By Harry Mok
Just by answering a few questions, you could help improve the educational and work environment for people at the University of California.
Over the next five months, University of California students, faculty and staff will be surveyed about their school and workplace experiences in what is believed to be the largest study of institutional climate ever conducted.
The results will be used to enhance the atmosphere of inclusiveness and respect at every UC campus and location across the statewide system.
"UC is committed to creating a positive environment for our students, staff and faculty," said UC Interim Diversity Coordinator Jesse Bernal said.
If improving campus life isn't enough incentive to participate, UC is dangling a range of prizes for participation in the confidential survey. Survey respondents will be automatically entered into the drawing, with prizes awarded to a handful of faculty, staff and students. One lucky undergraduate will win a $10,000 scholarship.
Campus climate survey schedule
Members of the UC community can find a wealth of details about the survey — including how it is being administered and how results will be used — at a new campus climate website created by UC's Office of the President: http://campusclimate.ucop.edu.
The survey will be administered on a location-by-location basis starting Oct. 29 and continuing through February 2013. The project is funded by the UC President's Initiative Fund, an endowment for special projects. No tuition or taxpayer dollars are being used.
Once complete, the survey is expected to provide the first comprehensive, systemwide information on campus climate at UC. Final data will available sometime in spring 2013.
No other university system the size of UC is believed to have attempted a climate survey that polls the entire campus community, according to Bernal. Virtually every UC location will be included: 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.
It's important that a broad cross section of the UC community participate — the more people who take the survey, the better the results. Relevant analysis will be possible as long as at least 30 percent of the campus community participates. If a total response rate of 30 percent is not reached, individual populations with rates of 30 percent or higher still can be relevant, according to Rankin & Associates Consulting, which worked with UC to create the survey.
To encourage participation, survey takers who answer at least half of the questions in the 20- to 45-minute survey will be entered automatically into a random drawing for prizes.
One lucky undergraduate student will receive a $10,000 scholarship, two graduate academic or professional students will receive $5,000 stipends, two faculty members will receive $5,000 research grants and five staff members will receive $2,000 professional development grants. Each location also will give away iPads to two survey participants.
"Giving away prizes is a small investment for an even bigger payout if it raises our response rate and increases the quality of our data," Bernal said.