Purdue Today

October 23, 2007

Senate votes on proposals, discusses parental leave

University Senate voted on two proposals, discussed another, and listened to details about the development of a new strategic plan at its Oct. 15 meeting.

Senate members  approved a proposal to ease Purdue's limits on the number of clinical and professional faculty positions.

The proposal increases the University-wide limit from 5 percent to 10 percent.

The limit for a department or school will remain at generally 15 percent, with exceptions made for areas with operating clinics: Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences; Nursing; Pharmacy Practice; and Veterinary Medicine.

An amendment to the proposal sets a limit of 50 percent for those units.

The campus now has 74 clinical and professional faculty, about 3.8 percent of a faculty headcount of about 1,970.

Senate also voted on a proposal to adjust membership on the Steering Committee to include the chairs of four policy-focused committees. Senate Chair George Bodner, the Arthur Kelly Distinguished Professor of Chemical Education, said the adjustment would facilitate the process of setting Senate's agenda and referring faculty proposals to the appropriate standing committee.

Several members stated that the change would limit the broad base needed to act as a "litmus test" for documents before they came before Senate.

In a ballot vote, Senate rejected the proposal, with 48 opposed, 24 in favor, and two abstaining.

Senate spent most of the meeting discussing a proposal to endorse a paid parental leave policy that would not require the use of sick leave. The proposal  did not define a specific plan for Purdue, but gave as a guideline six weeks of paid leave, which is common at many peer institutions.

The proposal also supports the creation of a process through which issues relating to improving PurdueÕs family-friendly environment could be identified and addressed.

The proposal came from the Faculty Compensation and Benefits Committee and received unanimous approval from Senate's Faculty Affairs Committee before going to the floor.

David Miller, chair of the Faculty Compensation and Benefits Committee and professor of physics, presented the proposal. He offered Ohio State University's parental leave policy as an example of a clearly written, effective policy from a comparable institution.

Miller contrasted the Ohio State policy with Purdue's Family and Medical Leave Act policy, which allows for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for one parent or a combined total of 12 weeks unpaid leave if both parents work at Purdue. He also discussed the projected costs and benefits of a new policy.

Miller said a paid parental leave policy is critical for Purdue to continue on its path to preeminence, achieve diversity goals and maintain competitiveness in hiring. 

Many Senate members voiced their support for a new leave policy. Discussion also focused on the need for fathers to have leave equal to that of their spouse, creation of a culture that is accepting of people who take leave, and implementation of the policy.

The parental leave policy is scheduled to be voted on at the Nov. 19 meeting.

Miller's PowerPoint presentation will be posted with the minutes from the Oct. 15 meeting at www2.itap.purdue.edu/faculty/usenate. Click on "Minutes and Annual Reports," then "Current."

The Faculty Compensation and Benefits Committee's full parental leave report can be found at www2.itap.purdue.edu/faculty/documents/searchResults.cfm?cat=Document&com=Faculty Affairs under "April 04, 2007."

In other activity, Senate  heard remarks from President France A. Córdova about the naming of working groups as the next step in the development of a new strategic plan. Córdova aims to have a draft plan ready for discussion in early spring and presented to the board at its June meeting.

Senate also heard from Jim Almond, vice president for business services and assistant treasurer, on the status of the financial and human resources components of OnePurdue. The presentation also will be posted with the minutes on the Senate Web site.