The Senate Source

November 2012

Faculty Encouraged to Participate in Nation's Largest Climate Survey

UC faculty can help improve the social climate of their campuses by participating in what will be the largest campus climate survey ever conducted in the United States. The survey will be administered electronically between October 2012 and February 2013 to all UC students, faculty, and staff on all campuses, including those at the five medical centers, the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resource locations, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and UCOP.

Each participant will answer a core set of questions in addition to questions tailored to his or her employee group and location. Faculty will have the opportunity to answer questions related to faculty hiring and promotion, salary equity, current APM policies addressing family leave, among other areas specific to faculty.

The President’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion recommended the survey as a means to gather baseline data about campus climate. The Advisory Council was established in June 2010 following several incidents of racial intolerance and homophobia on UC campuses. Former Academic Senate Chair Robert Anderson and former University Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity Chair Ines Boechat represented the Senate on the Advisory Council and Anderson and current Chair Robert Powell represented the Senate on the Climate Study Steering Committee and were closely involved in developing the survey. Several Academic Senate division chairs or representatives served on local steering committees and also helped customize survey questions for their campuses.

The Advisory Council defines campus climate as "the current attitudes, behaviors and standards of faculty, staff, administrators and students concerning the level of respect for individual needs, abilities and potential."

UCOP’s Interim Diversity Coordinator Jesse Bernal says the survey includes climate-related questions from the UC Undergraduate Experience Survey and from other previous surveys of specific UC populations, questions devolved by the project consultant, and additional questions developed by the campuses. The survey will also allow respondents to provide qualitative comments, which will be confidential and redacted. He says the survey will take between 20 and 45 minutes to complete, depending on the extent to which respondents write comments.

Beginning in January, campuses will begin receiving campus-specific results broken out by constituency group, and a systemwide aggregate report will be posted online in April 2013. The reports will include demographic indicators related to survey-takers, but will be stripped of all identifiers. The data will be owned by the University and will be housed at UCOP, accessible to all.

The survey will be conducted by an independent consulting firm headed by Dr. Sue Rankin of Rankin & Associates Consulting and Pennsylvania State University, who is an expert on institutional climate assessment and transformation, and has conducted over 100 climate studies at institutions across the country.

Bernal says the goal of the survey is to make the University of California a model for diversity and inclusion in higher education. “This survey will help us identify strong practices we can build on, as well as areas in which we need to focus our attention on improvement,” he said. “It will help us develop strategic initiatives and location-based action plans to create a more inclusive and welcoming climate.”

He says the research design of the survey is unique because it goes beyond assessment to incorporate planning and intervention. Following the release of the report, campuses will be asked to create action plans based on the results. Because UC will own the survey instrument and the data, the University will be able to repeat the survey, gather longitudinal data, and assess its progress in future years. Data may be used by faculty for research purposes, but will be subject to Institutional Review Board approval.

“This is not a study that will gather dust on a shelf,” says Bernal.

UCOP hopes for at least a 30% response rate overall and among discrete populations to ensure that the results are meaningful. As an incentive for faculty to participate, UCOP is making two $5,000 research grants available to random faculty survey-takers and two iPads for participants at each location.

“I encourage all faculty to participate in this landmark survey,” Senate Chair Powell says. “UC campuses are among the most diverse in the nation. We must foster a culture of inclusiveness and work to improve the working and learning environment for all.”

For more information on the survey, including details on how confidentiality and data security will be maintained, see the FAQs at: