The academic and work environment at Missouri University of Science and Technology is perceived as “comfortable” or “very comfortable” by 82 percent of respondents to a spring 2012 survey about the university’s climate. But 14 percent of survey respondents report that they had experienced conduct “that interfered unreasonably with their ability to work or learn on campus” during the previous year.
The survey results were presented to members of the Missouri S&T campus community on Friday, Nov. 2, by Sue Rankin of Rankin and Associates, the consulting firm that conducted the survey and analysis for the campus. The forum was held from 10:30 a.m.-noon in Room 209 of the Computer Science Building. (View video of forum.)
Of the 2,717 students, faculty and staff who completed the survey last April, 82 percent said they were either “very comfortable” or “comfortable” with the overall climate of the Missouri S&T campus. In addition, 72 percent of students who took the survey said they felt they were performing up to their full academic potential at S&T, while 77 percent said they were satisfied with their academic experience at Missouri S&T.
Eighty percent of student respondents also indicated they were satisfied with their intellectual development since enrolling at S&T, and 81 percent said their academic experience has had a positive influence on their intellectual growth and interest in ideas. Sixty-seven percent of students said they felt valued by faculty, and 59 percent said they felt valued by their fellow students in the classroom.
Of the S&T faculty and staff members who took the survey, 70 percent indicated they felt satisfied or highly satisfied with their jobs.
The survey results also presented what Rankin called “four potential challenges” for the university with regard to the campus environment: the potential for “racial tension,” “homophobia and heterosexism,” “gender disparities” and “differential treatment” of staff and faculty based on occupation or position.
According to the report, 14 percent of the respondents (365 people) reported they had experienced “exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct” at Missouri S&T during the past year.
The survey results indicate that “people of color” – African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans and some international students, faculty and staff – felt less comfortable than white respondents with the overall climate for diversity on campus. “A further evaluation of the classroom climate indicates that while 80 percent of white students thought the classroom climate was welcoming based on race, 71 percent of students of color agreed, indicating a difference in perception,” the Rankin and Associates report said.
Twenty-one percent of survey respondents who indicated they were lesbian, gay, bisexual or queer (LGBQ) said they believed they had experienced harassment at S&T, compared to 13 percent of heterosexual respondents. Heterosexuals were also more comfortable than LGBQ respondents with the overall climate for diversity at Missouri S&T. While 52 percent of heterosexual employee respondents said they believe the workplace climate is welcoming based on sexual orientation, 38 percent of LGBQ respondents agreed.
In terms of gender inequities, a greater percentage of women (18 percent) reported that they had experienced harassment than did men (11 percent). Seventy-eight percent of those women also said they believed the harassment was based on gender, compared to 40 percent of the men.
Of the 14 percent of all respondents who indicated they experienced “exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct” at Missouri S&T during the past year, 24 percent said faculty or staff position was the basis for mistreatment. According to the survey results, staff members who are paid hourly (called “non-exempt” in the report) and faculty are less satisfied with their jobs and careers than administrators and other salaried (“exempt”) staff.
The climate survey was sponsored by the Chancellor’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion-II (CCDI-II), a committee appointed by former Missouri S&T Chancellor John F. Carney III to promote diversity and inclusion across campus. Current Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader reappointed and expanded the committee in September.
The survey was conducted in April 2012, and the 2,717 respondents represent 32 percent of the campus community. The breakdown of respondents by student, faculty and staff is as follows:
“Missouri S&T strives to create an environment that is characterized by equal access for all students and employees, regardless of cultural differences,” says Chancellor Schrader. “The results of this campus climate survey provide valuable information to help us identify important issues that need to be addressed to ensure that we can create and maintain an environment that respects individual needs, abilities and potential.
“I’m thankful to Sue Rankin and her staff for conducting this survey and providing the professional insight and analysis needed to help us move forward. I also appreciate the hard work of the Chancellor’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion-II for directing this process, and I especially want to thank all of the students, faculty and staff who took the time to participate in this important process,” Schrader says. “It’s important that we hear as many voices and perspectives as possible to help Missouri S&T become more welcoming and inclusive.”