UC Berkeley News


Doing the right thing continues to pay dividends
Family-friendly policies at Berkeley and Davis are honored by Sloan Foundation with $250,000 award

| 28 September 2006

The Berkeley and Davis campuses of the University of California have received a $250,000 Alfred P. Sloan Award to expand programs supporting career flexibility for tenured and tenure-track faculty.

The Sloan Award for Faculty Career Flexibility, announced on Monday, recognizes research universities for their leadership and accomplishments in implementing groundbreaking policies that enhance flexible career paths for faculty. It comes as institutions of higher education are increasingly recognizing the need to beef up family-friendly policies, the better to compete for new talent as baby-boomer faculty members retire over the next decade.

The award also comes one week after the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a report on the barriers faced by women in academic science and engineering. Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and professor of mechanical engineering Alice Agogino were members of the NAS panel that authored the report.

Graduate Division Dean Mary Ann Mason (left) and Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Equity Angelica Stacy have been involved in the refinement of UC's family-friendly faculty policies for several years. (Peg Skorpinski photos)

"Flexible career paths can meet the needs of an increasingly diverse faculty and advance institutional goals, such as improved recruitment and retention and maintaining academic competitiveness in a global market," said Kathleen Christensen, program director for Workplace, Workforce and Working Families at the Sloan Foundation. "The winning institutions demonstrated the ability to accelerate existing programs, quickly implement creative new approaches, and model best practices in faculty career management."

The awards program was sponsored by the Sloan Foundation and conducted by the American Council on Education (ACE) with support from the Families and Work Institute.

The bulk of the grant will be divided between UC's Berkeley and Davis campuses, with a portion going to the UC Office of the President to assist with the implementation of the policies throughout the entire 10-campus UC system.

Just three years ago, Berkeley administrators received a $420,000 grant from the Sloan Foundation to help improve career options and family lives of faculty.

Angelica Stacy, associate vice provost for faculty equity, and Mary Ann Mason, dean of the Graduate Division, were co-principal investigators of that 2003 Sloan grant, which helped support an intense internal review of UC policies to help faculty members balance caregiving responsibilities with their careers.

"This award will help us advance the important work we have already done with the help of the Sloan Foundation to implement the recently improved family-friendly policies throughout the University of California," said Stacy. "We recognize that this is vital to attracting and keeping talented women, underrepresented minorities, and men with a desire to have both an academic career and a family."

At UC Davis, the award will help supplement and expand a groundbreaking work-life program for faculty that has been in place since 2003. This program includes central funding to cover the cost of replacement instruction for a quarter or semester when a birth mother or responsible parent goes on leave or assumes modified duties. The program also gives faculty the ability to defer post-tenure merits due to care of a new child.

These policies from Berkeley and Davis have already been adopted by several other UC campuses, and many of the provisions were included in systemwide revisions to the family-accommodation policies announced earlier this year. The revisions, part of the UC Faculty Family Friendly Edge initiative, are described in detail online at ucfamilyedge.berkeley.edu.

These policy changes, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2006, include a second semester of teaching relief for birth mothers on the Berkeley faculty, or a second quarter for faculty at campuses on the quarter system. The policy also provides guidance on part-time faculty appointments to address family needs. Moreover, use of the policies cannot be reflected negatively in faculty performance reviews.

The new award from the Sloan Foundation will be used to mount a major systemwide educational campaign to assure that faculty are aware of these policies and that the policies are being used equitably.

"It's not enough for these progressive steps to be on the books," said Mason. "These policies have to be firmly embedded into the workplace culture to be effective."

The latest grant will provide for an online toolkit, for use by all of the campuses, that details for deans and chairs family accommodation policies, laws, benefits, and resources and training for new faculty and for chairs and deans.

"The University of California has been a leader in addressing faculty work/family issues and has one of the most comprehensive packages for family-friendly policies in the nation," said Carol Hoffman, manager of Work/Life, a University Health Services program for Berkeley faculty and staff. "We hope that faculty will utilize the policies to help them be productive academically while also meeting family responsibilities."