Assessment of climate for living, learning and working at the University of Nevada, Reno



The University is at its best when we acknowledge and nurture the individual needs, abilities and potential of all of our people across campus – students, faculty and staff alike.

That’s why, starting in spring semester 2019, we are undertaking our first-ever Campus Climate Survey. The purpose of the survey is to measure inclusiveness and feelings of belonging among all University of Nevada, Reno students, faculty and staff, from all backgrounds and identities. Approximately 31,000 people across campus will be invited to participate in this confidential online survey.

We are conducting this survey because campus climate matters. Students, staff and faculty who feel connected to and supported by their campus communities have a higher likelihood of success –- in the classroom, in their personal lives and in the workplace. And, because we cherish our values of diversity, inclusion and our heritage as a land-grant university, we feel compelled to continually strive for a campus environment marked by openness, fairness and equal access for all students, faculty and staff.

Read the letter from the President

Speak your truth logo

University campus climate survey overview

Who will be conducting the Campus Climate Survey?

To ensure full transparency and to provide a more complete perspective, we have contracted with Rankin & Associates Consulting to help lead this effort. Rankin & Associates Consulting is a nationally recognized leader in institutional evaluation. They have conducted more than 190 campus climate assessment projects over the last 20 years. A team from Rankin & Associates Consulting will coordinate with a working group comprised of students, staff and faculty from the University to develop and implement the assessment.

How will the data from the survey be used?

The results of the Campus Climate Survey will be available in fall 2019. These results will help the University to develop programs and policies to 1) increase inclusivity in areas that are shown to be problematic and to 2) enhance and replicate programs and policies in areas that are shown to be successfully meeting the needs of our campus community.

How long does it take to complete the survey?

Typically 30 minutes or less, depending on how much writing you decide to do in the comment areas of the survey.

Why should you participate in the Campus Climate Survey?

Since 1874, the University has valued the idea of shared governance – the notion that all of us are smarter than any one of us. What’s more, your participation in completing the anonymous Campus Climate Survey will help create a campus that is welcoming to all and hostile to no one person or group. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for you to have your say because your experience is unique and sharing that experience will inform the way policies and programs are created or improved. You truly can make a difference, simply, easily and confidentially, just by speaking your truth.

Thank you in advance for your help in making our campus welcoming and inclusive for all.

Read the full FAQ


Climate study working group

Melanie Duckworth, Co-Chair
melanied@unr.edu
Associate Professor & Associate Dean
College of Liberal Arts

Patricia Richard, Co-Chair
prichard@unr.edu
Chief of Staff
Office of the President

Aubrey Flores, Survey Coordinator
aubreyf@unr.edu
Administrative Assistant IV
Office of the President

Angie Bradley
Director
Residential Life

Angie Taylor
Community Liaison
Guardian Quest

Donna Healy
Administrative Assistant
Faculty Senate

Eric James
Commander
Police Services

Hannah Jackson
President
ASUN

Jeff Thompson
Dean
College of Science

Jeff Wong
Chair, Department of Accounting
College of Business

Jennifer Hagen
Professor & Senior Associate Dean
University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Jennifer Lowman
Director
Student Persistence Research
Principle Investigator

Jody Lykes
Coordinator
The Center. Every Student. Every Story

Jorge Ramirez
Carpenter Shop Supervisor
Facilities Services

Julie Lucero
Assistant Professor
School of Community Health Sciences

Kerri Garcia
Director of Communications
Office of Marketing & Communications

Lisa Maletsky
Coordinator
Student Persistence Research

Mary Ann Christensen
Assistant Director
Disability Resource Center

Meseret Ambachew
Commissioner of Projects and Events
ASUN

Sandy Rodriguez
Director
ASUN Center for Student Engagement

Sherif Elfass
Research Associate Professor
College of Engineering

Tamara Steinmann
External Vice President
Graduate Students Association

Tom Harrison
Professor of Counseling
College of Education


Frequently asked questions

Your questions and comments are very important as we move through this process. Please share by contacting the Co-Chairs of the project:

  • Melanie Duckworth | Associate Professor & Associate Dean | College of Liberal Arts | melanied@unr.edu
  • Patricia Richard | Chief of Staff | Office of the President | prichard@unr.edu

Dr. Susan Rankin, of Rankin & Associates Consulting, is serving as the outside consultant for the University’s climate survey and defines campus climate as “the current attitudes, behaviors, standards and practices of employees and students of an institution.” Personal experiences, perceptions and institutional efforts often shape a campus climate. Starting in spring semester 2019, we are undertaking our first-ever Campus Climate Survey.

