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Top Academic Workplaces

Posted: January 23, 2007

While the majority of junior faculty at America’s colleges and universities are satisfied at work, some institutions are doing extraordinarily well in this area. A survey, administered by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) in 2005, determined that some colleges and universities are “exemplary” on certain key dimensions of faculty work life.

“While all COACHE participants are committed to a more fulfilling and productive work life for new faculty, the exemplars deserve special mention because they are already succeeding,” said Richard Chait, professor of higher education and codirector of COACHE at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “If they can sustain an earned reputation as a great place for junior faculty to work, they will enjoy a competitive edge in recruiting and retaining the next generation of faculty.”

In order to qualify as an “exemplar,” a college or university needed scores that were notably higher than similar institutions. Five universities (Auburn, Brown, Ohio State, Stanford, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and one college (Davidson) achieved exemplary status in four of seven categories. Two universities (Dartmouth and the University of Virginia) and two colleges (Goucher and Kenyon) were outstanding in three categories. Two universities (Harvard and University of Kansas) and four colleges (Denison, Hamilton, Macalester, Wabash) were exemplary in two categories.

The survey considered the following categories in assessment:

  • tenure, clarity and fairness
  • nature of work: workload, research and teaching environment, quality of students
  • effectiveness of key policies (e.g., mentoring, childcare, and leaves)
  • compensation
  • work and family balance
  • collegiality
  • overall satisfaction.

Theme

Liberal Arts Colleges

Research/Doctoral Universities

Tenure clarity

Davidson College
Kenyon College

Auburn University
Brown University
East Carolina University
North Carolina State University
Ohio State University
University of Kansas

Nature of work

Davidson College
Denison University
Goucher College
Hamilton College

Brown University
Dartmouth College
Harvard University
Stanford University
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Policy effectiveness

Denison University
Goucher College
Macalester College

Auburn University
Ohio State University
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
University of Kansas

Compensation*

Hamilton College
Macalester College

Dartmouth College
Harvard University
Ohio State University
Stanford University

Work & family

Davidson College
Goucher College
Wabash College
Wheaton College

Auburn University
Dartmouth College
Ohio State University
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
University of Virginia

Collegiality

Kenyon College
Wabash College

Auburn University
Brown University
Stanford University
Tufts University
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Virginia

Global satisfaction

Davidson College
Kenyon College

Brown University
Stanford University
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
University of Virginia

*Two universities qualifying as exemplars asked not to be named in this category

Beyond the institutions named exemplar, the survey gave insight into overall job satisfaction at America’s colleges and universities. The average score of nearly 5,000 faculty at 42 schools was 3.92 on a 5.00 point scale. The survey also indicated some differences in satisfaction based on gender, race, and institution. For instance, women were less satisfied than men (3.89 v. 3.94), faculty of color were less satisfied than white faculty (3.84 v. 3.94), and university faculty were less satisfied than college faculty (3.90 v. 4.15).

About COACHE

Based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and supported by the Ford Foundation, COACHE is committed to gathering the peer diagnostic and comparative data academic administrators need to recruit, retain, and develop the cohort most critical to the long-term future of their institutions.

 

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