UMKC is committed to ensuring that faculty, staff and students feel welcome and learn, live and work in a diverse and inclusive university environment. The idea to conduct a climate survey originated from interested students, faculty and staff who believed data from such a survey might be useful in planning for the future and improving the UMKC climate.
The first climate survey was conducted in 2006. As a result of this project, several new actions taken by UMKC included, but were not limited to:
- Chancellor’s Diversity Council engaging in a campus-wide, diversity strategic planning process
- The creation of the Division of Diversity and Inclusion
In addition, one of the university’s goals became, “Embrace diversity in all aspects of university life, creating inclusive environments, culturally competent citizens, and globally oriented curricula and programs.” Learn more about UMKC’s vision, mission and goals.
Diversity Strategic Plan
Specific strategies for ensuring that we achieve our goal are outlined in the 2014 Diversity Strategic Plan, a document prepared by a broad-based campus group of faculty, staff and students who serve on the Chancellor’s Diversity Council. The Diversity Council facilitated dozens of focus groups and spent months crafting the plan, which guides all of our university-wide diversity efforts. Read the plan in full.
One of the key goals in the Diversity Strategic Plan was to periodically conduct a new climate survey. The last climate survey was conducted in 2006. Preparation for the new survey began fall 2014, and after a review of potential vendors, UMKC contracted with Rankin & Associates in spring 2015.
Implementing the Survey
The Climate Survey Working Group, which includes a cross section of students, faculty and staff, was charged with conducting UMKC’s climate survey.
Rankin & Associates reported directly to the committee. The committee — in consultation with Rankin & Associates — was solely responsible for the development, implementation and interpretation of the survey and its results.
Susan Rankin, Ph.D., of Rankin & Associates Consulting, was the consultant working directly with UMKC on the climate survey. Rankin is an emeritus faculty member of Education Policy Studies and College Student Affairs at Pennsylvania State University and a senior research associate in the Center for the Study of Higher Education. She has extensive experience in institutional climate assessment and institutional climate transformation based on data-driven action and strategic planning. Rankin has conducted multi-location institutional climate studies at more than 150 institutions across the country.
Rankin developed and utilizes the Transformational Tapestry model as a research design for campus climate studies. The model is a “comprehensive, five-phase strategic model of assessment, planning and intervention. The model is designed to assist campus communities in conducting inclusive assessments of their institutional climate to better understand the challenges facing their respective communities.” (Rankin & Reason, 2008).
Survey Best Practice
In reviewing efforts by other universities to conduct comprehensive climate studies, several best practices were identified. One was the need for external expertise in survey administration. The administration of a survey relating to a very sensitive subject like campus climate is likely to yield higher response rates and provide more credible findings if led by an independent, outside agency. Members of a university community may feel particularly inhibited to respond honestly to a survey administered by their own institution for fear of retaliation.