Sept. 29, 2011

Survey: ISU still is a great place to work and learn

by Paula Van Brocklin

Last February, staff from the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost asked faculty, staff and students to complete the third University Life Survey since 2007. The 2011 survey results are compiled and the responses are positive and consistent with the previous two surveys, despite three years of budget cuts.

Response rate

The 2011 survey was sent to 30,559 faculty, staff and students via email. A total of 7,273 people responded for a 23.8 percent response rate. The 2009 response rate was just over 20 percent. By demographic, professional and scientific staff responded most often (59.16 percent), followed by faculty (47.98 percent), merit staff (40.12 percent), graduate students (27.49 percent) and undergraduate students (16.12 percent). More people answered the 2011 survey in all demographic categories than in 2009.

High marks

As in 2007 and 2009, the 2011 survey shows a majority of faculty, staff and students think ISU is a great place to work and learn. In 2011, 68 percent gave the university's working environment high marks, and 88 percent agreed ISU is a great place to learn.

Another topic that received more positive responses in 2011 than in 2009 include Iowa State's commitment to conserving natural resources (59.7 percent versus 46.4 percent). Questions related to the university's athletics programs also garnered more positive responses in 2011 than in 2009. For example, 53.8 percent of respondents agreed that ISU's athletic programs strive for integrity, an 18 percent jump since 2007.

Consistent goals

Respondents also were asked to choose the top three of nine university life sub goals they felt were most important to the university. Just as in 2007 and 2009, the same three goals rose to the top.

  • Recruit and retain faculty, staff and students who are dedicated to individual and organizational excellence and achievement.
  • Foster an environment in which all members of the university community can contribute their fullest while pursuing satisfying personal lives.
  • Achieve a sustainable balance between responsibilities and resources that will allow the university to efficiently and effectively realize its vision.

The fourth-highest overall goal -- expand the diversity of people, ideas and cultures, and nurture an environment in which diversity can thrive -- was chosen as the top priority by graduate students and minorities.

Executive vice president and provost Elizabeth Hoffman said she is pleased with the survey's outcome, but concedes there still is work to do.

"We have increased overall satisfaction in the areas of athletics, being a great place to learn, sustainability and the environment, and recruitment and retention of faculty, staff and students," she said. "But going forward, we need to improve our campus work environment, our optimal resource allocation and our external connections with alumni and friends."

A summary of the 2011 survey results is available online.