Race & Equity Initiative

April 11, 2019

Creating a more welcoming working and learning environment at the UW

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

At the University of Washington, we are united by our mission to benefit the public — through education, discovery and service — in ways that have the greatest possible impact. Equity and inclusion are essential to that mission. Only in a welcoming and respectful working and learning environment can we achieve both our individual and institutional goals.

Earlier this year, I shared the University’s plan to undertake a university-wide climate survey to examine the learning and working experiences of the students, faculty and staff on our three campuses. This survey is a critical tool for gathering information and perspective about our community’s lived experiences to understand what fosters — and impedes — the sense of belonging that is so necessary to thrive and succeed.

In the coming months, you will hear more about this confidential survey, which will take place from October 8 to November 8, 2019. Students, faculty and staff across all three campuses will be invited to participate in the survey. The full results will be shared with the university community, me and other university leaders in the spring of 2020. We can then take action to address issues that are identified.

The next major step in this process is a series of conversations next week with focus groups representing different communities and affinity groups on our campuses. These conversations will guide the development of the survey instrument itself. The members of the Climate Study Working Group invited individuals from across our campuses to participate in these discussions in order to achieve broadly representative groups.

Both the 2017–2021 Diversity Blueprint and Race & Equity Initiative identified a climate survey as a priority to help us confront individual and institutional racism, as well as to inform the work that will make our campuses more inclusive overall. The survey will also include questions related to sexual assault, harassment and misconduct. Freedom from sexual discrimination is an essential component to a welcoming and inclusive environment. We intend to use the survey to identify successful initiatives and experiences, as well as the challenges facing members of our campus communities, and to develop actions to build on those successes and address challenges.

This effort is being facilitated by Rankin & Associates Consulting in collaboration with the Climate Study Working Group, which comprises 30 UW students, faculty and staff representing our three campuses, including the health sciences on the Seattle campus. You can learn more about the survey process at the University Climate Survey website, and if you have additional questions, please reach out to the members of the Climate Study Working Group.

As this project proceeds, we will need the support and participation of every unit and program, shared governance and our student organizations. We are all partners in the critically important work of developing an environment that allows each of us to thrive in our work and learning. I look forward to sharing more about the climate survey in the coming months and I am proud to be engaged in this essential undertaking with you.


Ana Mari Cauce
Professor of Psychology