UCO Named Great College to Work For

For the tenth time, the University of Central Oklahoma was named by the Chronicle as one of Higher Education’s Great Colleges to Work For as well as was named for the first time to the Chronicle’s Honor Roll for being cited most often across all recognition categories.

This year, UCO ranked among the best nationally in seven of the survey’s 12 categories to be the only four-year institution in the state of Oklahoma to make the Great Colleges to Work For. This distinction, which UCO has earned 10 times in the survey’s 11-year history, reflects the university’s commitment to facilitating student success, according to UCO President Don Betz.

“Central’s decade-long recognition as a Great College to Work For serves as a beacon of the ongoing commitment that our faculty and staff display in guiding our students to become productive, creative, ethical and engaged citizens and leaders; a commitment that the university will continue to uphold for many years to come,” said UCO President Don Betz.

Administered by the Chronicle to faculty and staff at universities and colleges across the nation, the Great Colleges to Work for surveys higher education employees over 12 workplace-specific categories to determine a ranking between “Poor” and “Very Good to Excellent.”

Out of the 12, UCO ranked highest in the categories of Collaborative Governance;

Confidence in Senior Leadership; Facilities, Workspace and Security; Professional/Career Development Programs; Teaching Environment; Tenure Clarity and Process; and Work/Life Balance.

The survey is conducted among more than 53,000 individuals at 283 institutions across the nation, including 165 four-year universities and 88 two-year colleges.

Out of those 283, 84 institutions made the final list in at least one category and the institutions recognized across the most are then named to the Honor Roll. Institutions are then divided among three enrollment categories: 500-2,999; 3,000-9,999; and 10,000+.

Within the 10,000+ category, UCO was the only institution to rank Collaborative Governance, Professional/Career Development, Teaching Environment, Facilities, Workplace and Security, Confidence in Senior Leadership and Tenure Clarity and Process.

Additionally, UCO was the only institution in any category to rank in Work/Life Balance, according to Adrienne Nobles, UCO’s the assistant vice president for University Communications.

“Overwhelmingly, the responses in each category are in the “Very Good to Excellent” or “Good” area, even the ones where we didn’t rank for formal recognition,” Nobles said. “Again, we are one of only 10 institutions in the 10,000+ student category recognized as an Honor Roll institution.”

While no specific program was cited as a reason for UCO’s recognition, Nobles said that employee satisfaction is likely derived from a wide range of support services the university offers employees.

These include the ability to be involved in collaborative government through faculty and staff senates, professional development and continued education opportunities and the flexible sick, vacation and paid holiday leave provided.

“Recognition on the Great Colleges to Work For list is a reflection of what makes Central a great place to work, according to UCO’s own faculty and staff, employees who have firsthand experiences about what it’s like to work for the university,” Nobles said.

While UCO has ranked 10 times on the list in its 11 year history, this year marks the first time it has ever achieved Honor Roll status. The Honor Roll is comprised of the institutions that are being recognized the most number of times across the recognition categories, including universities such as Baylor and Notre Dame.

The difficulty can vary from year to year based on the size category and applicant pool for a particular year, according to Liz Floods, project manager at ModernThink, the organization that conducts the survey on behalf of the Chronicle.

Yet while UCO’s employees may have ranked the university highest in the majority of the categories, there are still areas that the survey revealed can be strengthened.

The university failed to achieve recognition in the categories of Compensation and Benefits, Job Satisfaction, Supervisor/Department Chair Relationship, Respect and Appreciation, and Diversity.

Satisfaction in these areas were listed from between “Fair to Mediocre” to “Good” among the university’s employees.

With an ongoing reduction in state funding, Nobles said that this has presented obvious challenges to employee benefits as well as salaries and compensation. As for concerns over diversity, she also added that the university is already working to improve these with increased initiatives on campus as well.

“The university would do all of these things whether there was a Great Colleges to Work For survey or not, meaning these efforts are not in direct response to the survey results; rather they are examples of ways the university strives to meet the needs of its employees,” Nobles said.

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