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Assessing Campus Climate

UR Participation in the HERI Campus Climate Surveys for Faculty, Staff and Students: Frequently Asked Questions

During the 2020-21 academic year, faculty, staff and students will be invited to participate in a set of surveys meant to meaningfully assess the University’s campus climate around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The faculty survey is slated to open on October 5, 2020.

The student and staff surveys will go out in mid-spring 2021.

Why are we doing a campus climate survey?

The University of Richmond is committed to building a campus where all students, faculty, and staff can fully participate and thrive. As we continue our Making Excellence Inclusive efforts we have worked closely with Institutional Effectiveness to determine the most effective means to assess campus climate and ensure our work is linked to meaningful progress in our community.

While UR administers a number of national and local surveys, we have not participated in a campus-wide climate survey designed to assess diversity, equity, and inclusion for students, staff, and faculty. Our participation in the Higher Education Research Institute's (HERI) surveys will allow us to more comprehensively analyze our current strengths and challenges, as well as compare ourselves to other institutions in the dataset. Most important, these data will assist us in gaining a better understanding of key issues in order to make data-driven recommendations for improvements and track progress on those improvements.

Why is it important that I participate?

Your opinion and your experiences matter. You are an important part of the Spider community. Although all of the responses will be summarized, masking individual information and identifying details, your responses will help us understand the strengths of our campus community and the areas in which we can improve. Without your participation, we will not know what is most important to you.

What is campus climate?

Campus climate refers to the real or perceived experiences of individuals and groups on campus, and the quality and degree of their interactions with one another and between various groups. A positive campus climate is a supportive environment that fosters diversity, equity, and inclusion, and respect for all members.

Why is a healthy climate important?

A healthy campus climate is associated with improved student learning, personal and professional satisfaction, and enhanced well-being for members of the campus community. A campus that actively demonstrates safety, support, respect, and trust, creates a climate where its members to thrive.

What is HERI?

HERI stands for the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). For nearly 50 years, HERI has been administering national surveys on issues related to higher education among public and private universities and colleges. HERI has developed three campus climate surveys: the Diverse Learning Environments survey for students, the Staff Climate Survey, and the HERI Faculty Survey.

Why are we using an outside organization to collect campus climate data?

We are engaging a respected research organization to administer the surveys and report on results to maximize objectivity and ensure instrument reliability and validity.

Why is this part of a national study?

Participating in a national survey allows us to benchmark UR against other universities which then contextualizes the results we receive.

Have we done this survey before?

No, this is the first time we are administering the HERI climate surveys on the UR campus.

Is this survey approved by the UR Institutional Review Board (IRB)?

Yes. The UCLA Institutional Review Board is the IRB of record for this study.

Who is taking this survey?

All faculty, staff, and students 18 years or older will receive a link to the respective survey designed for their population on campus. Each group's survey addresses key points associated with their unique experiences on campus. By law, persons aged 17 or younger are not eligible to participate in these surveys as they are not yet considered legal adults.

Am I required to take this survey?

No, this survey is completely voluntary. Federal regulations prohibit compulsory participation in research. Should you choose not to participate or decide not to finish the survey, there will be no consequences of any kind.

Do I have to finish the survey all at once?

No, the survey is designed to allow you to stop and go back to it at a later time; your answers will be saved as you proceed through the survey. To return to the survey, open the survey invitation email and click on the survey link.

Remind me, what did I agree to at the start of the survey?

In case you would like to once again see the Survey Information Sheet posted at the beginning of each survey, please refer to the link below that corresponds to your survey group:

What if I didn't receive an email with a link to the survey?

First check your Spam or Junk email folder(s) to see if the email was delivered there. If you do not find it, please send an email to

Is this survey confidential?

Absolutely. All your answers are confidential, and your identity will not be linked to any of your responses through either internal or external reporting processes.

Once you click the 'Submit' button, your responses are then disassociated from your name and contact information. Results are confidential and will only be used to report aggregate findings. Any question with fewer than five respondents will be excluded from all reporting in order to protect confidentiality.

