A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Campus Climate Survey Opens at UC Merced

January 30, 2013

Think your voice doesn’t matter? Think again.

Starting today (Feb. 1), faculty, staff and students at UC Merced have a unique opportunity to share their insight by participating in the UC’s Campus Climate Survey.

The systemwide effort, believed to be the largest campus climate survey ever conducted in American higher education, is seeking feedback from more than 430,000 individuals about their experiences at the UC.

Students, faculty and staff from all 10 campuses, five medical centers, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Office of the President are invited to take the survey to gauge the UC’s institutional climate. Survey results will be used to assess the learning, living and working environments for those who go to school or work at the UC.

“It is critically important to know the pulse of the campus,” said Fuji Collins, UC Merced’s assistant vice chancellor for student health and wellness and co-chair of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion. “It is important that everyone in our community take this survey because everyone is a valuable member of our university. Taking the survey will help us understand the issues we face and will ultimately make UC Merced an even more welcoming and supportive community.”

The survey takes about 15 to 30 minutes to complete, and responses are confidential. All campus community members with a UCMercedNetID should have received an email from campusclimate.ucop.edu that included a personal link to the survey. Those who don’t finish in one sitting can come back to it later, until the survey close date (two to four weeks after it opens). For those without computer access, paper surveys are available in English and Spanish and can be obtained by emailing campusclimate@ucmerced.edu.

Although the survey is voluntary, everyone is urged to take part in order to provide a more complete picture of the UC’s institutional climate. Each site will receive a report detailing the survey results, and UC Merced’s is expected to be available later this year. A systemwide report will be compiled as well. The data will be used to assess campus climate with a goal of developing or changing policies and programs to foster a healthy and welcoming learning, working and living environment.

While organizers would like to see everyone participate, 30 percent response rate will provide adequate results for assessment. Meanwhile, several UC institutions that have already taken the survey exceeded that expectation with the Office of the President achieving 80 percent and UCSF with 42 percent.

To further encourage broad participation, incentive prizes are being offered systemwide and locally to those who complete the survey during the first two weeks.

Systemwide prizes are:

  • One $10,000 undergraduate scholarship
  • Two $5,000 graduate (academic or professional) stipends
  • Two $5,000 faculty research grants
  • Five $2,000 staff professional development grants
  • Two iPads for each location

In addition, UC Merced is offering five Apple iPad minis and ten $50 Campus Bookstore gift certificates. Respondents must complete the survey by Feb. 15 to be eligible for any prizes. Merced, Berkeley and Riverside are the last UC campuses to take the survey.

The survey was developed in collaboration between each UC location, the Office of the President’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusions and Susan Rankin of Rankin & Associates, a firm that has extensive experience with campus climate assessment. Rankin & Associates have administered campus climate surveys at more than 100 college and university systems across the United States. Rankin is a professor emeritus at Pennsylvania State University.

Campus climate came into focus after a number of highly-charged racial, religious and cultural instances at some UC campuses in 2009 and 2010. As a result, President Yudof named a systemwide Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion and each campus established its own committee.

Collins and other committee members have been busily preparing for the survey and getting the word out to the campus community though social media, announcements, posters and word of mouth. The committee also had buttons made that read, “I matter, I took the survey, I count.”  The buttons, as well as “I Matter” wristbands, are available at the Office of Student Life and on the campus mall at a tabling.

Studies have shown that how students experience their campus’s environment influences learning and developmental outcomes. Students thrive in healthy learning environments where inclusion, tolerance and respect for diversity are the norm.

Fostering a positive campus climate is just as important for faculty, staff and administrators, as there is a direct correlation between workplace discrimination and negative job and career attitudes. Employees are more likely to feel personally and professionally supported in a healthy work environment. 

“UC Merced is committed to creating a welcoming environment that is safe and nurtures all segments of our richly diverse campus community,” Collins said. “The survey is an important step in ensuring we create a climate that fosters excellence opportunity for everyone.”

More detailed information about the survey is located on the systemwide campus climate survey website.