Task force announced for student climate survey  

April 27, 2017 By Mary Carr Lee

UW-Madison is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all. As part of the campus Diversity Framework, a student survey was conducted in fall 2016 to assess the climate at UW–Madison; a task force has now been formed to identify key issues in the survey and propose specific recommendations to address them, joining other current initiatives in place for campus climate issues.

The survey aims to understand students’ experiences with and perceptions about campus climate and diversity, including how people of different backgrounds and identities experience UW–Madison. The task force expects to have its report to the campus community ready in fall 2017.

Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf and Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Patrick Sims have charged the task force to:

  1. Review the survey findings – including response rates, sample characteristics, and results – and identify key findings.
  2. Develop a set of recommendations to address the key findings.
  3. Plan and undertake community engagement activities regarding the survey results and recommendations.
  4. Work with University Communications to create a comprehensive plan for communicating the survey findings and recommendations.

The co-chairs of the committee are:

  • Patrick J. Sims, vice provost and chief diversity officer
  • Lori Berquam, vice provost and deanof students

The UW Survey Center fielded the campus-wide survey of 41,956 students between October 17 and November 8, 2016. Overall, 8,652 students (21% of eligible students) responded to the survey. The survey analysis is being done in the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research by Margaret Harrigan, distinguished policy and planning analyst, and James Yonker, project assistant.

The committee that will review the survey results includes the following faculty members:

  • Markus Brauer, professor of psychology; conducts psychological research on behaviors, cross-group interaction and friendship, especially elements that promote and improve intrinsic motivation to engage with diversity
  • Ruth Litovsky, professor of communication sciences and disorders; faculty co-chair of the Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee to draft the 2014 UW–Madison Diversity Framework, Forward Together
  • Linda Denise Oakley, professor of nursing; faculty co-chair of the Campus Diversity and Climate Committee; served as co-chair of the 10-year Plan 2008 Diversity Oversight Committee (DOC); leads the Nursing School’s Post Graduate Psychiatric Nursing Capstone Certificate Program for mental health care, especially for underrepresented groups and veterans
  • Ahna Skop, associate professor of genetics and former chair of the Equity and Diversity Committee of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences; a leader in advocating for student diversity and inclusiveness at UW–Madison; acts as a role model for underrepresented students who might otherwise not be interested in genetics; has mentored the research projects of 11 underrepresented undergraduate and Summer REU students, including students from Native American groups
  • Joan Fujimura, professor of sociology; Holtz Center for Science & Technology Studies; conducts groundbreaking research on race, ethnicity and gender
  • Tracy Schroepfer, associate professor of social work; scholarly focus is on community-based participatory research, health disparities and human behavior.

Academic Staff members are:

  • Mary Fitzpatrick, director of diversity research and initiatives and MDC in the College of Engineering; research interests include vocational psychology, occupational sex and racial segregation, cultural competence in professional services, underrepresented groups in careers, organizational climate in engineering education and in the workplace
  • John Lucas, executive director of University Communications; experienced communicator with a background in news, social media and media relations
  • Jennifer T. Sheridan, associate scientist and executive and research director of the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI); expert on survey research on the status of women in science and engineering; leads a team that is nationally recognized for educating faculty about unconscious/implicit bias in academic settings, including the hiring process
  • Mari Magler, assistant dean in the Division of Student Life and director of the McBurney Disability Resource Center. Joined UW Madison in October of 2016, prior to that was an associate director in the Disability Resource Center at the University of Minnesota.

University Staff members are:

  • Jim Ackerman, university services associate; works in the Center for Educational Opportunity
  • Kweku Brewoo, senior financial specialist; Dean’s Office, School of Education; active participant in student governance as a PEOPLE Scholar; graduated with a major in educational psychology.

The task force will also include the following graduate and undergraduate students:

  • Kirk Anderson, Ph.D. candidate; School of Education, dissertation research focuses on diversity and inclusion in higher education; has participated in shared governance diversity groups on campus.
  • Omer Arain, undergraduate, College of Letters and Science; chair of the Shared Governance Committee of the Associated Students of Madison
  • Tiffany Ike, undergraduate, College of Letters and Science; as Wheelhouse Studios’ Artist-in-Residence, created the DROPS project (Discrimination, Racism, Oppression, Prejudice, Stereotyping) to engage students and the campus community in a dialogue around race relations and the power of words.

Ex Officio Committee members are:

  • Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement: Torsheika Maddox, administrative project manager and researcher; Mary Carr Lee, director of communications for the vice provost and chief diversity officer
  • Academic Planning and Institutional Research: Margaret Harrigan, distinguished policy and planning analyst; James Yonker, graduate assistant and Ph.D. candidate

Analysis Plan

The data will be analyzed and summarized according to the survey’s core themes:

  • Institutional commitment to diversity
  • Overall feelings about campus climate (feeling safe/welcome/excluded)
  • Classroom environment
  • Relationships with students different from you
  • Personal skills relating to diversity and inclusion
  • Experiences with hostile, harassing, or intimidating behavior (witnessed or experienced personally)
  • Ethnic studies requirement (for undergraduates)

This report will show how students in different groups ­– including men and women, students of color, disabled students, undergraduates, graduate and professional students, and students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning – perceive the climate at UW–Madison.

The survey instrument provides several open-ended questions that allow students to describe their experiences at UW–Madison in their own words; analysis of these open-ended questions will be included in summary reports.

The task force will not only identify key issues in the survey, but will also propose recommendations to address areas of concern that emerge, making note of existing programs or resources and potentially recommending new activities.