Although serious discussions related to the conduct of a campus climate survey have taken place in recent years, the past academic year was defined by our engagement in some of the most challenging and constructive conversations related to cultural diversity and inclusion. Across all these conversations, emphasis has been placed on mutual respect and a willingness to implement changes that will help us become a more understanding, diverse and inclusive campus. The idea to conduct a campus climate survey is one that originated from interested students, faculty, staff and administrators who believed data from such a survey might be useful in planning for the future and improving the climate at the University.

Dr. Rankin’s research maintains that positive personal experiences with campus climate and positive perceptions of campus climate generally equate to successful outcomes. Examples of successful outcomes include positive educational experiences and healthy identity development for students, productivity and sense of value for faculty and staff and enhanced well-being for all.

The Climate Survey Working Group is charged with conducting the University’s climate survey. After a review of potential vendors, Faculty Senate and senior leadership selected Rankin & Associates Consulting to conduct the survey. Rankin & Associates reports directly to the Working Group. Although the CSWG will regularly update the campus about its progress, the committee – in consultation with Rankin & Associates – is solely responsible for the development, implementation and interpretation of the survey and its results. Dr. Susan Rankin (Rankin & Associates Consulting) is the consultant working directly with us on this project.

Dr. Rankin is an emeritus faculty member of Education Policy Studies and College Student Affairs at The Pennsylvania State University and a senior research associate in the Center for the Study of Higher Education. She has extensive experience in institutional climate assessment and institutional climate transformation based on data-driven action and strategic planning. Dr. Rankin has conducted multi-location institutional climate studies at more than 170 institutions across the country. She developed and utilizes the Transformational Tapestry model as a research design for campus climate studies. The model is a “comprehensive, five-phase strategic model of assessment, planning and intervention. The model is designed to assist campus communities in conducting inclusive assessments of their institutional climate to better understand the challenges facing their respective communities” (Rankin & Reason, 2008).

Learn about Rankin & Associates Consulting

This initiative will include five primary phases. The first will involve focus groups (fall 2018), survey development (fall 2018), survey implementation that will seek input from all students, faculty, and staff at the University (spring 2019) and reporting of results (fall 2019).

In reviewing efforts by other universities to conduct comprehensive climate studies, several best practices were identified. One was the need for external expertise in survey administration. The administration of a survey relating to a very sensitive subject like campus climate is likely to yield higher response rates and provide more credible findings if led by an independent, outside agency. Members of a college community may feel particularly inhibited to respond honestly to a survey administered by their own institution for fear of retaliation.

The consultant has administered climate assessments to more than 170 institutions across the nation and developed a repository of tested questions. To assist in contextualizing the survey for the University, and to capitalize on the many assessment efforts already undertaken, the CSWG was formed. The committee is responsible for developing the survey questions. The team will review selected survey questions from the consultant’s tested collection and will also include University-specific questions, which will be informed by the focus group results.

The target participation in the survey is all students, faculty, and staff. Every response matters and is valuable in providing the most beneficial feedback and results.

We have sought and received commitment from the senior leaders that data will be used to plan for an improved climate at the University.

Students, staff and faculty who feel connected to and supported by their campus communities have a higher likelihood of success – in the classroom, in their personal lives and in the workplace. The purpose of the survey is to measure inclusiveness and feelings of belonging among all University of Nevada, Reno students, faculty and staff, across all backgrounds and identities. Approximately 31,000 people across campus will be invited to participate in this confidential online survey.

University administration has had a strong desire for many years to conduct a campuswide survey. More recently, over the past year, the campus has engaged in constructive dialogue, with emphasis placed on mutual respect and a willingness to implement change in areas where it is needed, to help us become a more understanding, diverse and inclusive campus. There is much more we can do if we are to become a place where all individuals feel not only a sense of belonging, but that their own experiences, both personal and professional, are valued.

The idea to conduct a campus climate survey also originated from interested students, faculty and staff who believe data from such a survey might be useful in planning for the future and improving the climate at the University.

The principle investigator from the University for the IRB process is Jennifer Lowman, Director, Student Persistence Research. The IRB protocol for this study [1339036-1] was approved on January 9, 2019. At any time, if you have questions about this study or wish to report an injury related to your participation, you may contact the principle investigator, Jennifer Lowman, or a co-investigator, Sue Rankin or Julie Del Giorno. You may also contact the University of Nevada, Reno Research Integrity Office at (775) 327-2368 to discuss a problem, make a complaint or ask about your rights as a research participant.

