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Assessing and Shaping a Culture That Values Everyone

March 9, 2015

Look to your left, look to your right, look all around. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you experience? What drives you? What do you most value? These elements all form the climate of the University of Kansas.

Assessing KU’s climate — how well we as an institution value others and enable their success — is crucial to our continuing improvement as an exceptional university. With your input, we will soon launch a new task force to begin the process. The task force will help lead the development of KU’s first Campus-wide Climate Survey to be conducted in the fall.

A supportive environment

At the outset of the February 6 Provost eNews, I wrote about the importance of diversity in hiring, student recruitment, and creating a supportive environment for all people to thrive by valuing our diverse identities. The Diversity and Leadership Council Workgroup, convened earlier this academic year, began the effort to shepherd these initiatives. The campus climate survey planned for the fall will strive to address these issues, too, but also employ the broadest possible scope in measuring KU’s climate.

The goal is to learn more about how KU’s environment supports or hinders a variety of populations, such as underrepresented student groups and faculty navigating the tenure-track process. We want to understand the disruptions we face in completing our jobs and the challenges that make us lose focus on our studies. From there we can work together to eliminate stumbling blocks and build upon our positive procedures, language, and actions. 

The next steps

Participation from all corners of the university is essential to creating a survey that provides meaningful results. I’ve asked Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity Nate Thomas and Associate Vice Provost for Human Resource Management Mike Rounds to lead this important task force initiative. I anticipate that a varied task force composed of students, faculty, staff, deans, and senior leadership will reach out to the KU community for input from all levels, locations, and perspectives. It will work with best practices and experts to craft a survey instrument that provides a broad climate assessment, while also delivering detailed information about our most vulnerable populations. 

A call for task force volunteers will go out shortly. I encourage you to begin thinking about nominating individuals for the committee as well as the role you might play in this valuable endeavor. Assessing the climate inside our walls is a crucial step to shape a safe and inclusive atmosphere so that more than ever KU becomes a great place for us all to learn, work, and teach.

Bits and Bytes

  • Students received an email earlier this semester asking them to take part in KU’s third annual survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment. I want to thank all the students who took the time to fill out the survey. Almost twice as many students filled out the survey this year. The data will be immensely helpful to KU’s Sexual Assault Task Force when they meet later this semester.
  • Several reasons to celebrate are approaching: The Big 12 Tournament, Ultimate Pi Day (3/14/15 at 9:26:53 a.m. and p.m.), and of course the NCAA Tournament. Please celebrate safely and responsibly.
  • Kudos to KU Dining Services Director Nona Golledge for receiving the 2015 International Food Manufacturers Association Silver Plate Award in the Colleges and Universities category. Golledge was chosen by a jury of foodservice trade press editors and the 2014 Silver Plate recipients. The annual awards acknowledged the most outstanding talents in the $600 billion foodservice industry.
  • Thank you to all the staff and faculty who contributed to such a strong and well-received Staff Leadership Summit on February 26. Topics ranged from diversity and cultural competency to understanding generational differences to mentoring.
  • Upcoming presentations in the Bold Aspirations & Visitor Lecture Series include
    • Maryemma Graham, University Distinguished Professor Lecture, on Monday, March 23 at 5:30 p.m. in the Bruckmiller Room of the Adams Alumni Center.
    • Robert Warrior, Foundations Professor Lecture, on Wednesday, April 1 at 3:30 p.m. in The Commons, Spooner Hall. 
Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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