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In search of a family-friendly university

In a story published on Sunday, I wrote of a new study from Barnard College that reports on the irreconcilable conflict between the tenure clock and the biological clock for faculty women who aspire to motherhood.

I have some additional reporting on the topic:

Faculty women told me universities are surprisingly varied in the quality of their amenities for working parents. One might expect a college campus to be a most welcome sanctuary for parents and young children, what with the proliferation of lab schools and cutting-edge preschool programs feeding on the flow of research at the institutions. But, in fact, some colleges don't offer any on-site day care, and others are stingy on parental leave.

Here is a sampling of day care and leave provisions at several local colleges. Bear in mind that this sampling is based on schools that chose to respond to my informal survey. I have to assume the schools that didn't respond either had nothing to brag about or their public relations folks are on extended vacation. (Note: Colleges with "unpaid" leave allow employees to use paid vacation and sick leave.)

Bowie State University: Twelve weeks unpaid leave. No on-site child care.

George Washington University: Sixteen weeks of unpaid leave, with another 16 weeks of medical leave for mothers with a doctor's certification. On-campus child care.

Montgomery College: Twelve weeks of unpaid leave. On-site prekindergarten Early Learning Centers on all three campuses.

Shenandoah University: Six weeks paid and six weeks unpaid leave. Off-campus child care.

Washington and Lee University: Eight weeks of paid parental leave for either parent. A second parent (not the primary caregiver) is eligible for two weeks of paid leave, as well. Deans have discretion to reassign teaching duties to avoid disrupting the classroom for faculty and students. Washington and Lee has no on-site day-care center, but the university supports local child-care providers (Lexington is a small town) and hosts summer camp programs.

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By Daniel de Vise  |  July 12, 2010; 10:37 AM ET
 | Tags: barnard study, faculty moms, motherhood and academia, parenting college faculty, tenure and biological clock, university parental leave policies  
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I can't speak to the other universities, but I work at GWU. I am staff, not faculty, and recently had a child. First of all, we do not have on campus child care. Near campus, yes, but not on campus. It is amongst the most expensive in the city, and the employee discount at the center is minimal. Secondly, the STD policy is complete garbage and amounts to very little in terms of salary replacement, since you are exempt from coverage for the first 30 days, and it only covers 6 to 8 weeks. You do the math. Finally, the campus health care plans are either expensive or do not cover all necessary procedures. I know of one case of an employee being denied an essential injection for RH compatibility b/c the insurance company deemed it "not medically necessary." This despite the fact that such a condition can cause miscarriage. GW is not alone in this, but it was an eye opening experience. The US is frankly not a family friendly nation, period, despite what the right-wingers will tell you. And the liberal left is no better in securing protections and rights for women and families.

Posted by: rhalter3633 | July 12, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

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