Jul 25, 2011

Great Colleges to Work For in 2011

It doesn’t take a business degree to understand that organizations experiencing high levels of employee job satisfaction often produce superior results. If staff is disgruntled or the work climate impaired, you can bet on a diminished work product.

In the world of postsecondary education, the end user is the student. If teaching and administrative staff experience ongoing workplace issues, students are likely to sense problems. The worst case scenario is one in which these issues actually affect the quality of the education offered.

For this reason, the Chronicle of Higher Education’s fourth annual Great Colleges to Work For survey offers interesting insight into the overall happiness quotient of staff and administrators at some of the nation’s most recognizable postsecondary institutions.

To get a fuller understanding of workplace satisfaction, about 44,000 employees on 310 campuses were surveyed. In general, findings suggest that great academic workplaces “are filled with people who believe that their jobs are important to the college, that the institution is important to the community, and that the college gives them the freedom to do that job well.”

Even with tight budgets and an uncooperative economy, colleges that stood out seemed able to create a “culture of success” supporting faculty, professional staff, and administrators, 83 percent of whom agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “This institution's culture is special—something you don’t just find anywhere.”

Approximately 20,000 of the college employees who responded to the survey were faculty members, about 15,000 were professional staff members, and 8,000 were administrators. As in previous years, the survey was based on an assessment used in 55 Best Places to Work programs, with a panel of higher-education experts customizing questions to reflect issues unique to colleges.

Survey responses helped form 12 Great College recognition categories. High ratings in those categories were considered core attributes of a great academic workplace, with 30 four-year and 12 two-year colleges earning places on a Great Colleges to Work For “Honor Roll.”

Locally, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), George Mason University, Old Dominion University, Regent University, and Washington and Lee University were cited as great colleges to work for. Only UMBC received a spot on the “Honor Roll,” earning recognition in 8 of 12 Great College categories.

For the complete report and a map showcasing the 111 Great Colleges, visit The Chronicle website (subscription may be required for some articles).

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