AU isn’t just a great place to study—it’s a great place to work, too
Maybe the spring of 2020 was the wrong time to send out a nationwide survey asking how people felt about their jobs.
Most of us would rather forget the pandemic-inspired uncertainty that gripped the country. COVID-19 created a shock to the global economic system, with colleges and universities among the hardest hit—especially private, Christian schools.
The result? Some reduced employee salaries. Others eliminated faculty and staff positions entirely. Then there were those that shut their doors for good.
But Anderson University, and the men and women who work there, see things differently. And that brings us back to the survey.
ModernThink is a consulting firm that helps organizations improve “workplace quality, stakeholder engagement and overall outcomes.” It operates a division—ModernThink Higher Education—whose sole focus is on colleges and universities. Each year, it partners with The Chronicle of Higher Education to survey the employees of hundreds of institutions as part of The Great Colleges to Work For program. It is one of the largest and most respected workplace recognition programs in the country. Now in its 13th year, it recognizes the colleges and universities that get top ratings from their employees regarding workplace practices and policies.
“At the outset and in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, 221 colleges and universities across the country intentionally chose to participate in the 2020 Great Colleges to Work For program,” said Richard K. Boyer, senior consultant at ModernThink. “Truly great workplaces, and those on the journey to become one, stand by their commitment to faculty and staff engagement in good times and in bad.”
Anderson University? It’s what Boyer calls a “truly great workplace.” That’s because, for the first time, AU was named a “Great College to Work For.” What’s more, it was one of just 42 institutions around the country that made the Honor Roll.
“Being recognized as a ‘Great College to Work For’ is truly a great achievement. We work hard to foster a culture of trust built on transparency, employee feedback and thoughtful planning. I credit our Human Resources team who developed strategies to enhance employee engagement, satisfaction and build on our strong Christian community,” said Omar Rashed, senior vice president for administration and brand. “The Board of Trust challenged leadership to take careful measures to preserve every position. What is most remarkable— this survey was completed by our employees two months into the pandemic! Despite the uncertainty surrounding us, the AU family fully embraced the challenges we faced with perseverance and a commitment to thriving in spite of them.”
The results of the survey bear him out. ModernThink ranked AU as “Very Good to Excellent” in nine of 16 categories, including job satisfaction, collaboration and school pride. In each of the remaining seven categories, ModernThink ranked Anderson University as “Good.”
“This year’s list of recognized institutions in the Great Colleges to Work For program was united in their commitment to organizational culture, even in the face of a worldwide pandemic,” Boyer said. “They stand apart in their recognition that workplace culture can actually be a roadmap for navigating uncertainty. The institutions participating in the 2020 Great Colleges to Work For program deserve special kudos for their commitment to being good stewards of institutional culture and workplace quality…In the face of unprecedented uncertainty, their commitment to faculty/staff engagement never wavered…(and) proves that it is possible to be a great workplace even in the face of disruption, uncertainty and limited resources.”
With its “Stronger Together” approach to an academic year like no other, Anderson University weathered the storm. Despite the pandemic, not one faculty or staff member lost their job. No one saw their wages reduced. No academic programs were cut. Construction continued.
Indeed, Anderson University is flourishing. When the final history of AU is written in some distant future, COVID-19 will be a minor footnote in the chapter about 2020. Instead, the story will be about the unprecedented success the University enjoyed.
At no time in its 110-year history has AU risen to these heights. In addition to being named to the “Great Colleges to Work For” Honor Roll, AU saw its greatest enrollment—more than 3,800 students. And ModernThink isn’t the only reputable and respected organization to recognize AU’s success.
In its latest “Best Colleges” rankings, U.S. News & World Report placed Anderson University in a record six categories, receiving the highest marks in University history. AU ranks #42 among regional universities in the South, rising eight spots from the year before. In addition, the University was named to the publication’s “Best Undergraduate Teaching” (#11), “Most Innovative” (#16), “Best Value” (#26) and “Top Performer: Social Mobility” (#64) lists, among others.
“Despite this challenging and uncertain season, Anderson University has remained united in our purpose of providing a highly selective, entrepreneurial, Christian liberal arts education to our students,” said President Evans P. Whitaker, Ph.D.