Frequently Asked Questions

Why did the University of California conduct a campus climate survey?

Incidents in recent years at the University of California – including ones targeting students of color and the LGBT community, investigations of racial and ethnic discrimination, and the handling of sexual assaults and violence – have brought more attention to the need for the University to address campus climate challenges and complex inter-group dynamics.

Although the University had conducted a number of campus climate studies in the past for specific groups (e.g., students or faculty) or specific campuses (i.e., Berkeley and Riverside), the University of California had never conducted a systemwide study of the campus climate for all members of the University community. In 2009, the University of California Advisory Council to the President on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion, after reviewing analyses of nearly 50 different assessment tools conducted previously by various parts of the University, recommended that the University conduct a full, single assessment of all its constituent groups, to be administered by an external consultant.

In 2012, then-UC President Mark G. Yudof commissioned a University-wide campus climate study and, in 2012, the UC Office of the President subsequently contracted with Rankin & Associates Consulting to collaborate with the 10 campuses and three UC locations (the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources, and the UC Office of the President) on a climate study of all its constituents. From the beginning of the project, University leadership reiterated that the study's findings should drive action and "not just sit on a shelf," and that it was crucial for each campus and location to identify specific and measureable actions to improve the climate experienced by its community members.

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What are the primary findings of the survey?

Overall, the news is good. The survey results show that a large majority (79%) of respondents are satisfied with the overall climate at UC, and three-quarters of respondents reported they're comfortable with the climate for diversity in their work unit, academic area, or clinical setting.

The majority of students and post-doctoral scholars are satisfied with their academic experience at UC and feel valued by faculty in the classroom.

A large percentage (76%) of staff, faculty and other academic appointees, post-doctoral scholars, graduate students, and trainees feel that UC values a diverse faculty, and 81% said their campus/location values a diverse staff.

We also know that more work remains to be done. Some of the early lessons are that continued attention must be focused on the needs of underrepresented minorities, undocumented residents, transgender and genderqueer respondents, people with disabilities, women, veterans, Muslim respondents, and staff members, among other groups.

The survey points to concerns about harassment and sexual violence, which we take very seriously. We will continue with our efforts in these areas, and have just released a new policy that directly addresses them.

UC is not unique here. These results are consistent with survey results for comparable institutions around the country.

A full report on the survey's findings is available in the Results section of this site.

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What was the survey response rate? How does this compare to response rates on similar surveys?

The overall response rate was 27%, or 104,208 surveys. The response rate varied by UC campus/location, as well as by constituent group (e.g., undergraduate students, graduate students, union staff, faculty, non-union staff). According to the consultant, Rankin & Associates, the response rate for UC is comparable to surveys she has administered at similar institutions (four-year, comprehensive, public). Response rates by location and by respondent type are provided in the executive summary to the systemwide report.

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How much did it cost to conduct the survey and process results? Was state funding used to pay for this?

The cost to conduct the survey was $602,000. This cost covered the development and administration of the survey to more than 386,000 individuals, consultant advice and visits to each location, analysis of the data and preparation of 13 reports, preparation and transfer of the data to UC, and permanent rights to use the survey instrument again in the future at no additional cost. The funds were allocated by former UC President Mark G. Yudof from a fund reserved for his discretionary expenses.

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UC began conducting the survey almost two years ago. Why did it take so long to publish results?

The UC Campus Climate Survey has been a major undertaking – believed to be the largest study of institutional climate ever conducted. Development of the survey and planning for the administration took many months. While the process for conducting the survey started in fall 2012, UC locations had the discretion to administer the survey at different times during the 2012-13 academic year (depending, for example, on their academic calendar). The final campus administration was completed in the spring of 2013. Data were compiled and analyzed in the summer and fall of 2013, and reports were compiled for each location and the systemwide results. Final reports were delivered in early March 2014.

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How can I see how survey responses vary by location?

Campus climate reports for all locations and the UC system as a whole are available in the Results section of this website. These reports include extensive detail, including hundreds of tables reporting survey responses, and are the first place the public should go to get information about this survey.

