Share Your Voice: Campus Climate Survey Begins Tuesday

There is a very good, and very personal reason that Sarah Walker, PhD, Creighton’s interim vice president for equity, diversity, and inclusion, is encouraging everyone within the University community to take the campus climate survey that kicks off next week.

“It remains so very important for us to have the context, the good, the not so good, and the in-between, so that we can work to change that context where we need to,” she said.

Following her undergraduate work in Louisiana, Walker moved to Houston for graduate school, where she spent 10 years completing her academic work and beginning her career. Houston is notably a very diverse city, named in several reports as among the most diverse in the country. And Walker felt comfortable. Then came an “incredible” opportunity, as she recalls.

20190424_cc_1717“The opportunity at Creighton was hard to pass up for several reasons – to develop as an academician, work at an organization with a strong mission, and most notably, the people,” Walker said.

But she was also keenly aware that a move to the Midwest and away from one of the most diverse cities in the country could present some angst, for her and for her family.

“In so many ways the move has been very positive. I have been able to do things that I love. Getting to know and teach super smart students, work on research, and make an imprint on a university whose people I now consider part of my family,” she said. “However, personally, in Omaha, my race has never been more salient to me. Within this University, I feel very comfortable. But in many of the spaces outside Creighton where I am the ‘only,’ I have experienced interactions that are perplexing, and sometimes troubling. Anecdotally, I know that’s true for others too.”

The climate survey is designed to gather essential perspective from students, staff and faculty about diversity and inclusion on campus. The response to the survey will help shape long-term action planning as Creighton continues to strive to make the collective experience on campus even more welcoming and inclusive. That, Walker says, is so essential.

“Creighton has made significant advancements toward inclusion over the past several years, quite notable in fact,” she said. “The inaugural Vice Provost in Institutional Diversity and Inclusion has served to elevate issues related to diversity, equity, the recent restructuring of the position to report directly to the president means we can focus more broadly throughout the university,  and the creation of the President’s Inclusive Excellence Council has helped to eliminate silos and foster communication across campus. Today our board of trustees maintains a committee charged with overseeing the intersections between mission, diversity, and global engagement, also important for fostering inclusive learning and working environments. But this remains a journey for Creighton, and this fall is a chance for all of us to share our voices and provide actionable input on how to make Creighton better.”

Revealing personal experiences in a safe forum can only make things better, she added.

“I want everyone at Creighton to feel like they have an opportunity to thrive in the way that I have. That is why a survey like this is so important. I hope everyone will participate.”

Creighton’s campus climate survey will be administered Sept. 14 through Oct. 8.