Dual Career Assistance College UniversityDual-career matters are often a significant component of faculty recruitment and retention.  In fact, you can’t talk about faculty recruitment and retention without talking about dual-career, and you can’t talk about dual-career without talking about faculty recruitment and retention.  Since the majority of our faculty have working partners and spouses—some of whom are academics and others who work in many other professions--providing dual-career assistance, among other kinds of work and life support, is often crucial for a successful recruitment for the institution and a productive experience for our faculty families.

Like Harvard, many universities have recognized the importance of focusing on the needs of family members in the context of faculty recruitment and retention.  Some important studies have been done to highlight the needs of dual-career couples and an increasingly diverse faculty, including the Dual-Career Research Report by the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University and the Dual Career Survey Report by the University of VirginiaArticles that highlight helpful dual-career practices are also being written.

At Harvard, we take a holistic, long-term approach to this work.  We are recruiting or retaining a family, not just a candidate or a faculty member.  We focus on fostering strong partnerships, both internally and externally, to make the transition and long-term experience of the faculty family as smooth and productive as possible.  Our focus is on making connections and opening doors that lead to successful transitions and experiences.  We utilize the very helpful resources and networks around us, forming a “bicycle wheel” so to speak, with the dual-career job-seeker and the institutional point-person or “broker” in the center of the wheel.  The important partnerships in this work form the spokes: deans, department chairs, and faculty help to evaluate candidates for faculty positions; HR recruiters match job-seekers to relevant administrative positions and make introductions to hiring managers; colleagues in Work/Life work closely with families on their dependent care and schooling needs among other things; colleagues in the housing office assist with identifying housing options that work; and experts in the international office work with faculty and their dependents from other countries to obtain work visas.  We also utilize the resources of the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium which helps the job-seeker and broker identify relevant job opportunities at HERC-member institutions in our region along with offering professional development webinars and events for members and job-seekers and resources to facilitate more diverse and effective search and hiring processes.  We also have a robust network of colleagues at area institutions.  We help each other by circulating CVs and resumes within our respective schools and gather regularly to discuss best practices and new ideas to inform what we do.

By fostering strong partnerships, we are creating positive, productive experiences and a sense of good will that carries throughout the work and life experience of our faculty families.  After all, it takes a village, or maybe just a good, strong bicycle wheel.

Elizabeth Ancarana is Assistant Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity at Harvard University