the college/university have policies providing full or partial pay during the academic year for faculty members during parental leaves?

Biological Mothers during the period of disability​ ​Biological Mothers after the period of disability ​Adoptive Mothers Biological Fathers* ​ Adoptive Fathers* ​
There is a college university-wide formal written policy providing pay​ ​93% ​67% ​67% ​63% ​62%
There is no college/university-wide policy but some schools have formal written policies providing pay​ ​0% ​0% ​2% ​0% ​0%
There are no such formal policies but ad hoc arrangements exist​ ​5% ​15% ​15% ​7% ​12%
​No such policy is offered to the faculty member for full or partial pay ​2% ​17% ​17% ​17% ​13%
 * Thirteen percent (13%) of colleges claim that no male faculty members have ever requested parental leave. 
 
 
Institutional Structures and Climate that Support Faculty Taking Parental Leave
 

Funding: The amount of funding differed among faculty members, with biological mothers most likely to receive full pay. Again, this difference may be due to state policies on disability pay.

How much pay do faculty members recieve during this parental leave?

​​Biological Mothers during the period of disability​ ​Biological Mothers during the period of disability​ Adoptive Mothers ​ Biological Fathers​ Adoptive Fathers
​Full pay ​67% ​40% ​45% ​35% ​38%
​Partial pay ​18% ​32% ​28% ​28% ​27%
​Amount of pay varies by length of service ​13% ​10% ​8% ​8% ​7%
​Amount of pay varies by department/college ​0% ​0% ​0% ​2% ​0%
 

 

Climate: Again, as expected, biological mothers are afforded a longer period of time off, most likely due to the period of medical disability that accompanies pregnancy and childbirth.

Assuming that the request for parental leave occurs at the beginning of an academic semester/quarter/term, for what period can the faculty member typically receive full or partial pay, during the academic year? 

​  Biological Mothers ​Adoptive Mothers Biological Fathers ​  Adoptive Fathers ​
Amount of time allowed varies by colleges/schools/department​ ​2% 3% ​7% ​3%
Less than the remainder of the academic semester/quarter/terms​ ​7% ​12% ​12% ​13%
​The remainder of the academic semester/quarter/term ​72% ​60% ​52% ​52%
An additional academic semester/quarter/term​ ​7% ​7% ​3% ​3%
More than two academic semesters/quarters/terms​ ​2% ​0% ​0% ​0%

 

When unpaid leave was considered, institutions were likely to give women an additional semester of unpaid leave, while men were likely to only receive either one semester, or the remainder of a semester, of unpaid leave.

Phased Retirement

Policy: Of the sixty institutions answering this question, 92% offered some type of phased retirement option, with 55% of institutions having a formal written policy governing phased retirement. 53% of institutions have a specific time period over which faculty phase, while 37% had no specific time period.

Institutional Structures and Climate that Support Faculty Phasing Towards Retirement:

Funding: Most institutions (64%) still contribute to faculty's retirement as they phase towards retirement, with 21% contributing the same amount as if the faculty member were working full-time.

Arrangements before and after taking a part-time appointment: 63% of institutions had written policies about workload for faculty phasing into retirement by working part-time.

Climate: 58% of institutions require that their faculty give up tenure as they phase towards retirement. Liberal arts colleges and universities provide a variety of ways that faculty can still be engaged on their campuses after retirement. Listed below are some examples.

How does the college/university offer faculty members who are retired opportunities to remain engaged in college/university life and continue to make contributions?

​Method Percent​
​Attend and vote at departmental faculty meetings? ​10%
Attend but not vote at departmental faculty meetings?​ ​32%
Attend and vote at faculty senate meetings?​ ​5%
Attend but not vote at faculty senate meetings?​ ​37%
Have library privileges? ​ ​92%
​Have parking privileges? ​82%
Have access to recreational services?​ ​88%
Use research facilities?​ ​77%
​Have office space in their department? ​18%
​Have office space elsewhere in the university? ​58%
​Have access to college/university-provided clerical and technical support? ​42%
​Have computer system privileges? ​85%
Have a professorial title? ​ ​85%
Be a Principal Investigator?​ ​55%
​Direct or participate in dissertations/theses? ​33%
​Teach part-time? ​88%
​Advise students? ​32%

 

Part-time Appointments
 

Policy: Of the sixty institutions answering this question, 70% had some type of part-time work option available to faculty, with 32% having a formal written policy.

Faculty who are eligible:

Faculty: Tenure-track faculty were less likely to be offered part-time options, as well as not having their budget lines protected so that they could return to full-time status if desired. At some institutions (46%), part-time faculty were eligible to remain on the tenure-track.

Reason: 60% of schools allowed a part-time faculty load for reasons of child care.

