Staying Power

Keeping company

The university should give faculty an umbilical cord they'd be unwilling to cut."
— Samuel Dudley, Assistant Professor of Cardiology

"We are in danger of losing our most precious resource: our scholarly capital."
—Sharon Strocchia, Associate Professor of History

Lost and found
The views of recently departed and recently arrived faculty

Why Faculty Come to Emory
By Daniel Teodorescu, Director of the Office of Reserach

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Intense competition for talent and the rise of women’s careers in academe are changing the nature of spousal hiring. Recruiter extraordinaire Stanley Fish, liberal arts dean at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says spousal hires are a highly valuable tool in his recruitment arsenal. No longer, though, are spousal appointments made exclusively for academic stars. As competition heated up in the academic marketplace in the mid-1990s, they became more common among the rank and file, according to an April 13, 2001, article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

A survey of 360 institutions recently published in the Journal of Higher Education reports that 45 percent of research universities have spousal hiring policies, while only 20 percent of liberal arts colleges do. Accommodating spouses of new hires is standard practice at Michigan State University, for instance. And the provost of the University of Michigan contributes up to a third of the salary for a spousal hire. Still, some contend that hiring spouses without a national search disadvantages other job seekers. Professors at the University of Idaho voted down just such a proposal in 1998, arguing that it erodes the university as a meritocracy. Emory has no official policy on spousal hiring.

Although spousal appointments remain controversial, the scent of stigma that sometimes lingered around the “trailing spouse” is dissipating, as women sometimes are the most sought-after member of the pair. Changes in gender politics in academe as early as graduate school also may be driving trends in spousal hiring. As the number of women training in graduate schools has risen, more Ph.D. candidates gain a mate along with a doctorate. The Chronicle cites a 1997 survey that found 35 percent of male faculty and 40 percent of female faculty had partners who are also academics. It reports that many institutions extend offers to non-married partners and gay or lesbian partners. The bottom line for many deans is that faculty juggling commuter marriages are likely to be away from campus more, and couples living and working together are likely to be more productive and committed to their institution.—A.B.B.