Professors looking to take advantage of their allotted leave to raise young children may currently find the process more confusing than they first anticipated — thanks to what the Women Faculty Forum is calling a “bureaucratic lag.”

Although the Provost’s Office announced a change to the faculty’s child care leave policy more than three years ago, the new policy has not yet been documented in the faculty handbook, a guide to the University’s faculty policies. While the WFF cites the situation as a problem for the faculty, professors and department chairs interviewed said they have not experienced or heard of any confusion arising from the inconsistency.

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”12944″ ]

University Provost Andrew Hamilton said Wednesday that following consultation in November with the WFF, the Provost’s Office has taken steps to alert faculty to the change in policies — including sending a memo to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences outlining all leave policies.

In October 2004, former University Provost Susan Hockfield sent a memo to all ladder faculty — those faculty members eligible to be considered for tenure — announcing an expansion of the existing leave policy, which granted a semester of teaching relief to female faculty members with children. Hockfield’s change extended the leave to all ladder faculty, regardless of gender, who raise or adopt children.

WFF Program Coordinator Christine Slaughter said the delay in updating the faculty handbook to reflect this change has caused some confusion among faculty members and department chairs about the University’s actual policy.

“It’s mostly a question of some bureaucratic lag in making sure that the faculty handbook gets revised,” Slaughter said.

Slaughter said that given the date of Hockfield’s memo, the lack of a prominent statement on the Provost’s home page about the change may have allowed the new policy to go unnoticed.

Despite WFF members’ reports of confused professors, department chairs and professors said the inconsistency between current policies and the faculty handbook has not caused major problems among their peers.

Chemistry chair Gary Brudvig said he thinks faculty members already know they should consult the Provost’s Office for issues relating to faculty leave.

“I think if people need to find out, they’re aware and they can get the information if they need to,” Brudvig said. “I would assume they would contact the administration and probably the Provost’s Office for information.”

A professor at the medical school who asked to remain anonymous said although she did not receive formal notice of the new policy, she knew of the change through word-of-mouth among the faculty.

“I did take advantage of [the policy],” the professor said. “I had a child last year. The procedure in which I asked for the leave was very straightforward.”

Hamilton said the Provost’s Office plans to publish a revised version of the faculty handbook sometime during the current academic year.