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College Climate Assessment

Climate Survey - Taking Action

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Cabinet Approved Recommendations from Climate Survey Implementation Team #12 - Trust & Communication! Click this Team's accordion below to view the recommendations.

A new Implementation Team launched in Spring 2023 to address two Action Items: #1 - DEIJ Professional Development and #2 - DEIJ Positions. Click the Red Climate Survey Action Plan button to see detailed descriptions of those two items. 

The Aims College Climate Survey project has shifted into a new and exciting phase - Action Item Implementation! During this phase, the top of this website will consist of regular updates from the Climate Survey Implementation Teams that are currently working on researching, brainstorming, and developing recommendations for Cabinet on their respective Action Items. An entire history and timeline of the project will remain available on this site, including the Executive Summary, the Full Results Report, a video presentation of the results by Rankin & Associates, and the Final Action Plan approved by Cabinet.

Please email us at aimsclimateassessment@aims.edu with any questions about the project, or to express interest in becoming part of an implementation team for one of the items.

Action Item Implementation Teams

The final Climate Action Plan contains 16 items (see below for a history on the construction of the plan). Five of those items were identified as top priorities to begin work in the Spring 2022 semester. Below you will find the formal charges for each Implementation Team as well as regular updates on their progress. If you are interested in joining an Implementation Team or have questions about their updates, please feel free to email the primary contact listed for each team.

Primary Contacts: Fabián García and Rosa Galindo

Update (January 12, 2023)

The HSI Implementation Committee is moving on to phase two of the work around assessing HSI infrastructure at Aims. The first phase of the work consisted of folks becoming familiar with best practices around HSI work, which included reading Dr. Gena Garcia's book, "Becoming Hispanic Serving Institutions: Opportunities for Colleges and Universities" and also attending professional development opportunities through professional organizations such as the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators (AHSIE) and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). The second phase the HSI Implementation Committee is entering consists of committee members breaking off into small working groups to research specific areas of interest/concern encountered through the committee's initial research and the input from student focus groups, along with data from the campus climate survey, with the final goal of coming up with recommendations for the institution.

Update (May 18, 2022)

  • The team has had two meetings: April 4 & April 29. At the first meeting, President Bornstein charged the team with our specific responsibilities and the group began initial conversations about the different forms of recognition as Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI). Currently, Aims is designated as an HSI by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), based on our enrollment of Latinx students. Aims is not currently designated as an HSI by the federal government, nor does Aims receive federal HSI grants.
  • At the second meeting, the team decided to spend the summer engaged in professional development, research, and bench-marking. The team will read the book, Becoming Hispanic Serving Institutions: Opportunities for Colleges & Universities, by Gina Ann Garcia and will research other HSIs of comparable institution type and size to Aims in order to enhance our understanding of various ways that institutions embody this institutional identity.

Primary Contact: Doug Strauss

Update (January 11, 2023)

The team has met three times. The team has suggested the following recommendations:

  • There needs to be a better way to share what Aims is doing with OER. The LibGuide that provides some information needs to be updated and shared with students, staff, and faculty who want to learn more about what courses are using OER, how to learn more about OER, grant information, and additional information that would be helpful in educating all about the benefits of OER.
  • Faculty need specific information on how to incorporate OER in their classes should they want to do so. Videos should be created educating faculty on the steps they might take if interested in learning more about OER or incorporating OER. Faculty also need "go to" knowledge on who can help them (librarian, instructional designers, faculty editors, video specialist, etc.).
  • There needs to be a transparent report generated by Institutional Research and Assessment on the money that is saved by students who take courses that are "no cost or low cost".
  • More information and training sessions need to be offered through the FTLC or other venues.
  • Consider an awareness campaign at Convocation or Conversation Day.
  • Work with Barnes and Noble to make sure we are partnering on OER where we can.
  • Explore how to better communicate with students about what OER is, and which classes are taking advantage of OER. 
  • Encourage leadership to take a greater stand on OER. How might leadership encourage chairs and directors to consider adopting OER ("no cost or low cost") books and resources.

Update (April 26, 2022)

Our team has just begun defining what goals we'd like to achieve during the next year.  At this point, and it is early, we are likely going to focus on providing better and more visible resources for faculty who are interested in exploring/pursuing OER for their classes.  Resources do currently exist, but they are difficult to find.  Part of providing resources would be to provide options for faculty.  That is, some might just want some places they can look for additional OER information.  Some might be ready to utilize OER resources, and some might be interested in producing their own resources (book, lab manuals, etc.). 