Our purpose in publishing this material is so that each location can review its responses. However, reports are consistent across locations and one can examine responses across reports to make comparisons.

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Did the campus climate surveys vary by location? If so, how?

Every location used a large set of common questions but also had the option of asking a small number of location-specific questions. The latter questions varied in number and content.

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Why weren't the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) surveyed?

Only the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), which was surveyed, is managed and governed solely by the University of California. Both LLNL and LANL are managed and governed by limited liability companies (LLCs) that include UC as one of several managing entities.

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How does this survey's findings relate to implementation of recommendations in the Moreno Report and to implementation of the recently amended federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)?

  1. Moreno Report: In response to accounts of discrimination and bias involving faculty at UCLA, the campus commissioned an independent task force chaired by former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno. The Moreno Task Force was charged with reviewing the climate that faces minority faculty, giving voice to their concerns, and making concrete recommendations for steps to improve the campus climate, and issued a report on October 15, 2013 ( The UCLA campus has moved forward with implementing the recommendations of the Moreno Task Force, including appointing a faculty implementation committee and announcing the creation of a new position of Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. In addition, following a report by the Academic Senate and the Provost's Office that examined issues raised by the Moreno Report on a systemwide basis, President Napolitano, on January 24, 2014, requested that all UC campuses ensure that certain measures are in place to handle complaints of discrimination, bias, and harassment, as well as more generally to promote and support diversity. For example, each campus will designate a lead discrimination officer and a "one stop" website for resources and options to file complaints.

    The climate survey included some questions that relate generally to discrimination and bias on the campuses, and to respondents' experience with complaint procedures, and the data generated by the survey will help inform implementation of the Moreno report measures. For example, the survey found that underrepresented minority respondents were less comfortable than white respondents with the overall and workplace climate; included data about the percentage of respondents who felt they had experienced exclusionary, intimidating, offensive, or hostile conduct who also felt that the conduct was based on their ethnicity; examined perceptions of discriminatory hiring practices; and analyzed how respondents reacted to observing exclusionary behavior, including whether they felt that a complaint would be taken seriously.

    All UC locations' preliminary responses to the campus climate survey results demonstrate that some of the measures recommended by the Moreno Task Force are already in place, and that they additionally have established a range of other resources for addressing potential discrimination and bias issues, e.g., training and support to increase equity in the faculty hiring process.

  2. VAWA: The campus responses to the climate survey focus on outreach, education, and training related to the various issues addressed by the survey. One important area where the University is already implementing policy changes, and conducting additional training and outreach, is in the area of sexual assault and sexual violence in response to the Violence Against Women Act, which went into effect on March 7, 2014.

    On February 25, 2014, President Napolitano issued a revised UC Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Policy ( to address and prevent campus sexual violence. Prior to implementing the policy, a draft was circulated for comment to all University staff, the Academic Senate, as well as undergraduate and graduate students. Additional policy revisions were made to address many of the comments received from the University community before issuing the final policy.

    The policy prohibits all forms of sexual harassment and sexual violence, including dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It outlines the various resources available for all University community members, and outlines specific procedures that must be followed by the campuses in response to complaints. The University will be conducting training on sexual assault and sexual violence for all incoming students and new employees, in addition to ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns that will be provided to the entire University community. The University already conducts sexual harassment training for all supervisory employees in accordance with California law.

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Will UC conduct a study like this again? If so, when?

Administering another survey of this scope is not likely to happen in the next several years, both because each location and the University as a whole are now focused on developing and executing action plans to address key issues raised in the survey and because it may take a few years for the University to implement those action plans and see desired outcomes. Also, while evaluating these survey results, the University will determine how useful the questions were in identifying issues, establishing baselines, and focusing on strategies that could continue to improve campus climate.

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I am a student that responded to the survey. Why weren't my responses included in the report?

If a respondent answered at least 50% of the survey questions, then his/her responses are included in the quantitative data findings. The survey also included a few open-ended questions that solicited narrative comments from respondents in their own words. The UC Office of the President has received unredacted comments, that is, comments that have not been removed of sensitive information that could identify an individual, on the campus climate survey from the consultant. In order to protect the confidentiality of individuals, any identifying references included in comments must be redacted.

