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Brenau University ranks high on employee satisfaction list
Christie Gregory, creative director for Brenau University publications, makes notes about a project in her office. Brenau University has been named one of the top small universities in the nation to work for. - photo by Tom Reed

For the second year in a row, Brenau University has been named among the 10 best small universities to work for nationwide in the Great Colleges to Work For rankings compiled by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Brenau made the top-10 list for its employee-directed retirement benefits, life insurance benefits and for employee confidence that the university treats them fairly, especially in the area of performance-based compensation, according to a Brenau news release.

The Chronicle of Higher education reports that nearly 41,000 employees on 247 campuses participated in the survey. The Chronicle’s employer-ranking program this year is the second largest workplace-recognition program in the country after Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, according to the Brenau news release.

From her office on the second floor of a white-columned mansion turned business building, Christie Gregory passes the weekdays designing Brenau publications as the university’s creative director. Gregory said in addition to the purple paint-splashed Andy Warhol original of Chairman Mao the university lets her borrow to decorate her quirky office, she enjoys Brenau’s benefits package, a "generous" vacation policy and ongoing educational opportunities.

"The school is very encouraging when it comes to attending conferences and workshops," she said. "There is also a tuition waiver program for employees and their families."

Gregory is one of Brenau’s 300 faculty and staff.

Wayne Dempsey, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Brenau, said he’s delighted university employees are pleased with their employer.

"For them to respond the way they did shows to us that what we’re trying to do as an institution regarding benefits for employees and mutual respect for employees and consistency in administering policies is obviously paying off because our employees seem to be happy with it," he said.

"The main thing that we do is we have faculty and staff who are here to work with students. Sure, we have to have classrooms and desks and labs and that sort of thing, but the main part of our budget goes to the salaries of faculty and staff and that makes us labor intensive," Dempsey said. "... We are so appreciative to our faculty and staff because they are the ones who actually make this happen."

Brenau offers full-time faculty and administrative employees retirement options such as a 401(k) tax-deferred program and a similar 403(b) program, both of which are matched by up to 8 percent of the employee’s base salary depending on the time the employer has spent with the university or in the educational realm. Brenau also offers free life insurance equal to 2 « times the employee’s base annual salary to a maximum of $500,000.

In addition to the three to four weeks’ vacation employees receive, they are entitled to 26 days off during the academic calendar year when students are absent, Dempsey said. Brenau’s vice president also said the university aims to maintain employees’ salaries even if the economic outlook continues to darken.

In the three segments of the Chronicle’s survey that differentiate small, medium and large institutions, Georgia Tech also made in it the same top-10 list as Brenau. Emory University and Kennesaw State University ranked in the top 10 in some of the other 23 categories of the survey.