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College Presidents Encouraged to Join Workplace Flexibility Initiative at National Challenge Conference

August 04, 2014

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​A new generation of faculty is arriving on campuses expecting greater career and personal flexibility, and institutions that want to compete for the best and brightest must find new and better ways to grant that work-life balance, according to attendees at the recent National Challenge for Higher Education Conference on academic workplace flexibility.

The July 31 event, hosted in Washington by ACE and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, built on the work of the Foundation’s series of projects at ACE.

ACE President Molly Corbett Broad and Kathleen E. Christensen, who directs the Sloan Foundation’s Working Longer initiative, opened the program. Christensen also moderated a discussion about workplace flexibility issues—particularly for academic scientists—with Joan Ferrini-Mundy, assistant director of education and human resources at the National Science Foundation.

Among other issues, Inside Higher Ed reported on discussions at the conference about how research is weighed in decisions about tenure. Broad noted the changing nature of technology means that in the future, research might not be bound by “time and space limitations.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote that while the presidents, provosts and other senior leaders at the conference agreed that colleges and universities have made remarkable progress in this area, there’s more to be done. The article noted that competition for top faculty is growing and workplace flexibility is key to bringing them on board.

As part of their efforts on faculty career flexibility, college and university presidents can join the National Challenge for Higher Education. As of last week, 119 presidents had signed onto the campaign, signaling that they will deepen their commitment to promoting and advocating for the issue on campus.

For more information on the National Challenge, please contact Jean McLaughlin, associate director of institutional leadership at ACE, at 202-375-7531 or

Kathleen E. Christensen (left), who directs the Sloan Foundation’s Working Longer program, moderates a discussion on workplace flexibility with Joan Ferrini-Mundy, assistant director of education and human resources at the National Science Foundation. (Photos by Pam Risdon @Risdon Photography)

ACE President Molly Corbett Broad.


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