Social Climate Survey set to relaunch

University community encouraged to take part in retooled assessment of diversity
By Staff

A revamped CU Social Climate Survey is expected to be distributed this week after the Board of Regents and administrators made changes to the instrument in the wake of concerns about the previous version’s level of identifying information.

The survey initially launched April 2. Regents and administrators soon heard a variety of feedback from Faculty Council and others that the amount of detailed demographic information the survey asked for could potentially identify particular respondents. Because of the perception, faculty leaders suggested that some members of the university community might not take the survey.

“The survey is a priority of the Board of Regents, and we appreciated that the faculty brought us their concerns through the shared governance process,” said Michael Carrigan, chair of the Board of Regents. “We want to be sure the survey is as accurate as possible.

“Even though members of the CU community may have taken the previous survey, I strongly encourage them to take the revised version,” he said. “It’s important that everyone’s voice is heard.”

Regents, administrators and faculty members (including Faculty Council Chair Melinda Piket-May) worked with the vendor administering the survey, McLaughlin and Associates, to revise the demographic section and some questions. The primary changes are combining administrative and academic units, making the groups larger, to address concerns that responses at a departmental level would identify respondents. Additionally, some demographic data was revised. For example, rather than ask a responder’s specific age, the survey now provides ranges such as 46-55.

Data from the first survey has been destroyed, said Patrick O’Rourke, general counsel and secretary to the Board of Regents. He echoed Carrigan’s comments that even though members of the university community may have taken the previous version, they should take it again.

Boulder Faculty Assembly Chair Paul Chinowsky said he believes faculty concerns have been addressed in the revised version.

“We as faculty really appreciate the board taking our concerns seriously and addressing them through modification of the survey,” he said. “Suspending the survey and rewriting the demographic part was a great example of shared governance and we hope that will continue throughout the survey process.”

The survey is expected to be open for the next two to three weeks. Carrigan said the board has no preconceived notions about how it may act on results.

“The data are intended to be a benchmark to understand if the university is meeting its goal of being a tolerant and inclusive learning and working environment,” he said. “The board anticipates that there may be additional surveys in the future to measure against that benchmark to see how we are faring.”

Chinowsky said faculty anticipate continuing engagement in the process.

“We look forward to working with the board and administration in addressing any climate concerns that emerge as part of this process,” he said.

The Social Climate Survey originated with a regent resolution in September, 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.