University of Vermont

Campus Climate Survey

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About the Survey

People sitting at a table.

A campus climate survey can be an important and helpful tool both in the assessment of the experiences of employees and students and in the development of diversity plans, policies, protocols and curriculum. Climate surveys can also provide strategic direction. Understanding how the University of Vermont community experiences workplace climate is important. Research in this area can contribute to the knowledge of discrimination, harassment, bullying, retention, sexual harassment, and other issues related to the well being and job satisfaction of an institution. With a goal to be among the nation’s premier small research universities, UVM’s academic and administrative leadership must be willing to engage in a resolute assessment of accomplishments and challenges. This kind of self-reflection is important to change the status quo and become a more inclusive, equitable and just institution. This level of awareness can only serve to help the institution understand its community and provide a baseline for future priorities and needs.

By way of a background, the University of Vermont (UVM) attempted to provide such clarity when it conducted the 2005-2006 Campus Climate Survey that examined ways in which different groups experienced UVM, including women, persons of color, and lesbians, gays, and transgendered individuals. The steering committee for the survey, however, identified shortcomings in the project related to sample size and survey design that raised significant questions about the validity and reliability of some findings. As a result, President Daniel Mark Fogel and then-Provost John Hughes stated in a May 14, 2007 communication to the campus community “We hereby commit the University to this kind of follow-up, to be completed no later than the end of the ’09 fiscal year, and we charge the Vice Provost for Multicultural Affairs and the Executive Director of Equity and Diversity to work together, in consultation with the presidential commissions and with us, to ensure that this mandate is carried out.” In the end, this effort was spearheaded by the then Executive Director of the Diversity and Equity Unit. Due to a variety of circumstances, the climate survey was not done by the 2009 fiscal year. Eventually, through the commitment and hard work of the Executive Director of Affirmative Action, the Presidential Commissions and several dedicated faculty and staff members three separate campus climate surveys were developed -- one for each campus constituency, i.e., faculty, staff, and students.

All three surveys were scheduled to be deployed in October of 2010. However, before that time President Daniel Mark Fogel appointed the University’s first Chief Diversity Officer in September of 2010. Among the responsibilities outlined for the position was the oversight of the university’s campus climate survey agenda. In a review of this charge, the Chief Diversity Officer chose to postpone the administration of the surveys. The decision to postpone was supported by the Presidential Commission Chairs and the President’s Senior Leadership Team. Through discussion with Presidential Commission Chairs, representatives from the Office of Institutional Studies and faculty with expertise in survey research methods, a new process was established. The new process will involve a set of smaller, more focused climate surveys offered over time.

Last modified March 03 2011 03:00 PM

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