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The attainment of a positive, inclusive, healthy campus climate is an important one for colleges and universities—and, in particular, for our College that prides itself that one of our core values is diversity. The College has not systematically assessed the campus climate for students, faculty and staff in more than a decade. While we have utilized some institutional data to assess the current state of affairs on our campus regarding diversity and inclusion, that information is limited. The current strategic plan for diversity calls for a campus climate study to assist in establishing baseline data and set goals and strategies related to diversity and inclusion.
Although three minor studies have been conducted to evaluate campus climate in the last decade, the College does not have that essential data. The first study, produced by a College Senate subcommittee, tried to take “the pulse of employees’ pride, morale, and stress levels” (Executive Summary report, fall 2000). The Better Community Coalition polled faculty, staff, and students in Fall 2000 about their perceptions regarding diversity; but, this study’s sample was relatively small and its methodology undocumented. The third study summarized feedback from a 2004 focus group convened to discuss what they thought the College could do to recruit and retain more black faculty, staff, and students.
As your College President, I recognize the importance of a healthy campus climate and called for the development of a Campus Climate Survey in my August 23, 2011 convocation address. I stated that, “this will include—and this applies to all of us—; something this campus has apparently not seen since 1995. It's time!”
The Strategic Plan for Diversity outlines seven goals, one of which is to “improve the College climate for students, faculty, and staff.” This goal is critically important, because a healthy campus climate in which diverse people feel welcomed, respected, and valued facilitates effective collaboration among faculty and staff and enables diverse students to adjust to college and achieve academic success. A healthy climate also helps attract and retain good students, faculty, and staff. Assessing and documenting our progress towards these goals becomes a critical component of our work.
Existing data streams do not adequately cover the whole campus community (i.e., graduate students, faculty, and staff are absent), nor comprehensively illuminate its climate as it is usually defined (i.e., a person’s subjective sense of feeling welcome, respected and valued). Additionally, we have no way of ascertaining the perceptions of those persons from other important groups that may or may not feel marginalized, including those based on sexual orientation, ability status, or religious or political orientations among others, even though such people may be “present” in our data. Even for race and ethnicity, depending on the information source (namely surveys), it is not always possible to provide robust comparisons of all relevant groups because of sample sizes.
It is clear from our recent strategic planning efforts, Middle States report and progress with assessment that a campus climate study is a needed next step. The 2011-2016 Strategic Plan for the College, Strategic Plan for Diversity, and the College Senate, endorsement of “Guiding Principles for Diversity at The College atBrockport,” reinforce our commitment to the core principle: “We value human diversity because it enriches our lives, and it is fundamental to the College’s commitment to teaching, learning, scholarship and service leading to student success.”
A college community needs to be inclusive. We lack a systematic, current, in-depth investigation of our campus climate. To accomplish the goals of the campus climate study, the Diversity committee will work with the appropriate offices on campus to secure the services of an external consultant team that will assist us in shaping, administering and analyzing a campus climate survey.
Charge to the Task Force
The task force is charged with:
- working with the consultant to derive best practices for conducting a campus climate survey and to formulate a timeline to conduct focus groups and develop the assessment tool with the goal of administering focus groups in spring 2013, the survey in fall 2013, and delivering a detailed analysis and report by spring 2014;
- reviewing the literature and examine existing data available through the various reporting mechanisms at the College;
- assisting with organizing focus groups and working with consultant to developing methodology for collecting feedback from focus groups;
- assisting with analyzing focus group data to identify themes and issues to be further explored in the written survey;
- facilitating meetings and providing feedback to external consultant and College leadership;
- facilitating campus dialog on the results of the campus climate survey;
- providing support to the consultant team spearheading the campus climate study;
- identifying barriers to the implementation of the campus climate study and developing strategies for overcoming these barriers; and
- keeping the College community informed and engaged about the task force progress and process as it carries out the charge. Avenues for broad input should be sought.
Task Force Membership
- Co-chairs faculty (1), staff (1)
- Brockport Student Government/ Undergraduate Student Representative (1)
- College Senate Representative (1)
- Graduate Student (1)
- UUP Representative (1)
- CSEA Representative (1)
- Representatives from Academic Affairs (5), EMSA (3), Administration and Finance (3), Advancement (1), Office of the President (1)
- Ex-Officio members – Assistant Provost for Diversity; Director of Research, Analysis and Planning