Brown named 5th Best University to work for, citing childcare options and benefits

BRG, in handing Brown the Top 5 spot, cited its wide array of benefits as noteworthy: strong educational benefits including an employee education program and a tuition aid program. “Child care and backup child care services are also very convenient offerings,” according to BRG.



What the petitions signers are saying to Brown

From the comments section on the petition to Brown University to keep Taft Avenue Daycare Center open:

“I am so disappointed if the daycare will be shut down. I just planned to send my daughter in this summer. I sincerely hope President will change the mind.” Research Fellow

“As a childless student, I stand in solidarity with those who care for children at Brown.” Student

“I am a parent of 3 children. And though I do not use the Taft facility as I live in MA, I believe that providing affordable daycare is critical.  This seems like a completely backwards approach to daycare for the Brown community. Not only is 3 months ridiculously short notice in the current daycare environment where reservation of slots is often required for babies 6-12 months head of time, so this short notice is dreadful and completely irresponsible on Brown’s part.  My father, now retired, ran an organization of close to 1,000 employees for close to 20 years and he was most proud of providing affordable on-site day care.  I would have thought Brown to be more forward looking than a company thinking about day care in the early 1990’s.  This is very sad. ” Faculty

“While my children are now 21 and 15 yrs old, when I first arrived at Brown the challenge of finding quality infant care so I could set up my lab and research program was nearly impossible.  I’m afraid we are severely handicapping many talented men and women who join the Brown faculty because so much of their time is spent trying to balance sub-optimal child care with their scholarly pursuits. ” Faculty

“A daycare is a critical resource in any community. If it costs too much to maintain, let’s make it more cost-efficient – this can be done. But there is no justification for excluding parents from studying and working at Brown, some of whom may be our most impassioned and motivated peers.”  Student

“This daycare plan should be one of the last things that Brown University should even consider cutting.  It is a great resource to the faculty at Brown, and could be reason enough for a student or faculty member to end their time at this institution.” Student

“Closing the day care center is a decision that is not only highly insensitive to the parents who currently utilize it, but it sends a message that Brown as an institution that is not inclusive to those who may want to have children. Closing such an institution will disproportionally affect low income staff, faculty & students, not to mention as females. To me, such a decision is sending the message that motherhood is not compatible with pursuing a career, a ridiculous assertion. Brown cannot neglect its role to support all faculty, staff and students. ” Student

“I have worked at Brown for nearly 5 years and am expecting my first child this summer. I have been signed up for months to start my child at Taft in November. Having my child in a nearby daycare that is part of the Brown community is vital to me. Access to this service is one of the many good reasons I have remained a loyal employee of Brown. Please save Taft!” Staff

“My daughter just turned 3 and we hated having to leave Taft at that point.  To find out that the Center will be closed completely is just shocking.  An expectant friend and co-worker was scheduled to bring her child to Taft in a few months, and I can’t imagine how she must feel right now, knowing that she will have to find alternative childcare arrangements.” Staff

“Brown cannot hope to remain competitive in recruiting new faculty or graduate students without child day care.  It is among the top list of things that is asked about whenever a faculty or graduate student with children or a spouse is interviewing at Brown, and asking incoming faculty to make a decision between having affordable and convenient daycare for their children somewhere else, or coming to Brown and not having that option, is going to seriously impede all the progress that Brown has made in the last few years in becoming a competitive research environment. This is an absolutely unacceptable funding cut, and not only does it fly in the face of common sense, but it also sends Brown backwards in time, encouraging “stay-at-home” families and discouraging especially women from having professional careers as well as family lives. I am incredibly ashamed of my institution for this decision, and I earnestly hope that this petition will allow the leadership at Brown to see the importance of a daycare center to Brown’s reputation and quality.” Graduate Student

“Brown should be supporting, not discouraging, people who wish to combine a life in academia with having children. What is especially frustrating about this decision is how disproportionately it will affect women. I truly don’t understand the reasoning behind it.” Student

“We alums care too.  Having been a co-founder of the Sarah Doyle Center in the early 70’s, I’m certainly dismayed to see Brown backsliding so notably in your attention to women’s and families’ issues, more than 30 years later. Exactly what does this decision say about the University’s values? I hate to think. OK, fine, bringing the center up to standards may be a challenge – but surely not one that a great university can’t handle. It’s time to do the right – and smart – thing.” Alum

“C’mon Brown – this is disgraceful. ” Alum

Over 800 signatures: more from the comments

From the comments on the petition to stop the closing of the Taft Avenue Daycare center at Brown University:

