Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Negotiating Balance

Inside Higher Ed
April 22nd, 2015


Work-life balance might seem like an oxymoron to overworked faculty members, but an increasing number of institutions are trying to help their professors achieve it. So what policies are valuable and how can they effectively be included in union contracts? Those were some of the questions central to a panel discussion on negotiating work-life balance here Tuesday at the annual conference of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center (the National Center is housed at CUNY’s Hunter College).
At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, negotiating balance came down to data. Joya Misra, professor of sociology and public policy at UMass, said her administration agreed to update some of its faculty contract provisions following a comprehensive study of its faculty. If that sounds familiar, Misra and her coresearchers have written about some of their findings. An article debunking the idea that men exploit parental leave policies to bolster their research portfolios instead of bonding with their children gained particular attention; the unnamed university in that study was in fact UMass Amherst.

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