Do I have to share my name on the survey?

No, you do not have to share your name. HERI may ask you to provide your name and contact information for future studies (not associated with UR), however, you are under no obligation to share this information. UR will never receive information from HERI that includes your name or other personally identifiable information, even if you decide to share that information with HERI.

Will anyone see my answers?

No, your responses will be combined with that of other respondents and will be used for research purposes only; individual responses will not be reviewed or analyzed by HERI or UR.

What will HERI do with my information?

HERI will aggregate your survey responses with those of other UR respondents, analyze the data, and prepare several reports for UR, none of which contains personally identifiable information.

Your personally identifiable information will not be retained by HERI, unless you give them permission to contact you for their future studies (not associated with UR). Your personal information, if you choose to provide it to HERI, will be stored by HERI separately from your survey responses. HERI will also aggregate your responses into their national publicized campus climate study.

Do I have to answer every question?

No, you are under no obligation to answer every question; there will be no consequence of any kind should you decide to skip questions or stop participating. All responses are confidential; individual responses will not be reviewed by UR or HERI.

What can I do if I think my answer to a particular question will reveal my identity?

You can choose to skip the question. To skip a question on the Student and Staff surveys, click 'Save and Next' to advance to the next screen (depending upon the question, you may need to click 'Save and Next' twice). To skip a question on the Faculty survey, you will need to click the 'Next' button twice. If it is an open-ended question, type in 'No Response.'

What will be done with possibly identifying details I might reveal in the open response sections of the survey?

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness (IFX) will take appropriate measures to ensure that individuals are not identifiable in any report and confidentiality will be maintained. Any response that may possibly lead to the identification of a particular individual will be omitted from report(s), and when appropriate, IFX will remove entire questions from the dataset. Confidentiality of all survey responses remains a core value of IFX.

When will UR receive the results of the survey?

HERI is scheduled to send our survey results in late summer or early fall 2021.

Where is the data going to be stored and who has access to it?

The survey results will be stored by the Office of Institutional Effectiveness in a secured electronic format. Only the IFX staff will have access to the survey results dataset; they will use the data file to run statistical analysis and prepare reports using aggregated data.

How can I really be sure my answers are confidential?

Before releasing the survey results, the Office of Institutional Effectiveness is required to sign a confidentiality agreement with HERI. This agreement states that data will be used solely for statistical analysis and reporting of aggregated information, and not for the investigation of specific individuals. In other words, no one can investigate individual responses.

IFX is committed to maintaining the confidentiality of all respondents. Analysis will not be conducted on any sub-populations that could lead to the identification of any particular individual.

Who on campus will see the results?

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness will provide aggregated survey results to the Executive Vice Presidents, the Senior Administrative Officer for Equity and Community, and the Institutional Coordinating Council for Thriving, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (ICC). This means that all data will be grouped together in various ways; it will not contain individual responses. No one will be able to link your identity with any of your responses in any shared report or dataset.

The SAO will engage the ICC and a content expert to review the aggregated results and propose an improvement plan to the campus community.

IFX will post the aggregated survey results on their website page for surveys.

What will UR do with the results of the survey?

Identify areas related to campus climate that UR is achieving positive outcomes while recognizing areas where improvements are needed. Our goal is to make the necessary improvements to campus climate while maintaining or enhancing the areas that have positive impacts.

Will we be doing this survey again in the future?

Yes, we will continue participating in the HERI campus climate surveys to ensure ongoing data collection relevant to our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on campus. These surveys will be administered on a routine cycle in line with HERI's survey timeline. The HERI Faculty Survey is only offered every three years; in the interim years, UR will develop a faculty survey in conjunction with HERI to continue to gather data on the issue of campus climate. The cycle of all three surveys will align with one another.

Who can I contact if I have any questions or concerns about this survey?

Send your concerns or questions via email to Melanie Jenkins,, 804-484-1581, or Deborah White,, 804-484-1582 and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. Please be sure to include your name and the best way to contact you.