When Oregon State University hires a new staff or faculty member, they’re often changing the life not just of one person, but of a family. Approximately three-fourths of faculty members are married, and the decision to take a job at OSU impacts the job opportunities of working partners or spouses as well.
A story in The New Scientist that published on Feb. 14 shared the story of an OSU couple that had to make a decision between staying in Corvallis for the wife’s job, or moving to Maine for a job opportunity for the husband. The couple ultimately stayed in Oregon, but the tale illustrates the difficulties facing career-focused couples.
OSU is helping to address the concerns of dual-career couples by taking the lead in establishing the Greater Oregon Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, a branch of the national organization that helps proactively address dual-career concerns.
The local branch includes both private and public colleges, community colleges and universities in Oregon and Washington, and is directed by Robynn Pease. It was established by the Provost’s Office under the direction of Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Becky Warner. It is one of 14 regional members of the national Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC). GO HERC’s website (www.goherc.org) will be launched Feb. 14 to coincide with an updated HERC website and will assist over 200,000 job seekers across the country.
GO HERC allows jobseekers to directly link to regional, relocation, diversity, dual career, and job seeking resources. There is also access to free webinars by experts on a range of recruitment and retention topics.
Warner said the philosophy around recruitment has dramatically shifted across campuses in the U.S., and taking into account the broader context of familial relationships is essential.
“We do not just recruit an individual anymore,” Warner said. Instead, universities take into account a potential faculty or staff member’s connections to their family and to the community.
That’s why the GO HERC website is so important, as it provides resources for potential employees to not only find out if there’s employment for their partner in the area, but also guides them toward community resources like childcare options, elder care opportunities, and non-work related activities.
“You’re recognizing that you have people coming with families and with relationships,” she said.
Warner said it’s also important that potential faculty and staff identify when the university or the community is not a good fit, because universities can spend thousands upon thousands of dollars bringing new employees to campus, and if they ultimately leave because it wasn’t the right decision, everyone loses.
And she said because the HERC organization encompasses public and private institutions around the country, as well as some corporate partners, it does what OSU couldn’t do by itself, offer a comprehensive glimpse into the local job market.
“OSU can’t go it alone,” she said.
Pease hopes to attract not only more universities to the membership, but also to bring top employers to the table as well. Employees coming to universities often have highly educated partners and spouses with marketable job skills, which she believes could become an untapped resource for local employers.
“This program helps us retain the top talent in the region,” Pease said, because employees are more likely to remain at OSU and other institutions if their partners can find meaningful employment locally as well.
GO HERC is currently comprised of 18 dues-paying members representing an array of private and public institutions across the state and southern Washington with a goal of increasing membership by 50 percent in the coming year. As a member of GO HERC, institutions convey to potential faculty and staff that their institutions are diverse, family-friendly and supportive of dual-career couples. In today’s market where expenses for recruitment and retention are forever increasing, providing support for dual-career couples gives OSU and its members a competitive edge.
For more information about GO HERC, please contact Pease at 541-737-4842 or firstname.lastname@example.org .