Good News for Academics?

Via Dennis Jerz, a report from the American Council on Education's Office of Women in Higher Education: An Agenda for Excellence: Creating Flexibility in Tenure-Track Faculty Careers. Recommmendations from the (PDF) executive summary include:

• Uncover and eliminate the preventable causes of talented PhDs [sic] opting out of tenure-track faculty positions.

• Create re-entry opportunities (e.g., postdoctoral fellowships) for PhDs who seek tenure-track faculty careers later in life after having decided to stop out of academia or work part time in order to manage career and family responsibilities.

• Abolish penalties in the hiring process for documented dependent care–related résumé gaps.

• Provide assistance to new faculty hires with spousal/partner employment needs and other family-related relocation issues.

• Create flexibility in the probationary period for tenure review without altering the standards or criteria. Longer probationary periods should not be required for all faculty, but flexible time frames of up to 10 years with reviews at set intervals should be offered. This option could benefit faculty who may need to be compensated for lost time or given additional time to prepare because of unanticipated professional or personal circumstances.

• Provide quality, affordable childcare to tenured and tenure-track faculty, particularly new hires (or information about available services); establish or provide information for childcare programs for emergency back up, evening and overnight care, and school and summer breaks.

I'm happy to see that these problems and possible reform measures, which have been discussed in a recent issue of Academe and on blogs like Invisible Adjunct and Crooked Timber, are being exposed and called for at this level.