Professor Susan "Sue" Rankin, of Rankin & Associates Consulting, was selected as consultant for this project. Rankin is a faculty member in education policy studies and college student affairs at Pennsylvania State University, and a senior research associate at the Center for the Study of Higher Education. She has extensive experience in institutional climate assessment and institutional climate transformation based on data-driven action and strategic planning. Rankin has conducted multi-location institutional climate studies at more than 100 institutions across the country. She developed and utilizes the Transformational Tapestry model as a research design for campus climate studies (with R. Reason, 2008). The model is a "comprehensive, five-phase, and strategic model of assessment, planning, and intervention. The model is designed to assist campus communities in conducting inclusive assessments of their institutional climate to better understand the challenges facing their respective communities" (Rankin & Reason, 2008).
In 2009, a UC Office of the President Project Steering Committee reviewed nearly 50 assessment tools and findings utilized at UC campuses that included some campus climate or diversity indicators. The committee also reviewed efforts by other universities to conduct comprehensive climate studies. The review resulted in the identification of several best practices in university campus climate studies including the need for external expertise in survey administration. In the steering committee's assessment, administration of a survey relating to a very sensitive subject like campus climate is likely to yield higher response rates and provide more credible findings if led by an independent, outside agency. Staff may feel particularly inhibited to respond honestly to a survey administered by their own institution for fear of retaliation.
The consultant has administered climate assessments to more than 100 institutions across the nation and developed a repository of tested questions. To assist in contextualizing the survey for UC and to capitalize on the many campus climate assessment efforts some campuses already have undertaken, a systemwide work team was formed in September 2011 which consisted of representatives from each of the campuses, UCOP, the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, plus organization appointees from the Academic Senate, Council of UC Staff Assemblies, UC Students Association, unions and others.
The systemwide work team was responsible for developing core survey questions that would be asked of all locations. The team selected survey questions from the consultant's tested collection, and included questions that previously have been asked in campus-specific or population-specific surveys at UC. For example, questions were included from the UC Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES), UC Berkeley Staff Workplace and Career Life Issues Survey, UC San Diego's Graduate Student Satisfaction Survey and others. By adding questions for which some data is already available, UC campuses will be able to conduct longitudinal analysis and obtain consistent data for all populations.
Campus representatives to the systemwide work team formed local work teams at each location with additional participants, who also provided feedback on survey questions. The local work teams were responsible for contextualizing the core survey questions and creating campus specific questions that were added to the survey.
It is important in campus climate research for survey participants to "see" themselves in response choices to prevent "othering" an individual or individual's characteristics. Some researchers maintain that resigning someone to the status of "other" is a form of marginalization, and this should be minimized, particularly in campus climate research that has an intended purpose of inclusiveness. Along these lines, survey respondents will see a long list of possible choices for many demographic questions. It is impossible to include every possible choice to every question, but the goal is to reduce the number of respondents who must choose "other."
The UC Institutional Review Board directors reviewed the Scope of Work for the UC Campus Climate Study and consider the activity to be designed to assess campus/office climate within the University of California and to inform UCOP and campus strategic quality improvement initiatives. Specifically, no data is collected through intervention or interaction with the individual, and identifiable private information is protected. This decision is consistent with other administrative surveys, such as the 2012 UC Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES), which did not receive IRB review.
Although official IRB review was not required for the campus climate survey, the consultant and other survey developers took all the steps necessary for IRB approval. The processes and protections in place for this study are comparable to those that would be required by IRB, including notification of uses of data, data storage and access restrictions, and protocol for assisting respondents with sensitive subject matter.
In addition, the IRB directors have acknowledged that the data collected from this quality improvement activity may also be used for research, which would then be subject to IRB approval. Since data collected for the climate survey are collected for non-research purposes, future research projects involving use of identifiable data from the climate assessment will be eligible for expedited IRB review under category 5. For future administrative uses of the data (non-research publications), no additional IRB review is necessary. Please contact Interim Diversity Coordinator if you have additional questions about the IRB process.
UC wants a 100 percent response rate in order to hear from all community members. However, a 30 percent or higher response rate achieved by every campus will be adequate and results can then be used with confidence. However, if a total response rate of 30 percent is not reached, individual populations with response rates at 30 percent or higher can be reported. For example: If all faculty respond at 20 percent, generalizations among all faculty will not be reliable. However, male faculty of color may respond at 40 percent, which will allow for some generalized themes to emerge for male faculty of color. Weight may be applied to the analysis based on the variables for which population data are available. However, UC only collects population data on position (faculty, staff, student), sex, race/ethnicity and international status so weighting is limited. In addition, the consultant also will conduct response bias and response fatigue analysis.
