ABOUT THE STUDY
This study was first commissioned by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) and Diverse: Issues In Higher Education in 2014. The purpose of this commissioned study was to examine the extent to which diversity and inclusion permeates various aspects (e.g., administrative structures, commitments, work environments, staffing practices) of the work places at participating two-year community and technical colleges, all of which are NISOD-member institutions.
The survey was developed by Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, in consultation with members of the project’s advisory board. The original survey was piolt-tested with a small sample of institutions; feedback from the pilot studey helped to clarify survey items, correct logic sequencing, and determine the utility of the scoring alogrithm.
The larger project, Promising Places to Work, has been administered by Strayhorn and his teams at various centers. It is now administered by Do Good Work Educational Consulting, LLC — an independent educational consulting firm committed to inclusive excellence, student access and success.
Most Promising Places were selected based on a comprehensive analysis of results from an annual survey that was administered to all institutional members of NISOD. Scores were computed using the algorithm that considers weighted data for all points highlighted on the survey such as diversity benefits, staff demographics and diversity policies (e.g., bias monitoring, staff orientation). For full dissuction of these methods, see previous versions of this report in Diverse.
COMMUNITY COLLEGE WORKPLACES
Today’s community colleges are as diverse as the students they serve. There are more than 1,100 community colleges in the United States that educate more than 12 million students each year. Community colleges also employ thousands of staff members who work in critical functional areas, including student affairs or support services. These committed professionals make the institution warm and welcoming for all students so that they can develop, grow, learn, and thrive optimally.
This year’s list of the 18 Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges includes an impressive cast of 2-year institutions specializing in equipping students for promising futures. Each of them have signature programs and marquee initiatives that make them uniquely who they are. Most Promising Places is a national recognition that celebrates student affairs workplaces that are vibrant, diverse, supportive and committed to staff work-life balance, professional development and inclusive excellence.
In this edition of Diverse, we strive to pull back the curtain, so to speak, so that others can see the good work going on at these institutions and learn from them to affirm or improve your workplaces. MPPWCC offers institutional leaders information that can be used to improve work environments, raise morale, or continuously improve practices across the student affairs division. It also serves as a useful tool for employers, career services staff, and job seekers across the country.
PROMISING PRACTICES AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES
As the Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges project evolves, we learn more and more about what’s going on at various institutions to increase faculty and staff diversity, to foster a sense of belonging for staff and to equip college student educators for their work with students. Presented here is a set of “most promising practices” that have held up across each year of the study.
Promising Practice #1: Recognition of Good Work
Each year, we hear from faculty and staff who work at community colleges about the importance of good work being recognized, especially by those in leadership positions. Specifically, institutions recognized as Most Promising Places over the past four years have been known for hosting formal ceremonies that recognize the meaningful contributions of various members of the campus community. Quite often, faculty and staff described this practice as a positive feature of institutional culture that helped retain them as well as their colleagues. In addition to institutional awards and ceremonies, many faculty and staff noted that their campus leadership also nominated them for regional and national awards, honors and recognitions. We encourage community college leaders to adopt similar practices or approaches to recognizing the good work of staff and members of the campus community.
Promising Practice #2: Commitment to Meeting the Needs of Community
The espoused mission of community colleges includes a clear focus on serving the needs of the local community. Thus, it is no surprise that faculty and staff at institutions designated as Most Promising Places underscored the importance of their institutions living up to this responsibility. Over the years, faculty and staff have consistently shared insights about their institutions’ connection to, service of and appreciation for the communities in which they are located. For instance, some institutions like Central Piedmont Community College and Wake Tech, to name a few, provide support to the local business community through rapid responses, professional development and workplace training that meets the needs of today’s labor market. It is important for all community colleges to truly be members of their local communities, serving the needs of the people.
Promising Practice #3: Investment in the Development of Faculty and Staff
Institutions represented among our Most Promising Places over the years have prioritized significant investment in the professional development of faculty and staff to better prepare them for leadership within the organization and broader community. Faculty and staff at institutions recognized as Most Promising Places over the years have discussed at length the ways in which their institutions have signaled commitment to them by investing in their professional development. For instance, at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC), faculty and staff highlighted the Faculty Diversity Fellows program for junior minority faculty and the President’s Leadership Academy for staff members considered “rising leaders” within the institution. Likewise, Greenville Technical College Community and College of Aurora staff members report that there were always resources available to support their pursuit of professional development on and off campus, including book clubs, conference attendance, webinars and on-campus leadership training seminars. We encourage senior leaders at community colleges to make concerted investments in formal professional development activities for faculty and staff by adopting ideas listed here and in previous editions of this report.
ENGAGE US ON SOCIAL MEDIA
We invite readers to share how they’re using this year’s report of Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges (MPPWCC). Share with us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #UsingPPWCC18 and tag @DiverseIssues.
Dr. Terrell Lamont Strayhorn is a professor and founding CEO of Do Good Work Educational Consulting LLC, a research firm that specializes in translating research discoveries to improve policy and practice, as a way of ensuring all students’ success. Author of 10 books, more than 200 journal articles, chapters, and reports, Strayhorn is an internationally known student success expert and public speaker. He has served on the faculty at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, The Ohio State University, and lectures at universities across the nation.
Dr. Royel M. Johnson is assistant professor of higher education at Pennsylvania State University within the Department of Educational Policy Studies. His research focuses on major policy- and practice-relevant issues in education, such as college access and success; race, equity and diversity; and student learning and development. He is co-editor of a forthcoming book on historically Black colleges and universities.