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Rickenbach offers updates on CALS climate survey findings and next steps

During the fall semester, the college conducted a climate survey of all faculty, staff and graduate students in cooperation with the UW Survey Center and the Office for Strategic Consulting (OSC). The Survey Center has nearly completed compiling the results, and reports are expected in the coming weeks.

“I want to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey,”  says Senior Associate Dean Mark Rickenbach. “We had a 47% response rate, which is strong for an on-line survey. Now we will move on to reviewing the results and applying them to our on-going work to foster an inclusive and welcoming climate in CALS.”

The college expanded the survey to poll the whole college, rather than piloting a study of a small number of departments due to COVID. This expanded scale provides baseline data for all college employees and graduate students. CALS plans to repeat the survey every two years.

Rickenbach says, “The aggregated results will provide general guidance to the college and units. We’ve taken the climate temperature and have a good sense of what is going well and where additional work is needed, the latter being a good place to target efforts to improve the workplace climate.”

Confidentiality is of utmost importance to college leaders and informs what will be shared both at the college level and the unit level. To protect confidentiality of respondents in small sub-populations, detailed disaggregated analysis will not be included for any of the units. The small sample sizes for some subgroups would make it difficult to ensure confidentiality.

The Survey Center will provide results to the OSC later this month. This will be followed by meeting invitations from OSC to the department, center, and unit work groups  to schedule the next set of workshops to review results and provide support with analysis, planning, and implementation. Units reports will include a summaries results and comparable college results. Department, center, and unit results will be provided in two ways.

  • Bar charts of climate related responses, with comparable college responses.
  • Top 5 and bottom 10 questions
    • This provides information on where departments, centers, and units might focus effort.
    • For departments, these results can inform and help guide the goal 4 activities in five-year plans.
  • Due to small response groups, breakdowns by demographics (including employee type) will not be provided at the unit level.
  • Units with a response rate of fewer than 10 will be aggregated with other units.

There will also be additional results provided to the college at the same time. These summaries will provide additional insights as they will include results broken down by five roles:

  • Faculty, to include co-located federal scientists in faculty appointments
  • Academic staff, to include co-located federal staff with a UW appointment
  • University staff
  • Post-doctoral researchers
  • Graduate students

These findings will also be shared with units during the workshops, as well as with the broader college community through eCALS, governance committees, and the all-college meeting in May.

In the summer 2021, a more in-depth analysis of the aggregated college data will be conducted. The additional analysis will allow for a more nuanced understanding of climate in CALS by subpopulations (where high enough response rates exist). These results will be available in the fall of 2021 to further inform climate-related activities.