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Chancellor pledges support for faculty work-life balance initiative

By From page A4 | June 23, 2013

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi has joined the heads of nine other universities and colleges as a founding partner of a national initiative to promote work-life balance for faculty as a way to enhance academic excellence.

“Fostering workplace flexibility allows a university to improve faculty satisfaction and recruit and retain a more diverse and inclusive faculty,” Katehi said. “A satisfied faculty performs at higher levels, and is essential to academic excellence. I am proud to champion this important national initiative.”

The initiative, known as the National Challenge for Higher Education: Retaining a 21st Century Workforce, was launched this month by the American Council on Education, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy association comprising the leaders of more than 1,800 institutions of higher education nationwide. The initiative is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to highlight and reward institutions for effectively recruiting, retaining and advancing faculty in their careers.

According to ACE, institutions that offer effective work-life practices experience reduced turnover, which in turn lowers expenses associated with recruiting and training new faculty. These practices also lead to increased productivity and higher levels of commitment and engagement among faculty members.

“Academic careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields can be especially demanding for those with heavy family responsibilities,” said Maureen Stanton, UCD’s vice provost for academic personnel. “We need to make every effort to increase flexibility in the academic career path if we are to attract more women with Ph.D.s into STEM faculty positions.

“UC Davis has been a leader in implementing campus work-life flexibility practices, and we have made it a priority to continue improving both our policies and faculty attitudes about the utilization of these policies. The challenge of balancing career and family responsibilities affects most faculty members today, but is most keenly felt by women and underrepresented minorities,” Stanton said.

Addressing the work-life balance issue is a major priority for UCD. In 2012, the campus was awarded an ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant from the National Science Foundation to increase the participation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers.

Katehi, an electrical engineer, joined the following higher education leaders in signing on as a founding partner of the ACE National Challenge:

* John J. DeGioia, president, Georgetown University;
* Mildred García, president, California State Fullerton;
* Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president, University of Maryland;
* Renu Khator, chancellor, University of Houston System, and president, University of Houston;
* William E. Kirwan, chancellor, University System of Maryland;
* David Maxwell, president, Drake University;
* Lynn Pasquerella, president, Mount Holyoke College;
* Steven G. Poskanzer, president, Carleton College; and
* Lou Anna K. Simon, president, Michigan State University.

More information about the National Challenge is available at www.acenet.edu/nationalchallenge.

Claudia Morain

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