Virginia Commonwealth University’s annual culture and climate survey has always informed the institution of our community members’ perceptions at both the Monroe Park and MCV campuses. It allows us to make an assessment, plan adjustments and measure in a cyclical way. However, what if we combined a traditional assessment tool and a near real-time method of collecting data and making campus climate insights from it? VCU Universe is a comprehensive assessment and evaluation platform enabling the division and its campus partners to enact change.
VCU Universe consists of two parts: the VCU Organizational Culture and Climate Survey (OCCS) and Climatext. Both work in unison to provide a snapshot of VCU’s campus climate and culture but more importantly, provide feedback to the Division for Inclusive Excellence so that it can formulate a strategy and recommendation to the president for how to deploy resources around campus to address its needs around diversity and inclusion.
The OCCS is a multi-index scoring tool to monitor and record institutional as well as unit-level progress toward diversity and inclusion goals. It is administered once every 18 months to VCU’s faculty and staff within its 24 major business units, or MBUs, that comprise of both administrative and academic units. The OCCS collects survey data from across the MBUs and produces four distinct but interrelated indices. These indices produce a score for each of the MBUs and are ranked among their peers based on how they score. The rankings and indices are collected, made publicly available on the campus culture and climate dashboard that is hosted on the division’s website.
Climatext is administered across VCU’s 24,000 undergraduate students utilizing their smartphone’s text messaging app. The Division for Inclusive Excellence deploys a one-item survey every few weeks of a semester with the goal of receiving as many responses as possible to aggregate the results, provide a snapshot of a near real-time campus climate and culture from VCU students’ perspective, or, “campus mood”.
Combined, the OCCS and Climatext provide a wealth of data and feedback. The campus culture and climate dashboard will inform MBUs of their standing within their peers in respect to prioritizing diversity and inclusion. More importantly, the dashboard serves as a diagnostic tool, identifying opportunities to either maintain or improve their diversity, inclusion and equity standing. Climatext provides feedback to the division and aids in formulating a response to proactively maintain or adjust campus culture and climate.
The overall expectation is that through interventions - including campus resources for students and professional development, education and training for faculty and staff - there will be notable or significant, positive increases in favorable perceptions of campus climate and culture year-over-year.
The 2019 Campus Culture and Climate Ratings dashboard is now online and Climatext is launching in late fall 2019.