Climate surveys are commonly used tools in higher education to assess how University culture, particularly in regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), is experienced by faculty, staff, and students (Harper, 2008; Harper & Hurtado, 2007; Hurtado, 1992; Hurtado et al., 1998; Peters & Benitez, Jr., 2017). This data can be used to inform interventions to improve the retention of faculty, staff, and students and support institutions of higher education in achieving their DEI goals (Williams, 2013).
A Campus Climate Survey was distributed last spring to assess campus culture with the aim of shaping programming and policies at MSU Denver. The survey was distributed via email to nearly 20,000 MSU Denver students, faculty, staff members, and administrators in tandem with robust communications and outreach efforts to encourage participation. A total of 1,824 responses were received from 1,012 students (5.8% response rate), 412 faculty members (25.5% response rate), 387 staff members (43.7% response rate) and 13 administrators (61.9% response rate).
Initial analysis of quantitative and qualitative data indicates several key findings regarding how members of different identity groups experience belonging and inclusivity at MSU Denver. Central to these early analyses are the experiences of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals, LGBTQAI+ people, people with disabilities, and veterans. We provided limited analyses of administrators in the interest of preserving confidentiality with a small sample size.
The comparison report, prepared by the independent research group Viewfinder, summarizes the survey results. The survey included 14 sections that examined various aspects of campus diversity, equity and inclusion at MSU Denver, with four versions customized to each specific audience: students, faculty, staff or administrators. Many questions across the four surveys are the same on two or more surveys. The comparison report provides comparative data across the four groups surveyed on the same questions; however, some questions were version-specific and therefore could not be compared.
Overall, our findings showed promising responses regarding campus belonging, commitment to diversity efforts and actionable insights on satisfaction and retention. Findings indicate that faculty and staff value and appreciate the diversity of our student body and employee representation and the University’s commitment to diversity. Conversely, findings do point to dissatisfaction among faculty and staff with an adequate salary, heavy workload, among other aspects of their experience at MSU Denver with 14% of faculty and 13% of staff indicating they want to quit their jobs, and 76% of faculty and 64% of staff indicating they love their jobs.
Findings also indicate that fewer Hispanic/Latina/o and Black/African American identified faculty (as compared to White or Asian identified faculty) and fewer cisgender women staff (as compared to cisgender men) disclosed feelings of belonging on campus. In contrast, students described varying degrees of belonging on campus with BIPOC identified students and LGBTQAI+ students describing more positive experiences of belonging.
Further executive summaries addressing the climate survey results for students, staff, and faculty will be forthcoming later this Spring 2022 semester.
The Campus Climate Survey Committee will inform subsequent analyses of these data, although multiple stakeholders in the MSU Denver community will be consulted to ensure that the analyses are relevant to our stakeholders (e.g., Senior Leadership Team, Staff Senate, Faculty Senate, Student Affairs, Council of Chairs and Directors). During this academic year, we also plan to assess the strengths and limitations of this Campus Climate survey, with an eye toward revising it for the next iteration of the Campus Climate Survey for the 2022-23 academic year.
In November 2009, former President Stephen Jordan charged MSU Denver’s new Campus Climate Survey Committee with developing and administering a comprehensive employee and student Campus Climate Survey. We continue to conduct, and have expanded, these surveys, and the results are utilized to create and implement strategies to improve the campus climate for all faculty, staff, and students.
These surveys are one way to hear from you about what’s working and what’s not, so we can improve MSU Denver. These surveys were administered by ModernThink and results of the past surveys are available below.