November 10, 2008
Vol. 28 No. 4

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    Dual Career Director Brust addresses new faculty needs

    By Julia Morse
    News Office

    Since being named Dual Career Director earlier this year, Phyllis Brust has worked with more than 45 accompanying spouses and partners of the University’s current and prospective faculty, assisting them to learn about job possibilities in Chicago.

    “A priority for faculty members and candidates is for their spouses and partners to find meaningful employment in Chicago,” said Brust. “Studies have shown that this may be an especially critical issue for women and minority faculty.”

    She noted that the Provost’s Office recognized the need for and created the position, and Brust also works closely with Mary Harvey, Associate Provost for Program Development.

    Brust cited a recently published Stanford University study that stated that couples who do not find positions at the same or neighboring institutions often commute or drop out of academia. “When professors face long commutes, universities tend to lose in terms of faculty research, contact hours with students, committee work, and most importantly, in terms of the kind of serendipitous intellectual exchange that happens when people run into each other informally.”

    Brust has been busy in the new position. “The demand has been much higher than anticipated. Originally, the procedure was rather informal—a dean or chairperson would send me an e-mail with a request to help. As we move forward, more resources will be added, as well as guidelines and procedures. The work can range from a quick e-mail exchange and resumé revision to helping the accompanying spouse or partner to target employers.

    “It’s a very personalized process,” said Brust. “It has to be.”

    For example, Brust assisted one accompanying spouse interested in finding work in a library. It took about a dozen hours, Brust said, but after helping to review the woman’s resumé and assisting in networking, she landed a job.

    “I don’t want to create false expectations. We cannot promise jobs. Not everyone will be able to land a position, and it can be particularly difficult for dual-career academic couples,” said Brust, who also is a College Counselor in the Office of Career Advising and Planning Services and the Director of the Greater Chicago Higher Education Recruitment Consortium.

    A new aspect of Brust’s work is to create social events for new faculty. Next up will be a Wednesday, Nov. 12 event at Court Theatre. Interested faculty should contact Brust at pbrust@uchicago.edu.

    “Building a community, whether it be by organizing social events or assisting dual-career couples, is a high priority for the University, and the resources it is providing are outstanding,” Brust said. “The University is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse and talented workforce. It’s been a crazy, busy year, but a very productive and rewarding one too.”