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December 12, 2003

Survey is one step to campus diversity plan

by Anne Krapfl
A survey that will gauge the campus climate for inclusiveness of diverse groups, originally scheduled to take place in late November, has been rescheduled to begin the week of Jan. 19. The survey project is coordinated by the climate assessment subcommittee of the President's Advisory Committee on Diversity.

Approximately 8,300 faculty, staff and students will receive e-mails on Jan. 19, inviting them to complete the 64-question survey online by Feb. 13. The survey is on a secure Web site housed by Susan Rankin, the consultant hired for this project. Rankin also works as a diversity planning analyst at Pennsylvania State University.

The purpose of the survey is to gather data as the basis for a campus master plan on diversity. As part of her work, Rankin will recommend changes that will enhance the ISU campus climate, based on survey results and Iowa State's record of what sorts of things do and don't work at this school. Those recommendations might include changes to: policy (for example, hiring and promotion), how or where resources are allocated and administrative structures. They also could include suggestions for symbolic actions, such as recognitions or awards for employees or students.

Rankin will share initial results of the survey late in the spring semester. Her final report and recommendations are due next September.

Todd Herriott, coordinator of ISU Disability Resources and chair of the climate subcommittee, emphasized that the survey responses will be kept anonymous and confidential. Even in the case in which one's demographics would seem to make him or her identifiable, he said, no information will be released publicly that would identify an individual.

"I encourage people to recognize this as the opportunity it is," Herriott said. "We have a president who has said diversity is a priority. Now is our greatest opportunity to make changes." Iowa State's last campus climate survey was done in November 1993.

The sample population asked to complete the survey will include:
  • All administrators and faculty
  • All staff and students of color
  • All staff and students with disabilities
  • Self-identified LGBT and self-identified religious minority individuals in the campus community. These groups will be reached through "snowball" sampling -- word-of-mouth invitation, with the intent of oversampling a minority group.
  • Random samples of both international students and students who do not self-identify as members of underrepresented groups.
  • Random sample of staff (P&S, merit, contract) who do not self-identify as members of underrepresented groups.
Questions about the climate survey may be directed to Herriott, 4-8369.

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