In September of 2009, Middlebury College received a $200,000 award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to promote faculty career flexibility. This award allows us to build upon previous initiatives addressing work/life balance and to expand and enhance flexible career paths for faculty.
The American Council on Education and the Sloan Foundation announced a competition for these awards in 2008. Over 280 baccalaureate colleges were invited to participate and, along with Middlebury, Sloan awards were given to Albright, Bowdoin, Mount Holyoke, Oberlin, and Washington & Lee.
During the first round, the academic administration completed an institutional survey on faculty career flexibility. On the basis of that survey, Middlebury was invited to participate in the second stage. In that round, 40 percent of the tenure and tenure-track faculty needed to respond to a questionnaire, and the Middlebury faculty met that challenge. The academic administration then prepared an accelerator plan to submit to the American Council on Education.
The goals of the accelerator plan are to increase flexibility within our faculty career flexibility initiatives and to increase visibility of those programs. Our plan is multi-pronged, and it does not focus on one particular slice of our faculty, but is mindful of the long career arc of professors.
In order to increase flexibility it calls for an extension of the associate status program; taking advantage of opportunities for undergraduate faculty within the broader Middlebury universe (the summer programs, the schools abroad, and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS)); new initiatives to better address spousal/partner employment; and a mini-grant competition to promote better balance between our professional and personal lives.
The Provost’s office has been charged with implementing the accelerator plan.An advisory committee, consisting of members of the administration and faculty appointed by Faculty Council, has been formed to oversee faculty career flexibility initiatives and assess their impact.
The Sloan award could not be better timed as it represents an influx of new resources to the College in a time of economic uncertainty. Furthermore, while the target of the award is faculty career flexibility, many of the envisioned enhancements that will flow from this award will benefit the entire community.