University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

Family Friendly Work Place

Arlene Carney, vice provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs
Carol Carrier, vice president for Human Resources

Overview of the Project

As economic factors continue to reduce resources in higher education, there likely will be pressures to tighten up on many different programs, services, and policies that are not seen as funding the direct services of the teaching or research missions. There seems to be consensus that work environments considered to be "family friendly" are attractive to employees but in the new reality "family friendly" policies and practices could be viewed as dispensable, when compared with other priorities for use of scarce resources, as such policies and practices require an investment, both of real dollars and of staff time.

Much recent literature about higher education (e.g., Mason, 2007) has focused on the importance of having “family friendly” policies and work places. With a new generation of faculty and staff coming to our institutions, many of whom are placing higher priority on having “balance” in their lives, how should universities value the "family friendly" work environment goal in the future? What types of policies, services, and programs represent the ideal? Should a university like the U of M strive to lead on this dimension or simply strive to be more in the middle of the pack?

Project Goals

The sponsors of this project intend for this experience to provide opportunities to gain skills in dealing with ambiguous problems that do not necessarily have clear answers and that certainly do not have one right answer or path to a decision. This year-long project will provide opportunities to brainstorm, problem-solve, negotiate, research, present, critique, and write, to name a few. To facilitate the work of the group, project sponsors wish to be available for consultation with the team on a regular basis to respond to the group’s work plan and planned deliverables. The sponsors encourage the PEL group to think creatively about how best to refine the problem statement and generate a work plan that is bold and ambitious.

Project Team

Team Members

April Coon
Senior Grant/Contract Administrator
Sponsored Projects Administration
Mentor: Rusty Barcelo

William Dana
Lead Business Analyst
Academic Support Resources
Mentor: Jerry Fischer

Ginny Levi
Assistant Director
Technological Leadership Institute
Mentor: Billie Wahlstrom

Barbara Schwab
Assistant Director
Office of the Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts
Mentor: Joel Maturi

Heidi Wagner
Assistant to the Director
School of Social Work
Mentor: Lyndel King