Senate Document Number 7103S

Date of Senate Approval 04/17/03

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Statement of Faculty Senate Action:



"In the employment of faculty members at UNCA, the VCAA has been delegated responsibility for all matters, from the allocation of vacant positions to the recommendations for hiring to the Chancellor." (Faculty Handbook, 2.4.3, p. 19). Among the considerations already weighed by the VCAA are the recommendations of the Council of Chairs, appropriate search committees, and the achievement of broad university goals, such as diversity:

"UNCA's commitment to a liberal education of highest quality requires the creation of a diverse community of teachers and learners. Consequently, the University is unalterably dedicated to employing a multicultural faculty of diverse age, gender, and race who share the vision of a distinctive public undergraduate liberal arts university." Faculty Handbook, 2.4.1, p/19

To these considerations, we propose the addition of spousal/partner accommodation.


Amend Faculty Handbook section (p. 19), which currently reads:

"Purpose of the Search"

"To find the person most qualified in the needed expertise and most suited to the purposes and character of this particular academic community. The achievement of this purpose may be modified by the circumstances of the employment market, rank and salary available, etc."

ADD, after "available"

"the recruitment and retention of faculty accompanied by an academic spouse/partner"


Today, an increasing number of academics are in "two professor households." Indeed, an April 13, 2001 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that in 1997 35 % of male faculty and 40% of female faculty had partners who are also academics. In response to this, 45% of research universities and 20% of liberal arts colleges have explicit spousal/partner hiring policies, according to the Journal of Higher Education. Moreover, 80% of deans surveyed by associate Professor of Education (University of Kansas) Lisa Wolf-Wendel said they would "do something" to accommodate an academic spouse.


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has followed the popular University of Wisconsin-Madison model for funding partner positions in part through the office of the Provost which provides up to 1/3 of the funding for a new line for an "accompanying academic partner" while the remainder comes from one or more of the departments or programs employing the accompanying and appointed partners. NC State has adopted this model as well.

The statewide system has an anti-nepotism policy which outlines how spouses/partners should be treated in regard to "chain-of-command" decisions. In sum, spouses may not directly evaluate each other's work for purposes of tenure/promotion (see UNC Faculty Handbook, 13.2.2, p. 230). It does not prohibit hiring spouses, even in the same department. Indeed, to discriminate against an applicant on the basis of marital status is a violation of federal law. UNCCH has gone farther. The vice-chancellor regularly selects a partner/spouse from the finalists for a tenure track-position to achieve broad university goals, such as retention. This same power has been used to improve diversity amongst the faculty in all of our campuses.


Also as a response to the increasing demand for partner accommodation, professional organizations such as the American Historical Association have developed guidelines. While all guidelines insist that candidates for tenure track positions be considered on their own merits, regardless of marital status or personal commitment, they also recognize that these considerations must be balanced by "departmental need." Furthermore, the "Chilly Climate" organization (a branch of the Association of Women in Science) identifies the dual career problem as one that adversely affects women more than men and recommends that institutions "make special efforts to reward and retain outstanding prospects, create new lines of hiring in the department, encourage president/provost to initiate funding" for interdepartmental cooperation.


About two years ago, Academic Affairs surveyed department chairs about recruitment difficulties. One of the biggest impediments listed was jobs for spouses. At the same time, UNCA already boasts several successful academic couples, some in the same department (Education, Political Science, and Computer Science), though we have no formal policy. In most cases, both partners occupy tenure-track positions. Moreover, as various constituencies of the university draw attention to recruitment and retention issues at UNCA, especially of women and minorities, a partner accommodation policy might offer an enticement where other resources are lacking (competitive salary, child care, work load).


1. Charged to watch over the interests of the institution as a whole, the VCAA has the prerogative to appoint spouses/partners to positions for which they are finalists, having already been screened by the appropriate search committees.

2. The deliberative bodies (Council of Chairs, AVCAAs) which advise the VCAA in the allocation of positions have the prerogative to allocate appropriate resources necessary to accommodate an appropriately qualified academic spouse/partner.

3. The VCAA has the prerogative to make available job-share/split position options (where each spouse/partner is appointed to a 3/4 FTE position) as well as a "bridge" option in which the accompanying spouse/partner is employed as a visitor until an appropriate tenure-track position becomes available.

4. The offices of the VCAA and Diversity and Minority Affairs will monitor searches in which academic spouses/partners are applicants to insure non-discrimination and the advancement of the university's larger interests.

5. The VCAA has the prerogative to appoint appropriately qualified spouses/partners without a search, using the "opportunity hire" mechanism, such as is used for the purpose of achieving greater diversity among the faculty at institutions throughout the state and country.

6. UNCA will participate in the coordination of positions between area campuses.

7. Spousal/Partner accommodation will not compromise efforts at achieving greater diversity among the faculty.


We are in a good position in terms of our campus culture to build on the successful precedent set by the academic couples already here. In so doing, we would be joining the growing ranks of campuses across the country who realize that "we're in an era in which all academic departments recognize that two-career families are the societal norm." And that investing in academic couples stands the university well over the long term. Historians Fred and Virginia Anderson of the University of Colorado at Boulder conclude: "We feel like we're part of the institution. If you treat people right, they really will stay."


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