What is Campus Climate?
Climate is a measure of the real or perceived quality of interpersonal, academic, and professional interactions on a campus and consists of “the current attitudes, behaviors, and standards of faculty, staff, administrators and students concerning the level of respect for individual needs, abilities, and potential” (Hurtado, 1992; Rankin, 2001). A healthy climate is grounded in respect for others, nurtured by dialogue between those of differing perspectives, and evidenced by a pattern of civil interactions among community members. Campus climate includes the experience of individuals and groups on a campus—and the quality and extent of the interaction between those various groups and individuals. Diversity is one aspect of campus climate. Diversity and inclusion efforts are not complete unless they also address climate (University of California Study Group on Diversity, 2006).
A healthy campus climate is not the same as a positive climate, or a climate that is always comfortable. In fact, healthy campus environments allow for the nurturing of the complexity surrounding what it means to live, learn, and work on an academic campus with varying perspectives, providing opportunities for growth, and developing democratic values. Climate as a construct allows us to measure the health and impact of institutional climate on key indicators. We can measure this health through three factors:
- Experiences on campus
- Perceptions of campus
- Perceptions of institutional action and commitment for equity and inclusion
Campus climate research examines differences by identity groups or demographics on these key factors to discover important differences in experiences or perceptions.
Why do a Climate Survey?
- How students experience their campus environment influences both learning and developmental outcomes (1).
- Discriminatory environments have a negative effect on student learning (2).
- A diverse faculty and student body enhances learning outcomes (3)(4).
- Quite simply, students thrive in healthy environments, free of the negativity of discrimination, where inclusion and respect for diversity is the daily norm.
- Faculty members, administrators and staff members are significantly impacted by campus climate (5).
- The personal and professional development of employees is greatly enhanced through a healthy working environment.
- Faculty members, for example, who consider their campus climate healthy and inclusive are more likely to feel personally and professionally supported and perceive their work unit as more supportive.
- There is also a direct relationship between workplace discrimination and negative job and career attitudes (6)(7)(8). Faculty and staff who have encountered prejudice directly attribute its negative effects to decreased health and well being.
- Creating a healthy campus climate is as important for faculty and staff as it is for students.
Why conduct a climate assessment? What are the outcomes?
- To support GVSU’s goal to be diverse and inclusive and values for inclusiveness and community.
- To better understand the experiences and perceptions of all members of the community related to equity and inclusion.
- To improve the environment for working and learning on campus for all members of the community, including underrepresented members of the community.
- To continue to engage the campus community in dialogue related to diversity and inclusion, and foster greater visibility, information-sharing, and the building on a common knowledge-base.
- To provide GVSU with longitudinal data to guide new and enhanced strategic initiatives related to campus climate.
- To respond to a culture of assessment and data-driven decision-making in higher education.
Your participation will drive action. Based on survey findings, we will continue to identify and refine strategic initiatives and action plans to improve or enhance institutional climate. Many of the programs, initiatives, and policy changes related to diversity and inclusion at GVSU have been informed by previous studies. We will be transparent and open with the results. The results of the survey and continued efforts will be reported to all members of the community on this website.