New Set of Grants Will Promote Faculty Career Flexibility

January 29, 2008

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded $200,000 grants to six more universities to create programs that make faculty careers more family-friendly. The awards will go to the University of Baltimore; Canisius and Simmons Colleges; and Boise State, San Jose State, and Santa Clara Universities.

Several of the universities plan to create an option for faculty members to work part time along the tenure track. Canisius will offer an emergency travel loan that faculty members can apply for when they need to help a sick or dying family member who lives far away. Santa Clara will offer undergraduate courses on work-life balance. Students will do exercises that test their work-life decision-making skills, including career planning, budgeting, partnership or marriage, child care, and housekeeping.

The Sloan foundation started the grant program in the fall of 2006, with grants to six institutions. Kathleen E. Christensen, a director at the foundation, said in a teleconference today that the foundation had been concerned that women were struggling with academic careers. Female professors, she said, do not not have children at the same rate as male professors, are less likely to be married, and — if they are married — are more likely than their male colleagues to divorce.

“We heard the best women graduating with Ph.D.’s were not going on to academic lines because they did not see how they could have a family or a career,” said Ms. Christensen.

The American Council on Education conducted the competition, and a panel of six retired university presidents and chancellors judged applications from 56 institutions. Sloan hopes to award another round of grants next year. —Robin Wilson