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I am a LGBT student. The report doesn't break down student responses into various groups. Can I see responses from all LGBT students?

Yes. This version of the report includes only high-level aggregations of data, but the data itself can be analyzed by various sub-populations. Such analysis would take several months to complete. The University may also aggregate data and significantly limit the number of demographic variables that are released in order to protect the privacy of individual survey respondents.

If the reports posted online do not provide the needed information, members of the public may request additional detail under the California Public Records Act (CPRA). To protect the confidentiality of respondents, we will not report information with fewer than five observations. Therefore, in responding to a request for information, we will review the data to determine if any group (e.g., Native American male and female respondents) includes fewer than five observations. In that case, we will aggregate these groups and combine them with larger ones to create a new category (e.g., underrepresented minorities) to protect the privacy of respondents. Under CPRA, requesters will be charged for the programming time required to pull and review the data. We recommend first checking the published reports to see if they meet your needs before making additional requests for information.

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Why weren't responses included for some student populations at some locations, such as transgender, genderqueer, and undocumented students?

In order to protect the confidentiality of respondents, the University and Rankin & Associates Consulting will not report information with fewer than five observations, which means that the responses from some populations are not included in the report.

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How will campuses use the results to address climate issues on campus?

The data findings from this survey are not intended to "sit on a shelf." Each UC campus/location plans to further analyze the survey data and develop specific and measureable actions or initiatives to improve campus climate based on these data and other data or information previously or subsequently collected. Individual location plans and processes are described in the report, available in the Results section of this site.

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Will faculty, students, and staff be involved in the implementation efforts related to these data?

Faculty, staff and students have been involved in the study's design from the project's inception – as representatives to the systemwide work team and on the local work teams at each campus/location. Moving forward, many of the locations have (or will re-constitute) campus climate councils that include representatives from faculty, staff, and students. Faculty, staff, and student organizations, such as the representatives of the Academic Senate, staff assemblies, and student government, will be sought out for feedback and participation in immediate and long-term recommendations and implementation plans.

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How can members of the public access the survey data?

Campus climate reports for all locations and the UC system as a whole are available in the Results section of this website. These reports include extensive detail, including hundreds of tables reporting survey responses. The reports are all formatted consistently so results can easily be compared.

If these reports do not provide the information needed, researchers and the general public can request additional detail under the California Public Records Act (CPRA). To protect the confidentiality of respondents, we will not report information with fewer than five observations. Therefore, in responding to a request for information, we will review the data to determine if any group (e.g., Native American male and female respondents) includes fewer than five observations. In that case, we will aggregate these groups and combine them with larger ones to create a new category (e.g., underrepresented minorities) to protect the privacy of respondents. Under CPRA, individuals requesting information will be charged for the programming time required to pull and review the data. We recommend first checking the published reports to see if they meet the requester's needs before making additional requests for information.

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How can UC researchers request the data for research? What is the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process for this?

If UC researchers require data beyond that available in the Results section of this site, we ask that they provide a list of all elements they need for their analysis. (Please note that at the point of collection, the Campus Climate Study data was stripped of any information that would allow identification of an individual.) The UC Institutional Review Board (IRB) 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; therefore, official IRB review was not required. Specifically, no data was collected through intervention or interaction with the individual, and identifiable private information was 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 UC 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 Campus Climate Study does not include private identifiable information about the participants, use of the data for research purposes generally would not qualify as human subjects research and, in most cases, IRB oversight is not required.

For future administrative uses of the data, no additional IRB review is necessary. For future research uses of the data, investigators may contact UCOP's Director of Research Policy Development Jeff Hall ( for assistance and advice on whether IRB review is required. In what we anticipate will be unusual circumstances in which IRB review would be required for research use of the Campus Climate Survey data, the researcher will be referred to his or her campus IRB. We anticipate that all or nearly all of the few projects requiring IRB review will be eligible for expedited IRB review under category 5 (i.e., research involving data and documents that have been collected solely for non-research purposes). Finally, the UC campus IRB Directors will collaborate to avoid, to the greatest extent possible, the need for a researcher to submit a proposed study to multiple UC IRBs for review and approval.

