Faculty sen. approves more paid leave

The Faculty Senate overwhelmingly approved a resolution Friday that will provide one semester of paid leave to all full time faculty members who are new parents, a decision that quadruples the amount of paid leave professors can take.

“The policy provides recognition that in addition to the faculty responsibilities, many faculty members also have familial responsibilities,” said Naomi Cahn, associate dean for faculty development. “I think it is important for GW to have clear policies when it comes to both child birth and parental leave. I’m glad that this is a gender neutral policy.”

Although the amendment passed in the Faculty Senate, the Board of Trustees must approve this resolution at their Feb. 8 meeting in order for it to take effect.

Universities with similar leave policies include Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, Yale University, Duke University and Georgetown University.

This amendment has been in the works for the past two years and entitles all full time male and female faculty members paid child care leave on the condition that the leave is taken within one year after a new born, adopted or foster child has entered the professor’s home.

The University currently offers pregnant women a four week paid disability leave. Additionally, professors who have children, adopt or take in foster children receive 12 weeks unpaid parental leave under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.

“Now, when people have a baby, in addition to the disability leave for pregnancy they are getting child care leave,” said Patricia Chu, and English professor. “The big change is now faculty can have a semester off from teaching and most administrative work.”

This policy went before the Faculty Senate 10 years ago and failed to pass.

“It would have been nice to if (the University) had this policy 10 or eight years ago, but there is no time like the present to start,” Chu said.

Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman and the Chair of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee Lilien Robinson, formed a parental leave task force to “clarify the existing temporary disability leave policy for pregnancy-related recovery and provide parental leave benefits to all regular active status, full-time faculty,” according to the July task force report.

The committee members included Chu, Cahn, Caroline J. O’Neil, assistant general counsel for GW, professor Donald Dew and Annie Wooldridge, assistant vice president for faculty recruitment and personnel.

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