Photo by Josh Sandler

Over the past two weeks, students, faculty and staff received an email from Institute President G. P. “Bud” Peterson and other administrators inviting them to take the Campus Climate Survey. For the first time, the administration is taking steps to learn more about how people feel about the community and culture across campus through this assessment.

“No one’s ever done this before… and it’s not often that this kind of research has been done where students are going to drive it,” said Dr. Archie Ervin, the Vice President of Institute Diversity.

The survey is being administered by The Office of Assessment in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President for Institute Diversity and is designed overall to allow the entire campus community to share their perceptions of Tech. Its main focus is to point out the campus community and culture and truly inquire into how things are done around Tech. It will also address how people feel about various things and what kinds of changes can be made.

The administration will also be able to see how the campus community feels about the culture and determine what kinds of changes should be made in upcoming years.

“The data will help us to understand how the leadership of GT can work to enhance student learning and student life; how we may be able to better support faculty research and teaching; and how we can assist our staff in the performance of their various roles at Georgia Tech,” said Dr. Jonathan Gordon, the Director of the Office of Assessment.

Most of this is coming back from the Institute’s 25 year strategic plan designed in 2010, as many of the survey questions were designed around a section of the strategic plan that Dr. Ervin pointed out was “talking about the kinds of community we want to be,” and “not just focused on diversity but about the experiences of all the people in the community… [and] the culture that we’re trying to build.”

The campus climate survey was designed by separate task forces made up of students, faculty and staff…

As the strategic plan stated on page six, Tech “aspire[s] to be an Institute that pursues excellence and embraces and leverages diversity in all of its forms. In the years ahead, we must continue to enhance a culture of collegiality, close collaboration, global perspective, intercultural sensitivity and respect and thoughtful interaction among a diverse community of scholars that includes all of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.”

The campus climate survey was designed by separate task forces made up of students, faculty and staff who made the decisions on what topics needed to be covered. People were brought together from different colleges, departments and aspects of campus life to offer multiple perspectives on the content that should be included. These ideas for content were passed along to the Office of Assessment, who actually handled creating the questions and narrowing it down to 25 questions that would allow administration to obtain a baseline of information to work off for the future.

The Office of Assessment is also handling the circulation of the survey, which is being sent out for the last time next Tuesday, with e-mails from people like President Peterson; William Schafer, the Vice President of Student Affairs; Dan Morrison, the Director of Residence of Life; and the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Body Presidents Eran Mordel and Michael Kirka.

“We are administering the survey online. Students, faculty and staff will be contacted via email with a URL to complete the survey. After an initial survey invitation from President Peterson, we will send two reminders (each spaced a week apart) to those who have not completed the survey,” Gordon said. “We use a survey token to track who has completed the survey and who hasn’t so that we don’t send reminders to those who have already completed the survey. However, we do not match this token with the actual survey responses. In other words, people are able to respond to the survey anonymously.”

The results of the survey are going to be collected at the end of February so that the data can be analyzed and published in high level formats for anyone interested to see. The administration will also be able to see how the campus community feels about the culture and determine what kinds of changes should be made in upcoming years, as well as gauging progress in years for the years’ past.

“When we say a climate survey its not about how the weather is, its about the Georgia Tech community and the cultural and campus climate of that community, how people live and experience Georgia Tech, that’s what it’s about,” Ervin said.