Another thing we talked about was how to sustain the work that some faculty have already implemented.  Grants have provided funds for faculty to develop new curriculum, but unlike publishers who put out new additions, OER books and materials have to be updated by faculty on a somewhat regular basis making sure the information is current.  We need to identify a realistic and sustainable method to support faculty who have adopted OER in their classes.  

Lastly, we would like to do a better job of promoting the value of OER to both our faculty as well as our students.  While most faculty have heard of OER, they may not realize how valuable it is not just to save students money, but also to increase equity among our students.  Having books and materials from the first day of class is critically important enabling all students to be on the same playing field.  And, many/most of our students don't even know what OER is and how it can help them be more successful.  By spreading the word and letting students know that they may have some choice in their education (choosing an OER class over a traditional class with publisher materials) would be beneficial.  

Primary Contact: Zachary McFarlane

Update (January 4, 2023)

The action item #12 working group proposed the following recommendations, which were approved by Cabinet on August 29, 2022. (Note: Recommendations 1, 5, and 7 were refined based on Cabinet discussion, with changes accepted by the working group on August 30 and 31, 2022.) Zac McFarlane spoke with Dr. B about these recommendations in the October episode of Tea With Dr. B.

  1. Better utilize Aims' 'signature' events to strengthen and foster relationships between leadership and employees.
    • Include Events with President's Office as affiliates for Convocation and Conversation Day(s) in order to ensure events meet the overall College objectives for each
    • Next step: Meeting with Dr. B and the Director of Events to go through charter
  2. Develop 'myNews' intranet platform to more effectively distribute information, as well as develop culture and connection between employees and the College
    • Next step: Marcom goes through the development process; currently happening
  3. Reformat Tea w/ B and utilize it as a way to showcase important news and happenings College-wide, as well as to invite guests to share topical information employees need to know
    • Next step: Complete
  4. Undergo College-wide listening tour with Cabinet members
    • Develop structure and cadence around this, then communicate out clear intention, purpose, calendar, etc.
    • Wrap feedback into the development of the next strategic plan
    • Next step: Cabinet to work through process, timing, and scheduling; estimated to take place January - March of 2023   
  5. Marcom works with AFA/ASA/SGA, and other similar groups to develop processes around utilizing these groups as communications channels to inform the College of significant updates and changes
    • Next step: Director of Communications will reach out to groups for the initial discovery phase after holiday break
  6. Emphasize bridge-building and relationship development in the VPAA and VP SEIS searches
    • Someone representing working group #12 on each search
    • Encouragement for working group #12 members, and colleagues, to take an active part in the search process - providing feedback specific to the above
    • Next step: Group members have been assigned to both VP search committees
  7. Utilize College Council to facilitate broader conversations about the direction of the College
    • Reconsider membership of College Council, to include Cabinet members
    • Refine communications from College Council members
    • Train College Council on communications responsibilities; i.e. testing feedback loops
    • Better communicate Feedback Forum; i.e. expectations, how feedback is managed, why to utilize it, etc.
    • Develop a regular cadence for this communication to be sent to College, via the Director of Communications
    • Next step: College Council will determine when this change will occur
  8. Establish Aims Administrators Association; develop meeting structure and cadence
    • The intention of this group:
    • Generate consistency in understanding and responsibility of this group's role in driving positive culture forward together, collaboratively
    • Create opportunities for shared training and education
    • Develop consistent communications between members and departments
    • Collaborate on 'administrator's calendar' to ensure intentional representation at events, as well as both formal/informal ways of employee acknowledgment
    • Set expectations that administrators work with their teams to audit/take inventory of all communications/meetings to enhance, clarify, remove, or repurpose as appropriate
    • Next step: After holiday break, administrators will meet for a 'think tank' on this group's structure
  9. Develop a working group to audit current feedback loops for clarity/need/and communication of
    • Next step: A subgroup of working group #12 will be formed and meet after holiday break to determine structure

Update (September 22, 2022)

This group crafted eight recommendations, which were presented to Cabinet by Zac McFarlane on 9/19. Four recommendations were approved, as they were written. Three recommendations received minor language tweaks. One recommendation was reshaped. Changes were presented back to the working group and accepted. These recommendations will be presented to the College in the coming weeks.

Update (May 6, 2022)

Members of this working group are holding a two-day retreat on June 29 and 30 to take a comprehensive look at the issue. This will provide the entire group an opportunity to understand the issue through a variety of perspectives and lenses. After this retreat, and with that shared understanding, the group will then move into strategic planning.  