“”The level of support for parents at Brown was already much lower than an institution that brands itself as socially responsible should be able to live with. Brown needs to understand this: Good scholars have children too. And if you’re not willing to take that into account I am sure other institutions will.” Graduate Student

“I am neither a parent nor planning to become one soon, however it is our responsibility as a community to support the people with children at Brown who make this university run as much as the rest of us.” Graduate Student

“I am still trying to figure out how this move forms part of Brown’s effort of facilitating graduate students to go through the program faster, which is one of the newly introduced changes? Or, for that matter, how does this make the transition into an academic career easier for junior faculty and post docs? Actions speak louder than words, they say. This is quite true in this instance and Brown would be wise to take a minute to understand what this regressive step says about their brand name and its marketability to incoming grad students and young faculty members.  ” Graduate Student

“This must be provided by any decent employer and especially by our alma mater! Class of ’82” Alum

“Brown University should honor its commitment to a diverse and varied community, including support for programs such as day care.  They make it possible for students whose lives do not fit an overly narrowly and outdated mold to succeed at Brown.” Graduate Student

“Although I am not a parent, I am an older non-traditional medical student. At some point in my career, well before I finish my training, I will have to have children or risk health consequences. Thus, I believe it is important to maintain childcare for children of students, faculty and staff.  I have many friends who have completed medical school or graduate school with children, but they have often said they could only have done this with institutional support and childcare. I, myself, was a product of such an environment. My mother was junior faculty in the sciences at another ivy league institution when she gave birth to me 30 years ago. Without the daycare support provided by that institution, I sincerely wonder whether my mother would have been able to achieve the success she has been able to achieve. Our educational years and the early years of our professional careers are important times to thrive. For many women, it is also the  only time we can have children without risking our own health or that of our child. I hope Brown will continue to support women and our decisions to have both families and careers and reinstate this childcare program for children under the age of 3. Thank you for considering this. ” Medical Student

“As a grad student at Brown, though not a parent, I fully support Brown’s faculty and graduate student base that rely on quality, daytime childcare to balance their schoolwork with raising a family. Given the tremendous amount of resources that Brown cultivates and invests in its undergraduate students, it is disappointing to see Brown divest in its graduate students and young faculty members just starting a family. Providing the resources for a child daycare center will not only keep Brown’s graduate programs competitive with its peer institutions, but will also demonstrate Brown’s commitment to its graduate students, faculty, and future families growing with the Brown community. Financial decisions are tough year-to-year and programs always get cut—its inevitable. Don’t let this be one of them! Find the money, make it happen!” Graduate Student

“I am flabbergasted that this is happening. As a former Brown graduate, now living in Europe, and seeing first hand, how advanced Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark are in supporting working women with infants, I am ashamed that my Alma Mater would even consider, cutting such benefits. ” Alum

“As the Rabbi and spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Sholom, a vibrant Synagogue on the East side of Providence, I can say that the decision to close this day care is a tremendous blow to those interested in raising families in our community.  It is a sad statement of misplaced priorities and should be reconsidered immediately.” Community Member

“Why are we still having to fight for this in 2012?” Alum

“”I’m an alum and a PhD and a feminist and a mother and I find this deeply troubling.  Please address the matter with broad smart thinking not short-sighted financial bottom lines.” Alum

“Bad decision!!! Dartmouth’s childcare center is spectacular, and made a huge difference in my kids’ lives. We would never have considered leaving the college once our kids started there, because it is such an incredible resource. Don’t lose good staff  because Brown can’t offer child care!” Alum

“Brown’s peers all realize that they need to assist parents of infants and toddlers with the provision of day care. Failure to so at Brown can only make it harder to recruit new faculty which would be very disappointing especially when one of the major recruiting advantages we have is touting Brown, Providence and RI as a wonderful place to live and raise a family.” Staff member

“”As someone who had children during graduate school, I can attest that affordable daycare is a critical issue for young families, particularly when they are on very limited graduate incomes.  My sons are in school now, so I was not aware of the Brown daycare situation.  This sounds completely unacceptable for any university, let alone a liberal arts, Ivy League school.  The university should put its money where its mouth is.” Faculty

” I implore you, if Taft must close, take this opportunity to establish an even better daycare option for the many postdoc parents at Brown University.  Let Brown be a leader in family friendly policies, not a lagger.” Staff Member

“I am a Brown PhD student. Although I do not yet have children, I believe easy access to employer daycare is essential to allow women to work equally with men. This is definitely a step in the wrong direction. Financial woes should not be an excuse for tactics that could negatively affect women over men. ” Graduate Student

“Could this cutback be a result of the decision to give Providence $8M per year?” Faculty

