PSU Wins $25,000 Award for Innovation in Faculty Career Flexibility

February 14th, 2008 by Adam

PLYMOUTH, N.H.-Plymouth State University’s groundbreaking policies in helping faculty deal with unexpected family health issues has earned the institution a $25,000 award from The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The awards program is sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and conducted by the American Council on Education (ACE) with support from the Families and Work Institute.

The award is based on policies and practices supporting career flexibility for tenured and tenure-track faculty. PSU has provided faculty dealing with health and family issues alternate work assignments such as curricular development, accreditation reports or to work on research projects, rather than resuming teaching in the middle of a semester.

“The University System of New Hampshire’s HR policies and the practices on our own campus are extremely thoughtful and have been developed over a number of years to be responsive to individual needs and life events,” said Julie Bernier, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

ACE initially queried more than 300 schools about their faculty career flexibility, and 56 institutions participated in the first round survey with 26 institutions advancing to the second round of competition. Applicants were evaluated in a two-part process. During the first round, an institutional survey about career flexibility offered to tenured and tenure-track faculty (excluding medical schools) was completed. The second round included a faculty survey and an institution-wide accelerator plan for the development and use of career flexibility programs among faculty. Among the issues considered were faculty recruitment and retention; strengthening faculty commitment, engagement, and morale; achieving institutional excellence; and maintaining academic competitiveness in a global market.

According to PSU’s Director of Human Resources, Laura Alexander, the flexibility offered to faculty is helpful in recruitment.

“Faculty testimonials are our best recruiting tool,” said Alexander. “PSU has been able to leverage current faculty experiences in our recruiting efforts toward attracting excellent, cutting-edge new faculty who are interested in working for an institution that values family and flexibility.”

“Winning institutions demonstrated the ability to accelerate existing programs, quickly implement creative new approaches and model best practices in faculty career management,” said Kathleen Christensen, program director for Workplace, Workforce and Working Families at The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

A blue ribbon panel of recently retired college and university presidents and chancellors reviewed and rated the plans, including Charles I. Bunting, former chancellor of Vermont State Colleges; Anne L. Deming, president emerita of Notre Dame College (OH); Gladys Styles Johnston, chancellor emerita of the University of Nebraska at Kearney; Dale Rogers Marshall, president emerita of Wheaton College (MA); and Bob H. Suzuki, president emeritus of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or Bruce Lyndes

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