Diversity climate survey seeks responses from all parts of Pitt


All members of the Pitt community — faculty, staff, students, postdocs — on all campuses should have received an invitation this week to participate in a Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey.

Participation is voluntary, but Clyde Wilson Pickett, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, said, “We’re excited that this is out to the campus, and we encourage all community members to complete it. We’re looking forward to reviewing what we find and sharing it with the community.”

The survey, which is open through Feb. 10, is being administered by an independent organization, the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS), which is located at the Center of Inquiry at Wabash College in Indiana. HEDS has 40 years of higher education research experience.

Participants have to sign on to the survey with their Pitt Passport name and login, to make sure they are part of the Pitt community and that no one is taking it more than once. But any personal information will not be included in the report that comes back to Pitt.

There is an opportunity at the end of the survey to enter your email address for a chance at a $100 Target gift card — 10 will be awarded — but that will only let Pitt know that you took the survey and not what you said in it.

The survey, which takes about 15 minutes to complete, asks questions like:

  • How often do you interact with and how comfortable are you with undocumented immigrants, people from other races/ethnicities, those with different political views or religions or sexual orientation, older or younger people, non-native English speakers, those from other countries or socioeconomic backgrounds, or people with disabilities?

  • Have you heard disparaging remarks about different groups and have those remarks come from faculty, staff, students or community members?

  • If you have seen or experienced discrimination or harassment, do you know how to report it and how the process works?

Angie Bedford-Jack, director of digital equity and special projects in the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, said smaller surveys like this have been done at Pitt previously, but this is the first one to include the entire University community. OEDI hopes to get at least a 10 percent response rate, she said.

Pickett said they’ve heard “loud and clear from stakeholders that this is important.” He said part of the work of his office is “examining belonging and our commitment to this work. And so in hearing from stakeholders, we hear about their experience, but it’s important for us to have data to support their experiences.” The campus climate assessment will give OEDI feedback and the appropriate data to take action.

“The goal is to get a snapshot of where constituents believe the University of Pittsburgh is as it relates to equity and inclusion, and use that to reflect, adapt and bolster our strategic plan,” Bedford-Jack said.

Pickett stressed that the survey is part of a process. “We can’t exercise a climate assessment, put this out there and feel like we’re going to take it the next day and everything will change,” he said.

“It has to be sustained. It has to be something that we commit time to and continue to make an effort on. And that gives us an opportunity in the future to assess our progress and see how we’ve been able to make inroads. … I think the Plan for Pitt is clear that we have to have intentional collaboration across the University in terms of having impact and that belonging is a front and center consideration.”

After the survey closes on Feb. 10, it will be about six weeks before the data analysis comes back to Pitt. At that time, focus groups will be formed to review it, hopefully later this semester. The office also will have a working group with wide representation from across Pitt to look at the analysis from HEDS and see what actions the University should and can take.

Bedford-Jack noted that while OEDI can guide the elements of diversity and inclusion, they have to be implemented somewhere else, such as hiring practices in Human Resources. And because the survey is being done by a national group that does similar work at other institutions, Pitt also will be able to compare its findings with other universities

Pickett said in conversations he’s had since the survey came out the reaction has been favorable. “We still have some time for folks to complete the information and encourage them to do so,” he said.

Participants must complete the survey using the link that was emailed to their pitt.edu email address. It is a single-use link; do not forward it to anyone else. Find out more about the survey on the OEDI website.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 724-244-4042.


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