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Who conducted the survey?

Professor Susan "Sue" Rankin, of Rankin & Associates Consulting, was selected as consultant for this project. Rankin is a retired faculty member in education policy studies and college student affairs at Pennsylvania State University, and a retired senior research associate at Penn State's 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.

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Why was a non-UC researcher selected for the project?

UC's faculty includes a number of highly respected experts in campus climate and survey administration, and many were consulted in the early stages of this work. In 2009, the University of California Advisory Council to the President on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion reviewed efforts by other universities to conduct comprehensive climate studies. Among the best practices identified in this review was the use of an independent, external expert. Staff and students are more likely to feel comfortable responding candidly to a survey administered by an external body, thus producing higher response rates. In the advisory council's assessment, use of an external, independent expert would produce more reliable data and more credible findings.

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How were the questions developed?

The consultant has administered climate assessments to more than 100 institutions across the nation and developed a repository of tested questions. To assist in tailoring the survey to UC and to capitalize on the many campus climate assessment efforts some campuses already had undertaken, a systemwide work team was formed in September 2011 which consisted of representatives from each of the campuses, the UC Office of the President, the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, plus appointees from the UC Academic Senate, Council of UC Staff Assemblies, UC Students Association, labor 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), the 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 were 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.

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What are the strengths and limitations of using survey research data and interpreting results?

Surveys provide a cost-effective way to collect a broad range of data (e.g., attitudes, opinions, values, beliefs, experiences) from demographic groups consistently across multiple locations. With a large sample, surveys have the potential to generalize and gain a representative picture of the attitudes and characteristics of a population. Surveys can also provide greater confidentiality than other data collection efforts, like focus groups. Standardized questions provide fixed responses which support tabulation and comparisons among groups, while open-ended questions provide an opportunity for respondents to describe experiences in their own words.

When interpreting survey results, it is important to understand that a survey's ability to generalize a population can also be a drawback, so researchers should use the response rate and sample size, along with other information, to determine if the results are representative for the studied population. Because participants had the choice of whether or not to respond to the survey, self-selection bias is possible insofar as an individual's decision to participate may be correlated with their traits or experiences, which also affect the study's findings. That is, people with strong opinions or negative experiences may have been more apt to participate in the study. This could make the sample non-representative.

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Why is this a population (census) survey and not a sample survey?

The survey was administered to roughly 386,000 students, faculty and other academic appointees, staff, post-doctoral scholars and trainees at UC. The survey steering committee carefully considered the pros and cons of a population versus a sample survey and ultimately followed the advice of the survey consultant, who recommended a full population survey. An important reason for this is that various sub-populations experience climate quite differently. The consultant recommended against using a sample because of the risk of missing particular populations where numbers are very small (e.g., student veterans of color). In addition, randomized stratified sampling was 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. Thus, a sample approach could miss many groups. There is precedent 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.

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How is a respondent's confidentiality protected?

Confidentiality is vital to the success of campus climate research, particularly as sensitive and personal topics are discussed. The consultant and campus data coordinators have taken multiple measures to protect 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) were obtained through the survey.
  • Campus IP addresses used to administer the survey were stripped when the survey was submitted.
  • To avoid interception of data, the survey was run on a firewalled web server with forced 256-bit SSL security.
  • The consultant and UC will not report any group data for groups of fewer than five individuals because those "small cell sizes" may compromise confidentiality. Instead, the consultant and UC combined the groups or took other measures to eliminate any potential for demographic information to be identifiable. Participation in the survey was completely voluntary. Participants did not have to answer any question except the first positioning question (staff, faculty, student), and could skip questions they didn't wish to answer. Paper and pencil surveys also were available for those who did not wish to complete the survey online, and were sent directly to the consultant.

At each location, UC data coordinators have been identified to analyze survey results and these individuals are held to the same standards as the consultant, as will be any researchers intending to conduct secondary data analysis in the future. In addition, secondary data analysis with the intended use of publishing (research) will require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval and 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 the safeguarding of original data confidentiality and the use of an appropriate security protocol.

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