Kennesaw State releases results of first survey of campus learning, living and working climate
Study shows strong overall comfort among student, faculty and staff;targets areas for improvement…
Georgia (Oct 1, 2014) — Study shows strong overall comfort among student, faculty and staff;targets areas for improvement
KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct. 1, 2014) — Kennesaw State University has released the results of its first comprehensive survey of how students and employees view their experiences and relationships on campus. A summary of “The Assessment of Climate for Learning, Living and Working” was released today following a series of campus presentations and town hall forums to discuss the results.
The survey measured the attitudes, perceptions and practices of students, faculty and staff related to how well they feel individuals and groups are respected and able to meet their needs, abilities and potential. It is the result of a two-year initiative tied to the University’s current strategic plan, which includes a goal “to enhance the collegiate experience and foster a welcoming, diverse and inclusive environment.”
“This comprehensive assessment is the culmination of many years of planning and thinking about what kind of institution we are and what we want to become as the University enters a new era of growth,” said Kennesaw State President Daniel S. Papp, who initiated an effort to assess the status of diversity and equity on campus in 2006. “The results affirm some of the progress we’ve made and reveals where we must focus in order to achieve and maintain the type of campus environment we envision.”
A 40-member task force of faculty, staff and students, guided by the University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, helped design and administer the confidential, on-line survey. The independent consulting firm of Rankin and Associates was hired to support the assessment initiative.
Based on a voluntary survey of 5,128 members of the campus community, the assessment revealed that 83 percent are “comfortable or very comfortable” with the overall climate at Kennesaw State. Other key findings show:
- A majority of faculty and staff hold positive attitudes about work-life balance issues such as support for taking necessary leave (65 percent) and flexible work schedules (75 percent).
- A majority of students feel positive about their academic experience, including the extent of their intellectual development (81 percent); an increased interest in ideas and intellectual matters (79 percent); and satisfaction with their overall academic experience (79 percent).
- While overall, 21 percent of students, faculty and staff indicated they have experienced “exclusionary, intimidating, offensive, and/or hostile conduct” on campus, more minority group members have had such experiences: women (50 percent) and ethnic and racial minorities (68 percent of “people of color” and 46 percent of those with “multiracial” background), compared to non-minority respondents (29 percent).
- Two percent or 76 individuals, including 59 students, indicated they have experienced “unwanted sexual contact” while at Kennesaw State.
“This data establishes an all-important baseline upon which we can begin to build on our strengths and tackle the indicated challenges,” said Erik Malewski, the University’s chief diversity officer. “While there is much to celebrate in the findings, we need to be mindful of when members of the Kennesaw State community did not feel welcome. Every voice matters here, which means we need to address the practices, behaviors and attitudes that generate a sense of exclusion among individuals and groups for whatever reason.”
Based on the results of the study, Malewski said the Office of Diversity and Inclusion will identify action items that will improve the campus climate and can be completed in 12-18 months. The office will also continue to disaggregate the data and work with academic and administrative units to develop diversity action plans specific to their strengths and challenges. The university will repeat the assessment within five years to track progress on the initiatives. In addition, as plans move forward to consolidate Kennesaw State and Southern Polytechnic State University next January, a similar assessment is being conducted at Southern Polytechnic.
Malewski noted that Kennesaw State has already begun to work on some of the critical issues of climate indicated by the survey. To address the problem of unwanted sexual contact, for example, his office is launching a bystander intervention program called “Not Anymore,” which encourages those who witness inappropriate activity to take action and report it. In addition, Kennesaw State is the first University System of Georgia institution to hire a victim services advocate, who will be housed in the campus police department’s new Office of Victim Services.
“We seek to create an intellectually stimulating environment where differences are respected and all community members feel welcomed,” Malewski said. “It is important to uphold the principles of academic freedom and diversity of thought — the hallmarks of any university — but to do so require the commitment of all constituents. This study and our next steps help get us there.”
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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 90 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 24,600 from 130 countries.
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.