Jennifer Lowman, Director
Student Persistence Research
PI, Climate Study [IRB Protocol 1339036-1]
Email: jlowman@unr.edu

Confidentiality is vital to the success of campus climate research, particularly as sensitive and personal topics are discussed. While the survey cannot guarantee complete confidentiality because of the nature of multiple demographic questions, the consultant will take multiple precautionary measures to enhance individual confidentiality and the de-identification of data. No data already protected through regulation or policy (e.g., Social Security number, campus identification number, medical information) is obtained through the survey. In the event of any publication or presentation resulting from the assessment, no personally identifiable information will be shared.

Confidentiality in participating will be maintained to the highest degree permitted by the technology used (e.g., IP addresses will be stripped when the survey is submitted). No guarantees can be made regarding the interception of data sent via the internet by any third parties; however, to avoid interception of data, the survey is run on a firewalled web server with forced 256-bit SSL security. In addition, the consultant and college will not report any group data for groups of fewer than five individuals because those “small cell sizes” may be small enough to compromise confidentiality. Instead, the consultant and the college will combine the groups or take other measures to eliminate any potential for demographic information to be identifiable. Additionally, any comments submitted in response to the survey will be separated at the time of submission to the consultant so they are not attributed to any individual demographic characteristics. Identifiable information submitted in qualitative comments will be redacted and the college will only receive these redacted comments.

Participation in the survey is completely voluntary, and participants do not have to answer any question and can skip any other questions they consider to be uncomfortable. Paper and pencil surveys are also available and will be sent directly to the consultant.

Information in the introductory section of the survey will describe the manner in which confidentiality will be guaranteed, and additional communication to participants will provide expanded information on the nature of confidentiality, possible threats to confidentiality and procedures developed to ensure de-identification of data.

The consultant will provide a final report that will include: an executive summary; a report narrative of the findings based on cross tabulations selected by the consultant; frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations of quantitative data; and content analysis of the textual data. The reports provide high-level summaries of the findings and will identify themes found in the data. Generalizations for populations are limited to those groups or subgroups with response rates of at least 30%. The committee will review draft reports and provide feedback to the consultant prior to public release.

The University has worked with the consultant to develop a research data security description and protocol, which includes specific information on data encryption, the handling of personally identifiable information, physical security and a protocol for handling unlikely breaches of data security. The data from online participants will be submitted to a secure server hosted by the consultant. The survey is run on a firewalled web server with forced 256-bit SSL security and is stored on a SQL database that can only be accessed locally. The server itself may only be accessed using encrypted SSH connections originating from the local network. Rankin & Associates Consulting project coordinator Dr. Susan Rankin will have access to the raw data along with several Rankin & Associates data analysts. All Rankin & Associates analysts have CITI (Human Subjects) training and approval and have worked on similar projects for other institutions. The web server runs with the SE-Linux security extensions (that were developed by the NSA). The server is also in RAID to highly reduce the chance of any data loss due to hardware failure. The server performs a nightly security audit from data acquired via the system logs and notifies the administrators. The number of system administrators will be limited, and each will have had required background checks.

The consultant has conducted more than 170 institutional surveys and maintains an aggregate merged database. The data from the University’s project will be merged with all other existing climate data stored indefinitely on the consultant’s secure server. No institutional identifiers are included in the full merged data set held by the consultant. The raw unit-level data with institutional identifiers is kept on the server for six months and then destroyed. The paper and pencil surveys are returned to the consultant directly and kept in a locked file drawer in a locked office. The consultant destroys the paper and pencil responses after they are merged with the online data. The consultant will notify the committee chairs of any breach or suspected breach of data security of the consultant’s server.

The consultant will provide the principle investigator, Jennifer Lowman, with a data file at the completion of the project

The cost of the climate survey is $112,000. The data and insight that will be gained from the survey are viewed as investments that will be reflected in future initiatives and an improved campus climate.

The survey will be administered to all students, faculty and staff at the University. Climate exists in micro-climates, so creating opportunities to maximize participation is important as well as maximizing opportunities to reach minority populations. Along these lines, the consultant has recommended not using random sampling as we may miss particular populations where numbers are very small (e.g., Native American students). Since one goal of the project is inclusiveness and allowing invisible voices to be heard, this sampling technique is not used. In addition, randomized stratified sampling is not used because we do not have population data on most identities. For example, the University collects population data on gender and race/ethnicity but not on disability status or sexual orientation. A sample approach could miss many groups.

