Program aids in hiring couples

Later this month, Yale and 47 other institutions from New York and southern Connecticut will launch a partnership aimed at easing the process of employee recruitment, especially for families with two partners in academia.

By making it easier to search for pairs of jobs at nearby universities, the Metro New York and Southern Connecticut Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, or HERC, will make it easier for couples to find two jobs in academia. The organization expects to launch a preliminary version of its Web site by the end of November, said Laila Maher, the consortium’s new director.

The HERC Web site will allow job seekers to create a profile that they can link to that of a family member. Once family members have linked their profiles, they can search for pairs of jobs at nearby colleges. Other resources and information about moving to the area will also be made available on the Web site.

Some Yale faculty said that it had been difficult to find two jobs in the region, and that there was little or no formal help from the University in making it possible for both spouses to settle there.

“It makes all the sense in the world for Yale to do this,” said psychiatry professor William Sledge, whose wife Elizabeth is a Yale College writing tutor.

Other faculty said that New Haven in particular posed a challenge for partners looking for work because of the small local job market.

“It’s hard for couples to find two jobs in the same city in academia, especially in New Haven,” said Dr. Richard Schottenfeld, the master of Davenport College and a professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine.

Schottenfeld’s wife, Tanina Rostain, is a faculty member at New York Law School.

The launch of the HERC follows the creation earlier this month of a similar network for the New England Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, of which Harvard University is a founding member. Both HERC organizations are part of a national movement to facilitate better faculty recruitment services; the first such network was created in Northern California in 2000. Once the HERC for Yale’s region is launched, all of the regional groups — which also cover New Jersey and Southern California — will have similar Web sites.

Maher said the Metro New York and Southern Connecticut HERC will be the largest in the nation. Columbia University, New York University, Fordham University and Vassar College are among the other member institutions.

Previously, Yale helped scholars’ partners find employment on an individual, ad hoc basis, searching from a pool of open positions at Yale.

“This has happened informally within the institution for years,” Schottenfeld said.

The process of faculty recruitment has become more difficult with the increase in the number of dual-income families, especially when one or both of the working family members are in academic fields where employment opportunities are limited. In one recent case, Yale’s effort to hire political science professor Susan Stokes was delayed for a year until a position opened in the history department for her husband, Steven Pincus.

Maher said that while the new Web site has specific job listings, it will also provide resources for all employees who are making the transition to living in a new location. In addition, the site will serve as a recruiting tool for anyone interested in jobs at member institutions.

The consortium will be funded with member dues. The fees are graduated according to the size of the institution, with schools of over 10,000 students paying the maximum $9,825. The organization will be based out of the office of the Columbia University Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives.

Maher said that institutions will begin populating the site with available jobs soon after the launch, and that it is expected to be fully operational by next January.

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