Penn State Community Survey for all students, faculty and staff to launch Feb. 3

Survey to explore attitudes and experiences of community, diversity and inclusion

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Beginning Feb. 3, students, faculty and staff members at every campus location are asked to share their feedback and experiences related to community, diversity and inclusion by completing the first Penn State Community Survey. The University is seeking input to identify strengths and areas for growth, advance the University’s values and help foster a welcoming environment across all Penn State campuses.

The confidential survey, which will be emailed directly to all Penn State students, faculty and staff, including those at World Campus, from the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS), will be open from Monday, Feb. 3, to Friday, Feb. 28, and will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. On Feb. 3, community members will receive an invitation email followed by a couple of reminder emails throughout the month. Every 100th survey respondent will win an Amazon or Starbucks gift card.

“A strength of our University is the diversity of experiences and views that make up our community. We want to hear from each of you, whether you’re a student, faculty or staff member, about your daily experiences at Penn State and how we can continue to improve and address new opportunities,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “This survey is an important component of the ongoing work happening across the University to create learning and working environments where all feel welcome, safe and respected, and I hope each of you will take a few minutes to share your thoughts and help make the Penn State community even stronger.”

Survey questions touch on a range of topics, including belonging and community, engagement across differences, institutional support, cultural competencies, climate and off-campus contexts.

Students’ and employees’ responses to the survey can help align diversity and inclusion efforts with Penn State’s Strategic Plan. They can also support a diverse student body and employee workforce as well as a curriculum that fosters cultural awareness and competencies, among other objectives.

“To inform ongoing conversations and information-gathering, the Penn State Community Survey will give all community members an opportunity to voice their opinions at the same time, and will build on valuable insights gained by individual unit and department-level diversity surveys and activities from over the years,” said Sonia DeLuca Fernández, project co-chair and associate vice provost in the Office of Educational Equity. “With a survey of this scope, feedback will help us gauge overall trends, areas of importance and opportunities to build on via action plans and other strategic efforts.”

In 2018, on Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones' behalf, Marcus Whitehurst, vice provost for educational equity, and Lance Kennedy-Phillips, vice provost for planning and assessment, charged a working group to lead this effort. In spring 2019, opportunities took place for students and employees to provide feedback on the survey and its potential themes and questions.

After gathering community feedback, the 19-member working group chose the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) to administer the survey, which is used by colleges and universities across the country. The HEDS survey will allow the University to collect baseline data to guide potential new efforts in support of Penn State’s Strategic Plan. An email invitation, from [email protected], to participate in the confidential survey will be sent to all students, faculty and staff members at every campus.

“We’re looking for feedback from students, faculty and staff from across all campuses that can help address key priorities,” said Karen Vance, project co-chair and assistant vice provost for institutional research. “With this in mind, our top priority is protecting the privacy of survey respondents to help you feel comfortable openly and honestly sharing your thoughts and experiences.”

As a third party, HEDS will administer the survey and provide Penn State with a data file of responses stripped of individual identifiers such as names, IDs, or email addresses. Only a limited number of Penn State staff dedicated to the study and bound by research ethics, laws, and federal regulations will have access to this data file for the purpose of producing summary reports. All reports will use only grouped or aggregated data. For more information about confidentiality, visit Additionally, to be eligible for a prize, respondents will be directed to a separate electronic form not attached to their survey results.

After being analyzed, results will be shared with the Penn State community. Departments across the University will receive reports, and the Office of Educational Equity and the Office of Planning, Assessment and Institutional Research will offer support and consultation to each area regarding the development of action plans to address the feedback of students, faculty and staff members in their respective areas. Individual departments or leaders will not receive data. The survey working group will make recommendations to address findings.

For more information about the Penn State Community Survey, visit the FAQ at Questions about the survey or working group can be directed to project co-chairs DeLuca Fernández and Vance at [email protected].