Howard Community College, Anne Arundel Community College and University of Maryland, Baltimore County have been named among the best colleges in the nation at which to work, according to a study by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The three local schools were among 97 recognized, having earned a spot in at least one of 12 categories that the national publication used to determine an exceptional college workplace.
The Chronicle, which released the results Monday in its third annual report, "The Academic Workplace," said that 43,000 employees (including 20,000 faculty members) from 275 colleges participated in the survey.
It marks the second time in as many years that HCC has made the list. It also joined AACC as being listed in the Chronicle's Honor Roll of college workplaces — 39 schools that received the most recognition in the survey's 12 categories.
Officials at the local schools said that making the list shows how institutions can maintain high levels of morale despite being faced with tough decisions regarding programs, facilities and work force during the nation's recession.
"It speaks volumes that our work climate remains very positive and dynamic despite the nation's record economic slowdown," said HCC President Kate Hetherington. "Our commitment to student success is what continues to drive high job satisfaction at HCC for faculty and staff."
In addition to posting survey results on its website (www.chronicle.com), the publication offered synopses on each school regarding its commitment to ensuring a satisfactory work environment.
The Chronicle lauded HCC "for using a vital signs check-up survey to determine what areas of work-life need to be improved and it engages in a campus-wide dialogue with employees on how those changes might be made."
HCC was recognized in 10 of the survey's categories, including job satisfaction, diversity, teaching environment and work/life balance. The school said it will celebrate the recognition with an on-campus ice cream social Tuesday.
AACC was also recognized in 10 survey categories, including confidence in senior leadership, professional/career-development programs, and compensation and benefits. The Chronicle said of the school: "To relieve stress, employees can take advantage of a free massage clinic run by massage-therapy students on campus."
AACC President Martha A. Smith said that employees throughout the college write thank-you notes to one another, recognizing everything from helping out with a student to jobs well done.
"An organization consists of people," said Smith, "and you treat people with respect and let them know that you appreciate their hard work. We have great people here who are very, very talented and they have a high level of dedication to the mission of making our students successful."
UMBC placed in three categories: collaborative governance (faculty members are involved in decisions about academic programs), tenure clarity and process, and respect and appreciation. Regarding UMBC, the Chronicle said, "Administrators consult with employee organizations on issues as varied as campus parking and the university budget."
"When it comes to the issues, whether it's about where we cut the budget or what we have to do about parking, no one has the only answer," said UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski. "But to the extent that groups can struggle with these issues and bring the best thinking to the problem, we end up with the most reasonable solutions. Even though people might not be completely happy with the answer, they feel better that they were part of the discussion."
Salisbury University was the only other college in Maryland to make the list.
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