Campus climate study timeline

2018

June 2018

  • Initial meeting with Climate Working Group (CSWG)

July - August 2018

  • Plan focus groups
  • Begin survey development
  • Develop marketing & communication plan

October 22, 2018

  • Conduct focus groups

November - December 2018

  • Complete assessment tool
  • IRB application & approval

2019

February 19 - March 15, 2019

  • Survey administered

March - April, 2019

  • Data analyses

May - August, 2019

  • Develop report

September 2019

  • Present survey results

October - December 2019

  • University to develop action plan

Campus resource list

Academic Advising

  • College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources (CABNR) | (775) 784-1634
  • College of Business | (775) 784-4912
  • College of Education | (775) 784-4298
  • College of Engineering | (775) 682-7721
  • College of Liberal Arts | (775) 682-8745
  • College of Science | (800) 682-8755
  • Division of Health Sciences | (775) 682-5930
  • Reynolds School of Journalism | (775) 784-4519
  • General Studies/Undecided | (7750 784-4684

Academic Supportive Services

  • First in the Pack | (775) 682-8943
  • Gear Up | (775) 682-8943
  • McNair Scholars | (775) 784-6044
  • TRiO Scholars | (775) 784-6044
  • Upward Bound | (775) 784-4978
  • Paw Mentor Program | (800) 784-4936
  • Disability Resource Center | (775) 784-6000
  • Knowledge Center (Library) | (775) 784-4336
  • Math Center | (7750 784-4433
  • Tutoring Center | (775) 784-6801
  • Writing Center | (775) 784-6030

Basic Need Services

  • ASUN Pack Provision | (775) 784-6589
  • Casa de Vida | (775) 329-1070
  • Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada | (775)322-7073
  • Center for Independent Living | (775) 353-3599
  • Food Bank of Northern Nevada | (775) 331-3663
  • Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission | (775) 329-0584
  • Project ReStart Homeless Service Center | (775) 324-5166
  • Reno Housing Authority | (775) 331-5138 ext. 204
  • Salvation Army | (775) 688-4563
  • St. Vincent's Food Pantry | (775) 786-5266

Crisis Hotlines

  • Crisis Call Center | (775) 784-8090
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline | (800) 273-8255
  • Sexual Assault Supportive Services (SASS) | (775) 784-8090
  • Rape Abuse/Incest/National Network (RAINN) | (800) 931-2273
  • National Eating Disorders Association | (800) 931-2273
  • Trevor Project (LGBTQ+) | (866) 488-7386

Employment Services

  • Nevada Career Studio | (775) 682-7114
  • University Human Resources | (775) 784-1073

Enrollment Services

  • Admissions and Records | (866) 263-8323
  • Cashier's Office | (775) 784-6915
  • Office of International Students & Scholars | (775) 784-6874
  • Student Financial Aid | (775) 784-4666
  • Veterans Services | (775) 682-5929

Health and Wellness Services

  • Fitness & Recreational Sports | (775) 784-1225
  • University Outreach Clinic | (775) 682-8646
  • University Student Health Center | (775) 784-6598

Immigration Services

  • Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada | (775) 329-2727
  • Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada | (702) 383-8387
  • Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada | (775) 800-1851
  • Tu Casa Latina | (775) 432-9929
  • Washoe Legal Services | (775) 329-2727
  • State Bar of Nevada (Find a lawyer) | (800) 789-5741

Legal Services

  • ASUN Legal Services | (775) 784-6132
  • Nevada Legal Services | (775) 284-3491
  • Silver State Council Fair Housing| (775) 324-0990
  • Temporary Protection Order | (775) 328-3468
  • Victims of Crime | (775) 684-4449
  • Washoe Legal Services | (775) 329-2727
  • State Bar of Nevada (Find a lawyer) | (800) 789-5741

Protective Services

  • Equal Opportunity & Title IX Office | (775) 784-1547
  • Victim Advocate (confidential resource) | (775) 771-8724 (call or text)
  • Victims of Crime Treatment Center (confidential resource) | (775) 682-8684

Student Life Services

  • ASUN, Center for Student Engagement | (775) 784-6589
  • Campus Escort | (775) 742-6808
  • Dean of Students Office | (775) 682-6846
  • Fraternity and Sorority Life | (775) 682-6846
  • Motorist Assistance | (775) 784-4654
  • Residential Life, Housing & Food Services | (775) 784-1113
  • Office of Student Conduct | (775) 784-4388
  • Office of Student Persistence Research | (775) 682-6844
  • Study Abroad (USAC) | (7750 784-6569
  • The Center: Every Student. Every Story. | (775) 784-4936
  • University Honors Program | (775) 784-1555