Last spring Ithaca College was one of just 247 colleges and universities (out of 4,000 institutions of higher education) to participate in the “Great Colleges to Work For” survey administered by the Chronicle of Higher Education. I directed that the college take part in the survey, believing that it could help inform us of what we are doing well and what we can improve upon as an employer of 1,500 faculty and staff. We received a thick book of results last month, and over the next few months we will absorb its lessons. At the all-college faculty and staff meeting just before the spring semester, we will discuss the results and outline any actions that seem to be indicated by what we have learned.
The writers and editors of The Ithacan have not reported these facts, which is why I am writing this commentary. On page 1 of the Sept. 16 issue, I was quoted as saying, “These results will be kept from faculty and staff.” This quotation was a fabrication, by which I mean I never said anything remotely like that and indeed never even addressed in the interview how we would publicize the results. I received an apology from the News Editor for what he described as an error, and I accept both the apology and the explanation. As these things always go though, few people noticed the retraction printed in a small box on an inside page a week later. The Sept. 16 page 1 quotation goes on to say, accurately, that “[the results] will be used to inform our initiatives with respect to all employees at the college.”
The Ithacan’s editors and writers continue to state in subsequent editorials and in Intercom announcements that results of the “Great Colleges to Work For” survey will not be released to the public. By this they mean that The Ithacan itself will not gain access to the survey. Anyone reading their language might assume — wrongly — that the results will not be discussed with our own faculty and staff. The editors have, consequently, launched their own “survey” of employee satisfaction via an online instrument. This is not really a survey, of course, because it is not based on the opinions of a representative sample of college employees. However, answers offered in response to The Ithacan’s questions could be a valuable supplement to the “Great Colleges to Work For” survey, and I encourage staff and faculty to take a few minutes to register their thoughts.
The college was not identified in the “Honor Roll” of colleges that scored the very highest among medium-sized schools (3,000-9,999 students) in the “Great Colleges to Work For” survey. While that does not mean employment conditions at the college are poor, it is my objective to strive for excellence as an employer just as we are striving for excellence in the educational experience we offer our students. I look forward to the opportunity to review the “Great Colleges” results later this semester, and to discuss key results, our conclusions and follow-up actions at the January all-college faculty and staff meetings.
Tom Rochon is the president of Ithaca College. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.