Diversity Survey Kicks Off

November 4, 2002

Mark Miester

A year ago, Tulane President Scott Cowen convened a task force to study the issue of diversity on campus. After months of behind-the-scenes meetings and planning, the task force goes public this month with a campuswide survey designed to assess the university's climate with respect to issues of diversity.

"We're really breaking new ground here," says Wendy Scott, professor of law and co-chair of the task force along with Mary Anderson, professor of structural and cellular biology. "It's the first time that there's ever been a campuswide survey at Tulane. There have been surveys of the staff over the years, but it's the first time that we're surveying all of the major populations on campus: the staff, the students and the faculty."

The task force first met almost a year ago to address diversity issues cited in Tulane's strategic plan and raised by the Senate Equal Opportunity Committee. The task force was charged with three objectives: to review all data concerning the university's diversity in faculty and staff hiring, to conduct a survey of institutional perceptions of diversity, and to issue a report outlining its findings, including recommendations on how to improve diversity at Tulane.

The Web-based survey was developed in partnership with the consulting firm Perkins-Williamson Associates. Links to the faculty, staff and student surveys will be provided in a broadcast e-mail from Cowen. The first part of the survey asks participants about experiences in their respective positions as staff, faculty or students. The second section focuses on perceptions of the university's recognition and reward systems.

A third section seeks perceptions of inclusion and appreciation of diversity at Tulane, and the final part of the survey focuses on the overall environment at the university and the demographics of participants. There also will be an opportunity to provide comments to the task force on any of the issues.

"It's a broad-based survey, a climate survey," Scott says. "We're hoping to use the data to try to improve the climate at Tulane. That's our ultimate goal."

Scott emphasizes that the survey is completely anonymous, a fact she hopes will encourage all members of the Tulane community to participate.

"Many times people who might feel their opinions are not popular opinions might be reluctant to participate," Scott says. "We're hoping that everyone will participate whatever their viewpoint because each individual's viewpoint, is important. We've made every effort to ensure that the surveys will be easy to take."

In addition to the surveys, Scott says there also will be a series of concurrent interviews and focus groups that will represent a cross-section of the Tulane community. Full-time faculty, staff and students can participate in the survey beginning Monday, Nov. 4. The survey will remain open until Nov. 22. For more information, call 865-5201, log on to http:// or write

Mark Miester may be reached at

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