PULLMAN — WSU ranks among the top 40 U.S. academic institutions in the “Best Places to Work in Academia 2008” survey published in the November issue of the magazine The Scientist.

The survey collected information from 2,313 self-selected respondents from 72 different institutions. Respondents were life scientists in tenured or tenure-track positions working in academia or other non-commercial research institutions. U.S. organizations that received fewer than five responses were omitted from the rankings.

WSU is No. 28 in the list –up from No. 57 last year– and ranks higher than Purdue, Duke and the University of California, Los Angeles. Survey respondents listed the tenure system, teaching and mentoring as the institution’s strengths, while peers, infrastructure and environment are listed as WSU’s weaknesses.

WSU respondents rated highly statements such as “my institution provides adequate resources to support my teaching and mentoring duties” and “the administration allows flexibility in balancing research, teaching and mentoring duties”. Regarding tenure, WSU respondents agreed with statements such as “the tenure system at my institution is clearly laid out” and “the tenure review process has been applied fairly to different faculty members.”

The five most important factors listed by respondents from all U.S. institutions surveyed were job satisfaction, peers, tenure, research resources and pay. Other categories included in the ranking system were teaching and mentoring; infrastructure and environment; and management and policies.

“I am happy that WSU was recognized but I feel that we were under-rated,” said Michael Griswold, dean of the College of Sciences. “I have been here for 32 years, I have visited and worked for short times at many other academic institutions and I firmly believe that WSU is one of the very best places to work in academia.”
Michael Griswold, dean of the College of Sciences
Despite Pullman’s small size and relative isolation, which might have contributed to the lower rating for WSU in the “infrastructure and environment” category, Griswold views WSU’s location as an advantage to the institution.
“I value the quality of life in this area. It is a wonderful mix of rural living, availability to wilderness and quality academics. WSU is large enough to provide resources we need to do our work and small enough so that you can feel appreciated. Our location and size have become major recruiting advantages. One reason, I believe, is the increased ease of communication (internet) making this small town much less isolated.”