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University Launches Campuswide Climate Assessment Initiative

The University of Mississippi will undertake a climate assessment initiative over the next year aimed at continuing work toward its longstanding goal to create an environment characterized by openness, fairness and equal access for all students, faculty and staff.

During 2019-20, university leaders will partner with a team from Rankin & Associates Consulting to conduct the climate assessment, which seeks to make positive, lasting changes and to help create a more inclusive campus.

“There’s nothing more important than ensuring that every faculty, staff, and student has an opportunity to help our university to create an inclusive environment,” said Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. “In this process, every voice counts, every experience will be valued and, collectively, we have the power to transform our campus.”

Rankin & Associates, a consulting group specializing in the higher education field, has conducted more than 190 campus climate assessment projects over the last 20 years with universities across the country.

A team from Rankin & Associates will be working with a committee of Ole Miss students, staff and faculty – a Climate Survey Working Group – to develop and implement the assessment.

The results will better enable the university to both develop programs and policies that will increase inclusivity in areas that are shown to be problematic and to enhance and replicate programs and policies in areas that are shown to be successfully meeting the needs of the community.

Small-group conversations with faculty, staff and students were conducted April 8. These conversations will inform development of a survey that will be administered to the entire campus community later this year, covering topics such as awareness of university resources and faculty and staff support, among others.

CSWG member Brianna Simms said she is looking forward to the climate assessment work so students can voice their concerns and “be heard by those in positions to make a change.”

“This is a great opportunity to make known the things that are not welcoming or inclusive, while also providing an opportunity to shine a light on the resources, methods and techniques that actually work, so we (as a university) can continue to do those things,” said Simms, who also represents the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association.

CSWG member Elam Miller echoed Simms’ excitement about the assessment.

“The climate study will provide the university with real data from students and others that will allow us to take supported steps to make the University of Mississippi an even better place,” said Miller, who is also Associated Student Body president.

For more information on the project and to stay up-to-date on the process, visit http://yourvoice.olemiss.edu/ or follow @UMYourVoice on Twitter, @UMYourVoice on Instagram and “Your Voice. Your Campus” on Facebook.

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