DEI Office surveying U-M staff’s views on campus climate

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Emma Richter/Daily

 

Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 4:25pm

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion announced the University of Michigan will conduct a survey evaluating the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion within its campus. The survey will question 5,000 librarians, curators, postdoctoral fellows and house officers at Michigan Medicine and others places.

To maintain confidentiality, the 15-minute web-based survey will be conducted by an independent Ann Arbor research firm SoundRocket. The survey was announced just prior to a second DEI survey that went out to all students.

The DEI Office has conducted several similar climate surveys over the past year. Previous campus climate surveys were sent to a total audience of 8,500 people, with questions that were tailored to staff and students finding 72 percent of the campus community is satisfied with the current campus climate.  

In an email interview with University spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen, she said ADVANCE, a U-M specific survey and research resource, did not survey the nearly 5,000 faculty members — librarians, archivists and postdoctoral fellows — that are included in the most recent survey.

“This is the University’s way of making sure everyone on our campus has a chance to participate in the survey,” Broekhuizen said. “The results of the census survey offer individual schools, colleges and other units on campus findings unique to those units.”

Broekhuizen also said both surveys released are about the campus climate related to diversity, equity and inclusion; however, some questions may differ. The questions were written by the Office of DEI, campus community and survey research experts as well as other community advisory committees, according to the press release.

The DEI Office put forth a five-year strategy last year. According to the DEI’s online plan, its strategy to expand University diversity and inclusivity is three-pronged. The first strategy is to “Create an Inclusive and Equitable Campus Climate,” second is to “Recruit, Retain and Develop a Diverse Community” and the third and final is to “Support Innovative and Inclusive Scholarship and Teaching.” The press release on the DEI survey states its goal is to gather data and statistics as it relates to the campus climate on diversity, equity and inclusion.

In an interview with The Daily, University President Mark Schlissel discussed the progress of the DEI plan and his feelings on current campus climate. He articulated his excitement regarding a few of the upcoming initiatives in relation to diversity and inclusion, such as Wolverine Pathways, which works with secondary-school students in Detroit, Ypsilanti and Southfield, and provides a path to University admission and a scholarship — as well as the Go Blue Guarantee, which allows any in-state students whose households earn below $65,000 to have their tuition completely covered by the University.

“I think the initiative is off to a good start,” said University President Mark Schlissel in the interview. “But there’s a huge amount of work to be done and there are some things that are immediate and short term, and there are other things that we start now and we are going to have to be continued for a long time.”

Schlissel referenced postdoctoral faculty members in his interview, one of the targets of the DEI survey. He mentioned the effectiveness of the LSA postdoctorate program, potential faculty members who have completed their Ph.D.s but are not yet ready for an independent position, and its diversity plan. The LSA postdoctorate fellowship sets aside postdoctoral slots for those who study diversity and for those who create a more diverse and equitable community.

In an April 2017 press release, the University announced the creation of the LSA Collegiate Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. As part of the DEI’s five-year strategic plan, the LCPFP looks to promote faculty and research diversity throughout the institution.

"We have made a commitment to ensure a scholarly environment that will meet the needs of our diverse community," said LSA Dean Andrew D. Martin in the press release. "Through LCPFP, we hope to recruit outstanding individuals that will view LSA as an academic home and who will positively impact the very culture and structure of our university, college and individual units."

The survey targets the greater postdoctorate program as well as  consists of nearly 1,500 current postdoctorates distributed among the 21 separate schools, colleges, institutes and 155 departments, according to Matt Nelson, the director of communications of Rackham Graduate School.

“We at Rackham, who support postdoc fellows and oversee the quality of postdoctoral training across the university, wholly embrace a commitment to enhancing diversity,” Nelson said.

Chief diversity officer Robert Sellers, and vice provost for equity and inclusion, will oversee this survey and has overseen similar DEI surveys in the past.

The survey will stay open until Dec. 8 and the results will be released by spring 2018.