For the fourth year, we're proud to bring you The Chronicle's annual special issue on the academic workplace, featuring the results of our Great Colleges to Work For survey. The 2011 survey is our largest ever, with 310 two- and four-year colleges taking part. That's up from 89 in 2008, when we started, and 275 last year.
The survey keeps growing because colleges want to know what makes a great workplace. This year, about 44,000 employees identified a variety of features that led them to agree with the statement: "All things considered, this is a great place to work." For some, it meant being given the resources and responsibility to do a good job; for others, it meant a clear understanding of how important their jobs are to the missions of their colleges, or the ability to maintain a solid balance between work and family life, or the availability of good professional-development programs.
We've identified 111 institutions that show excellence in at least one of 12 recognition categories for Great Colleges. We don't rank institutions but instead list them alphabetically. And in a series of articles, we explore four of those categories in detail: Confidence in Senior Leadership, Work/Life Balance, Professional/Career Development Programs, and, at two-year colleges, Teaching Environment. To encourage professional development, for example, colleges of various sizes have had great success with mentorship programs, creating "learning communities," and giving employees time off to attend professional courses.
Colleges that did well in many categories, indicating general excellence, are featured in the Honor Roll. It features the two- and four-year colleges cited in the most categories.
With The Chronicle's interactive tool, you can personalize your own Great Colleges list. You can home in on a particular category or size and find a wealth of details on each institution. You can also pick the categories that matter most to you and see which colleges excel in those areas.
This special issue does more than confer honors: It also looks, in depth, at the arc of a faculty career and the rewards and challenges at different stages. We profile three stages of the faculty life cycle—a junior professor searching for trusted mentors, a newly tenured professor taking on a leadership role, and a senior professor making the decision about when to retire. We also feature college administrators whose jobs require them to cover lots of ground—both physically and in terms of their responsibilities. And we've invited commentators to offer opinions on the future of collective bargaining, the generational gap in technology that has emerged on many campuses, and strategies for combining academic work and motherhood.
Colleges clearly have their work cut out for them, and we hope to hear from even more of you for next year's Great Colleges survey. There is no cost to participate. For details please visit our registration Web site. Or send an e-mail message to the human-resources consulting firm that administers our program, ModernThink LLC, at email@example.com. You can also contact the senior editor who oversees the survey, Josh Fischman, at firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions or suggestions.
Putting this issue together calls for a team of talented Chronicle reporters, editors, and designers. To coordinate it, Josh was joined by Carolyn Mooney, senior editor for special sections. I hope you'll agree that they've put together a compelling package. It's one that we are always trying to improve, of course, and every year we make changes based on your suggestions. So please send your feedback to me at email@example.com—and enjoy the issue.
—Jeffrey J. Selingo, Editor