Provost Peter Lange offered the first reading of the University's proposed new parental leave and tenure clock relief policy at a busy Academic Council meeting last Thursday.
The policy, in the works for more than a year, updates the University's 1989 maternity leave policy to better incorporate adoption of children, among several other changes.
Under the new policy, maternity leave that does not involve a serious health condition is no longer considered a temporary medical leave, but rather a temporary parental leave. Further, a one semester or three month leave with pay is now granted as temporary parental leave to a faculty member in the event of birth of a child, the adoption of a child under the age of six, or the birth of a domestic partner's child.
Additionally, tenure clock relief and non-tenure track contract extensions are now available under a number of circumstances in addition to when a faculty member is seriously ill, including when a child is born or adopted into a faculty member's household; when a faculty member is required to act as a primary care giver for a seriously ill parent, child, spouse or domestic partner; or when a faculty member suffers the death of a parent, child, spouse or domestic partner.
"The policy originally arose in response to our awareness that our maternity leave policy had not been really examined in many years, and that there had been many changes and there were new pressures regarding both parental leave and adoption," said Lange, adding that a research paper written by an undergraduate partially prompted the examination of the issue.
The policy is unique in that faculty in the schools of Medicine and Nursing are included under it, although there are some provisions that are specific to such faculty.
"We believe that this is the first time that we've been able to... work through the provisions so that we could bring the entire faculty-clinical, basic science, and campus side-under one policy," Lange said.
He added that the definition of "primary care giver" in the policy is deliberately left unclear and is up to the determination of the family itself-a point that could be manipulated by some faculty members.
"Obviously if faculty members wish to cheat or operate at the margins of the spirit of this policy they can do so," he said. "We explicitly chose not to undertake any kind of policing or intervention to ensure that faculty members were living up to the spirit of the policy. In a sense, this is an honor system."
The Council will vote on this matter at its May 8 meeting.
IN OTHER BUSINESS:
President's Advisory Committee on Resources Chair Joel Huber reported that this year the committee, which will soon change into the University Priorities Committee, has worked on the standardization of cross-school teacher compensation; parking matters; the Arts and Science task force report; the Strategic Plan's response to the faltering economy; and the budgeting process for individual schools and divisions of the University.
Council members accepted a new policy for emeritus faculty, which outlines various privileges, including free parking through 2006 and free access to central university computing services.
Associate Professor of Physics Joshua Socolar, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology Ann Marie Pendergast and Associate Professor of Public Policy and Political Science Fritz Mayer were elected to the Executive Committee of the Academic Council.
Fred Nijhout, vice chair of the Council, presented the first reading of a resolution calling for an extension of eligibility to non-tenure track faculty to serve on the Council. Membership in the Council would be open to no more than one non-tenure track faculty member elected from any division of the University, except the Division of Clinical Services, which can elect up to four non-tenure track faculty.
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Those faculty would also need to carry significant academic responsibilities that include regular teaching assignments, and exercise governance rights within their division or department comparable to those rights exercised by analogous tenure track faculty. The Council will vote on this matter at its May 8 meeting.
Lange delivered a statement he co-authored with Keohane in reaction to concerns "from faculty members and others-particularly from people who are not American citizens-about a feeling of unease as to whether they can express opinions in the current climate." The statement said the University welcomes a diversity of opinions about the ongoing war in Iraq.
During an executive session, faculty members spoke with Presidential Search Committee Chair Robert Steele, vice chair of the Board of Trustees, about what qualities they hope Keohane's successor will have. The faculty also disccused honorary degree recepients.