I found this article  in the University of Maryland student newspaper last week describing an effort to expand family leave at UMD, at least for tenure-track faculty. Next week, the University senate will vote on a proposal which would allow faculty members to request up to 50% reduction in their work for up to two years (with proportional pay cut) to take care of any children under the age of five. Their tenure clock would also be commensurately slowed. And I notice that under this new measure tenure track faculty would be able to continue working part-time indefinitely, if they so choose (based on renewal every two years).
Hmmm. Looks progressive. I want to know more! (But I haven’t been able to sleuth out any more info on the web). I wonder if this will go through? I wonder if untenured faculty will feel free to take advantage of this? I wonder how many tenured faculty would downshift to part-time for the long term? Will faculty find it possible to reduce the grant-writing and research workload, or just teaching and service? Wouldn’t it be nice to have this option and also have the advice of others who had navigated this before you? Maybe down the road if my daughters go into academia, things will be brighter for them.
A perk like this certainly would have kept me interested in a more traditional academic career. Now we need some on-ramps for people who have already shifted out of the traditional academic track, and quality, flexible, on-campus day care, and we’ve got ourselves the beginnings of a response to the faculty-parent dilemna. Now what about the student and post-doc angle?
A tenured faculty friend of mine at the University of Washington was able to reduce her workload to 75% to be home with her children more; maybe this kind of policy is out there already, but not explored by faculty much. Readers, do you know of similar policies at other places? Is this a good solution?