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When a Good Thing Comes Along

When a Good Thing Comes Along

The idea to write about female administrators who made the difficult decision to leave the children with dad, albeit temporarily, in order to accept a career-boosting position, came about through a casual conversation among the Black Issues staff. When we were able to name a handful of women who have made this move — and recently — we knew we had a story. I’m sure there are countless others who have found themselves in the same predicament, and handled it in several different ways. We would like to hear from both men and women on this issue. How is it working out for you and your family? Is your particular college or university supportive of your familial circumstances?

You may remember in our Women in Higher Education edition in March (see Black Issues, March 28) we asked, “Do Babies Matter When Charting an Academic Career?” The answer appears to be apparently so as statistics suggest that women who achieve tenure often sacrifice childbearing to do so. It is no secret that professional women are often torn between career and family. How much time and energy do you invest in one without sacrificing the other?

I imagine the most difficult decisions regarding childbearing or child rearing probably occur early in a woman’s career. What I find fascinating, however, is that by the time children are high-school age, and about to venture off to college, women are likely at the point in their careers where they are being considered for more senior-level positions. And what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity might be in another state — and clear across the country. Do you pull your teen-agers out of school and pack it up or leave them with dad? These are the tough decisions three administrators — Drs. A. Toy Caldwell-Colbert, Lucy Reuben and Beverly Daniel Tatum of Howard University, North Carolina Central University and Spelman College respectively — have had to make recently. “Can Women in the Academy Have it All?” we ask again. Can women do it all? Dr. Yolanda Moses of the American Association for Higher Education says women can, but just not all at once. Find out how women are balancing careers and long-distance families in Kendra Hamilton’s cover story. Their husbands weigh in as well.

While you’re pondering how you would handle such a situation, ponder this: What would you do if you were to leave academia tomorrow? Former Virginia Tech professors, Drs. Johnnie and Leroy Miles, took advantage of early retirement to explore other career options. Saving their money and investing wisely gave them the luxury to find second careers that they love after 22 years in academia.

Speaking of retirement, most of you are aware by now that former Spelman president Dr. Johnnetta Cole came out of presidential retirement to head another historically Black female institution — North Carolina’s Bennett College. In “The Sisters and the Bro,” read about the new team Cole has assembled to put Bennett on the right track, and to quote a Bennett administrator, so that it “can remain the historic treasure that it is.”


Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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