What the Brown community is saying

About the petition to stop the closing of its only daycare center by Brown University:

“”I am deeply dissapointed in the university administration’s decision to close Taft Avenue daycare. The manner in which this decision has been implemented is bad enough, but the deeper issue here is the university’s commitment to families and the community. I find it hard to believe that we have to justify the need for decent day care in this day and change. When I joined Brown in 2004, young faculty were promised that Brown had day care comparable to peer universities. The truth of course is entirely different. The facilties at Taft were below par, but the warmth and competence of the staff left us feeling that our children were in good hands. The fact that Taft needed an overhaul was never in doubt (for example, two years ago we had to take our children out for a few days because a part of the roof blew off). Yet instead of investing in a facility that all of us would be happy with, the university has chosen to shut it down with no plans for a new facility. I am just speechless.” Faculty

“I don’t have kids of my own, but I havevseen how this daycare facility has allowed my fellow students to continue studying while raising their babies. This is such an unfortunate decision.” Graduate Student

“As departmental chair, I have first-hand experience of the difficulties of recruiting top female faculty or staff. The lack of a day care center for Brown staff and faculty, which appears unique among our peer institutions, will make a difficult task even more difficult, especially in harder-than-usual economic times.” Faculty

“As I Brown PhD candidate soon to be on the job market, with a partner who has just declined to stay at Brown as faculty and taken a job at a university with childcare–I can say with full certainty that young families, couples and single parents will choose other institutions over Brown as Brown is now making it even more clear how little they value quality family life and community. It is inconceivable that with all of its real estate and institutional expenditures that Brown cannot maintain a daycare center. This is not about expense, it is about priorities. Shameful.” Graduate Student

” I am now an Emeritus Professor, and also a Research Professor so I can continue to get grants, and far beyond the stage of needing day care myself, I believe this is an important issue and problem. Brown needs to be able to attract the best faculty, graduate students and staff. Having quality and affordable day care is a very important issue for this as well as societal reasons. Please work to deal with this problem.” Faculty

“I am still an undergraduate but I definitely feel that keeping Brown family friendly is very important. As I begin to consider graduate programs, a school which would provide for not only my educational goals but also my family ones is a very important part of my considerations. I hope that Brown will remain an institution that would allow me to comfortably learn while having a family.” Student

“It is critical for Brown to keep this service availalble to parents. I work at a hospital with a great day care center and it is a huge draw to get top notch employees. Please reconsider.” Alumna

“This is a giant step backwards. Brown should and must provide on-site day care for parents and prospective parents of small children. Please find another location or fix this one!” Alum and Parent

“”I was part of the effort to start Brown’s first day care center in the 1970s and this situation makes me very very sad. Please reconsider!!” Alumna

“I’m an alumna and a new parent who is Associate Professor of English at the University of Oregon. Providing subsidized day care — which my quite cash-poor university is able to do — is one hallmark of a university that takes recruitment of faculty and students seriously. It is also a vital resource for faculty and student parents. If Oregon can do this, surely Brown can afford to. I urge Brown to reconsider this decision and to continue to provide daycare.” Alumna

“I have taught here for 32 years and always believed Brown understood such basic needs as quality daycare. The administration should reconsider the decision to close the Taft Avenue center. Such action will allow us to continue to serve faculty and community needs, and to retain a deserved reputation for child-friendly policy.” Faculty

“The University has many financial commitments and hard decisions have to be made. However, this sudden decision to close the University’s daycare facility is short sighted and it negatively and disproportionately affects young women. Many families have benefited from Taft Avenue child care (I did when I first arrived at Brown in 1990 with my 9 month old son). Access to affordable child care is critical for many women to remain in their jobs. In academics, the lack of quality daycare is a major factor contributing to the loss of women from the STEM fields (see Lisa Belkin, NYTimes, February 9, 2011, “Do women shun science?”). I urge the University to find a way to keep Taft open and to improve access to a range of child care options for Brown families.” Faculty

“The answer to roadblocks such as the new state care regulations should never be acquiescence. Brown’s decision reflects exactly that energy/attitude that is so vigorously challenged by the Boldly Brown campaign. I find this incredibly disappointing.” Alumna

Faculty, Students, Alums voice opposition to Taft Avenue Daycare Closing

Excerpts from the comment on the petition to Brown University to keep Taft Avenue Daycare open:

“One of the reason I decided to join the Brown faculty was the “family friendly” policies of the university. I hope we continue to maintain our strengths and strive to eventually take the lead in this area.” Faculty

“”Staff and faculty depend on this center. Historically, the loss of daycare disproportionately effects women (as well as their children). This is a vital and basic issue that requires immediate redress.” Faculty

