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List of Top Academic Employers Evolves

December 5, 2007

Through its surveys and reports, the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education has stressed the importance of a wide variety of policies -- and not just those about pay and benefits -- in attracting and keeping young faculty talent. The project's new list of "exemplary" higher education employers offers further evidence of that theme.

Based on surveys of junior professors about various policies and attitudes at their colleges, the project continues to identify some well known liberal arts colleges and research universities in that group, but also to find plenty of regional institutions that are finding ways that don't require mega-endowments to keep their younger professors happy.

Generally, private colleges dominate the list in categories related to compensation or other categories where finances would be a major factor. But on qualities related to the clarity of procedures (a category many junior faculty members take very seriously), publics tend to do much better.

The Harvard University-based collaborative -- known by its acronym, COACHE -- has become an influential player in discussions of how to make colleges more "family friendly" and how institutions should prepare for a generation of professors who may not accept the traditional hierarchical model of many academic departments.

Much of COACHE's work is done through surveys of junior professors at various institutions, with colleges receiving their own results and comparative data. The release of the top institutions in various categories is one of the few instances in which the project publicly praises institutions -- and is intended to identify places that others might consult to improve various policies.

And given that young faculty members are telling COACHE researchers that they care about more than prestige and money, the list may provide examples of particularly ideal institutions for some prospective employees.

"We're hoping that as more institutions sign on, junior faculty start asking [potential employers] the question: What's your COACHE profile?" said Kiernan Mathews, assistant director of the program.

The new results are based on surveys conducted at 78 colleges and universities, up from 52 last year. This year's results come from two years of data (where available) instead of just one. Many of the additions are among a new group in the study: master's level universities. In the past, the study has focused on research universities and liberal arts colleges. Mathews said that the master's institutions were welcomed because they are as likely, if not more likely, to hire young faculty members as are other sectors. Several California State University System campuses participating for the first time did well enough to earn "exemplary" status.

"University of North Carolina Pembroke and California State San Marcos are right in there with Stanford and Duke," Mathews said.

The numbers of participants in the survey continues to grow -- currently there are more than 100 institutions involved for the next iteration. Currently, they are all four-year institutions, but Mathews said that COACHE is in discussion with community colleges about conducting surveys in that sector as well.

The exemplary list is made up of the top two liberal arts colleges (among 22) and the top four universities (among 56), based on the faculty surveys. The institutions are listed alphabetically. But institutions with ratings that were within .05 of the second (or fourth) institution were also included, so some categories have more than the expected number of designated institutions. Brown and Stanford Universities achieved exemplary status in 8 of 12 categories, while Duke University was outstanding in seven categories. Three colleges (Bowdoin, Davidson and Kenyon) achieved exemplary status in five categories.

Exemplary Institutions in COACHE Survey of Junior Faculty Members' Satisfaction

Category Liberal Arts Colleges Universities
Tenure practices over all

Davidson College

Kenyon College

Trinity College

Auburn U.

Brown U.

California State U. at Fullerton

Fayetteville State U.

North Carolina State U.

Ohio State U.

U. of Kansas

U. of North Carolina at Pembroke

Clarity of tenure process

Davidson College

Kenyon College

Trinity College

Brown U.

Cal Poly Pomona

California State U. at Fullerton

California State U. at San Marcos

Fayetteville State U.

North Dakota State U.

U. of Connecticut

Reasonableness of tenure policies

Goucher College

Wabash College

Auburn U.

Brown U.

Fayetteville State U.

North Carolina State U.

Ohio State U.

U. of Kansas

U. of North Carolina at Wilmington

U. of North Carolina at Pembroke

U. of Virginia

Overall effectiveness of policies

Denison U.

Goucher College

Hamilton College

Kenyon College

Auburn U.

Duke U.

North Dakota State U.

Ohio State U.

Stanford U.

U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

U. of Kansas

U. of Minnesota

U. of Notre Dame

Overall nature of work

Amherst College

Bowdoin College

Carleton College

College of the Holy Cross

Davidson College

Goucher College

Brown U.

Dartmouth College

Duke U.

Stanford U.

U. of Notre Dame

Nature of work: teaching

Bowdoin College

Carleton College

College of the Holy Cross

Davidson College

Brown U.

Dartmouth College

Duke U.

Harvard U.

Stanford U.

Nature of work: research

Bowdoin College

Denison U.

Brown U.

Dartmouth College

Duke U.

Stanford U.

U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

U. of Notre Dame

Nature of work: support services

Bowdoin College

Davidson College

Brown U.

Dartmouth College

Indiana U. at Bloomington

Stanford U.

U. of Notre Dame

Work and family balance

Barnard College

Carleton College

Hamilton College

Duke U.

Stanford U.

U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

U. of North Carolina at Pembroke

Compensation

Bowdoin College

Carleton College

Macalester College

Dartmouth College

Duke U.

Stanford U.

U. of Connecticut

Climate and collegiality

Goucher College

Kenyon College

Trinity College

Wabash College

Appalachian State U.

California State U. at Fullerton

California State U. at San Marcos

U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Western Carolina U.

Global satisfaction

Kenyon College

Trinity College

Appalachian State U.

Brown U.

California State U. at San Marcos

Dartmouth College

Duke U.

Stanford U.

U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

U. of Minnesota

U. of Virginia

 

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