To: Members of the Campus Community
From: Daniel Diermeier, Provost
Re: The 2016 Campus Climate Survey - Findings
Date: November 17, 2016
The University of Chicago has a foundational commitment to the idea that a culture of free and open inquiry requires empowering individuals of all backgrounds, experiences and perspectives to challenge conventional thinking in pursuit of original ideas. Realizing these values requires a campus climate that is inclusive and welcoming. Campus climate directly affects the intellectual development of students, creativity and productivity of faculty, as well as the ability of staff to engage in the mission of the University. It is crucial that we cultivate a climate that is welcoming for individuals of all backgrounds; that we create the conditions for attracting a wide range of talent; and that we prevent and correct incidents of bias, discrimination, and harassment, which threaten the University’s climate, intellectual mission, and the individuals within it.
The University took an initial step toward understanding the campus climate in 2015, with a climate survey that measured attitudes and experiences of undergraduates and graduate students with respect to sexual misconduct. In April of this year, the University launched its first Campus Climate Survey aimed at capturing some of the experiences and perceptions of students, tenure-track appointees, non tenure-track appointees, postdoctoral researchers, and staff on a broad range of issues related to diversity and inclusion. A faculty steering committee and a faculty working group developed and deployed the Survey, with input from a series of campus forums that identified issues important to our community. Administering the Climate Survey is intended to be a crucial step towards improving our campus climate. Today I would like to share the Survey’s findings with you.
As the data make clear, we have work to do to ensure a diverse and inclusive campus climate, and we have a foundation for making positive change. Reporting these data is only the first step in using the Climate Survey to understand and improve the climate on campus regarding diversity and inclusion. The survey results will serve as one baseline against which to measure improvement; be a catalyst for communication and discussion; and will contribute to the development and implementation of new programs, policies, and activities designed to foster a more inclusive climate. Our understanding of these initial findings will be enriched through engagement and discussion across campus. There will be numerous opportunities for the campus community to attend forums to discuss the data and their implications, and to help shape the University’s approach to addressing concerns raised in the report. We will publicize these forums widely as the dates are finalized.
The Climate Survey is one of several initiatives aimed at identifying ways the University can improve in these areas. My office is allocating resources to make measurable progress in creating a diverse, inclusive and equitable campus, with multiple efforts led by Melissa Gilliam, Vice Provost for Academic Leadership, Advancement, and Diversity. The Diversity Advisory Council, tasked with advising leadership on broad issues related to campus climate and making recommendations for increasing diversity among faculty and academic appointees, staff, and students, will soon issue recommendations to enhance diversity on campus. These recommendations, along with further meetings and discussions with the campus community will inform specific action steps and the development of a comprehensive plan for diversity and inclusion at the University of Chicago. We anticipate issuing this plan in 2017.
Improving the campus climate offers an opportunity to enhance our tradition of free and open expression, enabling all members of our community to engage more fully in and contribute to the intellectual life of the University. As a community, we must work together to foster an inclusive environment that upholds these values so intrinsic to the University of Chicago.
We look forward to your engagement in this important work.