Since 1989, the President’s Advisory Commission on Women’s Issues has been active in developing and advocating for policies that improve the lives of women at the University of Michigan. Many of these same policies have benefitted men and children as well. In collaboration with other committees, individuals, and units on campus, PACWI has contributed to the development of the following policies:

  • Although postdoctoral fellows (“postdocs”) report overall pleasure in working at U-M, PACWI was asked in 2011 to examine continuing policy discrepancies that were resulting in unsatisfactory career development, questionable access to health and leave benefits, and inequitable salary levels among postdocs. Input from key stakeholders was incorporated into a set of PACWI recommendations for the Postdoctoral Advisory Group, President Coleman, chairs of the U-M Postdoctoral Association, and deans. Many of these recommendations were reflected in a revised policy and new campus-wide handbook for postdocs.
  • Responding to PACWI’s request, Human Resources created informational resources addressing UM obstetricians’ recommendation that new mothers take 12 weeks of maternity leave. In a Leave of Absence Toolkit, the University noted extended sick leave would still be limited to 6-8 weeks, but it encouraged supervisors and employees to discuss options for extending the amount of leave post-delivery. A Time-Off Navigator can identify a person’s eligibility for various forms of time off based on their job title and years of service. These tools build on the work PACWI did with the Division of Business & Finance in2008 to expand eligibility for Gradual Return to Work accommodations for fathers, mothers and adoptive parents.
  • Based on an original proposal from PACWI, the Rackham Graduate School implemented a parental accommodation policy. The policy extends deadlines and modifies academic expectations for eligible graduate students immediately following the birth or adoption of a child. In addition, eligible birth mothers receive up to six weeks of paid medical leave following childbirth.
  • One of PACWI’s earliest recommendations, extension of the tenure probationary period, was adopted in 1990. It allows a faculty member’s tenure clock to be extended by one year for female faculty who experience pregnancy and childbirth and for male or female faculty who experience dependent care demands, such as the care of children, ill or injured partners, or aging parents. Responding to a longstanding recommendation of the Commission, the University in 2012 increased the number of times faculty may stop the clock for childbearing/dependent care to a minimum of two. This expanded eligibility -- previously only in policies within LS&A and Engineering -- became available to all faculty campus-wide.
  • The modified duties policy grants relief from classroom teaching for the semester in which sick leave is used for pregnancy or childbirth. In addition, a male or female faculty member who is the parent of a newly born or adopted child and who has at least co-equal caregiving responsibilities for the child is eligible for one semester of teaching relief to adjust to the demands of parenting.
  • Staff are allowed to use all of their paid sick days as family care days in order to attend to the illness or medical appointment needs of dependents. Originally, only three days out of the 15 could be counted as family care days. This change in policy highlights two of PACWI’s strengths: the fact that it is an ongoing committee and the historical memory it retains. Because of persistent advocacy over time, the number of family care days was raised to six in 1999 and by 2002, was raised to include all 15 paid sick days.
  • The staff tuition support program now allows prospective payment of tuition and an increased amount of tuition support paid by the University.
  • The faculty-student relationships policy strongly discourages romantic and/or sexual relationships between faculty members and students, due to inherent conflict of interest. A similar policy discourages romantic and/or sexual relationships between staff and students they supervise.
  • As society’s understanding of harassment has developed and research data on the problem has increased, PACWI has taken an active role in recommending improvements to the faculty/staff sexual harassment policy, which was first enacted in 1980.
  • In addition, PACWI supported development of guidelines for addressing domestic violence in the workplace.