When I visited Austin College last fall, I was really impressed by this little gem of a campus north of Dallas, Texas. The students I met were enthralled with the place, and I sat next to a very dapper professor of Spanish at lunch, who, despite my grilling, could not find a single bad thing to say about his experience as an instructor.
Well, the Chronicle of Higher Education came out the other day with its survey of the “best colleges to work for,” which asked professors and administrators how they perceived their institution. Colleges were rated on such things as faculty-administration relations, collaborative governance, quality of health insurance, relationships with department chairs or supervisors, and a whole host of other criteria.
Austin College came out in the top five in many of the criteria, including:
- Healthy Faculty – Administration Relations
- Collaborative Governance
- Professional / Career Development Program
- Teaching Environment
- Compensation and Benefits
- Work-Life Balance
- Confidence in Senior Leadership
- Internal Communications
- Connection to Institution and Pride
- Physical Workspace Conditions
- Housing Assistance Program
- Perception and Confidence in Fair Treatment
- Respect and Appreciation
- Policies, Resources, and Efficiency
- Career Development, Research, and Scholarship
- Engagement Index
No other college appears so frequently in this report.
It is notable that the only Ivy League institution to appear in the top 5 on any measure of employee satisfaction is Cornell, which pops up in several categories. Stanford does well in many categories, and other top tier schools include Duke and Emory. Among large state universities, the University of Kansas does particularly well, and the University of Michigan and George Mason University appear within the top five in a few categories.
I find this index helpful in highlighting college where professors and administrators are happy with the institutions they work for, because this index is also a measure of the pride these adults take in delivering educational services to their students. If the grown ups are happy, it would seem more likely that the students are equally happy.
That certainly seemed to be the case at Austin College. And judging from the Chronicle‘s survey, the Spanish professor I sat next to at lunch was not merely blowing smoke. He really did like working there.