What is a Climate Study? Why does it matter?

A Climate Study is a measure of the real or perceived quality of interpersonal, academic and professional interactions on a campus and consists of “the current attitudes, behaviors and standards of faculty, staff, administrators and students concerning the level of respect for individual needs, abilities and potential” (Hurtado, 1992; Rankin, 2001). A healthy climate is grounded in respect for others, nurtured by dialogue between those of differing perspectives, and evidenced by a pattern of civil interactions among community members. Campus climate includes the experience of individuals and groups on a campus—and the quality and extent of the interaction between those various groups and individuals.

A healthy campus climate is not the same as a positive climate, or a climate that is always comfortable. In fact, healthy campus environments allow for the nurturing of the complexity surrounding what it means to live, learn and work on an academic campus with varying perspectives, providing opportunities for growth, and developing democratic values. Climate as a construct allows us to measure the health and impact of institutional climate on key indicators. We can measure this health through three factors:

  1. Experiences on campus
  2. Perceptions of campus
  3. Perceptions of institutional action and commitment for equity and inclusion

Campus climate research examines differences by identity groups or demographics on these key factors to discover important differences in experiences or perceptions.

Campus climate matters to students, faculty and staff

NEIU Climate Matters

This climate study offers you the opportunity to describe your personal experiences and observations, and offer suggestions for change to help enhance the campus climate at NEIU. The goals of the climate study are to:

  • Identify successful initiatives
  • Uncover challenges facing members of our university community
  • Develop strategic initiatives to build on the successes and address the challenges

How campus climate affects students

Numerous studies have concluded that how students experience their campus environment influences both learning and developmental outcomes. Students excel in healthy environments, free of discrimination, where inclusion and respect for equity and diversity is valued.

How campus climate affects faculty and staff

Research studies support that faculty members, administrators and staff members are significantly impacted by campus climate. Faculty members, for example, who consider their campus climate healthy and inclusive are more likely to feel personally and professionally supported. Creating a healthy campus climate is as important for faculty and staff as it is for students.

Why conduct a climate assessment for NEIU?

  • To support NEIU’s mission to provide an exceptional environment for learning, teaching and scholarship and upholding our NEIU values of integrity, excellence, access to opportunity, diversity, community and empowerment through learning.
  • To better understand the experiences and perceptions of all members of the community related to equity and inclusion.
  • To improve the environment for working and learning on campus for all members of the community.
  • To continue to engage the campus community in dialogue related to equity, inclusion and diversity, and foster greater visibility, information-sharing and the building on a collective knowledge-base.
  • To provide NEIU with longitudinal data to guide new and enhanced strategic initiatives related to campus climate.
  • To respond to a culture of assessment and data-driven decision-making in higher education.