“Child care issues are fundamental to attracting and retaining faculty and these issues still affect women more than men. Brown needs to provide more, not less, opportunities to help students and faculty succeed in balancing work and family.” Faculty

“To attract the best student and faculty to Brown, we must reach out to the widest populations. We readily appeal to minorities to keep a balanced community. It is no different to reach out to persons with families. The latter provide significant role models for undergraduates who might consider going on to higher education. Yes, . . . you can have a family yet lead a rich professional life. Or, . . . maybe not! Not if the Administration has a choice. I am very disappointed in the priorities the University has set.” Faculty

“This decision particularly affects members of the Brown community who have relatively low incomes — graduate students and staff — thus, it works against support and inclusion of lower socioeconomic classes at Brown. As Vice Chair of Brown’s Diversity Advisory Board, I am extremely disappointed in this decision and the way in which it was handled without input from those who are affected.” Faculty

“As a faculty member, I have urged the administration for years to take seriously the need to support students, staff and faculty at Brown in their reasonable demands for daycare options. The availability of low-cost, high-quality childcare is a critical part of a productive and successful workplace, as reported in numerous studies.” Faculty

“This is terrible!” Alumnus

“If Brown can afford all of the extravagant equipment in the new gym, as well as amenities like the new Medical School Building’s clinical skills rooms (which are nicer than most doctors’ offices), it should be able to afford to maintain this essential service for students and staff with young children. I am a not a parent, yet I still believe that the closure of the Daycare Center is far from the most reasonable course of action.” Medical Student

“Closing this day care center for infants and young children is a major problem for many of our faculty and staff. Brown has made considerable efforts to create equal and unbiased labor practices. Closing this center discriminates against young (mostly) female faculty and staff who have children now. This is problematic for all concerned. But it is especially problematic for young female faculty, and will seriously hamper their ability to be productive for promotion. Closing this center will create a hostile workplace at Brown. ” Faculty

“As a pediatrician, I recognize the essential nature of safe and reliable childcare to a family’s well being. As a member of the medical school’s administration, I recognize its importance to our staff and to our students, many of whom are at the stage in their lives when they will become parents. Although I recognize the many demands on our institution’s resources, I support this petition in the hope that a childcare program will be given the high priority that it deserves.” Faculty

“Brown deserves an “”F”” on this one and we owe it to the rest of the community to do the right thing and fix this problem and not just wash our hands of it and walk away. Quality day care is a necessity in our society today and it is my understanding that Taft’s day care is representative of the excellence that Brown professes and often displays.” Staff

“As an alumna, I’m disturbed to hear about this move. Please protect valuable assistance to families.” Alumna

What the Brown community is saying about the Taft closing – more excerpts

Comments from the petition to reconsider the closing of the Taft Avenue Daycare center:

“This is both entirely unacceptable and entirely predictable – it’s time for the University to acknowledge its responsibilities to affiliated parents. To remain competitive and to attract top talent at every level, Brown must provide quality, affordable childcare to members of its community. That the Taft avenue facility was overcrowded and run-down has often been noted; much less well-publicized has been the long (often up to one year) waitlist for new arrivals. In the past, Taft’s wonderful and talented staff have made up for facility and funding shortcomings. Now, the University seems to have abandoned it entirely. This petition is sorely needed.” Faculty

“This is devastating to the Brown community and their families. Our peer institutions provide this type of care to their faculty, staff and students. For Brown to disadvantage those families with infants/toddlers ages 0-3 years is absurd. Quality childcare is a necessary investment on the part of the University for the well-being of their faculty, staff, and students.” Student

“Closing down Brown University’s only Child Care facility is unfair and in poor taste on Brown’s part. In comparison with other school that have multiple day care centers, Brown was already in bad standing with only one. By closing the center, the university will be losing a large benefit for people who want to work here. It is important that the university support parents so that no one has to choose whether to have a family or to work.” Student

“This decision and the way it was handled by Brown university does not make any sense and is not appropriate for an institution of such caliber.” Alumnus

“Given the shortage of high quality, affordable daycare options in Providence, Brown will make life much more difficult for its graduate students and staff if it fails to provide daycare. And it is unconscionable that Brown has given current families less than 4 months notice that Taft Avenue Daycare will close when daycare waiting lists in Providence are often 1 year long (or more!). I urge the administration to reconsider this short-sighted and insensitive decision.” Graduate Student

“If Brown truly values women as equal participants in the life of the University, there is no better place to put its resources as proof.” Alumna

“This flies in the face of the buzzwords and mission statements about being committed to excellence and creating the support networks in a community which allow its members to pursue that goal of excellence. An ethically grounded and reflexive institution of higher education has the obligation to participate in the provision of childcare. I have taught at several universities, all of which possess far fewer resources than Brown, and all of which provide a higher standard of childcare than Brown did even with the Taft Ave. facility.

