By Harry Mok
The University of California, in what is believed to be the largest survey of its kind ever conducted, will ask students, faculty and staff about their experiences with diversity and inclusion at work and on campus.
The confidential survey will be administered on a location-by-location basis between October 2012 and February 2013, with final results available sometime in spring 2013.
The data will be used to assess the learning, living and working environments — or campus climate — for people who go to school or work at UC. The ultimate goal: to help UC develop or change policies and programs to foster a more welcoming, inclusive and healthy campus environment for students, faculty and staff.
No other university system the size of UC is believed to have attempted a climate survey that polls the entire campus community, said Jesse Bernal, UC interim diversity coordinator.
"UC is committed to creating a positive environment for our students, staff and faculty," Bernal said. "In order to do that, we need to know what the climate is like now. That's why we're undertaking this enormous and important survey to gather the data."
Virtually every UC location will be included, including UC's 10 campuses; the UC Office of the President; medical centers at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UCSF; the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The study has been developed in collaboration between UC locations and UC President Mark Yudof's Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion.
"In order to foster inclusion one must know who is satisfied, who is experiencing issues and what those issues are," said Gibor Basri, vice chancellor for equity and inclusion at UC Berkeley and co-chair of the UC advisory council steering committee that worked on the survey. "We have an institutional value that everyone should enjoy the best chance to succeed in their goals at the university. This survey is integral to helping promote that value in an informed way."
Information from the survey will provide the first systemwide and comprehensive data on campus climate at UC.
"The more participation we have, the better data we gather and the better we can respond to the needs of our students and personnel," Bernal said. "We'll be working with our campus communities to ensure the best turnout possible for the survey."
Campus climate encompasses the experience of people and groups. The quality and extent of these interactions determines a healthy campus climate, according to Susan Rankin, a Pennsylvania State University education professor whose consulting firm, Rankin & Associates, worked with UC to develop the survey.
Rankin is a nationally renowned expert and has extensive experience with institutional climate assessment. Her firm has administered campus climate surveys at more than 100 colleges and university systems across the country, and uses a survey model that is designed to be inclusive.
Campus environment influences both learning and developmental outcomes, studies have shown. A discriminatory atmosphere has a negative effect on student learning and work environments. Research also shows the value of a diverse student body and faculty for enhancing learning outcomes when inclusion and respect are the norm.