During the 2006-07 academic year Provost Cunningham realized that Illinois Wesleyan University did not have any written leave policy for faculty members who have children or adopt children. Various faculty members expressed concern to the Provost that each individual faculty member had to negotiate the terms of their leave with the Provost. Until now, only women who were pregnant were able to negotiate leaves with the Provost. The Provost also discovered that Illinois Wesleyan did not have a written childrearing or childbearing policy for staff. In spring 2007 the Provost asked the Child Care Committee if members had any suggestions for a policy for faculty. Note that membership of the Child Care Committee includes both faculty members and staff. The committee “expressed discomfort in sharing input without seeing a draft of the policy” (see minutes of the Child Care Committee 5/23/07).
Data regarding the childbearing and childrearing policies for faculty and staff at other institutions were collected in late spring from the Higher Education Data Sharing institutions of which Illinois Wesleyan is a member. After reviewing the data, Associate Vice President for Human Resources Cathy Spitz prepared a draft policy for staff and Provost Cunningham prepared a draft policy for faculty with the premise that the two policies should share the same basic principles. With President Wilson’s arrival and with support from the faculty, the administration has been careful to offer the same or similar benefits to both faculty and staff. Both the faculty and staff childbearing/childrearing policies are based on the idea that all members of the Illinois Wesleyan community should have some time away from work to spend with their newborn or newly adopted children, a time that is critical to both the child and the parents. For the complete list of overarching principles, please see other postings on the Provost’s blog.
Provost Cunningham shared the draft policy with chairs and directors of academic programs in early fall 2007. She also shared the policy with CUPP and met with the committee in fall 2007. She invited feedback from the faculty throughout the fall and spring semesters. In March 2008, Provost Cunningham met with CUPP again to obtain additional feedback and answer questions about the policy. A second draft is now available for viewing on the Provost’s blog.
Provost Cunningham anticipates the implementation of the new policy at the beginning of the 2008-09 academic year.