A plea for concrete actions in response to IDEAL Climate Survey and Admin Rollout

In the Spring of 2023, the United Academics’ Caucuses sent a collective letter to the upper administration detailing issues with the IDEAL Campus Climate Survey response. We received a short reply saying they will report on all the work they have completed and recognized they need to communicate their efforts better. On October 13, 2023, we sent a follow-up email reminding now President Scholz and Interim Provost Woodruff-Borden, and while they did reply, we still await a response to our specific suggestions to improve our poor campus climate:

  • Establish a formal office to deal with intersectional inequities and discrimination.

  • Create a position in HR specializing in ADA compliance and accommodation as its core responsibility.

  • Prioritize hiring through cluster hires and reward programs with strong retention records.

  • Commit to the retention of faculty.

  • Establish a transparent, fair, and equitable plan for partner hires that does not interfere with other department hiring decisions or plans.

  • Include caregiving challenges and support needs in all surveys and strategies regarding campus climate.

  • Accept and acknowledge that not all administrators and supervisors should be in the positions they occupy. Audit every administrative unit; for example, the CAS dean's office, for its entirety, has been 100% white leadership.

  • Reward BIPOC faculty for the diversity efforts (celebrated by our administration) that they have created and generated through hard work and collaborative efforts.

We request that the president, upper administration, and members of the working groups engage directly with these specific suggestions for action so that they identify and address barriers to their implementation, transparently and expediently.

On October 20th, President Scholz sent out his preliminary impressions to the University about creating a culture and climate of belonging in response to the IDEAL campus climate survey results. Noting the “enormous amount of work” completed by colleagues across campus, he states that we still need “university-wide action.” The “actions” the administration has so far engaged include convening four working groups, a commitment to engage in future periodic surveys to monitor our progress, and $350,000 for units to apply for matching funds “to develop innovative and sustainable ways to enhance the climate and culture in their individual units…” We do not expect an investment of 0.027 percent of the UO's annual $1.2 billion revenue to be effective in addressing this problem, which is professed to be of central importance to the university.

On November 3rd, university members received an invitation from President Scholz to join a campus forum held on November 16 “on belonging, climate, and culture.” The forum is to begin with reflections from the IDEAL campus climate survey, questions from participants, and then small group table discussions (or Zoom breakout rooms) facilitated by a campus leader to discuss “how we can work together to improve the campus climate at the UO.”

Countless UA members have expressed resentment over the expectation of donating more work and time to help fix a poor campus climate resulting from systematic and structural inequities and biases that stem from our top leadership down. This is the problem that should be addressed. The idea that a small group table led by a campus leader to facilitate an honest and meaningful conversation will somehow result in clearer, more meaningful information than has already been acquired feels disingenuous. Minoritized faculty have already shared their experiences, traumas, and harms (see CoDaC’s 2022 Reports), so asking them to do so again is frankly retraumatizing for some. We are weary of explaining and are ready to work on real solutions. Yet, our concrete suggestions have not been directly addressed.

The IDEAL survey identified the problems; it is well past time to implement concrete steps to address them. This is not to discourage folks from attending President Scholz’s forum but rather to recognize the collective sigh by many who feel obligated to attend but know it will come at a cost to their own wellbeing. We have already worked to outline concrete and feasible initiatives. We are ready to get to work to identify and address any barriers to their implementation.

If you are interested in helping create a culture of belonging at the University of Oregon, we invite you to join one of our UA caucuses (Pride, Faculty of Color, Working Families) or become a steward or representative for your unit.