Institutional Structures and Climate that Support Faculty Taking a Part-time Position:

Funding: 53% of schools protected the budget lines of tenured faculty members, so that they could return to full-time status if they chose. Only 23% of institutions provided part-time faculty with full health coverage, and only 8% offered full retirement benefits. Offering pro-rated retirement benefits was the most common option (33%) at these institutions.

Arrangements before and after taking a part-time appointment: 53% of schools had written expectations for faculty workload for part-time appointments. However, only a handful of institutions (18%) had written policies about tenure-related productivity and performance expectations for those with part-time appointments.

Institutional Structures and Climate that Support Faculty Career Flexibility at Baccalaureate Institutions

Liberal arts colleges and universities should consider developing practices that encourage faculty to use career flexibility policies, and reduce or eliminate bias for faculty using these policies. Some examples of practices that can be used to encourage faculty at different points in their career cycle are listed below.

During the recruitment phase and new employee phase: The majority of institutions (88%) provide mentors for new faculty to encourage work-life balance along with productive academic careers. Unfortunately, the majority of institutions (58%) claimed that they provided little or no training to search committees to ensure there is no penalty given for documented dependent care gaps. Additionally, most schools (78%) did not have a formal policy in place to accommodate dual-career couples.

During the pre-tenure phase: Fortunately, the majority of institutions (58%) do provide some type of training for Promotion and Tenure committees to ensure there is no penalty given for documented dependent care gaps. However, only 11% of institutions provide letters to Promotion and Tenure committees to send to external reviewers that address how the reviewer is to assess candidates who have been on the tenure clock longer than 7 calendar years.

During all parts of the faculty career cycle: Institutions were asked to list ways in which they communicated to faculty important information and institutional commitment about faculty career flexibility.

In what ways does your college/university make a systematic and ongoing effort to communicate its commitment to career flexibility to faculty members?

​Method Percent​
​Orientations for new faculty ​60%
​Handbooks ​68%
​University Web site ​38%
Ongoing communication/ training for department chairs​ ​42%
​Emails/mailings to faculty ​30%
​Dedicated work life office ​7%

 

Sustaining Faculty Career Flexibility

Liberal arts colleges and universities should also consider developing practices that hold institutional actors accountable for promoting faculty career flexibility policies. For example, are department chairs or deans evaluated in their performance review for a reasonable usage of flexibility policies given the age and gender of the faculty in their department? Listed below are some ways to think about how to hold decision-makers accountable in promoting a positive culture for faculty career flexibility.

In what ways does your college/university make a systematic and ongoing effort to communicate its commitment to career flexibility to department chairs, deans and others in decision making positions?

​Method Percent​
In annual reports citing progress made, publicizing results and/or identifying outcomes ​ ​25%
As a part of leadership education and training for department chairs ​ ​13%
In meetings with chairs deans and others where leadership expectations are discussed ​ ​60%
​In performance review meetings with chairs deans and others ​22%
​In consistent mailings or Web site announcements ​10%
There is no systematic process for communicating this commitment​ ​33%

 

 

To what extent are department chairs held accountable for encouraging and effectively managing flexible work arrangements during their job performance appraisals/merit reviews?

​Extent ​Percent
​To a great extent ​7%
​To some extent ​40%
Very little​ ​25%
​Not at all ​25%

 

 

To what extent are deans held accountable for encouraging and effectively managing flexible work arrangements during their job performance appraisals/merit reviews?

​Extent ​Percent
​To a great extent 15%
​To some extent ​35%
​Very little ​18%
​Not at all ​20%

 

 

To what extent is the provost/dean of the faculty (or president if there is no provost/dean of the faculty) held accountable for encouraging and effectively managing flexible work arrangements during his/her job performance appraisal/merit review?

​Extent ​Percent
​To a great extent ​30%
​To some extent ​30%
​Very little ​23%
​Not at all ​17%

 

Finally, institutions should commit to tracking and measuring outcomes of faculty who use these types of policies. In this manner, institutions can determine usage patterns among departments, identify departments which may benefit from education and training on these policies, and hold department chairs accountable for creating a positive climate for faculty using these policies. Listed below are the faculty career flexibility policies that are tracked at the liberal arts colleges which participated in our survey.

 

Does your college/university track the use of the following forms of flexibility in relation to tenure outcomes (e.g., for women and minorities)?

Uses​ ​Percent
​Temporarily modified/reduced duties ​7%
​Part-time/partial appointments ​3%
​Stopping the tenure clock ​10%
​Parental or parenting leaves of all types ​8%
​None of the above ​53%
  

 

 

 Resources for Administrators

 
 

 Resources by Institution Type

 

Program Related Content

Who Can Participate

Expectations

Costs

Alumni

Apply