Doctoral Student Parental Accommodation Policy for CUNY Science Scholars

PLEASE NOTE: The Graduate Center’s pilot Doctoral Student Parental Accommodation Policy for CUNY Science Scholars (the “CSS Policy”) will be in effect for the 2014–2015 – 2015-2016 academic years. Following this two-year pilot period, the CSS Policy is subject to evaluation and possible revision.

Download the Doctoral Student Parental Accommodation for CUNY Science Scholars Request Form.


Introduction


In recognition of the challenges of balancing the demands of doctoral study and parenting a new child, this policy is intended to further the Graduate Center’s commitment to supporting programs and services to help graduate student parents to meet their family care obligations while they pursue their academic goals. The CSS Policy assists doctoral students immediately prior to and/or immediately following the birth or adoption of a young child. The purpose of the CSS Policy is to make it possible for a student to maintain registered full-time student status, along with all the benefits of such status, while facilitating the return to full participation in courses, research and teaching. The CSS Policy is not intended to replace communication between the student and the program, but rather to serve as a framework and to provide support for family situations. At all times, the student should work proactively with his or her advisor and Executive Officer to ensure progress towards academic goals. Faculty should be flexible in their expectations of students who become new parents, so that students can meet the demands of graduate study at the same time that they face new demands in their parental roles.
 


Eligibility


The CSS Policy applies only to full-time, enrolled Graduate Center CUNY Science Scholars who are in good academic standing and are making satisfactory progress toward completion of their degree. The CSS Policy covers students who experience a childbirth (either who give birth or whose spouse or partner gives birth) or who adopt a child under the age of 6. Students who have completed at least two full-time semesters of their degree program have the option of applying for a service reduction (see Section III below).
 


Categories of Parental Accommodation


There are three categories of parental accommodation: (I) Extension of time limits to degree; (II) Parental academic accommodation for a total of one six-week period to be taken immediately prior to and/or immediately following the birth or adoption; (III) Teaching reduction during the semester that the birth or adoption occurs or the immediately following semester. Students must have completed at least two full-time semesters of their degree program to become eligible for service reduction.

I. Extension of Time Limits to Degree
Eligible students are entitled to an academic extension of six months per birth or adoption to the maximum time limits to degree as established in the Graduate Center’s academic policies. In the event of a multiple birth or adoption, the length of the extension period is still limited to six months. The six-month extension does not serve to extend the period of the student’s CUNY Science Scholarship (see Section III below).

II. Parental Academic Accommodation Period
All eligible students will be granted a parental academic accommodation period (“accommodation period”) of up to six weeks to be taken immediately prior to and/or immediately following the birth or adoption. During this period of accommodation, the student will continue to be enrolled as a full-time student. Because the student remains enrolled as a full- time student and continues to pay tuition, this is not a leave of absence. It is instead a modification of deadlines and academic expectations to accommodate the student’s new parental responsibilities. The student will be able to postpone completion of course assignments, examinations, and other academic requirements. The student should consult in advance with his/her advisor and Executive Officer about how the student will meet academic goals and requirements. The student is responsible for ensuring that this consultation takes place as far in advance of the accommodation period as possible. Accommodations will be tailored to the student’s individual circumstances and academic responsibilities.

The student must complete the accommodation period within six weeks of the birth or adoption. The student may not divide the time period of parental accommodation for use past this time limit. If both parents are eligible graduate students, both may take the six-week accommodation period. The total accommodation period for each birth or adoption is limited to six weeks; in the event of a multiple birth or adoption, the length of the accommodation period will be limited to six weeks. After the end of the accommodation period, students are expected to return to graduate study and resume progress toward completing their degrees.

III. Teaching Reduction for CUNY Science Scholars During the Parental Accommodation Period
CUNY Science Scholars who are teaching at one of the CUNY campuses will be released from teaching for a full semester of parental accommodation and the teaching salary that they would have received (e.g. from a Graduate Assistantship A, Graduate Assistantship B or teaching adjunct position) will be paid to them by the Graduate Center. The semester of accommodation can be the one in which the birth or adoption occurs or the immediately following semester, at the election of the student. If the birth or adoption takes place during the summer, the student is eligible for the teaching reduction in the fall semester. The teaching reduction may not span two semesters. During the semester of parental accommodation, these students will receive financial support from the Graduate Center in the form of a Graduate Assistantship D (GAD), which provides eligibility for NYSHIP, and non-service University Fellowship funds, which together will total the amount of the salary that the student otherwise would have received from teaching. The student will be responsible for the 50 hours of service per semester required of the GAD title. The student’s Executive Officer will make an appropriate GAD service assignment.

