Baylor launches new academic survey

Photo credit: Dayday Wynn

By Kalyn Story | Staff Writer

Baylor launched an Academic and Work Environment Survey on Tuesday in hopes of measuring the perceptions of respect, cooperation, diversity, inclusiveness, accessibility and support within Baylor’s community.

“I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the information gathered through this effort is critical to ongoing management and decision processes that impact the experiences all of us have at Baylor,” interim President David Garland said in an email sent out to students on Monday.

An important part of this survey is that it is being conducted by an outside consultant to ensure that all reports will remain anonymous. The consultant, University of Illinois at Chicago, will receive all the data and compile a report for Baylor.

Dr. Lori Baker, associate professor of anthropology and the head of the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, has been working for over a year to get this survey out to students.

“We want students to be honest when filling out this survey,” Baker said. “We never want a student not share the truth about an experience because they fear negative consequences from Baylor. That’s why this data and information won’t even be in the Baylor system.”

This survey will be different from other surveys because it is the first all-student survey Baylor is putting out with open-ended questions. Depending on how a student responds to some multiple choice questions, a text box will appear asking the student to elaborate or explain a situation. At the end, the survey provides a text box for students to share any information they would like about the climate and environment at Baylor.

“Open-ended questions are so important because we know there are responses and situations that we can’t even imagine,” Baker said. “Not everyone’s feelings fit into a “check yes or no” or a multiple choice answer. We want the truth, and we want to understand how our students feel.”

Baker said faculty diversity is expected to be at an all-time high this fall, and they understand that with a more diverse population there are going to be more perspectives and ideas that the university needs to be prepared to accommodate. Baker said she hopes to put out a similar survey every few years to monitor how the environment at Baylor is changing and see what they need to improve on.

Dr. Liz Palacios, dean of student development and special assistant to the president on diversity said students and staff have been asking for a diversity survey for more than 25 years, and she is so excited that the resources are finally here.

“We have such a great opportunity here to really dig into the Baylor community to see what we’re doing right and more importantly what we’re doing wrong,” Palacios said. “Especially with a new president coming soon it is more important than ever for him or her to understand the diverse climate here at Baylor and understand how students from all demographics feel on campus.”

Palacios said the university will be using the results of this survey as a baseline to create an action plan on how to improve the community and environment at Baylor.

“As Christians, we are called to be convicted,” Palacios said. “We should do this better than state schools. Our environment should be the most welcoming to students of color and all demographics within our community.”

Students should have received a personalized link to the survey emailed to them on Tuesday. The survey will remain open until May 3, Baylor will also be sending out periodical reminders to students who have not yet completed the survey.