January 21, 2010
We at the College of Liberal Arts are aware that faculty often struggle to maintain a healthy balance between professional success and personal wellness. With this letter, I wish to endorse the policies that make it easier for faculty to have both a successful career and a fulfilling personal life, and urge our faculty to empower themselves by becoming acquainted with these policies.
The University of Texas offers many resources and programs that support the physical and mental health of faculty throughout the academic life cycle. While these are often looked at as separate from the federal and state policies that legislate the types of leave that are available to faculty, we at COLA believe that these policies and resources belong together, representing a holistic approach and commitment to supporting the well being of our community.
I strongly recommend that you visit the Work-Life Balance website that the UT office of Human Resource Services has put together.
The site provides detailed information on policies that will be of use at different points in your career, including Extension of the Probationary Period, Family Medical Leave, and Modification of Instructional Duties. The site also provides links to information on childcare, eldercare, health and wellness, sports and recreation, and much more.
A question that often comes up in discussions with junior faculty is whether there will be negative consequences for extending the probationary period or for receiving modification of instructional duties. I would like to state, in no uncertain terms, that I endorse these important policies, which are available for faculty to utilize to their benefit and the benefit of their families. COLA chairs are well aware of the policies and their purpose, as are members of the Promotion and Tenure committee, and the Offices of the Provost and President. Faculty will not be penalized for taking advantage of these accommodations.
I encourage you to work with your chair and with the COLA office of Human Resources to identify, when the need arises, the course of action that will serve you best. The College is committed to your well being and success, and I welcome all questions and comments that would help us make UT in general and COLA in particular an environment where it is possible to succeed professionally while maintaining personal wellness.
Randy L. Diehl