Primary Contact: Jenn Seedorf

Update (January 6, 2023)

  • Summer subgroups completed their internal and external research of alternative/flexible work at Aims, the higher education industry, and other external industries.
  • The committee came back together in September and met several times throughout the fall semester to begin brainstorming recommendations for equitable alternative work schedules at Aims using the research conducted through the summer subgroups and additional resources, as needed.
  • Recommendations presented to Cabinet on January 23.

Update (May 17, 2022)

  • The team has had two meetings: April 27 & May 10. The April meeting was the teams charge meeting wherein President Bornstein charged the team with the vision for this work and the teams role. At the May 10 meeting the team reviewed a proposed timeline of work, talked about the goals for the summer and brainstormed data and research to be gathered over the summer months.
  • The goals for the summer are to gather data and research to support the work this fall. In order to balance employee needs and summer contracts the summer work will be made up of a sub-group of individuals who are available and have the time/capacity to support the data and research collection. In the fall, when the full team is back, the team will dig into the data and research and begin the process of brainstorming recommendations. 
  • The team will work to keep a formal agenda and meeting notes that will be posted to this website for the campus community.

Primary Contact: Dee Shultz

Update (September 20, 2022)

The team for this task includes faculty consultation members, sub-group, and HR.

  • April, 2022 Five compensation firms were invited for interviews
  • May, 2022 Three firms were interviewed
  • May, 2022 Gallagher was selected to assist with full-time faculty compensation analysis
  • July, 2022 Kickoff Meeting was held
  • September, 2022 Peer List was reviewed

Project History

Aims Community College is committed to fostering a welcoming campus environment that grants equitable access to all students, faculty and staff. To act on that commitment, the College conducted a College Climate Survey in the spring of 2021. The results of the survey will be used to plan for an improved climate at Aims. Click the links below to access the survey results. Please note that the PDFs are secured and not printable. A hard copy of the results is available for check-out from the Learning Commons (second floor of the Student Commons), or for perusal (but not check-out) in the office of the Vice President for Student Engagement, Inclusion & Success (Welcome Center, room 226).

2018

During the creation of the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, Aims included a tactic aimed at assessing the college climate. The Climate Survey part of Line 14, Strategy One - Empower Students to Succeed; Objective - Diverse Populations; Tactic - Examine opportunities to positively impact campus climate to ensure inclusivity, learning, and growth spaces; Activity - Campus Climate Survey; Benchmark/Measurement - Establish baseline. The project was assigned to the Council for Equity & Inclusion (CEI) under leadership of their Cabinet Sponsor, the Vice President for Student Engagement, Inclusion, & Success (SEIS), with a goal of completing the assessment in FY 20-21.

Spring 2020

  • Aims conducted an RFP process to identify a consulting firm to collaborate with on the Climate Survey, and selected Rankin & Associates as our partner in this project. 

Summer & Fall 2020

  • The CEI established the Climate Survey Working Group (CSWG) as a CEI Sub-committee, including broad representation from across all Aims campuses, Divisions, employee classifications, and students.
  • The CSWG began working with Rankin & Associates to develop the survey and build marketing and communications plans.

Spring 2021

  • Climate Survey was open for submissions from February 23rd to March 29th.
  • The CSWG marketed the survey through a wide variety of channels, including Daily and Weekly posts, college-wide emails, texts to students, D2L announcements, classroom announcements, department meetings, etc.

Summer 2021

  • Rankin & Associates conducted data analysis and developed multiple drafts of the final report, seeking feedback from the CSWG on each draft.

October 2021

  • Rankin & Associates presented Climate Survey Results to Cabinet, College Council, the CSWG, and the college at large.
  • In October and November 2021, the CSWG held six Action Item Solution Sessions over the course of three weeks. Over 60 people attended. Additionally, an anonymous form was available for students and employees to submit Action Item ideas.

November 2021 - December 2021

  • Through the sessions and online form, the CSWG compiled 220+ action items that were submitted by students, faculty, staff, and administrators and created a DRAFT Action Plan of 18 items. 
  • CSWG presented “Action Item Plan Proposal” for Cabinet Review/Approval

January 2022 - February 2022

  • Draft Action Plan was presented for College-Wide Feedback through the College Council Feedback Forum and an anonymous online form.
  • Final Action Plan officially rolled out at Conversation Day 2022.
  • Five Actions identified as top priorities to begin work:
    • Action Item #7 - Fully Commit to Aims' Identity as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI)
    • Action Item #8 - Prioritize Open Education Resources/Free to Students Textbook/Course Materials
    • Action Item #12 - Develop a plan to build communication and trust among and between Cabinet, employees, and students; develop and communicate to the college a commitment to specific communication methods that include informal connection and formal communication loops.
    • Action Item #14 - Explore opportunities to develop or adapt policy, procedure, and practice to support sustained, equitable, institutionally supported hybrid (in-person & remote) work schedules.
    • Action Item # 15 - Review FT & PT faculty salary compared to other institutions, K-12 education, and industry standards (in particular for CTE instructors); commit to. Increasing transparency in faculty compensation by publishing and consistently updating the Compensation Handbook/Matrix accessible to all Aims faculty.

