Campus urged to participate in conversations on climate study findings May 7

Campus urged to participate in conversations on climate study findings May 7

We would like to acknowledge and recognize participation of the campus community in the 2007 Opinion Survey on Campus Climate and invite you to attend one of two community conversations on Wednesday, May 7.

The first conversation is 7:30 to 9 a.m. in Room 304, Murray-Herrick Campus Center, on the St. Paul campus. A light breakfast will be provided. The second conversation is from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Room 202, Opus Hall, on the Minneapolis campus. A light lunch will be provided. Space is limited for both venues, and no R.S.V.P. is required.

Capturing the essence of a university from the perspective of those who inhabit it is no easy task. Although we tend to think of our university as a private, collective entity, the simple fact is it is rarely experienced that way. On the contrary, attending, teaching or working for a university often is a highly individualized endeavor, mediated by both private and personal experiences and concerns. Not only are there psychological dimensions that are influenced by existing social and power structures, but also one’s role within the institution helps define one’s reaction to it. For example, students, by their very nature, tend to be more temporary in terms of their engagement with the institution than either faculty or staff. Faculty, relative to staff members, can be seen as more central to the core teaching and learning functions of postsecondary institutions, while staff are critical in terms of making a complex organization run efficiently and in creating a campus environment that supports the work of students, faculty and the larger communities that institutions seek to serve. As a result, individuals cannot only experience the same institution differently but they form very distinct opinions and beliefs about it, too.

Several people contributed to the development, design and implementation of the survey. Most importantly, 27 percent of our campus responded to the survey. Global Lead Management Consulting reported results and findings to the campus on April 3. We now have more specific baseline data to show how effective we are at our diversity initiatives as well as information to direct us in areas where we still have challenges.

Our greatest challenge as a learning community comes not so much from the situations we confront as from our doubts about our ability to handle them. By our very humanity we are a diverse place; however, our constant challenge will be to leverage the diversity within each of us to be a more intentionally inclusive university.

Father Dennis Dease will share his reflections on the recent climate study findings and recommendations in a Bulletin Today column tomorrow. As president of the university, he will provide information on the important next steps for St. Thomas as we move from recommendations to concrete actions. The article will provide links to an executive summary, which summarizes the results from the climate assessment, as well as links to the full set of recommendations and overall quantitative findings prepared by Global Lead. I urge the campus community to read the reports.

The intent is to provide background information and basic details as well as an overview of the substantive results. Equally important, we want to thank you for taking the time to complete the survey and to hear your thoughts on where we should go from here.

Diversity is a core conviction at St. Thomas. Please join us as we continue to make progress.