Dear Faculty and Staff, 

The past few months have shown us that the best-laid plans can change in an instant. Our colleagues who are caregivers in particular face unique demands upon their time, energy, and well-being while working and simultaneously parenting or caring for a loved one. As we enter a new academic year and continue to adjust to a semi-remote working environment, it is important that we all recognize there will be days ahead when colleagues may face unexpected demands and some flexibility is needed from those around them.

Personal well-being and the well-being of those closest to us are important and valued at Lafayette College. Faculty or staff members who find themselves encountering significant complications in managing their caregiving needs and work expectations are encouraged to share their concerns and explore viable options. For example, staff accustomed to working 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. may need flexibility to attend to other needs during part of that time and request a flexible work schedule. Similarly, faculty members may encounter competing priorities when an unexpected change in a child’s school schedule, or the needs of an elderly parent, conflict with their teaching responsibilities. Faculty should speak with their department head/program chair or the dean of the faculty, and staff should speak with their supervisor, about adjustments that may help to minimize such conflicts. 

In addition to asking supervisors to support flexibility where needed and possible, we encourage faculty and staff who chair meetings to be extra mindful of the demands of different schedules during this time. Lunch meetings, for example, may be difficult for caregivers at home who need to attend to meals for others. Meetings should be scheduled using Doodle polls to find the most convenient times rather than relying on the regular meeting time prior to COVID. We recommend that you consider requests from committee members to limit their responsibilities for this academic year, and that you are forgiving of any necessary absences from meetings. 

We know that everyone is working harder than ever while juggling new and competing priorities. To assist our community, we will continue to explore ways that the College can be helpful to faculty and staff who are faced with multiple responsibilities. We are exploring opportunities to share caregiver information and job postings, for example, as well as enhancements to the College’s Employee Assistance Program. EAP services are confidential and include counseling, financial and legal resources, self-assessments, and other resources.

We also welcome your thoughts and suggestions. New resources and programs that support these efforts will be shared through Lafayette Today and on the Human Resources website. Please contact Human Resources at hroffice@lafayette.edu or (610) 330-5060 with any questions, concerns or suggestions. 

Thank you for your dedication to the College, and for your support of your colleagues during these challenging circumstances.

Alison Byerly, President
John Meier, Provost
Leslie Muhlfelder, Vice President for Human Resources and General Counsel

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