Emory Report
March 20, 2006
Volume 58, Number 23


Emory Report homepage  

March 20 , 2006
Panel hears Climate Survey results at brown bag meeting

BY alfred charles

Two top Emory administrators explained how they are acting on the results of the Campus Climate Survey during a recent brown bag lunch meeting held to continue dialogue about the data.

Bridget Guernsey Riordan, assistant vice president for campus life, and Laura Papotto, senior operations director for Emory College, were two members of a panel that convened March 9 in Winship Ballroom to bring the campus up to speed on the University’s response since the survey of faculty and staff was completed in late 2004. Up to 50 people, including President Jim Wagner and Provost Earl Lewis, attended the session.

“I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to do this,” said Papotto, speaking about the survey, which she said has created synergy with other recent inward-looking initiatives involving Emory College, including the University strategic plan and debate about implementation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. “This is a real positive time.”

Papotto said the data from Emory College workers showed that staffers were generally less satisfied with conditions than their faculty counterparts. She said negative responses were given by college employees in two areas: communication and professional development.

To address those concerns, Papotto said the college has begun using an e-newsletter that goes out quarterly to faculty and staff and contains vital information, such as changes in policy and facts about new hires.

In an effort to bolster satisfaction among workers who responded negatively when asked about the opportunities to expand their professional skills, Papotto said the college has launched a staff learning and development program that seeks to increase the number of professional development opportunities and initiated a rewards and recognition program to honor those who take part in such programs.

Riordan said Campus Life is also taking steps based on the survey results.

She said the value of diversity garnered the highest ranking, with an 85 percent response rate from people who said the unit valued multiculturalism. She said 52 percent of respondents answered favorably when asked about how the division functions.

But Riordan said Campus Life administrators learned from the survey that workers wanted more communication and that the division’s awards program was an important tool.

Campus Life deans and directors discussed the survey results at a retreat last October, agreeing to target communication, leadership development, professional development and rewards to bolster staff satisfaction, which scored an overall 60 percent favorable rate.

“We said 60 percent isn’t good enough,” Riordan said.

The campus survey was conducted from Nov. 29–Dec. 17, 2004, and was an effort to measure the pulse of the University’s practices and operations as seen by faculty and staff. The results can be found online at http://emory.hr.emory.edu/hr/climate.nsf.

During his introductory remarks to the gathering, President Wagner said the survey provides a baseline of the University’s internal standings and is akin to a “snapshot” photograph.

“We should understand that this is a snapshot that may be fuzzy and out of focus,” he said, adding that Emory will likely conduct a similar survey in about three years or so. “The next snapshot, and it will also be just a snapshot, must show increases.”

After the session, Donna Wong, chair of the President’s Commission on Race and Ethnicity, which helped develop the survey, said she was pleased with the session.

“It was very informative and gave us concrete evidence that certain departments are looking seriously at the results,” she said.