The Claremont Colleges implement policy changes to support faculty caregivers

A person writes on a paper covered in children's toy blocks.
5Cs make adjustments and accommodations for faculty dealing with caregiving responsibilities at home and the other challenges that come with online teaching. (HuxleyAnn Huefner • The Student Life)

The 5Cs have adopted various policies to accommodate faculty with familial caregiving responsibilities during the coronavirus pandemic, including making adjustments to requirements for the tenure process and allowing more flexibility in teaching schedules. 

Flexibility for tenure and contract review

All five schools have adjusted the tenure track schedule for faculty, according to spokespeople at the respective colleges.

Claremont McKenna College and Scripps College have granted tenure-track faculty one-year extensions for reviews for reappointment and tenure.

Faculty at Scripps are still required to be reviewed through course evaluations for the 2020 fall semester. However, course evaluations for both spring 2020 and fall 2020 are not required to be included in the tenure review process, according to Amy Marcus-Newhall, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, via email.

A “modified tenure clock” is also available to any Harvey Mudd College faculty who requests it, Mudd spokesperson Judy Augsburger said via email.

Pomona College has also “granted an extra year to all faculty who will be going through a third year or tenure review, or a contract renewal,” Pomona spokesperson Patricia Vest said via email. 

“Pitzer has extended deadlines for faculty personnel reviews, as well as for institutional research awards that our faculty have received,” Pitzer College spokesperson Jim Marchant said via email.

Tenure grants faculty permanent employment at universities and protects them from being fired without cause. The process of receiving tenure includes departmental assessments, committee review and student evaluations. 

Colleges aim to relieve work-from-home stress

Pitzer’s Office of the Dean of Faculty created new technical assistant positions to employ students and simultaneously help faculty with online teaching. The paid student positions take “logistical and technical burdens” off of faculty and allow them to attend to “the most important aspects of their classes and teaching,” Marchant said. 

At Scripps, faculty teaching this academic year are no longer beholden to the usual expectation that they teach two courses every semester. According to Marcus-Newhall, faculty have been given more freedom in adjusting their course load, able to teach one class a semester so long as they teach four classes over the course of the year. 

Pomona also considered accomodations for caregivers when creating its fall 2020 schedule. When the decision to move online was made in July, fall 2020 courses were opened for “modifications of any kind, including schedule, in order to accomodate faculty who were expecting to provide care to children or elders during the semester,” Vest said. 

Similar accommodations are being made at Mudd.

“Departments are working to develop optimal teaching schedules for faculty who face particular time constraints because of care issues,” Augsburger said.

Pitzer, Pomona working toward additional accommodations

Over the summer, Mudd provided its employees affected by COVID-19 with two weeks of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave as part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Family First Coronavirus Response Act, according to Augsburger. 

Though the FFCRA no longer applies to Mudd, the college is maintaining the paid family leave policy in place before the pandemic.

Pitzer has created the Dependent Care Subcommittee, which consists of faculty and staff who meet regularly and provide recommendations to Pitzer’s COVID-19 Taskforce and the administration on how to best support employees with caregiving responsibilities. 

According to its website, the subcommittee has pushed for a more flexible work schedule so that faculty and staff can balance their work and care duties. The website includes resources to help low-income staff members apply for childcare vouchers and help families find babysitters, tutors and housekeepers. 

Pomona is also in the process of creating further accommodations for faculty and staff. The college is working to provide internet stipends, particularly to “help with bandwidth issues where families may have multiple users online in the same household simultaneously,” and is working on a plan to help “connect faculty and staff who wish to organize childcare ‘pods’ off campus,” Vest said.

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