Incidents in recent years at the University of Tennessee and across the country have brought more attention to gauging campus environment, culture and safety. Our responsibility is to help ensure the safety of our students. We also want our students to succeed within our campus communities. Understanding the experiences, perceptions and needs of students is critical to identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement.

We know that students feeling included is important to meeting our graduation and completion goals. Without a sense of inclusion, students are less likely to complete college. Research indicates that positive personal experiences and perceptions with campus climate generally equate to positive outcomes. In other words, students who feel safe in, connected to and supported by their campus communities have a higher likelihood of success—in the classroom, in their personal lives and in the workplace.

The survey includes questions about:

  • Campus Climate
  • Intimidating, Offensive and Hostile Conduct
  • Free Speech
  • Sexual Harassment and Misconduct
  • Faculty and Staff Support
  • Advising, Training and Reporting
  • Awareness and Use of University Provided Resources
  • Overall Satisfaction with the University

Results indicate several areas of strength across all UT campuses, including high levels of comfort with climate and positive attitudes about academic experiences. For example, 82 percent of respondents are satisfied with the overall climate at UT, and 84 percent reported they’re comfortable with the climate in their classrooms.

The majority of student respondents feel valued by faculty, report having faculty whom they consider role models and feel comfortable sharing their professional goals with their advisors.

While there’s plenty of good news in the survey results, we’re not yet where we want to be and remain committed to making the University of Tennessee a better learning, living and working environment.

Results also point to differences in the needs of students based on political views, disability status, ethnicity, racial identity and gender identity, among other constituent groups.

According to our survey administrator, these results are consistent with findings for schools across the country. Data from the survey will be used in many ways at both system and campus levels, and students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate in these processes and continue sharing input about ways to improve campus climate, community, culture and safety.

Detailed reports of findings are available here.

The overall response rate was 24 percent with 10,801 surveys being completed by students at every UT campus across the state. According to the survey administrator, the response rate is above average for comparable universities across the country. Response rates varied by UT campus and constituent group, and a breakdown is available here.

All undergraduate and graduate students at each UT campus and institute across the state.

The voice of every student matters. Higher response rates give a better understanding of students’ opinions. Participation was entirely voluntary, and participants were able to skip questions and exit at any time.

Planning teams at the system and campus levels are in place and will further analyze feedback and develop and recommend specific and measurable actions or initiatives to improve campus environments.

The frequency for re-administering the survey is still being determined.

Confidentiality is vital to the survey process, particularly as sensitive and personal topics are discussed. The consultant and campus data coordinators took multiple measures to protect individual confidentiality and the de-identification of data.

A third-party consultant was selected through a competitive bid process to administer the 2017 survey on behalf of the University.

Dozens of faculty, staff and students from across the UT System provided input.

The survey was recommended in 2015 by the UT Diversity Advisory Council—a statewide group of faculty and staff tasked with identifying ways to improve diversity and inclusion efforts. Support for the initiative is unanimous among senior leaders system-wide, and planning teams were created at the system and campus levels to oversee the process.

The survey administrator has administered surveys to more than 170 institutions across the country and developed a bank of tested questions. The UT Diversity Advisory Council and system-wide planning team selected questions from a bank of questions developed by the administrator. UT President Joe DiPietro and campus chancellors provided feedback as well as planning team members at each campus and institute.