Vanderbilt expands paid parental leave, reproductive health resources to broaden support for university community

Vanderbilt is expanding paid parental leave for Vanderbilt staff and adding a new coordinator role that will be responsible for providing information, support and reproductive health resources for pregnant and parenting students, faculty, staff and postdocs.

These and other resources, including the current paid parental leave program for faculty, are an important part of a larger effort to ensure Vanderbilt community members are fully supported as they navigate decisions about their health care, and their professional and personal lives.

Members of the university community also will have the option to apply for financial support through the Employee Critical Support Fund, formerly the Employee Hardship Fund, and the Student Critical Support Fund, formerly the Student Hardship Fund, that aid with unexpected expenses, including costs related to any medical procedure not available in Tennessee. Details on how to apply will be shared in the coming weeks.

The expanded resources were informed by an initial set of recommendations from the university-wide task force that first convened in early June to focus on the impact of a statewide abortion ban, as well as by recommendations from the University Staff Advisory Council and committees convened as part of the university’s Future of Work initiative. The task force is continuing its work to make informed decisions that are inclusive of all members of the Vanderbilt community.

“Vanderbilt is committed to supporting every member of our university community with the opportunity to reach their full potential,” Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said. “These new resources are a natural extension of that commitment. They are more ways we can support students, faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars, and help ensure that Vanderbilt is a place where everyone can learn, discover and thrive.”

The Supreme Court decided on June 24 to overturn federal abortion rights and leave abortion laws to the states. As one of 13 states where trigger laws largely banning abortion have come into force since the court’s decision, Tennessee will institute on Thursday, Aug. 25, a ban on all abortions except those to protect the life of the pregnant individual or to prevent substantial harm to their physical health.

“We fully affirm women’s health, educational opportunity and employment opportunity within the context of the new legal landscape,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver said. “We have established and will continue to refine a wide range of options to equitably support people who become pregnant and reduce the added complexities at work, and in life, that often accompany family planning, pregnancy and parenting.”

Raver moved swiftly earlier this spring to convene the task force in coordination with the chancellor’s office in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision and charged the group with identifying and implementing concrete ways the university can support the health, safety and well-being of the Vanderbilt community within the context of federal and Tennessee laws.

Paid parental leave for staff has been expanded to eight weeks. Details on how to apply for the expanded leave program will be shared in the coming weeks.

The new women’s health and parenting resource coordinator role within the Office of Health and Wellness will serve as the first point of contact for pregnant individuals at the university who need assistance and support—engaging in unbiased conversations and helping coordinate care through campus offices and resources.

Information about the support resources can be found on a new webpage, where the university will provide updates about abortion laws, student and employee health, clinical care, educational instruction and opportunities to promote discussion and civic engagement regarding reproductive health.

Virtual town hall on reproductive health set for Wednesday, Aug. 10

Members of the Vanderbilt community are invited to attend a virtual town hall on reproductive health on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at 4 p.m. Members of Vanderbilt’s university-wide task force, which includes experts from the university and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, will discuss the legal and medical implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and how the task force is working to address the decision’s impact on the Vanderbilt community. Click here to register to attend the virtual town hall. A recording will be available online after the event.