2008
Benedictine recognized for innovative program aimed at faculty retention

Benedictine recognized for innovative program aimed at faculty retention
January 31, 2008

Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
(630) 829-6094
pbrozynski@ben.edu

Striking a balance between work and family is a problem for many working Americans, and college faculty are no exception. Women, who have earned more than half of all the Ph.D.s awarded to Americans at U.S. universities since 2002, often eschew their academic careers because they feel they have to sacrifice a family life to succeed. More men are electing to stay at home with their children. Faculty of both sexes are also often called upon to care for their elderly parents and relatives. Given these conditions, flexible career policies and programs are becoming ever more necessary as a means of helping meet the needs of an increasingly diverse faculty. These practices also help colleges and universities improve recruitment and retention of quality faculty and maintain academic competitiveness in a global market. The Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Faculty Career Flexibility recognize master’s colleges and universities for implementing groundbreaking policies and practices supporting career flexibility for tenured and tenure-track faculty. Only eight universities nationwide were recipients of these Sloan awards in 2008, including Benedictine University, which will receive a $25,000 award in recognition of innovative practices in career flexibility. “These awards recognize excellence in expanding and advancing career flexibility,” said Kathleen Christensen, program director for Workplace, Workforce and Working Families at The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “The winners clearly recognize, as institutions of higher education, the importance on attracting and retaining the strongest faculty they can.” The Sloan Foundation recognized Benedictine University for its plan to utilize the expertise of faculty, alumni and students from its Ph.D. in Organization Development program employing a process called Appreciative Inquiry. Alumni and student focus groups will identify corporate best practices for career flexibility that can be adapted to the University. A faculty summit will then develop strategies that best advance faculty work-life balance and career flexibility. “This prestigious award recognizes Benedictine’s unique approach to this critical issue,” said Sandra Gill, dean of the College of Business at Benedictine University. “By cultivating the nationally-recognized expertise of our own faculty and students, we can create new opportunities and concepts for a more energized, flexible academic culture.” Seven faculty and administrators participated in developing Benedictine’s award-winning plan: Gill; Maria de la Camara, dean of the College of Liberal Arts; Sandra Chmelir, professor of Psychology/Sociology; MeShelda Jackson, associate professor of Education; Kevin Doyle, associate professor, M.B.A. program; Daniel Nohl, professor of Computer Science and Information Systems; and David Sonnenberger, associate provost. The awards program, conducted by the American Council on Education (ACE), was open to the 325 master’s institutions as defined in the 2005 Carnegie Classifications. Fifty-six institutions participated in the first-round survey and 26 institutions advanced to the second round of competition. Applicants were evaluated in a two-part process. During the first round, an institutional survey about career flexibility offered to tenured and tenure-track faculty (excluding medical schools) was completed. The second round included a faculty survey and an institution-wide accelerator plan for the development and use of career flexibility programs among faculty. Among the issues considered were faculty recruitment and retention; strengthening faculty commitment, engagement, and morale; achieving institutional excellence; and maintaining academic competitiveness in a global market. ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents and more than 200 related associations nationwide. ACE seeks to provide leadership and a unifying voice on key higher education issues and to influence public policy through advocacy, research and program initiatives. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation was established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-president and chief executive officer of the General Motors Corporation, and makes grants in science, technology and the quality of American life.

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Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.