Survey aims to improve Penn State as place to learn and work

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- On Tuesday, Oct. 29, Penn State students, faculty and staff will begin receiving email invitations from Virginia-based Ethics Resource Center asking for their participation in the Penn State Culture & Values Survey, a 20-minute confidential questionnaire.

Announced earlier this year, the survey is designed to better understand faculty, staff and student views about the culture of the University and the values shared by people who learn and work at Penn State every day. Participant information will be kept confidential, and the end result will be an inclusive statement of shared values; a measure of the community’s awareness of University standards of conduct; and a clearer picture of the climate at Penn State. For more details on the survey, click here for answers to frequently asked questions.

Over the course of four days beginning Oct. 29, the survey will be distributed to all students, faculty, administrators and staff at every Penn State campus (including the World Campus) — about 130,000 individuals in total. The survey is being conducted by the Ethics Resource Center (ERC), an independent, nonprofit organization and recognized leader in the field of organizational survey work. The ERC will conduct the survey in a manner that protects the identities of all participants; responses will be aggregated and only summary data will be provided back to Penn State.

“Simply put, this survey is intended to improve life at Penn State for all members of Penn State’s campus communities,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “This is a chance for students, faculty and staff to contribute their observations and opinions about the values they think are most important."

Erickson said the survey will be conducted periodically, and that over time, the results will tell a story about the community’s changing experiences. It will allow University leaders to identify successes and areas for increased focus.

The process also will lead to the creation of an inclusive statement of shared values. Regis Becker, director of the University Office of Ethics and Compliance, said that universities must be able to articulate the values its community deems most important and worthy of attention.

“We are conducting this survey because we recognize that if we can renew our commitment to an agreed-upon set of core values, we can be consistent in our expectations and more effective in our strategic planning,” Becker said.

Patricia Harned, president of the ERC, said that large organizations like Penn State often use culture surveys to better understand the experiences of their stakeholders and to pinpoint areas for improvement.

"Members of the community get an opportunity to share their perspectives and also to learn from the input provided by others," Harned said. “This survey also will help Penn State to understand the extent to which people are aware of standards of conduct across the University, and to gauge awareness of available resources for reporting wrongdoing and misconduct."

By design, this particular survey is focused on the individuals involved in the day-to-day business of the University, Becker said.

“Penn State’s leaders take very seriously the views and opinions of all members of the Penn State community, and we actively seek feedback on a wide array of issues,” Becker said. “Since the focus of this survey is on Penn State’s current learning and working environments, we are seeking feedback from students, faculty and staff. This survey represents just one of the current and continuing efforts to gather feedback from our many constituent groups."

ERC will deliver an executive summary of the findings in the spring, and Penn State will publish the document when it is available.

“This survey, along with other inputs from all University constituents, will guide us in developing a clearly articulated statement of those values that we as a community aspire to achieve," Becker said.

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Last Updated November 05, 2013