Maha Nassar: Montana wants to hire her, but along with her husband, too? Some complain.





An American professor who teaches Islamic law and the Quran is at the center of a brewing tempest at the University of Montana, which is considering hiring him for an unexpected, unadvertised, unplanned-for job.

Several issues are at play, but they all spring from a single, thorny topic for universities called “spousal accommodation.”

The awkward phrase essentially means this: To get the best person for a job, a university will often help find suitable campus employment for the candidate's spouse or partner.

In modern academia, the time-honored practice is more and more commonplace, particularly for institutions in remote areas where the job market is not big enough to absorb the trailing spouse, said Royce Engstrom, UM provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“More couples are two-career families and when you make a job offer to one person, oftentimes there is a spouse that wants meaningful and productive employment,” Engstrom said. “Providing spousal accommodations is a way to recruit and retain the most talented people an organization can find - and if you don't provide spousal accommodations, you run the risk of missing out on some good hiring opportunities.”

So UM administrators are attempting to find a job for Scott C. Lucas, a University of Arizona assistant professor who is the husband of Maha Nassar, a professor UM's history department would like to hire as its Middle East scholar....


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