Those students working on, and paid salary from, a mentor’s grant will be released from work on that funded project for up to six weeks. The Graduate Center will provide the student with the funding that the student would have received from grant funds for that six-week period.

  • The period of the teaching reduction will NOT serve to extend the period of the fellowship, which remains five years.
  • In the event that both parents are full-time doctoral students at the Graduate Center, only one is eligible for a reduction in teaching during the parental accommodation period. Both parents are eligible for the extension on time to degree/time to candidacy and the parental academic accommodation.

If you are  beyond the fifth year of enrollment as a GC CUNY Science Scholar, please refer to the Doctoral Student Parental Accommodation Policy.
 


Planning


With assistance from the Executive Officer, it is the student's responsibility to make arrangements as early as possible with (a) faculty for course completion, (b) the relevant campus department chair regarding teaching assignments, and (c) the research advisor (mentor) regarding field and/or laboratory research for the six-weeks of academic accommodation, the six-weeks of work reduction on a funded project, and the semester release in teaching. The student should also discuss with his/her advisor(s) how these accommodations might affect time-sensitive research, teaching, or clinical projects, and the feasibility of his/her continued participation in these same projects. A policy cannot anticipate every individual circumstance, so students who need additional accommodation due to medical needs during or after pregnancy should consult with the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and their advisors/Executive Officers about arrangements for additional accommodation.

Students should initiate discussions with their advisors and Executive Officers and apply for the provisions of parental accommodation as early as possible to provide time necessary to reassign teaching duties for those students supported by teaching assistantships, or to adjust clinical assignments, or laboratory and other research schedules. The planning period should also be used to reach agreement on a timeline for academic work (e.g., class work, qualifying exam and other academic milestones, field work, time-sensitive research reports on sponsored projects) that may be affected by the six-week extension of requirements or one-semester reduction of teaching. It is essential that a student consult with his/her advisor(s) well in advance if the conditions of his/her funding or research grant require that specific tasks be completed by specified dates, or if a Principal Investigator (PI) will need to hire additional help to meet those conditions during a period of reduced activity by the graduate student. Students who are teaching should consult with their direct supervisors on the campus.

Students should also be assured that sensitive or personal information they share with their supervisors, advisors, Executive Officers, and the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, such as medical information, will be treated with utmost discretion and communicated only to pertinent individuals. Students should feel free to share information in an environment where their privacy is respected.
 


Special Notice to International Students


Students who are attending the Graduate Center with an F-1 student visa or J-1 Exchange Visitor visa are strongly encouraged to consult in advance with the Office of International Students about their plans during the period of Parental Accommodation.
 


Application and Approval Process


An eligible student must submit an application for the CUNY Science Scholars Doctoral Student Parental Accommodation to the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. In the case of childbirth, the student must submit the application no later than the 24th week of pregnancy. In the case of adoption, the application must be submitted as soon as the adoption is confirmed. Appropriate documentation (i.e., a signed letter from the student’s health care provider with an estimate of the delivery date or from the adoption agency with an estimate of the adoption date) must accompany the application.

The student must specify on the application whether he/she intends to receive the six-week academic accommodation during the period immediately preceding, and/or the period immediately following, the anticipated birth or adoption. Additionally, he/she must specify whether he/she intends to take the service reduction in the semester of the anticipated birth/adoption or in the next immediately following semester.

The student must consult in advance with his/her instructors, advisers(s) and work supervisors and obtain the signature of his/her Executive Officer, who must indicate that he/she has received notice that the student has requested the parental accommodations as specified on the application form.

Assuming that the student meets the requisite eligibility requirements, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs will notify the student, the student’s doctoral program, and the relevant University administrative offices that the six-week extension of academic requirements and the one-semester teaching reduction and six-week work reduction on a funded project have been approved, along with the start date for the extension and excusal periods.
 


Extended Leave


Students who wish or need to take a longer period of leave, without continuation of funding, may request a leave of absence through the established policy of the Graduate Center.