Social Climate Survey to return soon

After feedback, leadership determining how best to ensure confidentiality
By Staff

The CU Board of Regents is expected to launch a revised and updated Social Climate Survey in the coming days after Faculty Council expressed concerns about the level of identifying information in the original version that was distributed to the University of Colorado community last week.

The university temporarily suspended the survey on Friday following a discussion at a previously scheduled Faculty Council meeting, during which faculty leaders expressed some concern about the survey methodology. The most significant was that the amount of detailed demographic information contained in the survey would potentially identify particular respondents. Because of this perception, the faculty leaders were concerned that some members of the university community might not take the survey, even if the results were not reported at a high level of specificity.

“The Board of Regents hired an outside vendor to conduct the survey to ensure that the data was appropriately maintained and not used for inappropriate purposes. Nonetheless, when the faculty presented their concerns through shared governance channels, the board respected those concerns and took immediate action to address them,” said Board of Regents Chair Michael Carrigan. “For this survey to succeed, we want every student, faculty member and employee to feel comfortable taking the survey, knowing that their opinions matter and will bring about positive changes.”

Carrigan disputed a report in Wednesday’s (Boulder) Daily Camera that claimed there was an “uproar” at CU over the survey. Carrigan said that, other than Faculty Council concerns that were respectfully raised and quickly addressed, the board has had very little feedback from students, faculty or staff. He also said while there will always be those who take issue with such a broad-based survey, he is optimistic for a good result from the next iteration, a view he said Faculty Council shares.

“Faculty governance has committed to us that they share the desire that the Social Climate Survey succeed,” Carrigan said.

Faculty Council Chair Melinda Piket-May said the council appreciates the responsiveness of regents and administrators. She met to suggest improvements with Carrigan, Regent Vice Chair Sue Sharkey, Secretary to the Board Patrick O’Rourke and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathleen Bollard.

“Faculty Council identified key areas of concern and suggested modifications,” Piket-May said. “We let them know what we were hearing and they quickly responded.”

O’Rourke said he is working with the vendor, McLaughlin and Associates, on modifications and he expects the survey to relaunch within a week. More than 5,000 surveys were completed in the three days it was open last week, and O’Rourke said he is in discussions with McLaughlin about what to do with the completed surveys. In the meantime, the source data has been locked down.

The Social Climate Survey originated with a regent resolution in June, which passed unanimously, that aims to determine how well the CU community is meeting the university’s guiding principle and core value of promoting diversity in all its forms. While surveys have been conducted previously on campuses, this is the first that attempts to measure progress on a systemwide basis.