March-December 2022

  • CSWG Chairs presented Aims Inclusivity, Learning and Growth, an overview of the Climate Survey project, results, and Action Plan, to the Board of Trustees at the March 2nd, 2022 Board of Trustees Work Session. 

April 2022 - December 2022

  • Establish Implementation Teams for first five Action Items to begin work
  • Implementation Team Meetings begin

2023

  • Goal: to have implemented at least one concrete initiative within each of the five Action Items

Becca Herman

Director, Student Leadership/Workday Student Change Manager

Ani Matt

Nursing Professor

George Bielinski

Director, Human Resources

Allyson Byerly

Brand Manager

Raymond Chard

CEI Treasurer
Interim Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs/Director of High School Programs

Nicole Cordova

Staff Associate, Arts & Sciences

April Fulton

Nursing Faculty

Christine Gomez

Staff Executive, VP SEIS

Laura Lewis

CEI Co-Chair
Data Specialist

Julie Luekenga

Executive Director, Fort Lupton Campus

Eden Mugg

System Administrator, IT

Kelly Ochsner

Food Service Manager

Moumita Roy

Professor, Economics

Julia Smith

Director of Communications

Frequently Asked Questions

Dr. Susan Rankin of Rankin & Associates Consulting, LLC, which is serving as the outside consultant for the Aims Community College climate survey, defines campus climate as, “the current attitudes, behaviors, standards and practices of employees and students of an institution.” The climate is often shaped through personal experiences, perceptions and institutional efforts.

Dr. Rankin’s research maintains that positive personal experiences with campus climate and positive perceptions of campus climate generally equate to successful outcomes. Example 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.

The idea to conduct a campus climate survey originated from interested students, faculty and staff who believed data from such a survey might be useful in planning for the future and improving the climate at Aims Community College.

The Climate Survey Working Group (CSWG) was charged with conducting Aims Community College’s climate survey. After a review of potential vendors, the committee selected Rankin & Associates Consulting, LLC to conduct the survey. Rankin & Associates reports directly to the committee. Although the CSWG will regularly update Aims Community College about its progress, the committee—in consultation with Rankin & Associates—is solely responsible for the development, implementation and interpretation of the survey and its results.

Dr. Susan Rankin (Rankin & Associates Consulting, LLC) is the consultant working directly with us on this project. Dr. Rankin is an emeritus faculty member of Education Policy Studies and College Student Affairs at The Pennsylvania State University and a senior research associate in the Center for the Study of Higher Education. She has extensive experience in institutional climate assessment and institutional climate transformation based on data-driven action and strategic planning.

Dr. Rankin has conducted multi-location institutional climate studies at more than 200 institutions across the country. She developed and utilizes the Transformational Tapestry model as a research design for campus climate studies. The model is a “comprehensive, five-phase strategic model of assessment, planning and intervention. The model is designed to assist campus communities in conducting inclusive assessments of their institutional climate to better understand the challenges facing their respective communities” (Rankin & Reason, 2008).

In reviewing efforts by other universities to conduct comprehensive climate studies, several best practices were identified. One was the need for external expertise in survey administration. The administration of a survey relating to a very sensitive subject like campus climate is likely to yield higher response rates and provide more credible findings if led by an independent, outside agency. Members of a college community may feel particularly inhibited to respond honestly to a survey administered by their own institution for fear of retaliation.

The consultant has administered climate assessments to more than 200 institutions across the nation and developed a repository of tested questions. To assist in contextualizing the survey for Aims Community College, and to capitalize on the many assessment efforts already undertaken, the CSWG was formed. The committee is responsible for developing the survey questions. The team will review selected survey questions from the consultant’s tested collection and will also include Aims Community College-specific questions which will be informed by the focus group results.

It is important in campus climate research for survey participants to “see” themselves in response choices to prevent “othering” an individual or an individual’s characteristics. Some researchers maintain that assigning someone to the status of “other” is a form of marginalization and should be minimized, particularly in campus climate research which has an intended purpose of inclusiveness. Along these lines, survey respondents will see a long list of possible choices for many demographic questions. However, it is reasonably impossible to include every possible choice to every question, but the goal is to reduce the number of respondents who must choose “other.”

