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November 13, 2000

New policies cover leave, tenure clock

By Michael Terrazas

After more than two years of work between the Faculty Council, the provost’s office and the Council of Deans, the University has approved and instated three new policies regarding faculty leave and tenure procedures that should be of special interest to Emory’s younger faculty.

The policies, covering maternity leave, parental leave and stopping the tenure clock, are summarized at right. According to Harriet King, senior vice provost for academic affairs, the parental and maternity leave policies were approved by President Bill Chace this fall; the Board of Trustees signed off on the tenure clock policy at its April meeting.

The policies allow faculty to request either partial or full relief from teaching responsibilities for up to two academic terms, or a delay in the tenure review process of up to two years, for a variety of circumstances including pregnancy, the birth or adoption of a child, caring for an ill family member, or a personal illness, subject to the approval of the faculty member’s dean.

“The University is making some very positive steps toward offering some real support to junior faculty,” said Sharon Lewis, associate professor of psychology at Oxford. “The needs of junior faculty are different from the needs of junior faculty 20 years ago. More and more junior faculty are involved in their children’s care, and we needed to recognize and support that.

Lewis and Randy Strahan, associate professor of political science, chaired a Faculty Council ad hoc committee charged with researching these matters. They began in fall 1998 and took their cue from a President’s Commission on the Status of Women study, submitted to Chace earlier that year, that revealed the issues as problems for junior faculty.

Over the next year-and-a-half, Lewis and Strahan would present possible policy language to Faculty Council for review and discussion, then rework the language and submit it to King and Provost Rebecca Chopp. Chopp would then present the policies to the Council of Deans, which would make its own suggestions. Finally, last spring, the groups arrived at a wording on which everyone agreed.

“These policies indicated that faculty have input at a policy level and that our governance system, when used, works,” Chopp said. “I have always been supportive of policies that deal with the changing realities of faculty members’ lives. The faculty brought these issues up, the deans worked with Faculty Council to craft the policies, and the president and I heartily support them.”

“This really represents an instance where faculty governance is sort of coming of age at Emory,” Strahan said. “It was not something that the ad hoc committee created ex nihilo—it really did build on earlier work that had been done by the PCSW. We picked it up, and then the Faculty Council endorsed it, and it was a lot of hard work in terms of hammering out language.”

But the hard work is not over, Strahan continued. Though these policies do affect the entire University, it’s now up to the individual schools to decide how best to implement them within the boundaries of their individual cultures and procedures.

One of the difficulties in crafting the policies, Strahan and Lewis said, was creating language amenable to the widely disparate working and financial structures for faculty between, for example, the college and the medical school.

“All of the units are going to develop,” Strahan said. “Each school is going to have to figure out a procedure for reviewing and deciding on which request for extensions of the tenure clock should go forward.”

Another consideration was taking into account how the maternity and parental leave policies jibed with the Family and Medical Leave Act.

King and Chopp said the policies bring Emory in line with its peer institutions and, in the case of parental leave, even move the University to the head of the class, so to speak, in coming to grips with the changing lives of the professiorate.


Back to Emory Report Nov. 13, 2000