New social climate survey might launch in early 2019

Faculty Council hears update on follow-up to 2014 effort

A follow-up to the 2014 social climate survey led by the CU Board of Regents could launch as early as the first quarter of 2019, the Faculty Council heard at its Oct. 25 meeting at 1800 Grant St.

Patrick O’Rourke, vice president, university counsel and secretary of the board, spoke by phone during the meeting, summarizing recommendations he’s making to the regents and asking for faculty input.

While regents, administration and faculty found the earlier survey’s findings useful, in terms of identifying positives and areas where improvement is possible, O’Rourke said leadership later determined the survey had limitations that could be improved upon. The survey did not identify who engages in prejudicial or discriminatory conduct, where it occurs – nor what constitutes such conduct. The survey – which was distributed to all students, faculty and staff – also was too long, he said, requiring 30 minutes or more to complete.

For the next survey, O’Rourke is suggesting that the Diversity Engagement Survey, developed in part by the Association of American Medical Colleges, be considered as a model.

O’Rourke has recommended that the regents’ governance committee appoint a working group that includes regents, senior administrators and faculty representatives to review the past survey and consider alternatives for the next one.

Faculty Council Chair Joanne Addison said the governance group will continue to work with leadership on the matter in hopes of achieving “actionable results in the spring.”

In other business at last week’s Faculty Council meeting:

  • The council heard an update on the Faculty Housing Assistance Program, in which the university has backed 444 loans for $31.2 million since January 2004. The benefit consists of two loan programs available to tenure and tenure-track faculty: one is a shared-appreciation loan (up to 30 years) of up to $80,000, which is essentially an interest-free loan; a share of the house appreciation is due back to the university at sell, employee departure, decision to retire second mortgage, or other disposition for these loans; the other is a loan guarantee, where the CU Foundation acts as an additional party in a loan from lender to home buyer, guaranteeing the loan. Dan Wilson, CU treasurer, chief investment officer and associate vice president for budget and finance, said leadership is considering increasing the $80,000 cap, which has been in place for a decade. Also being considered is the offering of a home equity line of credit through Elevations FCU, the program’s loan provider, for participating FHAP faculty homeowners based on their assessment of the need and homeowner credit factors.

  • Addison noted that the Board of Regents last week chose not to expand its Presidential Search Committee, nor did it appoint a campus-based Chief Diversity Officer to the committee, as the council and its Ethnic and Minority Affairs Committee had requested. “I still think our memo was really valuable,” she said. “When I took it to the search committee chairs, it led to a really good conversation about our priorities and what we’d like to see in the next president.” Addison is among the faculty members named to the search committee.