Confidentiality is vital to the success of campus climate research, particularly as sensitive and personal topics are discussed. While the survey cannot guarantee complete confidentiality because of the nature of multiple demographic questions, the consultant and campus data coordinators will take multiple measures to enhance individual confidentiality and the de-identification of data. No data already protected through regulation or policy (e.g., social security number, campus identification number, medical information) is obtained through the survey.
In the event of any publication or presentation resulting from the assessment, no personally identifiable information will be shared. Confidentiality in participating will be maintained to the highest degree permitted by the technology used (e.g., IP addresses will be stripped when the survey is submitted). No guarantees can be made regarding the interception of data sent via the Internet by any third parties; however, to avoid interception of data, the survey is run on a firewalled Web server with forced 256-bit SSL security. In addition, the consultant and UC will not report any group data for groups of fewer than five individuals because those "small cell sizes" may be small enough to compromise confidentiality. Instead, the consultant and UC will combine the groups or take other measures to eliminate any potential for demographic information to be identifiable. Additionally, any comments submitted in response to the survey will be separated at the time of submission to the consultant so that they are not attributed to any individual demographic characteristics. Identifiable information submitted in qualitative comments will be redacted and UC will receive only these redacted comments.
Participation in the survey is completely voluntary. Participants do not have to answer any question except the first positioning question (staff, faculty, student), and can skip questions for which they are uncomfortable. Paper and pencil surveys also are available, and will be sent directly to the consultant.
UC data coordinators are held to the same standards as the consultant, as would be any future researchers intending to conduct secondary data analysis. In addition, secondary data analysis with the intended use of publishing (research) will require IRB approval, and the guarantees of data protection as required by IRB protocols. Researchers wishing to conduct secondary data analysis will be required to submit an application to UCOP and must enter into an agreement to guarantee safeguarding of original data confidentiality and the use of an appropriate security protocol. For more information on the secondary use of data, please contact Interim Diversity Coordinator .
The consultant will provide each location with individual reports, as well as a systemwide aggregate report. Each of the reports will include: an executive summary; a report narrative of the findings based on cross tabulations selected by the consultant; frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations of quantitative data; and content analysis of the textual data. The reports provide high-level summaries of the findings and will identify themes found in the data. Generalizations for populations are limited to those groups or subgroups with response rates of at least 30 percent. Reports will not include individual campus comparisons, but campuses will be able to compare their results to aggregate findings both on the national and UC levels. In addition, campuses will construct action plans based on survey results – identifying two or three areas for targeted campus attention. Campus, location and systemwide reports will be made public in spring 2014.
In draft form, reports can be withheld from disclosure. However, final reports are subject to disclosure upon request. It is the expectation of the Office of the President that all campus reports and the systemwide summary report will be public information and posted on campus and UCOP websites.
Raw data in its entirety could be withheld from a California Public Records Act request due to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and other privacy laws that prevent the release of personally identifiable information. Due to the large number of demographic questions, each survey response will be treated as potentially individually identifiable, even though no specific identifiers will be collected.
Raw data for specific indicators likely would be subject to disclosure upon request, but any information that could be used to directly identify an individual would be redacted from the records to protect the privacy of individual survey respondents. UCOP will assist campuses with the redaction of data and response to public records requests. In addition, the public availability of summary reports and the ability for UCOP to provide additional customized aggregate reports or data figures will minimize the likelihood of requests for raw data. Please contact for more information.
California Pubic Record Act requests will be handled by UCOP to provide a level of consistency and oversight for the protection of personally identifiable information. UCOP Institutional Research will utilize a sophisticated data analysis approach to ensure privacy and de-identification in responding to any request. The approach would include multiple layers of analysis to ensure data in small cell sizes for any single or combined demographic categories is not released; this may include higher-level aggregation of data and significantly limiting the number of demographic variables that are released. In addition, since UCOP will serve as a conduit for all requests, the office can ensure that multiple releases of data could not be combined to reconstruct personally identifiable information. UCOP IR and the UC Office of General Counsel have a high level of experience in these kinds of requests and take very seriously the protection of personally identifiable information and respondent privacy. Please contact for more information.
UCOP worked closely with the consultant to develop a research data security description and protocol, which includes specific information on data encryption, the handling of personally identifiable information, physical security and a protocol for handling unlikely breaches of data security.
