“At the University of Oklahoma, faculty and staff know they have the support of visionary leadership and that they can work with other outstanding teachers, scientists and researchers, along with top-ranked students in an atmosphere where a sense of community prevails,” says Catherine Bishop, vice president of public affairs at OU, when asked what makes OU such a great place to work.
Similar questions were posed to representatives of five of the state’s universities, and a common thread emerged: The sense of community.
“It feels like home,” says Kyle Wray, vice president of enrollment management and marketing at Oklahoma State University. He’s describing the role the city of Stillwater plays in the recruiting process of quality employees. He’s also talking about the role the university plays within the community.
“We’re about helping people,” he says. “That’s what we do.”
When it comes to recruiting potential employees to Northeastern State University, marketing coordinator Dana Boren-Boer says there is one goal: Get them on campus.
“We have a good process in place for recruiting,” Boren-Boer says. “(Potential employees) go through a rigorous screening.”
Still, when competing for the best educators against larger institutions that are able to offer higher salaries, sometimes it can come down to just making someone feel comfortable, and according to Boren-Boer, often the campus in Tahlequah is all it takes to tip the scales in NSU’s favor. The community of Tahlequah, located in the foothills of the Ozarks, is as effective a recruiting tool as any, with its scenic river and wooded hills.
A beautiful campus and scenic setting are also two major factors that help lure faculty and staff to Rogers State University, according to Jimmy Hart, public relations coordinator at RSU.
“There’s definitely something to be said for Claremore,” Hart says, “It’s an easy area to fall in love with.”
That love for Claremore and the university leads to what Hart describes as a “shared ownership” in the community among the faculty and staff at RSU, and has even led some former employees to return to the university.
“It seems like people always find a reason to come back to Claremore,” Hart says.
That includes students seeking faculty positions at the school. RSU doesn’t offer post-graduate degrees, which are a requirement for the faculty, so students must go to graduate school elsewhere if they want to join the RSU faculty. And many have.
What draws educators to seek positions at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha are reasons both similar and not. That sense of community is so strong among the faculty and staff that policies allow employees to give away sick leave to those who have used up their own. And when budget cuts were required a few years back, the president decided, after conferring with representatives from all levels, that instead of laying off a single employee, everyone would share in the cuts by taking lower salaries, a move supported by the entire faculty and staff.
But those are just examples of what people find after beginning their careers at USAO. The initial draw has more to do with academics.
“For people who love to teach, this is a destination,” says Randy Talley, USAO director of media and community relations.
With 93 percent of the faculty at USAO holding the highest degree in their fields, USAO is truly a “community of scholars,” as Talley calls it. It’s also a perfect example of what makes the state’s universities great employers.