Bowdoin was one of the first colleges to recognize the difficulties faced by couples made up of two academics. The College was losing good professors because there was no room for their partners. As a response, the College created an enhanced shared appointment policy that allows people to apply to share the equivalent of 1.5 FTE. Those sharing a position in the same department normally do so equally (each .75 FTE), while those in different departments are normally 1.0 and .5 FTE. Among those who have taken advantage of this policy are the couples profiled here. Bowdoin has been greatly enriched by their presence.
“When you think about what your career will look like in the long term, the partner-accommodation policy is one of the things that makes it feasible to be here,” observes Assistant Professor of History David Hecht.
Hecht, a historian, is married to Associate Professor of English Aviva Briefel. The two academics met after Briefel had been hired in a tenure-track position at Bowdoin, while Hecht was teaching in Boston at Northeastern University and Harvard.
Such dual-career couples often are faced with tough choices, such as commuting marriages at different institutions, or uprooting and moving to a different institution altogether.
Hecht came to Bowdoin as a visiting faculty member for several years, then applied for consideration for a shared partner accommodation when that new process was established. He was hired in a tenure-track, half-time position in Bowdoin’s history department in 2009.
“David brings a new and important discipline to Bowdoin—the history of science,” notes Dean Judd. “His addition to the faculty keeps us on par with expertise available at peer institutions and opens new fields of exploration for Bowdoin students. It’s a win-win situation.”
The security and flexibility of having the full- and half-time teaching loads also has made it possible for the academic couple to start a family while continuing their teaching and research, says Hecht.
“It didn't affect our decision to have our son,” says Hecht, “but at the very least, the parental leave and spousal hire has made it possible to really be parents and to be productive professionally at the same time. It makes it easier to balance everything and to not have to make a career vs. family choice.”
Dual-career Bowdoin professors Matthew Klingle and Connie Chiang have been able to parlay their joint expertise as environmental historians into a shared 1.5 FTE position in Bowdoin’s history/environmental studies departments.
Collectively, the couple teaches six courses per academic year, typically switching off one- and two-course teaching loads per term. The lightened course load allows each professor to maintain their research and participate actively in committee and service work at the College.
While the career flexibility has benefitted their professional accomplishments—both have published well-received books within the past year—Chiang says it is the parental leave and childcare benefits that make it all work.
“Parental leave has given us some relief from our usual teaching and service responsibilities,” she says. “Having the flexibility to take time off and spend time with my children when they are infants is time I can't get back. It's invaluable to me.
“Both of our children are at the Children's Center, which is another amazing resource at Bowdoin,” adds Chiang. “To know that my kids are literally a two-minute walk from my office and are receiving an outstanding quality of care makes it easy for me to go to my work and concentrate on teaching and writing.”
The following is the official policy text from the 2009-10 Bowdoin Faculty Handbook
J. Policy on Shared Appointments17
1. Shared appointment within a specific department or program at the time of hiring
a) A single tenure-line position may be shared by two people. Because both people in such shared appointments must individually meet the criteria of an advertised position, and because departments must be willing to work with the administrative complexities that a shared appointment may bring, it is anticipated that such appointments will be relatively rare. The process outlined below applies to tenure-track faculty at the time of hire.
b) Applicants for a tenure-track position who wish to be considered for a shared appointment should inform the College before any on-campus interviews have occurred. Applicants may choose to indicate a desire for their applications to be considered both individually or jointly at the time of submission, or may request consideration of a shared position upon being invited for interview.
c) Upon due consideration of the applicant pool, if the academic department or program determines that each individual who has applied to share a position meets the college’s criteria for hiring independently, the department or program may propose a shared appointment to the Dean’s Office.
d) The shared appointment will normally consist of 1.5 FTE, with each partner carrying .75 load and salary. It is expected that each would normally teach in both semesters of the academic year and participate in the administrative and service loads of the department and the College. In recognition of the .75 FTE status of the position, faculty members holding shared appointments may request exemption from committee service for one year in every four. Expectations for mentoring of honors students and independent studies should likewise be prorated. If one partner becomes chair or program director, he/she will move to full-time status and accrue the compensation associated with such service; the remaining partner will normally move to .5 FTE during this period.
e) Each faculty member in a shared tenure-track appointment is eligible for the rights and privileges of a full-time citizen of the College and is to be treated as a regular faculty member by the College. Each will have a full vote in faculty and departmental meetings, full professional benefits, and normal sabbatical benefits. Although the College and the hiring department will endeavor to provide individual office and research space for both individuals, sharing of such space may be necessary.
f) Should another tenure-track appointment become available within the relevant departments, those holding shared appointments will have no particular claim on the positions.
