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Reviewing our Campus Climate

Survey Shows Progress, While Issues Remain

The University of Missouri-Kansas City provides a campus climate that almost 80 percent of students, faculty and staff rated as “comfortable” or “very comfortable” in an October 2016 survey.

Despite that finding, however, 17 percent of respondents indicated that they had personally experienced “exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct” because of their position at the university or their ethnicity, age, gender or gender identity. That 17 percent figure is slightly lower than the 20 to 25 percent result that is typical of studies of similar campuses, according to the consultants who produced the survey.

“While the level of overall satisfaction is welcome news, we recognize that we have work to do to ensure that UMKC offers a truly inclusive campus environment that is grounded in mutual respect, and recognizes and values each person’s needs, abilities and potential,” said Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, Interim Chancellor and Provost.

Bichelmeyer identified five broad themes from the survey results that will drive action initiatives that UMKC will launch:

  1. A need to address the concerns of people who experience exclusionary behavior (17 percent of respondents reported this experience)
  2. A need to address student needs for a sense of belonging and social life (34 percent of students reported seriously considering leaving the university; of that group, 40 percent cited a lack of a sense of belonging, and 31 percent cited a lack of social life.)
  3. A need to find ways for staff to voice their concerns and gain professional development opportunities (54 percent of staff reported they considered leaving the university in the past year because of low salaries and/or limited opportunities for advancement)
  4. A need to boost support for faculty research and professional development
  5. A need to address the issue of competitive salaries for faculty and staff (about 50 percent of faculty respondents expressed concerns about salaries and/or research support)
  6. A need to ensure adequate support through counseling and disability services.

The survey was conducted by the Pennsylvania-based consulting firm Rankin & Associates, and produced an overall response rate of more than 25 percent. Results of the survey were presented to students, faculty and staff at an on-campus forum today.

The survey was designed to provide “an assessment of Learning, Living and Working at UMKC.” The goals of the survey, dubbed “Each Voice Counts,” were:

  • To better understand the current campus climate for working and learning at UMKC
  • Uncover any challenges facing members of the campus community
  • To use climate survey data to make improvements that will strengthen the campus environment for all

According to the Rankin and Associates report, “UMKC’s climate findings were consistent with those found in higher education institutions across the country.” Survey results are available at http://info.umkc.edu/climate/.

Other findings included:

  • 74 percent of students “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they felt valued by UMKC faculty
  • 73 percent had faculty they viewed as role models
  • 71 percent believed the campus climate allows discussion of difficult topics
  • 70 percent of tenured and tenure track faculty respondents “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that research was valued at UMKC
  • 86 percent of staff/administrators “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that supervisors gave adequate work-life balance support

Some survey results demonstrated opportunities for improvement that Bichelmeyer said “will drive our action initiatives going forward:”

  • 21 percent of respondents indicated that they had personally experienced exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct because of their ethnicity
  • 20 percent of respondents indicated that they had personally experienced such conduct because of their age
  • 19 percent of respondents indicated that they had personally experienced such conduct because of their gender or gender identity
  • 23 percent of African American respondents, 17 percent of white respondents and 11 percent of Asian respondents indicated that they had personally experienced such conduct
  • Men were significantly more likely to indicate that they were “very comfortable” with the overall climate than were women
  • Hispanic/Latinx and white respondents were significantly more likely to be “very comfortable” with the overall UMKC climate that were other racial groups
  • Heterosexual faculty and students were significantly more likely to be “very comfortable” than LGBT respondents with the climate in their classes

“We intend to use these survey findings to develop sustained action initiatives to be implemented university-wide,” said Susan B. Wilson, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion at UMKC. “All stakeholders – students, faculty and staff – will be invited to engage in these post-survey initiatives.”

Similar surveys were conducted at the other three campuses of the University of Missouri System and the UM System offices; the System, Missouri University of Science & Technology, Mizzou and the University of Missouri-St. Louis are also sharing their survey results this week.

“Some of these findings will be positive, some of them indicate we have work to do,” said Dr. Mun Choi, president of the UM System. “All of them are important as we work toward an equitable and accessible campus community, where inclusion and diversity thrive.”


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