Climate Survey

The university conducted a climate survey with all students, faculty and staff about their experiences on campus. The responses help administrators gauge our campus climate, and as a result, they will develop solutions to improve inclusivity and respect at UMKC.

Dedicated to Improving Campus Climate

Seniors leaders at UMKC have made a commitment to improving campus climate at UMKC. The survey data is being used to develop immediate and sustained action initiatives to be implemented university-wide.

Even though the survey is complete, your role continues. All stakeholders – students, faculty and staff – are invited to participate in the development of these post-survey action initiatives.

Survey Details

Why is this a population survey and not a sample survey?
The survey was administered to all faculty and staff at UMKC. Climate exists in microclimates, so creating opportunities to maximize participation is important, as well as maximizing opportunities to reach minority populations. Along these lines, the consultant recommended not using random sampling which may miss particular populations where numbers are very small (e.g., Native American faculty). Since one goal of the project is inclusiveness and allowing invisible voices to be heard, this sampling technique is not used. In addition, randomized stratified sampling was not used because we do not have population data on most identities. For example, UMKC collects population data on gender and race/ethnicity but not on disability status or sexual orientation, so a sample approach could miss many groups.
How were the questions developed?
The survey consultant has administered climate assessments to more than 150 institutions across the nation and developed a repository of tested questions. To assist in contextualizing the survey for UMKC and to capitalize on the many assessment efforts already undertaken, the Climate Survey Working Group was formed and consisted of faculty, staff and student representatives from various constituent groups at UMKC. The committee was responsible for developing the survey questions. The team reviewed selected survey questions from the consultant’s tested collection and also included UMKC-specific questions.
Why do some demographic questions contain a very large number of response options?
It is important in campus climate research for survey participants to see themselves in response choices to prevent “othering” an individual or an individual’s characteristics. Some researchers maintain that assigning someone to the status of “other” is a form of marginalization and should be minimized, particularly in campus climate research, which has an intended purpose of inclusiveness. Along these lines, survey respondents will see a long list of possible choices for many demographic questions. It is impossible to include every possible choice to every question, but the goal is to reduce the number of respondents who must choose “other.”
What is the Institutional Review Board process for this study?
The primary investigator from UMKC for the Institutional Review Board process is Amy Prettejohn, assistant director of Institutional Research.
What will be included in the final summary reports?
The consultant provided a final report that includes: an executive summary; a report narrative of the findings based on cross tabulations selected by the consultant; frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations of quantitative data; and content analysis of the textual data. The reports provide high-level summaries of the findings and identifies themes found in the data. Generalizations for populations are limited to those groups or subgroups with response rates of at least 30 percent. The committee reviewed draft reports and provided feedback to the consultant prior to public release.
What protections are in place for storage of sensitive data, including for future secondary use?
UMKC worked with the consultant to develop a research data security description and protocol, which includes specific information on data encryption, the handling of personally identifiable information, physical security and a protocol for handling unlikely breaches of data security. The data from online participants was submitted to a secure server hosted by the consultant. The survey was run on a firewalled web server with forced 256-bit SSL security and is stored on a SQL database that can only be accessed locally. The server itself may only be accessed using encrypted SSH connections originating from the local network. Rankin & Associates Consulting project coordinator Susan Rankin has access to the raw data, along with several Rankin & Associates data analysts. All Rankin & Associates analysts have CITI (Human Subjects) training and approval and have worked on similar projects for other institutions. The web server runs with the SE-Linux security extensions that were developed by the National Security Agency. The server is also in RAID to highly reduce the chance of any data loss due to hardware failure. The server performs a nightly security audit from data acquired via the system logs and notifies the administrators. The number of system administrators will be limited, and each will have had required background checks.

The consultant has conducted more than 150 institutional surveys and maintains an aggregate merged database. The data from the UMKC project was merged with all other existing climate data stored indefinitely on the consultant’s secure server. No institutional identifiers are included in the full merged data set held by the consultant. The raw unit-level data with institutional identifiers was kept on the server for six months and then destroyed. The paper-and-pencil surveys were returned to the consultant directly and kept in a locked file drawer in a locked office. The consultant destroyed the paper-and-pencil responses after they are merged with the online data. The consultant will notify the committee chairs of any breach or suspected breach of data security of the consultant’s server.

The consultant will provide UMKC with a data file at the completion of the project.

Why were some terms redacted from the full report?
 In any survey of this type, some comments may use or incorporate hurtful epithets. We do not wish to repeat those terms, so the University has redacted from the Rankin & Associates reports portions of comments using such language. In these instances, only the hurtful language has been redacted; the substance of the comment has been retained. The university will consider the entirety of the report and all the underlying data and comments as we build on our efforts to foster an outstanding and welcoming climate for work and learning.
How can I request the climate data for research as a UMKC constituent?
If you are a UMKC constituent and are interested in using the data for research, please complete a proposal form and email it to Dr. Makini King in the Division of Diversity and Inclusion. A committee will review the proposal to determine whether the research question can be examined with the current data. Approval of climate data use is separate from Institutional Review Board approval. All research on human-subjects, including research that uses UMKC Climate Survey data, requires IRB approval. Questions and proposals can be directed to Makini King.


The full Climate Survey report was released to the campus on Sept. 18, 2017.