The University Record, October 16, 2000

Flint faculty members share life, academic appointment

By Marcus Popiolek
U-M-Flint University Relations

Jami Anderson
Jami Anderson and Simon Cushing are making history at the University of Michigan-Flint.

The couple shares not only a home life, but also a job.

“It is especially rare for one full-time, tenure-track position to be split—so rare that it has never been done before at the U-M-Flint, and apparently not anywhere in the entire University of Michigan system,” says Charles Dunlop, professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy.

Anderson and Cushing have worked as assistant professors in the department for the past year. They credit Dunlop for giving them this opportunity.

“Charles did a lot, and put forth great effort to make this happen,” Cushing says. “It is very difficult for two married people to get jobs in the same department, let alone share the same position.

“This truly is a wonderful opportunity for us.”

The position Anderson and Cushing share was created last year. When the department reviewed the applications for the position, they discovered that two of the applicants were married and began to explore the possibility of a shared position.

“It took a lot of negotiation, but the bottom line is that the administration was very cooperative and saw this as a recruiting tool, and as it turned out, they were our top choices,” Dunlop says.
Simon Cushing

Cushing and Anderson both hold doctoral degrees in philosophy from the University of Southern California. Before coming to Flint, they taught at the University of Central Arkansas. Anderson was on a tenure-track appointment, while Cushing was not.

“They certainly are distinct individuals, with both contributing very much to the life of the department,” Dunlop says. “In many respects they are really full faculty members, even though they teach half-time.”

The shared position has proven advantageous to the Department of Philosophy.

“This is working out extremely well. We all are very pleased to have them here,” Dunlop says.

Prior to Cushing and Anderson’s arrival, the department had five full-time faculty members, four of whom have been with the University for 28 years.

“By splitting the position, we were able to attract quality faculty members. It also brought new blood and expansion in a department that had experienced little turnover and no growth during 28 years,” Dunlop says.

Anderson and Cushing also have reaped many professional and personal benefits from the split position.

“Being part of the University of Michigan system gives us access to a large network of resources, fellowships and grants,” Cushing says. “And, even though we do not do a lot of work directly with each other, I think we are actually sharing more with each other now. In fact, the only things we can’t seem to share are an office and a computer.”

Because it is a shared position, there are some differences in how Cushing and Anderson are treated as compared to full-time faculty members.

“The most obvious differences are the financial ones,” Dunlop says.

Cushing and Anderson are evaluated separately, but share one salary. Their salary increases will be determined separately and may not always be divided equally. In the event that one makes more than the other at some point, the amount together will still equal what it would be for the one position, Dunlop says.

They also each receive just half of a full-time faculty member’s allocation of travel funds. And in the case of sabbatical leave, each would be allowed half the usual salary.

A shared tenure-track position has been tried at other universities, but not at U-M-Flint.. The College of William and Mary has allowed a tenure-track position to be split. The U-M-Flint looked to that college, among others, when making the same decision.

Dunlop says he can see more of this happening in the future.

“This is something that could not only work for faculty, but for staff and administration as well,” he says. “And if the University of Michigan is doing it and others are not, then we will have something different to offer when recruiting people.”