Faculty Discuss Parental Leave, Diversity
By Nihal Shrinath '12, Editor-in-Chief
At their meeting this Tuesday, the faculty discussed faculty parental leave and the current composition of tenure-line faculty. Both topics had been discussed at the previous faculty meeting, and the conclusions of the Committee on Priorities and Resources (CPR) and Dean of Faculty Gregory Call were presented regarding new developments on these two issues.

The faculty had previously asked the CPR to reconsider a policy for parental and medical leave. This policy gave all parents paid parenting leave, which consisted of a one-course teaching reduction during the semester of adoption or birth. Separately, a modified medical policy would give professors who go through childbirth eight weeks of paid leave and no course load that semester. The essential difference between the policy proposed at the last faculty meeting and that of the one proposed last night was that the length of medical leave was changed from eight weeks to two months.

Professor Catherine Epstein, a member of the CPR, stressed that this policy essentially treats all parents the same, and that it is not the most generous policy, but reasonable and fair. She said, “It’s high time the College adopts a paid parenting leave for faculty members.”

One faculty member brought up the problem of adoptive parents, where a primary caregiver would have to teach a course, and how this is unfair for the children. Committee members acknowledged this invidious distinction, but also stressed the importance of bringing a proposal to the Board of Trustees that they could endorse. The problem with extending the provisions within medical leave to all parents would be the added cost of extending this policy to all staff. Following more debate, the faculty overwhelmingly approved the CPR’s proposal. A faculty and committee member summed up the benefits of voting yes, saying it is a “better policy than that which we lived with for many years.”

Dean of Faculty Gregory Call then presented charts detailing the age, gender and racial distribution of tenure-line faculty, of which there are 173. The two highest age ranges were 60-64, with 26 faculty members, and 35-39, with 24 faculty members, reflecting a generally equal distribution among ages, with a small dip in the middle range. Call discussed the elder range, with 59 of 173 faculty members over 60, and explained the phased retirement program that is offered at 60. Since so many tenured professors are retiring soon, and because between 2013 and 2017 the cap on number of tenure-line professors will increase by three each year, there will be about 10 faculty hires per year between 2013 and 2017.

This brought into question faculty hiring practices and the racial and gender diversity among faculty. There are significantly more male than female professors, but most of this disparity is accounted for by the elderly professors, of which 44 of 59 are male.

Racial diversity was also brought into question. With 82.3% of tenured faculty being white, and Black (3.5%), Asian (8.7%) and Hispanic (4%) demographics being underrepresented relative to the student body, the faculty brought up the problem that the trend wasn’t towards a more diverse faculty, but the opposite. Professor C. Rhonda Cobham-Sander remarked that a black professor hadn’t been hired in six years, and that 20 years ago, there were 11 black faculty, whereas now there are only six.

The discussion ended with a conclusion that the College needs to re-evaluate its hiring practices and the legal advice it gets regarding targeted hiring.

Issue 21, Submitted 2011-04-06 03:02:21