Results of the campus climate survey conducted by Rankin & Associates Consulting were released on Wednesday during two forums held in the Glick Ballrooms of the Joe Crowley Student Union.
The survey, which was administered in February-March 2019, had 6,415 members of the University community who participated. 3,389 undergraduate students, 794 graduate/professional students, 738 academic faculty/post-doctoral scholar/research scientist/librarian, 781 administrative faculty/executive-level administrative faculty and 713 classified staff took part in the survey.
According to the study’s executive summary, “Climate” was defined as “the current attitudes, behaviors, and standards of faculty, staff, administrators and students -- as well as the campus environment and university policies – that influence the level of respect for individual needs, abilities and potential. The level of comfort experienced by faculty, staff and students is one indicator of campus climate.”
President Marc Johnson, in introducing Sue Rankin and Julie Del Giorno of Rankin & Associates for their presentation of findings, said that the impetus for the study was a need “to understand ourselves better.”
“We will follow up and make implementation of the recommendations,” Johnson said.
The executive summary for the study stated that generally, “The climate assessment findings provide the University community with an opportunity to build upon its strengths and to develop a deeper awareness of the challenges ahead. The University, with support from senior administrators and collaborative leadership, is in a prime position to actualize its commitment to promote an inclusive campus and to institute organizational structures that respond to the needs of its dynamic campus community.”
The executive summary for the study stated, “The overall campus climate, workplace climate and classroom climate were described as comfortable by many respondents, however less comfortable by a significant minority of other respondents.”
The survey found 71 percent, or 4,568, of survey respondents were “very comfortable” or “comfortable” with the climate at the University. The survey found by gender identity, women respondents and trans-spectrum respondents reported being “significantly less comfortable than men respondents.” The survey found similar findings for Black/African American respondents, Queer-spectrum and Bisexual respondents, Multiple Disabilities respondents, Low-Income Student respondents and First-Generation Student respondents.
The survey found 70 percent, or 1,549, of Academic Faculty, Administrative Faculty and Classified Staff respondents were “very comfortable” or “comfortable” with the climate in their departments/work units. Academic Faculty respondents reported being significantly less comfortable than Administrative Faculty; by gender identity, women respondents reported being significantly less comfortable than men respondents.
The survey found 79 percent, or 3,868, of Student and Academic Faculty respondents were “very comfortable” or “comfortable” with the climate in their classes. Undergraduate Student respondents reported being significantly less comfortable than Graduate/Professional Student respondents or Academic Faculty respondents; Women Academic Faculty and Student respondents reported being significantly less comfortable than Men Academic Faculty and Student respondents; Black/African American Academic Faculty and Student Respondents reported being significantly less comfortable than Asian/Asian American Academic Faculty and Student respondents; Queer-spectrum Academic Faculty and Student respondents and Bisexual Academic Faculty and Student respondents reported being significantly less comfortable than Heterosexual Academic Faculty and Student respondents; Academic Faculty and Student respondents with Multiple Disabilities reported being significantly less comfortable than Academic Faculty and Student respondents with No Disabilities; Low-Income Student respondents were significantly less comfortable than Not-Low-Income Student respondents.
Rankin & Associates found the University’s responses, which also answered questions related to challenges with work for academic faculty, challenges with work-life issues for administrative faculty and classified staff, whether academic faculty, administrative faculty and classified staff had ever seriously considered leaving the University, student attitudes toward academic experiences, experiences of exclusionary, intimidate, offensive and/or hostile conduct, “were consistent with those found in education institutions across the country, based on the work of R&A (Rankin & Associates) Consulting. For example, 70% to 80% of respondents in similar reports found the campus climate to be ‘very comfortable’ or ‘comfortable.’ A similar percentage (71%) of the University respondents indicated that they were ‘very comfortable’ or ‘comfortable’ with the climate at the University. Twenty percent to 25% of respondents in similar reports indicated that they personally had experienced exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct. At the University of Nevada, Reno, a similar percentage of respondents (21%) indicated that they personally had experienced exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct. The results also parallel the findings of other climate studies of specific constituent groups offered in the literature.”
“21 percent is actually lower than what we have found at other institutions,” Rankin said. “It doesn’t mean 21 percent is OK. We still have 1,300 (respondents) who experienced this conduct.”
Another area of concern was how more than half of academic and administrative faculty and classified staff seriously considered leaving the University at some point during their time employed on campus.
Del Giorno said such a finding, though not uncommon in higher education, was something that “we can’t just ignore, but we should dig a little deeper to find out what is behind it,” citing factors such as low salary and lack of a sense of belonging as important factors cited by the respondents. Another area of concern related to the experience of graduate students on campus, who in the survey expressed thoughts of leaving and a lack of a sense of belonging.
“Again, this is an area that you can look at and try to make better,” Del Giorno said.
Rankin said with the study completed, the work is only beginning for the campus.
“As a community, you need to decide what you think is important going forward,” she said.
To that end, Eloisa Gordon Mora, the University’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer along with the members of the campus climate survey committee, will be holding campus discussion groups during the week of Oct. 9-16 in an effort to dialogue and develop the next steps needed in the process. Information and RSVP’s for the groups will be available, along with the entire climate survey report and executive summary, on the University’s “Speak Your Truth” website, unr.edu/truth.