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University Climate Survey

As K-State's 2025 strategic plan comes to a close, our strategic planning efforts continue as Next-Gen K-State. See the latest updates on the Next-Gen K-State website.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is university climate?

The President's Commission on Multicultural Affairs has adopted the following definition for climate: How individuals and groups experience and perceive being members of our university community with a particular emphasis on feeling valued, a sense of belonging, being listened to, seeing oneself as physically and psychologically safe, and being treated with dignity, equity and respect by others. The climate survey steering group recommended the use of this definition for the purposes of this survey.


2) Why is a climate survey important?

A climate survey measures the extent to which diversity and inclusion play an integral role at our university. Participation builds university learning about our environment and defines ways to make everyone feel welcome, safe, and respected.


3) Why should Kansas State University conduct a climate survey?

The idea to conduct a university climate survey originated from interested students, faculty and staff who believed data from such a survey might be useful in planning for the future and improving our K-State climate. Campus leaders—students, staff, faculty and central administrators—agreed and a University Climate Survey Steering Group was formed in fall 2013. A second survey is now being implemented.


4) Who will conduct the survey?

With input from the Climate Survey Steering Group and the President's Cabinet, the University entered into a contract with Viewfinder to conduct the survey. The Viewfinder tool has been developed by INSIGHT into Diversity magazine. As Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award winners, we are able to use the Viewfinder tool at considerable cost savings. We get the important benefit of comparing results with similar institutions, providing valuable benchmarking data.


5) Why was a non-K-State researcher selected for the project?

In reviewing efforts by other universities to conduct comprehensive climate studies, several best practices were identified. One was the need for external expertise in survey administration. The administration of a survey relating to a very sensitive subject like university climate is likely to yield higher response rates and provide more credible findings if led by an independent, outside agency. Members of a university community may feel particularly inhibited to respond honestly to a survey administered by their own institution for fear of retaliation.


6) How were the questions developed?

The questions for this survey were developed using two protocols. The majority of the questions were selected from a broad array of questions provided by Viewfinder and used by other universities. By using these questions, Kansas State University is able to compare data with similar universities, which allows for benchmarking and longitudinal analysis. A smaller set of questions were developed specifically for the university by a working group of faculty, staff and students.


7) What will be done with data from the results?

Aggregate data will be shared with all stakeholders—faculty, staff and students—who will be invited to participate in post-survey planning. As with the previous climate survey (see question 17 below) summary results and subsequent actions will be posted. Climate surveys can help facilitate continuous growth and improvement in our university climate. The data will also be used to inform the 2025 strategic plan refresh.


8) How is a respondent's confidentiality protected?

Confidentiality in participating will be maintained to the highest degree permitted by the technology used.

Confidentiality is vital to the success of university climate surveys, particularly as sensitive and personal topics are discussed. While the survey cannot guarantee complete confidentiality because of the nature of multiple demographic questions, we will take precautionary measures to enhance individual confidentiality and the de-identification of data. Social Security number, campus identification number and medical information are not collected through the survey and you are asked to not provide these and other types of personally identifiable information. In the event of any publication or presentation by the university resulting from the assessment, no personally identifiable information will be shared. No demographic data will be used if there is an N of less than five in an individual department.

K-State will retain the data in the office of Institutional Research. Only aggregated data at the university and major unit level will be used in university publications or presentations.

The survey is administered by a an outside vendor, Viewfinder, which utilizes a third-party survey platform, SurveyMonkey. You may review these independent companies’ privacy policies at the links below. They include information about the storage and use of data, including responses on the survey, among other information.



9) Why is this a population survey and not a sample survey?

The survey will be administered to all faculty, staff and students at K-State. Climate exists in micro-climates, so creating opportunities to maximize participation is important as well as maximizing opportunities to reach minority populations. One goal of the project is inclusiveness and allowing invisible "voices" to be heard, so a sampling technique is not used.


10) What is the timeline?

The survey will be administered during the spring semester of 2020, with results analyzed by September 2020. Results will posted online.


11) Why is this survey any different from the last survey?

The 2014 survey included many items relating to job satisfaction that did not align with the scope of a clearly defined university climate. This survey focuses on university climate as defined above.


12) How can I take the survey? Will time be made available to take the survey during my normal work shift?

The survey will be administered online with an invitation sent by email. Reasonable time will be made available to take the survey. If you have questions about access to a computer during working hours, please contact your supervisor. You do not have to take the survey in one sitting, you can use the link to return to the survey.


13) If I lose or delete the email survey invitation, can a peer or coworker send me their link?

Your survey link is unique to you. Reminder notices will be sent periodically to those who have not completed the survey and will contain your unique link.


14) How much time will it take to complete the survey?

The average time to complete the survey is 20 minutes, you will be allowed up to an hour of work time to complete the survey.


15) How were the results of the 2014 survey used?

In 2015, the results of the 2014 survey were collected and discussed in campus sessions. A task force report was provided to the Provost with specific action items. Many of these items have been addressed via university initiatives during the past few years


16) Is there a plan for an employee satisfaction survey in the future?

In spring 2019, a survey of University Support Staff and University Professional Staff was conducted by the Docking Institute. As a follow up to this survey, listening sessions are being planned for spring 2020. Results of these sessions will be presented to the President's Cabinet and shared with the Board of Regents.