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Toolkit: Policy Trends at Research Universities

December 30, 1899


​ The Alfred P. Sloan Projects for Faculty Career Flexibility

Among the 55 research universities that applied for the Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Faculty Career Flexibility in 2005, the following encouraging trends were available to faculty. For all of the policies and practices listed below, at least half of the applicant institutions indicated having them in place: 

  • Tenure Clock adjustment
  • Active Service-Modified Duties (ASMD) or Partial Relief from Duties, with no reduction in pay
  • Paid leaves for biological or adoptive mothers
  • Paid leaves for biological or adoptive fathers
  • Parental leave for same-sex and opposite-sex couples when their partner gives birth or adopts
  • Disability policy for serious illness or injury
  • Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) stating faculty member's expectations during leaves
  • Part-time appointments for tenure-track and tenured faculty
  • Health insurance for same-sex partners
  • Phased retirement
  • Seminars and workshops for graduate students to consider careers in academe
  • Courses in one or more departments that examine the interactions of work, personal, and family life

A more detailed description of the common policies and practices at research institutions is available. The web page describes policy frequency at research institutions for the following topics: Adjusting the tenure clock, modified duties, maternity and paternity leaves for biological and adoptive parents, phased retirement, and part-time appointments. Each section includes information about institutional structures and climate that support faculty, such as funding, eligibility for these programs, and maximum usage of policy options.

Strategies From Research Universities For Creating And Sustaining Faculty Career Flexibility

Among the 55 research university applicants, many had indicated that they follow these practices for making structural and cultural changes that enhance the climate for faculty career flexibility on their campuses.

  • Extending eligibility for programs and policies to all, regardless of gender or tenure status
  • Communicating, in both print and electronic methods, available policies through marketing campaigns, orientations, and web pages
  • Training for Search Committees so that candidates who have documented gaps in their resumes resulting from flexibility choices are not penalized
  • Training for department chairs about flexibility options available to assist faculty to stay on the tenure-track and promote retention
  • Training for Promotion and Tenure Committees indicating how the time to tenure and how the work of faculty who have taken advantage of flexibility policies should be evaluated
  • Providing written statements for internal and external reviewers on promotion and tenure committees reminding them how workload should be evaluated
  • Tracking usage of these policies and measure outcomes associated with usage
  • Holding department chairs, deans, and provosts accountable for creating a climate of acceptance for flexibility usage through performance reviews
  • Commitment of leadership to supporting and sustaining a climate satisfying faculty needs for work/life balance

Examples of these policies and best practices can be found on the web sites of the winning institutions (listed below), and in the administrator's toolkit.

Additional resources for policies can be found on the websites of the National Clearinghouse on Academic Worklife, the Center for the Education of Women, the Sloan Work and Family Research Network, and the College and University Work/Family Association.


Winners of the 2006 Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Faculty Career Flexibility

Each winner received a $250,000 accelerator grant that will enabled the universities to expand and enhance flexible career paths for faculty over the course of two years. The Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Faculty Career Flexibility recognized research universities for their leadership and accomplishments in implementing groundbreaking policies and practices supporting career flexibility for tenured and tenure-track faculty. The awards program was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and conducted by the American Council on Education (ACE) with support from the Families and Work Institute. 

In addition, Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison (PDF), each was awarded $25,000 grants in recognition of innovative practices in career flexibility.  A more detailed description of the winners is available through the Past Initiatives and Research University Winners sections of these pages.

Angelica Stacy, Associate Vice Provost, UC Berkeley; Binnie Sigh, Director of Faculty Relations and Development in Academic Personnel, UC Davis; Debra Walker-King, Associate Provost, University of Florida; Davis Ward, President of ACE; Ralph Gomory, President, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; Nancy Allen, Vice Provost for Faculty Diversity and Faculty Development, Duke University; Jean Soderlund, Deputy Provost for Faculty Affairs, Lehigh University; Ana Mari Cauce, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, University of Washington

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