University climate to be measured

SVSU’s climate has absolutely nothing to do with the weather conditions prevailing in University Center, but a group composed of students, faculty and staff is collaborating with an outside consulting agency to develop a survey to measure it.

Rankin & Associates Consulting assists campuses and organizations in assessing their environments for learning and working and also in identifying their successes and strengths along with potential best practices for addressing challenges.

Susan Rankin is the principal for Rankin & Associates and has worked with more than 70 institutions and organizations since 2000.

According to Rankin, “(a university’s climate) is the current attitudes, behaviors, standards and practices of employees and students of an institution. The climate is often shaped through personal experiences, perceptions and institutional efforts.”

To examine SVSU’s campus climate and develop a strategic plan for future initiatives to improve the climate, a Climate Study Working Group, which includes a cross-section of students, faculty and staff; is conducting a climate survey.

The process of drawing up preliminary versions of the survey began several months ago.

“Once we had a general idea (of) what we wanted to assess, we began working with … Rankin & Associates Consulting in April,” Mamie Thorns, climate survey co-chair, said. “Since then, Rankin has been meeting twice per month with a subcommittee to draft the survey.”

Focus groups aided the subcommittee in developing comprehensive drafts.

“We wanted to be certain that all voices were included,” Thorns said. “The focus groups helped us identify all the areas of interest among various constituencies on campus.”

The survey, now in its final form, will be open to all faculty, staff and students in November.

“It will be available online and is universally designed so it is accessible to everyone on campus,” Thorns said.

All survey responses will be stored on a third-party server, reported aggregately and kept confidential.

The results of the climate survey will be reported during the winter of 2015. Rankin & Associates will provide an executive summary, quantitative data and content analysis.

“(We are) committed to use data from the climate survey to improve policies that impact all aspects of academic life. Recognizing our strengths and limitations with respect to climate will help us develop a comprehensive strategy that benefits the campus,” Deborah Huntley, provost and vice president for academic affairs, wrote in a message urging the SVSU community to take the survey.

The Climate Study Working Group has received commitment from President Donald Bachand, senior administrators and college and department administrators that they will use the results of the survey to plan for an improved SVSU climate.

Development of strategic actions will take place in the fall of 2015; those actions will be initially implemented in 2015-2016.

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