By Kim Walter
Lord Fairfax Community College is one of six Virginia schools in Virginia to make The Chronicle of Higher Education's 2013 list of "Great Colleges to Work For."
The Great Colleges program is one of the largest workplace-recognition programs in the country, with almost 45,000 surveys completed by administrators, faculty members and support staff and tallied based on a school's performance in several employee-related categories.
The local community college was one of the 97 colleges in the country to make the full list. This is the second year LFCC has been recognized on the overall list, but it is the first time in the coveted Honor Roll category.
Of 11 categories, LFCC received a high ranking in nine: collaborative governance; confidence in senior leadership; facilities, workspace and security; job satisfaction; professional/career-development programs; respect and appreciation; supervisor or department-chair relationship; teaching environment; and work/life balance.
The 42 colleges named to the Honor Roll are cited most often across all recognition categories, and grouped by enrollment size. LFCC fit in the "medium" category, serving fewer than 10,000 students, alongside three other "medium" two-year colleges. Only 12 community colleges out of about 1,200 were placed on the Honor Roll.
Dr. Cheryl Thompson-Stacy, president of the college, said the recognition was one to be proud of, especially since all the surveys were anonymous.
"We know that our employees were telling what they really think about working here," she said Monday. "I think it says a lot about the status of our employees. It's very important that they have a place that makes them feel happy."
Thompson-Stacy said she's worked with a number of "great institutions and wonderful teams," but she's never found a group of employees as dedicated as those at LFCC.
"It's very heartwarming to me to see that our employees appreciate what we offer," she said.
Thompson-Stacy said the college offers professional development opportunities covering a variety of subjects. Additionally, the school financially supports employees who might benefit from regional and national conferences.
Some faculty members pursue their masters or doctorate degree while working, with the college offering tuition reimbursement.
However, Thompson-Stacy said sometimes it's the little things that don't cost extra money that make a difference to workers.
"You know, we have our casual dress Fridays and offer flexible hours and schedules during the summer," she said.
She said employees can work an extra hour Monday through Thursday, and then get out of work early on Friday.
Additionally, Thompson-Stacy said the college is big on making sure that employees have a good balance between their work and personal life. The college, of course, has busy times of year, but she said it's important that employees aren't working over time too often.
"Our employees will do whatever they can to make sure our students achieve academic and career goals," she said. "But if they don't keep their personal life in tact, it can impact long-term productivity."
LFCC recently conducted a student satisfaction survey, which found that of 1,300 students, 98 percent would recommend the community college to a family member or friend.
"That's an amazing statistic," she said. "I think if you couple student satisfaction with employee satisfaction, LFCC is a great place to be."
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org