Eastern Kentucky University and Somerset Community College have made the Chronicle of Higher Education's annual list of great places to work in academia. The list was compiled by anonymous surveys of workers at 310 institutions and included evaluations of features including leadership, careers and compensation.
The Chronicle survey identified 111 colleges and universities across the country as superior workplaces. While EKU and Somerset were the only Kentucky schools to make that list, Hazard Community College, Murray State University and Transylvania University were recognized in individual categories.
Charlie Sweet, co-director at Eastern Kentucky University's Teaching & Learning Center since 2006, is starting his 42nd year at Eastern, where he previously taught in the English department.
Sweet, 67, said Eastern nurtures a core population of long-term employees who go out of their way to work well with often-transient professors and students; many live nearby and walk the campus every day, he said.
"So many of the people at Eastern, administrative and faculty, have known each other for so long," he said. "... I had all the opportunities to move, but I didn't want to. It offered me a great opportunity to teach and do some research."
Somerset Community College, which enrolls more than 9,000 students at campuses and centers in six counties, closely monitors the welfare of its employees, said public relations director Cindy Clouse.
One of the articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education is about a Somerset college employee, Sharon Whitehead, who got colon cancer and, upon returning, advanced at the school. She is now dean of arts and sciences.
"We watch out for each other, whether it be faculty, whether it be staff," Clouse said. "You can control the communication better, and that's one thing our president is wonderful about — sharing everything with faculty and staff that's going on, our mission."