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Why Universities Make Great Workplaces

Last month ''The Chronicle of Higher Education's'' 2011 Great Colleges to Work For report was released. ''The Chronicle's'' report recognized 111 colleges, both 4-year and 2-year, as great places to work based on survey responses from almost 44,000 faculty, professional staff and administrators at 310 institutions. Read about some of the schools that were recognized and why they are great places to work.

By Mercy McKee

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12 Key Factors that Make a Great Academic Workplace

Participants in the survey were asked to rate their satisfaction with benefits, answer 15 demographic questions, respond to two open-ended questions and rate 60 statements about their school with a five-point scale, ranging from 'strongly agree' to 'strongly disagree.' The survey statements were based on 12 key factors identified by The Chronicle as critical to an excellent academic workplace:

  • Collaborative governance
  • Confidence in senior leadership
  • Supervisor or department chair relationship
  • Professional/career development programs
  • Teaching environment
  • Tenure clarity and process
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Job satisfaction
  • Respect and appreciation
  • Diversity
  • Facilities, workspace and security
  • Work/life balance

While more than 100 schools were recognized, some in all 12 categories, this article will highlight just a couple.

Collaborative Governance and Confidence in Senior Leadership

Lindenwood University's Faculty Council was terminated by its previous president, Dennis C. Spellmann. However, under the leadership of James D. Evans, president since 2007, relations between the faculty and administration have been transformed, the Faculty Council has been reinstated and shared governance has been restored. He has been credited with giving the Faculty Council a great deal of authority, improving the quality of teaching, being responsive to faculty needs and encouraging professors to pursue their doctoral degrees in order to provide the highest level of education possible. The report ranked Lindenwood University among the top colleges in the category of confidence in senior leadership.

Professional and Career Development

Eastern Kentucky University was given high marks in the survey by employees for professional and career development. The school utilizes several strategies to encourage staff and faculty development. Some of those strategies include developing professional learning communities where faculty and staff gather in small groups to address university problems, having veteran professors mentor new faculty members and offering tuition waivers to full-time employees for job-related university courses. The school also provides matching staff development funds to each department and a professional development fund for senior staff leaders to pay for leadership development and similar workshops, both on- and off-campus.

Universities don't make great employment opportunities for just faculty, staff and administrators. Learn why some students are considering on-campus jobs.

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