As you may recall, the University of California Campus Climate survey was administered on our campus a year ago as part of a systemwide effort to gather perspectives on living, studying and working within the UC system. Many of you participated in the survey (38 percent of faculty and 50 percent of staff), as did both graduate and undergraduate students (21 percent of students) – a total of 26 percent of the entire campus population. Thank you!
Today, the UC Office of the President is presenting survey results for all UC entities to the UC Board of Regents and to the public. Though the survey had limitations that make it difficult to draw definitive conclusions, the results should be very useful as a guide in flagging potential problem areas for further analysis and action.
I would like to share some of the key findings for our campus – some encouraging, some concerning -- in this message. More detailed results for our campus are posted on my website here while systemwide results can be found here.
Overall, responses from UC Merced participants were favorable, with more than three in four respondents rating the overall atmosphere on campus “comfortable” or “very comfortable.” Similar results were recorded in specific areas of the campus, such as the classroom, individual work units, schools and departments. I was especially pleased to see that the classroom environment at UC Merced earned a higher “comfort” rating from students and faculty than any other campus in the system.
Students also reported generally positive attitudes about their academic experience at UC Merced. About 70 percent of undergraduate students and 73 percent of graduate or professional students said they were satisfied with their academic experience. Two-thirds of undergraduates and 72 percent of graduate students reported that they were performing up to their full academic potential.
I am heartened by these findings in what I believe are among the most critical aspects of campus performance. We are generally on par with or ahead of most other UC campuses on each of these key measures.
However, some areas of potential concern also emerged in the survey.
For example, in the opinion of faculty and staff respondents, our campus underperformed systemwide averages in a variety of categories related to faculty or staff training, mentoring, career development and other important parameters. Initiatives to address these issues, including increasing the diversity of faculty and staff, were perceived less favorably at UC Merced than on most other campuses.
The results also showed that on matters of basic civility – the way we treat each other – our results were generally no better than the system as a whole. From our inception, UC Merced has been committed to creating a welcoming environment that is safe and nurturing for all segments of our richly diverse campus community. We need to reaffirm that commitment through our day-to-day interactions with others.
To understand more fully the survey data and its implications for us, I am taking several immediate actions:
-- I will expand the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion and charge this group with examining the survey’s results and developing an action plan to address areas of concern.
-- Campus leaders will re-examine the breadth and scope of the Insight Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to provide conflict-resolution resources for all employees.
-- Supervisory-training and employee-evaluation programs will be enhanced to ensure our values are consistently reinforced and reflected in day-to-day performance.
-- The recently launched Career Advancement Mentoring Program for staff will be given more visibility to encourage participation.
--The campus will consider adding professional capabilities (e.g., an organizational psychologist) to strengthen conflict-resolution protocols and resources.
-- Lastly, our Office of Institutional Research and Decision Support is mining the data to determine whether concerns related to basic civility are localized in specific areas or pervasive throughout campus.
These actions will complement existing programs designed to enhance campus climate, encourage inclusion, foster respect and promote community, including numerous speaker and film series as well as a wide spectrum of multi-cultural and social-justice events.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Tom Peterson and I, along with other members of the UC Merced leadership team, will also be taking a close look at the developmental results identified by faculty and staff to ensure we fully understand your concerns and prepare action plans to address and communicate effectively about them.
Staff who would like to know more about the survey and its results are invited to attend the next campus-wide town hall meeting (March 25). In addition, I’ll meet with the Joint Divisional Council’s Faculty Welfare Committee on March 31. Provost Peterson will also meet with Unit 18 lecturers.
I also encourage you to send me your thoughts via email or through my Twitter account. My leadership team and I want to hear from you as we consider these findings and plan additional steps we might take to address areas of concern.
Thank you for giving these issues your attention and for joining me in a campuswide commitment to make UC Merced a model of multi-cultural inclusion and development from which others can learn. We won’t relax our focus on tolerance and mutual respect until we reach that goal.