Story by Alicia Steele, Assistant News Editor
When Diane Nititham, assistant professor of sociology, was offered a job at Murray State last year, she and her husband were employed in Chicago and had two incomes. She decided to move to Murray alone and her husband opted to stay in Chicago for at least six months while she settled into her first semester.
She said her husband’s chance of finding employment in Murray is much lower than in Chicago and believed the temporary separation was a better alternative to the loss of income if he had moved to Murray with her.
“If there were a policy or some institutional support for spouses to find employment, it would not only have made the move easier, but also would help us to plan long term without uncertainty and anxiety,” Nititham said.
Last month, members of the Murray State faculty and staff held the first meeting of the Women’s Faculty Caucus, during which multiple women discussed the lack of a policy that would aid in spousal employment opportunities when a new faculty or staff member is hired at the university.
Shawn Touney, director of communications, said President Bob Davies is aware of the situation.
“He is considering various options and will make a recommendation to the Board of Regents at an upcoming meeting so that it will be enacted, if approved, during the next academic year,” Touney said.
For some faculty members, taking a job at Murray State has meant coping with long-distance relationships.
Jennifer Morrison, visiting assistant professor of public administration, started this academic year as a visiting professor. Because she is a visiting professor, she and her husband decided not to give up his job in Evansville, Indiana, as the parts manager for a Bobcat dealership.
Her husband currently rents a room in Evansville, and has been traveling to Murray on Friday nights and waking up at 3 a.m. on Mondays to drive back to Evansville to go to work, she said.
“As I was visiting, there was no point in him quitting his job there, maybe finding something here, and then the possibility I wouldn’t be here next year,” Morrison said.
Now Morrison has been hired for a tenure track position at Murray State, but the couple has decided to leave their current living arrangements in place.
“There is no way he could find a job in Murray that would pay him near what he makes in Evansville or anything even close to it,” Morrison said. “Even if he were to go back to part at a car dealership in Murray or Paducah, [Kentucky], he still wouldn’t make even close to what he is making now.”
Morrison said her husband can’t access the superior health insurance plan Murray State offers because her husband’s employer offers a separate plan already. She said her husband is in need of a sleep test, but his insurance policy will not cover it and hers would.
She said with a policy in place, her husband could have landed on campus employment that would have offered him job security in Murray, though he would still make less money here as compared to Evansville. But, she said, they would spend less money on gas to travel back and forth and rent for him in Evansville.
However, Morrison said she and her husband are dealing with the separation.
“It sucks being apart like this, but I have been a Navy wife, so four days apart is nothing compared to a six-month deployment,” Morrison said. “And we talk and text regularly during the day, and he calls me every evening when he leaves work.”