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Emory campus climate survey expands scope to include part-time faculty and staff
Brumley Bridge

Last fall, a climate survey was distributed to all students, full-time faculty and full-time staff to gauge how people experience diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. The survey is now open through March 16 for part-time faculty and staff.

At Emory, efforts to create a more inclusive campus environment — where no one experiences discrimination based on their identity — are ongoing. Over the last two years, the university has been engaged in a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategic planning process in order to create a more welcoming environment for all people. A critical element in developing that plan is to gather feedback from the campus community, which is why Emory is participating in the National Association of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC) Survey.

Last fall, the survey was distributed to all students as well as full-time faculty and staff in order to gauge how people experience DEI on campus. Based on community feedback, the survey is now open through March 16 for part-time faculty and staff to respond.

The 15-minute survey, designed by the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center, asks participants to provide feedback on mattering and affirmation, cross-racial engagement, encounters with racial stress, racial learning and literacy, appraisals of institutional commitment and impact of external environments. Under these sections, respondents answer questions about everything from how executive leadership has handled racial incidents on campus to experiencing microaggressions.

Measuring these areas is essential to see how Emory is living out its ethical principle to “uphold the dignity and rights of all persons through fair treatment, honest dealing and respect.” Since 2019, 82 four-year institutions and 62 two-year institutions have administered the survey, which allows Emory to compare itself to peer institutions.

Aligning ethics and experience

The quantitative data from the survey will inform Emory’s DEI strategic planning process. The tenets of the DEI strategic plan are professional development, education and awareness; climate and culture; and accountability. The survey results will inform each of these areas, with an emphasis on sense of belonging for employees and students.

For employees, this looks like examining ways to recruit more diverse candidates as well as engage in important conversations about retention and career pathing.

Sense of belonging is also foundational to student flourishing, a campus-wide initiative to help nurture students both personally and professionally that is also a pillar of the 2O36 campaign. For the initiative, student flourishing means “creating an inclusive environment where our diverse student body feels at home, strengthening their values, developing skills and preparing them for advanced and professional studies, and for their careers.” All undergraduates can offer feedback on institutional commitment to equity and inclusion, the extent to which they interact meaningfully with people from backgrounds unlike their own and where and what they learn about race, among other topics.

“Any institution serious about excellence — and Emory is — must be equally serious about diversity, equity and inclusion of all the faculty, staff and students who make up its community and carry out its mission,” says Ravi V. Bellamkonda, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Whether you work here, study here or both, when you participate in the NACCC survey, your thoughts will become an integral and actionable part of the creation of an Emory where we all want to be.”

Providing meaningful results

When the survey results are released later this year, campus leaders will use the findings to see which areas need the most attention. This effort will align with existing efforts to strengthen inclusion practices on campus, such as the renovation and construction of identity spaces to offer welcoming and emotionally safe areas for students from underrepresented groups. Enku Gelaye, senior vice president and dean of Campus Life, is using student feedback as her guide in creating a more inclusive environment for all students.

“The new identity spaces and the programming coming out of those spaces is just the beginning for us,” says Gelaye. “It’s important for us to create opportunities for students to be able to build community around issues that matter to them.”

Participation in the NACCC survey is completely voluntary and confidential. Results are expected later this year. In addition, Carol Henderson, vice provost for diversity and inclusion, chief diversity officer and adviser to the president, and her team are collaborating with departments and units across campus to address any outstanding questions or concerns about the survey.

“As we are engaged in strategic planning, the community’s voice is important in seeing how we move forward with climate and culture,” says Henderson. “We want people to feel affirmed so that they can thrive and bring their whole selves to our campus community.”

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