The data from online participants are submitted to a secure server hosted by the consultant. The survey is run on a firewalled web server with forced 256-bit SSL security and is stored on a SQL database that can only be accessed locally. The server itself may be accessed only using encrypted SSH connections originating from the local network. Susan Rankin, Rankin & Associates Consulting project coordinator, will have access to the raw data along with several R&A data analysts. All R&A analysts have CITI (Human Subjects) training and approval and have worked on similar projects for other institutions. The Web server runs with the SE-Linux security extensions (that were developed by the NSA). The server is also in RAID to highly reduce the chance of any data loss due to hardware failure. The server performs a nightly security audit from data acquired via the system logs and notifies the administrators. The number of system administrators will be limited and each will have had required background checks.
The consultant has conducted more than 100 institutional surveys and maintains an aggregate merged database. The data from the UC project will be merged with all other existing climate data stored indefinitely on the consultant's secure server. No institutional identifiers are included in the full merged data set held by the consultant. The raw unit-level data with institutional identifiers is kept on the server for six months and then destroyed. The paper and pencil surveys are returned to the consultant directly and kept in a locked file drawer in a locked office. The consultant destroys the paper and pencil responses after they are merged with the online data. The consultant will notify the UCOP project coordinator of any breach or suspected breach of data security of the consultant's server. The UCOP project coordinator will work with the chief information security & privacy officer and IT policy director to investigate the incident, and identify any required actions.
The consultant will provide UCOP with a data file at the completion of the project. UCOP and campuses require raw data to conduct additional analysis for administrative purposes since the consultant will provide only a high-level summary of trends and frequent themes in reports. UCOP Institutional Research will house the data indefinitely in an integrated data enterprise system called the Decision Support System (DSS). A data security and privacy protection plan has been developed for the DSS to establish a very high standard of IT security and data protection and consistency in handling data. At UCOP, the and the will have access to unit-level data via a data application tool. In addition, each UC chancellor will designate one or two data coordinators on each campus who will be granted user-access to their campus data via the same data application tool. The data coordinators are held to the same use restrictions, including measures to protect confidentiality, de-identification of data and minimum cell size as stated in the original scope of the project.
The consultant will include a notification statement in the introductory section of the survey that includes the following to survey respondents:
The survey will be administered to all 235,000 students and 185,000 faculty and staff at UC. Climate exists in microclimates, so creating opportunities to maximize participation is important as is maximizing opportunities to reach minority populations. Along these lines, the consultant has recommended not using random sampling as we may miss particular populations where numbers are very small (e.g., veteran students of color). Since one goal of the project is inclusiveness and allowing invisible voices to be heard, this sampling technique is not used. In addition, randomized stratified sampling is not used because we do not have population data on most identities. For example, UC collects population data on sex and race/ethnicity, but not on gender identity or sexual orientation. So a sample approach could miss many groups. There is precedence in conducting census surveys involving this kind of research at UC. For example, the UC Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES) and other climate-related surveys administered on individual campuses, such as UC Berkeley's faculty and staff climate surveys, are population surveys.
The university plans to re-administer this survey every four to five years, depending on resources.
Yes. One (1) undergraduate student will receive a $10,000 scholarship, two (2) graduate academic or professional students will receive $5,000 stipends, two (2) faculty members will receive $5,000 research grants and five (5) staff will receive $2,000 professional development grants. In addition, two (2) winners from each location will receive iPads. Participants who complete at least 50 percent of the survey questions will be entered automatically into a drawing for prizes. Participants also must click the final "submit" button to be eligible. Individuals completing a paper survey also will be able to include contact information, if they choose, to be entered into the incentive drawing. Contact information will be separated from responses before UC receives data. Incentive awards are considered taxable income and may result in changes to student financial aid awards. Accepting an incentive is optional. Systemwide winners will be notified in March 2013 by email or phone.
To access the survey, participants will receive an email and be directed to a location portal to log on using their location portal username and password. A unique user identification code will be assigned to each participant. The campus will hold these unique user identification codes, which will be matched to portal user information. Rankin & Associates will receive only the unique user identification code when survey responses are submitted and will separate this unique user identification code from responses when a survey is completed. Participants completing a paper survey will have the option to include their contact information if they choose to enter the incentives drawing. Contact information will be separated from responses. Rankin & Associates will provide UC with the list of unique user identification codes for participants who have completed the survey separated from any response data. UC will match these unique user identification codes with the actual user information to obtain a list of survey participants to be entered into incentive drawings.
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