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Assessing Campus Climate at a US Dental School

Purpose: A US dental school assessed its campus climate to improve diversity and inclusion as well as meet an accreditation mandate. Methods: Climate surveys for faculty (n=277), staff (n=351) and students (n=595) were developed and validated by the college IDEA committee. They were pilot-tested and administered in spring 2017. Findings: Response rates ranged from 50%-52%. Onequarter to one-third viewed themselves as a member of an underrepresented group. A consistent proportion of staff members (10-20%) "disagreed" that diversity was valued. All three groups reported having too much work to do (10-23%) and being overly stressed (18-29%), particularly students. Ten percent or more of the staff "disagreed" that they had good interactions with college people. Faculty and students reported they frequently observed (5-10 times or more) the inappropriate expression of political beliefs. Only the staff (≥ 10%) reported uncivil and ostracizing behaviors occurring often. The majority of all three groups (≥ 60%) reported their physical health and emotional well-being as "good" or "excellent." The majority of faculty and staff reported being satisfied with their job (≥ 78%) and liking to work at the College (≥ 83%). The majority of students reported being satisfied with their educational program (85%) and glad they attended the College (86%). Some sub-groups reported significantly lower health and satisfaction levels. A qualitative analysis of comments revealed that the primary theme for faculty and students was the campus climate was inclusive and positive. The primary theme for staff was the current climate was not inclusive, and they experienced inappropriate behaviors. Conclusion: This 2017 culture assessment revealed that the majority of College personnel and students believed the climate was inclusive and diversity was valued, with the staff being the least satisfied. A new Diversity and Inclusion Plan has been developed to address the problems identified.


Ann L McCann, Lavern J Holyfield, Emet D Schneiderman

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