the nation, is a direct response to such student needs. Second, a large percentage of Black and Hispanic students voiced concern about the lack of minority faculty and staff. In the coming year, the Illinois Board of Higher Education will undertake a study that addresses minority faculty and staff diversity on college campuses. In compiling evidence, the Illinois Board of Higher Education report will draw on results from this climate survey. Third, many students with disabilities expressed concern about the need for improved access to assistive technologies. The Illinois Board of Higher Education August 2001 report Gateway to Success: Rethinking Access and Diversity for a New Century, also stressed the importance of capitalizing upon assistive technology. In May 2002, the Illinois Board of Higher Education awarded a Higher Education Cooperation Act (HECA) grant to Northern Illinois University to undertake a conference to increase statewide knowledge and awareness about how assistive technology can better serve students with disabilities. A description of this conference is provided in another item in these agenda materials.
Because this focus topic will be periodically revisited, some suggestions about the scope and methodology of campus climate surveys are appropriate. Some institutions need to provide a more critical analysis of their campus climate. It is important to explore both strengths and weaknesses to create an accurate picture of student opinion. In some cases, institutions may want to follow surveys with focus groups that permit a more in-depth exploration of student opinion. Such an approach is especially useful when a significant percentage of underrepresented students identify an area of concern.
When an area of weakness is identified, institutions also should report to the Illinois Board of Higher Education on any initiatives they intend to undertake to address the issue. In this way, institutions demonstrate that the survey is more than just information gathering, but also a planning tool. It would also be helpful if there were a set of core survey questions used by all institutions. While flexibility of assessment is useful, in this case it did not lend itself to adequate statewide coverage of all components of campus climate. Finally, while most institutions took significant steps to target surveys to underrepresented students, some reported results for all students, thereby, obscuring the opinions of underrepresented students. In cases in which all students are surveyed, the opinions of underrepresented students should receive singular attention.
In conclusion, Illinois colleges and universities should continue to:
• Periodically, survey students from underrepresented groups and other students about their perceptions of campus climate; and
• Promptly and fully respond to problems identified in these surveys.
The Illinois Board of Higher Education should continue to report on results of campus climate surveys. In addition, the Board should look to identify statewide issues that are reported in the campus climate surveys helping institutions enhance their capability to respond to these issues and improve the overall campus racial climate. Based on the results of this year’s survey, the Board especially should look for opportunities to:
• Continue to support a financial aid system that funds needy students and, thereby, offers access to many underrepresented students;
• Increase the number of underrepresented faculty and staff; and
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