Message from the Interim Chief Diversity Officer
May 8, 2019
Dear UMD Community:
In the spring of 2018, the University launched its inaugural campus climate survey where faculty, students, and staff were invited to participate. This effort was commissioned by the former Interim Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer and assisted by an independent consultant contracted to design the survey, analyze the survey data, and report key findings.
During the summer of 2018, we received and shared with the campus a Preliminary Report from the consultant that included information about, but not limited to, the survey design, data collection protocols, demographics of respondents, and preliminary themes and conclusions. At the end of the fall 2018 semester, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) received the final report from the consultant. Over the past several months, a core working group was convened, including ODI's leadership team and expert faculty across campus. The focus of the workgroup during this time has been to review the content of the report, discuss key findings and recommendations, and identify ways the report can be best utilized.
Key findings of the Final Climate Study Report include respondents' reporting of:
- The overall perception of campus climate
- The value and commitment of diversity and inclusion across campus
- Experiences of offensive conduct
- Physical and emotional safety
- Sense of belonging
- Response to hate/bias incidents, and
- Hate speech as a First Amendment right.
Sharing the data and findings with our community in an easy-to-understand format has been a priority for ODI. To that end, the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment (IRPA) designed an interactive report where users can view the study's results based on the respondents' reported affiliation with the University - student, faculty, or staff - as well as their disability status, gender identity, political orientation, race/ethnicity, religious/spiritual identity, and sexual orientation. Protecting anonymity and confidentiality of responses has also been critically important. No group with fewer than five respondents are shown and only one demographic group can be shown at a time. Access to the interactive report can be found on ODI's and IRPA's websites.
A total of 7,027 respondents completed the survey out of a sample of 48, 282 faculty, staff, and students. The respondents represented 21% of faculty, 34% of staff, and 11% of students. The number of respondents does not include responses tagged as unusable, which would include respondents that did not give consent to taking the survey or incomplete surveys. A goal for any future survey would be to increase the response rate.
While a large proportion of our community reported positive experiences related to climate, a disproportionate number reported experiences of feeling marginalized and detached. This data was particularly evident among people of color, women, and gender non-binary individuals. I urge members of our campus to use the survey data to ask questions and draw insights about our community's experience, particularly for those whom feel marginalized. The climate study findings and recommendations should also be considered in conjunction with key findings and recommendations from the Joint Task Force on Inclusion and Respect as well as the External Review of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Assets.
Next steps about the survey data, reporting, and continued administration will be decided under the leadership of our recently announced Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Georgina Dodge, who will begin this new role in June. Until then, I want to encourage members of our community to read through the final report, particularly key findings. Take time and seek to understand what respondents shared about their experiences. Consider infrastructures, resources, and practices that promote a continued commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. Engage with others to examine what more can be done to build a more welcoming and inclusive campus where all members feel a sense of belonging and pride.
Finally, I would like to thank the campus for their patience in the delivery of the final report and findings. It was my priority to exercise due diligence. I would especially like to thank our colleagues in IRPA for developing the interactive report so that members of our community can have access to the survey data. I would also like to thank ODI's leadership team and expert faculty across campus for their insights, interpretations, and recommendations.
Interim Chief Diversity Officer