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Great Colleges to Work For 2011 Survey Results and Drexel's Action Plans

At request of President Fry, Drexel registered to participate in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Great Colleges to Work For 2011 survey, which was administered online in March/April 2011. This is the 4th annual Great Colleges survey that has been conducted, with 310 college participants and 111 recognized Great Colleges institutions (245 four-year schools participated, of which 29% were considered large and comparable to Drexel in student enrollment).

The survey audience included a random sampling of faculty, administrators and exempt professional staff: 

  • 600 surveys were distributed
  • 188 respondents
  • 31% response rate (40% is average for this survey)

There were two components to the survey:

  • Institutional questionnaire with 150 questions (completed by Human Resources)
  • Faculty/professional staff questionnaire with five-point scale of agreement/disagreement on 60 statements, plus 18 questions on benefits, two open-ended questions and 15 demographic questions

The faculty/professional staff questionnaire is weighted the highest, with each statement categorized into 12 dimensions that form a Great College recognition category (e.g., compensation and benefits, teaching environment, professional-career development).

Recognition is given in each Great College Category, except Diversity, to the 10 highest-scoring institutions in each size (small, medium, large). Honor Roll recognition is given to the 10 institutions in each size that were cited most often across all recognition categories. Colleges that participate but do not make the Great Colleges list are not publicized.

Drexel's Results

Great Colleges Survey Results Report [PDF]

Drexel's results were good overall. The Job Satisfaction/Support (job fit, autonomy, and resources) category received the highest rating relative to the Honor Roll institutions. Drexel rated at 76%, compared to 81% for the 2011 Best Large Schools (>10,000 students). Drexel also received a Good rating (65-74% of respondents) in 9 categories and a Fair to Mediocre rating (55-64% of respondents) in 5 categories. Drexel did not have any categories that required a yellow or red flag indicator. Overall, the survey average was 66%, compared to 74% for the Best Large 4-year schools.

We were also able to determine a few areas for improvement.

  • Facilities: Drexel received a 16-point gap from the 2011 Best Large Schools. Questions focused on satisfaction with physical workspace, overall campus appearance, and having a safe and secure environment, among other topics.
    • The new campus Master Plan charts a a vibrant, safe, functional and attractive campus and will substantially improve the conditions for many Drexel students, faculty, and professional staff. Vice President of University Facilities, Robert Francis, has held several town hall meetings in Spring and Fall 2011 to give progress reports and update the community on the new Master Plan. In addition, Facilities continuously strives to maintain our present buildings while improving lighting, cleanliness, and landscaping. Every year for the last decade a campus building has been constructed or renovated. While it is clear that there is much more to be done, Drexel is making progress beyond what most universities are accomplishing in this economic climate. To learn more, visit the Master Plan blog.
    • Additionally, the HR Advisory Committee has convened a work group to identify short- and long-term actions that may be taken to improve our facilities.
  • Collaboration: Drexel received a 14-point gap from the 2011 Best Large Schools. Questions focused on perceived cooperation and collegiality within workgroups and across the institution.
  • Shared Governance: Drexel received a 13-point gap from the 2011 Best Large Schools. Questions focused on the perception of inclusion and cooperation among faculty and professional staff as related to shared governance. 
    • The new Drexel University Strategic Planning process has created multiple opportunities for collaboration across all departments, schools, and colleges for students, faculty, and professional staff. In addition to the President's eight Town Halls--held at every Philadelphia campus to facilitate direct conversation between President Fry and the Drexel community--Strategic Plan Task Forces have included over 200 faculty and professional staff members. In addition, Drexel's Faculty Senate has reviewed the draft document and made substantive suggestions that will be incorporated into the final document. Finally, the Strategic Plan website has been an important vehicle for two-way communication, fostering open, interactive discussion of key themes along and including the reports from every Task Force. Visit the 2012-2017 Strategic Plan website to learn more about the Strategic Planning process.
    • Additionally, the HR Advisory Committee has convened a work group to identify short- and long-term actions that may be taken to improve our collaboration and shared governance.
  • Faculty, Administration, and Professional Staff Relations: Drexel received a 13-point gap from the 2011 Best Large Schools. Questions focused on the quality of relations with focus on perception of support, cooperation, and collegiality.
    • Strategic planning task forces during both Phase I and II of the process over the past year have afforded an opportunity for new relationships and communication between faculty, administration, and professional staff. With regular Town Hall meetings and the implementation of the new Strategic Plan, there will be further opportunities to strengthen collegiality and open communication across traditional boundaries.
  • Communication: Drexel received an 11-point gap from the 2011 Best Large Schools. Questions focused on the quality of internal communications as related to transparency, clarity, and interactivity.
    • The new SVP of University Communications has initiated and implemented a new branding, marketing, and communications strategy for the University, which has improved internal communications and introduced a university-wide events calendar, among other vehicles.
    • The HR Advisory Committee has also convened a work group to focus on improving communications.
  • Pride: Drexel received an 11-point gap from the 2011 Best Large Schools. Questions focused on the sense of pride and connection reported regarding affiliation with the institution.
    • The Inauguration of John A. Fry as the fourteenth president of Drexel University on April 15, 2011 brought together over 600 students, faculty, and professional staff--from across all colleges and divisions of Drexel--to showcase and present their work in the "Spotlight on Drexel" event and in panel presentations to celebrate and honor our new president. Drexel has been attracting increased media attention from local newspapers, magazines, and national publications.
    • In order to increase pride and amplify the sense that Drexel is a great place to work, the HR Advisory Committee has convened a work group addressing multiple dimensions of work/life balance.
  • Supervisors/Department Chairs: Drexel received a 9-point gap from the 2011 Best Large Schools. Questions focused on the relationship reported with department chair or supervisor and assessment of critical managerial competencies.
    • A leadership initiative for department and division heads, as organized by the Office of the Provost and the Drexel Center for Academic Excellence, is underway. There have been several meetings that focus on a range of leadership and managerial skills and more will be scheduled in the future. In addition, Human Resources' Learning and Development team launched a Supervisory Certificate Program in April 2011 that has been consistently oversubscribed. Planning has also begun for the development of future Drexel leaders.
  • Areas with smallest gaps from the 2011 Best Large Schools
    • Fairness: Drexel received a 3-point gap. Questions focused on fair and consistent treatment, especially in regard to performance management and accountability.
    • Respect and Appreciation: Drexel received a 5-point gap.
    • Job Satisfaction/Support: Drexel received a 5-point gap.
    • Professional Development: Drexel received a 6-point gap. Questions for faculty focused on support for research and clarity of the tenure process.
    • Compensation, Benefits, and Work/Life Balance: Drexel received a 7-point gap.
    • Senior Leadership: Drexel received a 7-point gap. Questions focused on confidence in capabilities and the credibility of the president and his direct reports.
    • Policies, Resources, and Efficiency: Drexel received a 7-point gap.

Next Steps

Drexel is registered for the 2012 Great Colleges survey. A random selection of 600 faculty and professional staff will be chose to receive surveys between March 19 and April 13. The HR Advisory Committee will continue to meet, pursue actions, and measure progress.