Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some answers to questions we’ve received. 

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What is a campus climate study? And why is a positive climate important?

A campus climate study is an opportunity for a university to take a good look at itself, recognizing the effect that the university's climate has on one’s ability to learn, teach, work and enjoy an affirming quality of life. Climate in this context refers to perceptions of one’s environment and its effect on one’s own sense of well-being. A campus climate study typically relies on a survey of all students and employees of the university to gather data; these data are analyzed and lead to initiatives to improve the experiences of the campus community.

According Dr. Susan Rankin, a national expert on campus climates and consultant on Marquette's 2015 campus climate study, positive personal experiences with university climate and positive perceptions of university climate generally equate to successful outcomes. Examples of successful outcomes include positive educational experiences and healthy identity development for students, productivity and sense of value for faculty and staff, and overall well-being for all.

Why is Marquette University conducting its own campus climate study?

As a Catholic, Jesuit university, Marquette has a unique responsibility as a community to care for one another, and the regular assessment of that environment can only serve to enhance our possibilities for realizing our mission. The university completed its first climate study in 2015, guided by a team of administration, faculty, students and staff called the Campus Climate Study Working Group, as well as an external consultant, Rankin & Associates. The university plans to repeat the study at regular intervals, using the 2015 instrument with appropriate updates.

It is launching its second study with a campuswide survey in February 2020 coordinated by the Campus Climate Study Working Group. The working group will analyze and release the results to the entire university community in September 2020. It also will promote campuswide conversations about the results to generate the next steps for the university to pursue.

How were the questions developed?

The 2020 Campus Climate Survey is based on questions from the university’s first climate survey, launched in 2015. Creation of the 2015 survey was led by Rankin & Associates, a consultant with experience administering climate assessments to colleges and universities across the United States, including at least six other Jesuit colleges and universities. Rankin & Associates developed the instrument from a repository of tested questions and from several focus groups with Marquette students, faculty and staff to assist in contextualizing the survey for the university.

Marquette’s Climate Study Working Group — composed of university administration, faculty, students and staff — was ultimately responsible for determining the survey questions in the 2015 study. In preparing for the 2020 study, the Climate Study Working Group used campus expertise to make necessary revisions and enhancements to the original instrument to improve the quality of responses and to obtain additional information from participants.

Why do some demographic questions contain many response options?

It is important in campus climate research for survey participants to see themselves in response choices to prevent them from feeling that they or their personal characteristics are not accepted. All participants should feel that their experiences and observations matter. Survey respondents will see a long list of possible choices for many demographic questions. It is impossible reasonably to include every possible choice to every question, but the goal is to reduce the number of respondents who must choose “other.”

What is the Institutional Review Board process for this study?

The primary investigator from Marquette for the IRB process is William Welburn, vice president for inclusive excellence and the chair of the Climate Study Working Group.

What will be done with data from the results?

Marquette’s first Campus Climate Study, conducted in 2015, generated substantive actions throughout the university. Survey results and subsequent forums provided rich information that affected campus priorities. The university made specific commitments to bolster education and training for employees and students, to increase the diversity of the student and faculty populations, and to increase a sense of belonging at Marquette through promotion of affinity groups and networks. Other priorities affected curriculum reform and inclusive programming throughout the university.

Similarly, the 2020 study is expected to generate new ideas to improve the quality of life for everyone at Marquette. As in 2015, the Climate Study Working Group has received a commitment from university leadership that the data will be used to continue to plan for an improved climate at Marquette University. All stakeholders — faculty, staff and students — will be invited to participate in the development of post-survey action initiatives.

What is the response rate goal?

Target participation in the survey is 100 percent. All responses matter and are valuable in providing the most beneficial feedback and results.

How is a respondent's confidentiality protected?

Confidentiality is vital to the success of campus climate research, particularly because sensitive and personal topics are discussed. Although the survey can't guarantee complete anonymity because of the nature of multiple demographic questions, the climate study team will take multiple precautionary measures to ensure individual confidentiality and the de-identification of data. No data already protected through regulation or policy (e.g., Social Security number, campus identification number, medical information) is obtained through the survey. In the event of any publication or presentation resulting from the assessment, no personally identifiable information will be shared.

Confidentiality of participants will be maintained to the highest degree permitted by the technology used (e.g., IP addresses will be stripped when the survey is submitted). In addition, the university will not report any group data for groups of fewer than five individuals because those small cell sizes may be small enough to compromise confidentiality. Instead, the university will combine the groups or take other measures to eliminate any potential for demographic information to be identifiable. Identifiable information submitted in qualitative comments will be redacted.

Participation in the survey is completely voluntary, and participants do not have to answer any question — except the first positioning question (staff, faculty, student) — and can skip any other questions they consider to be uncomfortable. Paper and pencil surveys are also available and will be sent directly to participants upon request.

Information in the introductory section of the survey will describe the way confidentiality will be guaranteed.

What will be included in the final summary reports?

A subcommittee of the Climate Study Working Group will assess results and a final report will be prepared that covers key findings; frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations of quantitative data; and content analysis of the textual data. The reports provide high-level summaries of the findings and will identify themes found in the data.

What protections are in place for storage of sensitive data?

Qualtrics will be used to collect survey results. Qualtrics is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) that provides a platform for creating and distributing online surveys. Marquette, not Qualtrics, owns and controls all data entered in or collected using Qualtrics. Qualtrics maintains industry standard data security measures designed to prevent unauthorized access to the data. All access to Qualtrics front-end services is via hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) and enforces HTTP strict transport security (HSTS). Qualtrics supports transport layer security (TLS) for all interaction with the platform. Disk-level encryption is standard for data stored on the platform. Data at rest uses AES 256-bit encryption. Unique keys are generated per server or data storage volume. Encryption keys are stored within a software vault where they are encrypted with key encrypting keys of equivalent strength. Keys are rotated whenever data storage volumes are rebuilt. For more information about Qualtrics security, see

The survey results, once extracted from Qualtrics, will be stored solely by the Marquette University Office of Institutional Research and Analysis on a secured server in the Marquette Data center.

Why is this a population survey and not a sample survey?

The survey will be administered to all faculty, staff and students at Marquette. Because one goal of the project is inclusiveness and allowing all voices to be heard, sampling techniques are not employed. As with the 2015 climate survey, every student and employee of the university is entitled to participate.

What if I have unmet accessibility needs related to this survey?

Please contact the Director of Marquette’s Office of Disability Services.

Jonathan (Jack) Bartelt
Office of Disability Services
707 Building, Room 503
(414) 288-1645