g) Reappointment and tenure reviews of each member will be done independently and decisions will be reached for each individual separately. No special restrictions or benefits related to the timing of tenure review and sabbatical leaves are associated with shared positions; the tenure procedure and timing for each individual in a shared appointment follows the procedures applicable to all members of the Faculty outlined in Section IV. If an individual holding a shared appointment is denied reappointment or tenure, he or she will be given the normal terminal year and a single, full- time contract will be offered to the remaining individual. Similarly, if an individual holding a shared appointment leaves the College for any reason, the other individual sharing the appointment will have the option of accepting a single full-time contract. In the case of one member of a shared appointment leaving, the line reverts from 1.5 FTE to 1.0 FTE.
h) While the additional .5 FTE associated with a shared appointment may be seen as partial leave proofing for a department where appropriate, the additional FTE resides in the department only for the tenure of the shared appointment, and will not be replaced if either faculty member leaves the College for any reason. However, during the tenure of the shared appointment departmental requests for reauthorization of positions will not be negatively impacted by the additional FTE created by the shared appointment.
2. Shared Appointment across Departments or Programs
a) At the time of appointment, a candidate may ask to explore a possible shared position that crosses departments or programs. On receipt of the partner/spouse’s dossier, the Dean’s office will share the materials with the appropriate department(s) or program(s). The departments or programs will review the partner’s materials and will decide if they are interested in pursuing a shared appointment. Candidates and Departments should recognize that the sharing of appointments across departments or programs requires particular care and will only be possible in exceptional circumstances in which both departments believe such an appointment will clearly advance the curricular priorities of the College and in which each individual independently meets the hiring standards of the College.
b) The relevant department(s) or programs(s) will make a recommendation to the Office of the Dean for Academic Affairs regarding the relevance of the spouse/partner’s field of study to the needs of the curriculum as well as the spouse/partner’s qualifications to fill those needs.
c) In response to departmental recommendations, the Dean will make a determination about whether a hire in the spouse/partner’s field serves the best interests of the College. In such cases, when the candidate for the advertised position is hired, the spouse or partner may be offered a position for three years as a lecturer during the consideration of a shared position.
d) Such lecturer appointments for spouses/partners will be considered as partial leave-proofing positions, where appropriate.
e) After one year, but before the end of the initial 3-year appointment, the couple may apply for a 1.5 FTE shared appointment in which the originally hired partner will continue full time and the sharing partner be appointed at half-time. After consultation with the relevant departments or programs, CEP, and CAPT, the Dean will approve or disapprove the creation of a shared tenure-line appointment and, following established procedures, including approval by the President, appoint the spouse or partner to a .5 FTE tenure-track position.
f) Upon appointment, all procedures related to the shared position follow those outlined for shared positions within a department (see Section 1. e.-h. above), with the exception that the full-time tenure line remains associated with the department in which the original hire was made.
3. Conversion of an existing tenure-track appointment to a shared appointment
a) On rare occasions, a full-time, tenure-line appointment may be converted to a shared appointment upon application by the faculty member and his or her spouse or partner. This is done upon recommendation of the department(s) or program(s) involved and with the approval of the Dean for Academic Affairs and the President. While such a conversion is possible regardless of rank, it is normally expected that both participants are not yet tenured and will be subject to the normal tenure process. In the case of one or both holding tenured rank, the recommendation will also involve evaluation by CAPT.
b) When a member of the Faculty desires to explore a possible shared position, he/she should make a formal request to the Dean for Academic Affairs. Such requests should be made no later than September 15 of the academic year in which the request is to be considered. The Dean’s office will request the dossier of the partner/spouse, which should be provided no later than October 15. The dossier should include a curriculum vitae, scholarly or creative work, and evidence of teaching experience. No fewer than three confidential letters of recommendation should be sent directly to the Dean. These materials will be shared with the appropriate department(s) or program(s). The departments or programs will review the partner’s materials and will decide if they are interested in pursuing a shared appointment. As appropriate, they may request an interview, talk or presentation, and teaching demonstration. Such shared appointments can be considered within the same departments or programs or across departments and programs.
c) The relevant department(s) or programs(s) will make a recommendation to the Dean’s office regarding the relevance of the spouse/partner’s field of study to the needs of the curriculum as well as the spouse/partner’s qualifications to fill those needs. The Dean’s office will make a determination whether a hire in the spouse/partner’s field is in the best interests of the College.
d) If a position is converted to a shared position within a single department, the provisions outlined in Section 1. d.-h. apply. For a shared position across departments, provisions 2. d.-f. apply.
17 Approved by the Faculty May 7, 2007 (07-5-4).