• September 19, 2014

Great Colleges to Work For, 2010

Comments

1. rhett - July 26, 2010 at 09:11 am

In the opinion of readers, how many of these winning colleges escape classification as corporate {http://chronicle.com/blogPost/What-We-Have-Lost-What-We/21674/}?

What precisely is meant by "corporate"? Is it always undesirable?

My own interpretation is that corporate means loss of individual accountability.

2. 22228715 - July 26, 2010 at 09:34 am

So, given the tremendous numbers of institutions in the Midwest, the list of those as great working environments is so short it doesn't need a scroll bar (far western regions have short lists too, but fewer institutions). Why do you think that is? Are Midwestern institutions worse places to work for some regional reason? Is Midwestern culture part of the explanation - very high work ethic... or less emphasis on work environment by leaders or workers? Or is it weather, or scenery that affects moods? Or perhaps pragmatic Midwesterners are far, far less likely to dally with silly work environment surveys?

3. dziuk - July 26, 2010 at 10:05 am

The University of Illinois does not attract faculty because of the seashore,the lakes. the mountains or the weather nor any other extraneous issue. It does because of the academic environment.There are relaatively few distractions unless you look for them. Philip Dziuk Faculty from 1955 to 2010 and love it.

4. cpme3242 - July 26, 2010 at 10:15 am

It's interesting to look at the data on each school, particularly given the recent Chronicle article regarding financial problems at small liberal arts colleges. A school like Birmingham-Southern College has 39 administrators with an average salary of $154,000, while a similar school Centre College has only 21 administrators with an average salary of $96,000. Although both schools employee 98 professional staff members, the average salary is markedly higher at Birmingham Southern ($51,000) vs. Centre ($43,000). One school is in an urban area, so perhaps this accounts for some of the salary differences, but it's certainly interesting data.

5. michaelnelson - July 26, 2010 at 11:47 am

Are there really so few "great colleges" in the West?

6. greeneyeshade - July 26, 2010 at 12:39 pm

No, there are not that few great colleges in the west. I worked at the HQ office of an eastern university System that included institutions on this list of "great colleges." They were good, but none as good as the western school I'm at now--which isn't on the list.

This report is biased on its face with such a regional imbalance. Did no one question that before it was published? Even if it were accurate, why wouldn't an explanation be a part of any journalist's report?

The fact is, this list is more a product of how hard PR departments push their employees to respond to the survey. Feh.

7. azfaculty - July 26, 2010 at 12:56 pm

^22228715, and check out the total absence of colleges in the "Mountain West." Where's the claque that's touted the "New American University" in the past?

8. seekeroftruth - July 26, 2010 at 01:07 pm

Were any adjunct faculty members -- in any academic discipline -- part of the survey?

Ideas: Such a survey inclusive of adjuncts.

9. careerchanger - July 26, 2010 at 01:40 pm

Dear seeker: Adjuct faculty members are invisible, they do not really exist, they are only a figment of you imagination. I refused to consider adjunct positions for these reasons for the first year of my job search, but now, given the job market, I've started considering them. Even though I could do better as a manager of a fast-food restaurant. More respectability too.

10. sensel - July 26, 2010 at 01:47 pm

It is a great mystery to me why UMBC, with a 32% faculty turnover rate (not counting non contract/non tenure renewals which would increase that number) and 67% staff turnover rate, would be rated a best to work for? The other picks for same size and region as well as a scan of various national colleges and universities show significantly less loss of faculty and staff.
If a measure of employee happiness is retention, UMBC gets an "F".

11. shuhousing - July 26, 2010 at 04:40 pm

I'd like to see a "confidence rating" established (and published along with the article) for surveys like this; something to indicate how much or little the results are likely to have been influenced (skewed, manipulated) by campaigns conducted by an individual school to get itself on the list. Are these genuinely the best? Or are they just the ones who best gamed the system?

I don't doubt many of these are well-deserved accolades. It would be hard to get disgruntled employees to vote their institution onto this list, after all. And the results are based on self-reported measures, so if a region or school is not well represented, it would seem to be the fault of that region or school, not bias on the part of CHE.

But there is also likely to be a certain measure of what one of my teachers jokingly called the Stairwell Grading System: toss all the student papers down a flight of stairs, and the ones that travel the furthest (the heaviest) get A's, the next-closest batch get the B's.... A fairly-good school that games the system by "packing" the votes is going to beat out a really good school that doesn't enact an intentional campaign among its employees.

12. mlisaacs - July 26, 2010 at 05:15 pm

Since adjunct professors now comprise nearly 70% of the collegiate teaching pool, this survey
means nothing. This represents only those professors in the 30% of full time faculty who chose
to respond to this survey. It is meaningless.

13. greeneyeshade - July 26, 2010 at 07:48 pm

The survey is a great measure of how proactive a school's PR department is.

14. annon1234 - July 28, 2010 at 07:40 am

The selection process (eg how they made the list of the schools even sent a survey to begin with) for these schools needs to be transparent. It may be that even the ones on the bottom look good if you were to compare them to the schools that didn't make the list.

I would agree that turnover rates need to be included. While some may like working somewhere but leave due to the money (or location or XYZ), certainly voting with your feet tells a lot about what people think, on the balance, about working somewhere. Intention to leave but can't due to other factors would also be important. High involuntary turnover rates sends a message too...

As someone else said, another measure of a place is how adjuncts are treated. The best schools out there would pay a fair wage, treat ALL employees well (academic and non academic, full time and part time, permanent and temporary), not get caught in the grand canyons of lack of accountability that exists in higher ed, and control the bullying and childish behavior that often goes on in high ed.

15. rhon5839 - July 28, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I am glad to see my institution didn't make the list. No state school in Maryland should be on the list as we head into our third year of involuntary pay cuts and no base salary raises. Never in my career, which spans 3 states, have I ever felt less valued. My department chair tried to cheer me up by noting that he also hasn't had a raise in 3 years and also has had 3 years of involuntary pay cuts. I'm not quite clear on how the fact that he isn't valued by the institution or the state is so supposed to make me feel more valued, except I guess misery loves company.

16. rhett - July 29, 2010 at 08:11 am

To 10 Sensel: Thank you for citing turnover rate. What is a fair way to measure this rate?

17. rhett - July 29, 2010 at 08:17 am

To rhon5839: Remember, we are on the Titanic: The national economy is sinking; no one knows what to do.

Your cabin is not yet flooded--you have not been laid off. Remember that line from the rowing scene in Ben-Hur:

"We keep you men alive to serve this ship, 41.
Row well, and live."

18. referencegirl - July 29, 2010 at 08:42 am

Too bad Washington University in St. Louis isn't in that list. I love where I work!

19. jselingo - July 29, 2010 at 11:23 am

annon1234 and rhett: Turnover rate is included. You'll see such a rate for each institution per feedback from last year's survey.

annon1234: As for who gets selected to receive a survey, it's transparent in the methodology that institutions must register. We never claim this is a random, scientific survey. To conduct such a survey would be impossible since we need the cooperation of the institutions in order to survey their employees.

Jeff Selingo
Editor, The Chronicle

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