The primary investigator from Aims Community College for the IRB process is Laura Lewis, Data Specialist at Aims Community College. An IRB application will be submitted for the project. Once the project is approved, the survey will be administered.

Although the committee believes the survey process itself is informative, we have sought and received commitment from the senior leaders that data will be used to plan for an improved climate at Aims Community College.

The target participation in the survey is all students, faculty, and staff at Aims Community College. Every response matters and is valuable in providing the most beneficial feedback and results.

Confidentiality is vital to the success of campus climate research; particularly as sensitive and personal topics are discussed. While the survey cannot guarantee complete confidentiality because of the nature of multiple demographic questions, the consultant will take multiple precautionary measures to enhance 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 in participating will be maintained to the highest degree permitted by the technology used (e.g., IP addresses will be stripped when the survey is submitted). No guarantees can be made regarding the interception of data sent via the Internet by any third parties; however, to avoid interception of data, the survey is run on a firewalled web server with forced 256-bit SSL security. In addition, the consultant and college 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 consultant and the college will combine the groups or take other measures to eliminate any potential for demographic information to be identifiable. Additionally, any comments submitted in response to the survey will be separated at the time of submission to the consultant so they are not attributed to any individual demographic characteristics. Identifiable information submitted in qualitative comments will be redacted and the college will only receive these redacted comments.

Participation in the survey is completely voluntary, and participants do not have to answer any question and can skip any other questions they consider to be uncomfortable. Paper and pencil surveys are also available and will be sent directly to the consultant.


Information in the introductory section of the survey will describe the manner in which confidentiality will be guaranteed, and additional communication to participants will provide expanded information on the nature of confidentiality, possible threats to confidentiality and procedures developed to ensure de-identification of data.

The consultant will provide a final report that will include: an executive summary; a report narrative of the findings based on cross tabulations selected by the consultant; 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. Generalizations for populations are limited to those groups or subgroups with response rates of at least 30%. The committee will review draft reports and provide feedback to the consultant prior to public release.

Aims Community College has worked with the consultant to develop a research data security description and protocol, which includes specific information on data encryption, the handling of personally identifiable information, physical security and a protocol for handling unlikely breaches of data security. The data from online participants will be submitted to a secure server hosted by the consultant. The survey is run on a firewalled web server with forced 256-bit SSL security and is stored on a SQL database that can only be accessed locally. The server itself may only be accessed using encrypted SSH connections originating from the local network. Rankin & Associates Rankin & Associates will have access to the raw data. All Rankin & Associates analysts have CITI (Human Subjects) training and approval and have worked on similar projects for other institutions. The web server runs with the SE-Linux security extensions (that were developed by the NSA). The server is also in RAID to highly reduce the chance of any data loss due to hardware failure. The server performs a nightly security audit from data acquired via the system logs and notifies the administrators. The number of system administrators will be limited and each will have had required background checks.

The consultant has conducted more than 200 institutional surveys and maintains an aggregate merged database. The data from the Aims Community College project will be merged with all other existing climate data stored indefinitely on the consultant’s secure server. No institutional identifiers are included in the full merged data set held by the consultant. The raw unit-level data with institutional identifiers is kept on the server for six months and then destroyed. The paper and pencil surveys are returned to the consultant directly and kept in a locked file drawer in a locked office. The consultant destroys the paper and pencil responses after they are merged with the online data. The consultant will notify the committee chairs of any breach or suspected breach of data security of the consultant’s server.

The consultant will provide the primary investigator with a data file at the completion of the project.

The survey will be administered to all students at Aims Community College. Climate exists in micro-climates, so creating opportunities to maximize participation is important as well as maximizing opportunities to reach minority populations. Along these lines, the consultant has recommended not using random sampling as we may “miss” particular populations where numbers are very small (e.g., Native American students). Since one goal of the project is inclusiveness and allowing invisible “voices” to be heard, this sampling technique is not used. In addition, randomized stratified sampling is not used because we do not have population data on most identities. For example, Aims Community College collects population data on gender and race/ethnicity, but not on disability status or sexual orientation. A sample approach could miss many groups.

This initiative will include five primary phases. The first will involve survey development (Fall 2020), followed by survey implementation that will seek input from all students, faculty, and staff at Aims Community College (Spring 2021), reporting of results (Fall 2021), and development of strategic initiatives/actions (Fall 2021).