Faculty parent support group to meet Feb. 14

Faculty Parent Support Group Image

To connect with other faculty parents across UTSA’s campuses, a group of female faculty has formed the Faculty Parents Network and will host a brown bag lunch in the new Faculty Center on Friday, Feb. 14 at noon. All faculty parents are invited to bring a lunch and attend the informal meeting.

The group was created to provide information, resources, professional collegiality and social interaction with colleagues who also are balancing roles as academics and caregivers. Co-founders are Melinda Denton (Sociology), Jill Fleuriet (Anthropology), Crystal Colombini (English), Johnelle Sparks (Demography) and Gloria Crisp (Educational Leadership and Policy Studies).

Balancing career and family is difficult for all working parents. Being a parent and a professor can present unique challenges, the co-founders say.

That’s because many faculty are working far more than 40 hours a week, particularly junior faculty working toward tenure. Also, newly minted Ph.D.’s often accept faculty positions in cities where they have no support system of family and friends. And even in universities with the most family-friendly policies and cultures, faculty with children may be concerned about how they are perceived by their childless colleagues.

Through meetings and an email listserv, the Faculty Parents Network will provide a framework for members to discuss those challenges and also to find answers to more routine questions about raising a child in San Antonio. There may even be an advocacy role for the group down the road, the co-founders say; for now, their primary goal is to offer lateral support to others trying to strike a healthy work-life balance.

With the opening of the Faculty Center, the university has an enhanced opportunity to facilitate the growth of such faculty networks, said Alan Shoho, associate provost for academic and faculty support, adding that there already are support groups for international faculty and LGBT faculty at UTSA.

“The center was created to serve the professional development needs of our faculty as teachers and researchers,” said Shoho, “but it also can serve to engage faculty in a variety of ways that might further promote faculty success.”

To subscribe to the Faculty Parents Network listserv, go to http://lists.sis.utsa.edu/mailman/listinfo/faculty_parents. For other questions about the group, contact Melinda Denton, Crystal Colombini or Jill Fleuriet.

February 7, 2014