Campus climate survey results show comfortable, progressing campus

Emil Cunningham, a senior executive associate for Rankin & Associates, presented UMSL’s 2016 campus climate survey results to about 100 campus community members today at a town hall on campus. (Photo by August Jennewein)

The University of Missouri­–St. Louis has a comfortable climate and an especially comfortable classroom environment according to its campus climate survey results presented today by Rankin & Associates at a campus town hall.

  • 75 percent were comfortable or very comfortable with the overall climate on campus
  • 84 percent were comfortable or very comfortable with classroom climate.

“That’s high,” Rankin Senior Executive Associate Emil Cunningham said of the classroom statistic during his presentation. “That’s higher than what we find nationally, so something is going on in the classroom that works for students and faculty.”

Cunningham also pointed to a high number of respondents (70 percent) who felt that UMSL was willing to engage in tough conversations.

“You did such a good job of tackling the last report,” he said. “Do that again.”

UMSL conducted its first-ever campus climate survey in 2012, allowing the university to acknowledge where it was succeeding and work on areas of concern.

The fall 2016 campus climate survey offered UMSL the opportunity to check in on that progress. Overall, 11 percent of faculty, staff and students responded to the survey, a significant enough number to assess the living, learning and working environment at the university.

While UMSL’s results reiterated its comfortable campus climate, they also showed continued opportunities to improve inclusivity.

People of color shared they were less comfortable than their white counterparts and that they, along with LGBT respondents, felt a higher degree of exclusion and perceived harassment and/or discrimination. The survey also revealed gender equity issues, with women saying they experienced exclusionary conduct on the basis of their gender. Additionally, low employee morale was prevalent.

“We celebrate our strengths but also our challenges and opportunities,” said UMSL Chancellor Tom George after the presentation. “We’ve already started to make some progress.”

Steps that are underway or planned include:

  • Reorganization of offices of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Human Resources
    • DEI concentrates on DEI promotion, training, consulting and UM System initiatives – including Inclusive Excellence Framework project
    • Hired LGBTQ coordinator [with Gender Studies]
    • HR handles complaints and investigations related to discrimination, harassment and Title IX
  • Balanced budget led to merit salary increases determined by new HR-driven formula
    • $2.5 million set aside for campus-wide compensation increases
    • HR established formula for increases factoring in both performance review results and distance to position’s mid-point
    • HR visited with each unit to calibrate performance reviews to better enhance consistency and fairness
    • Introducing “One Love”, a film-based workshop that focuses on eliminating relationship abuse by educating students about healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors

The findings will continue to inform additional institutional policies and practices moving forward.

The presentation of UMSL’s 2016 survey results completed a series by Rankin & Associates, which unveiled its analysis of similar campus climate surveys conducted at UMSL’s sister campuses ­– UMKC, Mizzou and Missouri S&T – and the University of Missouri System. The presentations took place throughout the week at each campus with UM System President Mun Choi joining in.

“We have some work to do – work we have to accomplish collectively,” said Choi via telepresence at UMSL’s town hall. “But we must reaffirm our commitment to embracing the diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives of each individual.”

Slides from Rankin & Associates’ presentation, as well as an executive summary of the report, will be posted on http://umsl.edu/climate/. The full report will be released Sept. 18 and posted to the website.

The UMSL Experience

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