If the figures representing Brown in the public eye are able to maintain a straight face while claiming there are great and wonderful support networks at the university, and foreclosing opportunities while they claim this, it is disgusting. It will grossly affect the quality of thought and teaching that can happen at the institution, and demonstrate that for all of the lofty goals of the institution, supporting family structures is not one of them.” Faculty

“In 5 years at Brown this is the most ill conceived decision I believe Brown has made. It is regressive, in general, and, specifically, harmful to women in academics.” Graduate Student

“You are undercutting the benefit package that we were all hired under.” Postdoc

“Please help hardworking intelligent people stay in school and at work. Brown would not be what it is if it were not for its faculty and students. I would like to say that this would disproportionately hurt women, but in fact eliminating day care would really hurt everyone.” Student

“Although I do not have children- and, in all likelihood, will not- it is vital that Brown maintain childcare services in order to remain attractive to graduate students and faculty as compared to peer institutions.” Graduate Student

From the petition so far

The petition has reached 500 signatures so far and counting. Excerpts from the comments:

“I am about to join Brown as a new faculty member in CS. My wife is currently pregnant and one of the reasons why I considered Brown in the first place, was that they offered infant child care. I will also mention my concern to my new department chair and I really hope, that the university will reconsider its decision.” Incoming Faculty

“Leaving our 2.5 month old at a daycare was one of the most difficult decisions I and my husband (both graduate students working hard to reach important milestones in our programs) had to make. At Taft, having met the teachers and staff, and knowing that some of my Brown friends’ children are currently enrolled there were crucial testimonies to what a safe and closely-nit community it provided.” Taft parent

“My son has been at Taft since he was a little baby and has received excellent care. Without Taft Ave and its excellent teachers, I might not even be a doctoral student right now, I would have dropped out. Please provide a solution.” Taft parent

“This is an inexcusable outrage.” Graduate student

“As a co-director of a graduate program, it’s essential to have affordable and convenient day-care for children of graduate students” Faculty

“My son attended Taft for almost 1.5 years. I ultimately took him out, because of both the crowded size of the space, and the (lack of) quality of his care. So I can see the sense of closing the center in its current incarnation. But something much better needs to be made available in its place. So I am signing this petition in the hopes that Brown owns up to a long-overdue responsibility to make available a higher, more appropriate level of childcare to for Brown-affiliated families.” Former Taft parent

“A safe and secure environment for children is essential for productive employees. Providing it increases dedication and commitment to the institution. Our two children thrived under the care of the staff at Taft and we were grateful and relieved to have its help. Rather than close the center, it would be wonderful if the university upgraded the quality of the facilities to match the quality of the care.” Faculty

“As a female faculty member and a mother, I know personally how critical it is to have quality infant and pre-school child care available. This closure decision makes recruiting and retention harder for female (and male) post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty. It makes academic advancement & promotion more challenging. As a research group head, I know that finding quality affordable child care is critical for the post-doctoral fellows working in my laboratory. Three of them have infants!
My NIH-funded research programs at Brown depend on their ability to find child care. Frankly, it is short-sighted and embarrassing for Brown to close their only infant care facility. It astounds me that the university would take this course.” Faculty

“What kind of place – that prides itself on being one of the largest employers in this small state – has such a disregard for the fundamental issues in the lives of their employees: their ability to support and maintain a healthy family; and to be healthy and productive people in their work at Brown and in their own lives. Brown has parties for its dignitaries that cost more than it takes to run that day care for months. Forget about the pomp of Bear Day once a year. Save the money and put it into people’s ability to manage their real lives in a very difficult economic environment. Brown is nothing without its people and as the University chooses to follow the corporate business model, chase the dollars and play catch up to its ‘peer institutions’ it should be mindful of this. Brown University should be very ashamed of this latest of many callous decisions, made by people for whom they are of no consequence other than to fatten their paychecks.” Staff

“Brown University should have a state-of-the-art child care facility dedicated to serving the community that serves the University.” Graduate student

“I am bewildered by this decision. I would not have come to Brown if Taft had not been an option. Both my kids went there, and I have helped recruit over 10 junior faculty over the years in part by telling them what a great place Taft was. I don’t know how this decision was made or the details, but if there is no alternative plan to Taft, then this will be catastrophic to Brown’s ability to attract the best junior faculty and graduate students. ” Faculty