Duke Named A 'Great College To Work For'

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Selden Smith, manager of technical services in Event Management, used paid time off this summer to attend a wedding in Maine, where he also explored the beach with his two sons.  Duke’s benefits and policies to support work-life balance were cited by t
Selden Smith, manager of technical services in Event Management, used paid time off this summer to attend a wedding in Maine, where he also explored the beach with his two sons. Duke’s benefits and policies to support work-life balance were cited by the Chronicle of Higher Education in naming Duke among its annual list of “Great Colleges to Work For.”

Duke is once again being recognized for its commitment to providing one of the top places to work in North Carolina and the United States.

For the fifth straight year, The Chronicle of Higher Education has listed Duke as one of the best colleges to work for. The results, released Monday in The Chronicle's annual report on academic workplaces, are based on a survey of more than 46,000 employees at 294 colleges and universities.

An independent survey of employees was performed this spring, with Duke earning high marks for its commitment in two workplace categories:

  • Facilities, workspaces, and security (Facilities adequately meet needs, appearance of campus is pleasing and the institution takes steps to provide a secure environment).
  • Work/life balance (Policies give employees flexibility to manage personal lives).

Just fewer than 300 colleges participated in this year's program, with Duke among 103 institutions that earned the "Great Colleges to Work For" recognition.

"This recognition is a tribute to the quality of the work environment we have worked hard to foster and support," said Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration. "It also reflects a consistent commitment to sustaining a quality work environment over the last five years, a time that included many challenges with the recession."

Richard Boyer, principal and managing partner of ModernThink LLC, the firm that administered the survey, said Duke was recognized as a great college after scoring highly in questions regarding culture of campus safety and benefits. Boyer said that Duke saw a 6 percent increase – from 88 to 94 percent – in responses from employees noting they felt Duke takes steps to offer a safe and secure campus environment.

"Because we live in an area where we have the possibility of weather emergencies 12 months out of the year, I applaud Duke for making communications easy when it comes to snow, tornadoes and hurricanes threatening campus," said Kathy Peterson, administrative assistant in the Office of Divisional Deans, Arts & Sciences. "It's nice to have instant communication through loudspeakers, text messages and emails through our DukeALERT system."

Positive responses were also based on employee satisfaction with the amount of paid time off Duke provides. Full-time exempt university employees accrue between three to four weeks of vacation a year based on level and years of service. Non-exempt university employees can accrue between 10 to 20 days a year based on hours worked and years of service. In addition, employees accrue sick leave and 13 paid holidays during the year.

Kim Thompson, administrative manager with the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, said using her vacation time helps her feel rejuvenated when she returns to work. She recently made a trip to Carolina Beach with her family.

"Our family loves spending time walking, biking, deep sea fishing and of course, spending time with the local animals," she said. "Whether we get away for a week or just a few days, it's an opportunity to take in the salty air and remember the important things in our lives."

Duke's listing from the "Great Colleges" survey is just one of many recognitions it's received for its commitment to employees. Duke has consistently earned high marks for workplace satisfaction from Carolina Parent, AARP, Modern Healthcare and even the National Center for Transit Research as a "best workplace for commuters."

"The Chronicle's reporting shows that more colleges and universities are seeking ways to improve their workplaces," said Liz McMillen, editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. "The 'formula for success' continues to evolve, yet there are certain common features among institutions that achieve significant levels of worker satisfaction. The Great Colleges to Work For program allows our readers to learn about the colleges that seem to be getting it right."