SF State Campus Climate Initiatives

Campus climate refers to the current attitudes and behaviors, as well as standards and practices, of employees and students of an institution of higher education. We focus particularly on those attitudes, behaviors, standards and practices that impact the access for, inclusion of, and level of respect for individual and group needs, ability and potential—and not just of those groups who have been historically marginalized, excluded or underserved by colleges and universities. - Rankin & Reason, 2008

Campus Community Forums: Your Story Matters

Many of you joined the campus community in dialogue about initial impressions, reactions and thoughts related to the final report of the "Your Story Matters" campus climate assessment project

Date and Location Agenda
Monday, April 29, 2019
Location: Seven Hills Conference Center
  • 10 – 11:30 a.m. Open Forum
  • noon – 1:30 p.m. Open Forum
  • 2 – 3:30 p.m. Faculty Forum
  • 4 – 5:30 p.m. MPP Forum
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Location: Seven Hills Conference Center
  • 10 – 11:30 a.m. Staff Forum
  • noon – 1:30 p.m. Student Forum
  • 2 – 3:30 p.m. Student Forum
  • 4 – 5:30 p.m. MPP Forum
Friday, May 3, 2019
Location: Seven Hills Conference Center
  • 10 – 11:30 a.m. Staff Forum
  • 3 – 4:30 p.m. Faculty Forum


'Your Story Matters' flyer with schedule

President’s Task Force on Campus Climate

In September 2017, President Leslie E. Wong appointed a Task Force on Campus Climate to examine the challenges and opportunities related to campus climate at SF State. The Task Force was comprised of students, staff, faculty and community representatives. After meeting four times during the Fall 2017 semester, the Task Force presented its recommendations to the President. The President also provided his response to the Task Force. Both documents are available in the archive

Campus Climate Assessment Project

The Campus Climate Assessment Project (CCAP) will help serve as a needs assessment effort to guide priority setting for the new Division of Equity & Community Inclusion. In addition, it will serve as the basis for identifying areas in need of focused attention in support of SF State’s Strategic Plan values of Community and of Equity.

CCAP kicked off Monday, February 5, 2018, with Susan Rankin & Associates Consulting as our project facilitator. This consulting team was selected following a rigorous and competitive national RFP process. This Project comprises an 18-month long, comprehensive self-study using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. All students, staff, faculty and administrators at SF State will ultimately be invited to participate in the assessment strategies. Our consultants have made a strong commitment to ensure that this Project is both confidential (to protect and promote honesty by participants) and transparent (to ensure accurate, complete results are shared broadly with the campus community).

The final report from the consultants will include not only the complete data and their analyses but also a measurable, actionable plan for moving forward—developed collaboratively with the campus community. The final report from the consultants will include the complete data and their analyses. Using this report, the campus will then develop a measurable, actionable plan for moving forward—with strategies identified and prioritized collaboratively with the input of students, staff and faculty. 

For information about the Campus Climate Assessment Project and ongoing updates on our 18-month process, please bookmark and visit our Project page frequently.

The Campus Climate Steering Committee is comprised of campus representatives from across the University, including appointees from Academic Affairs, Administration & Finance, Associated Students, Equity Programs & Compliance, Student Affairs & Enrollment Management, University Advancement, and University Enterprises. The purpose of the Steering Committee will be to shape and substantively inform the process of the CCAP in consultation with Rankin & Associates Consulting, as well as share information with the larger campus community about the assessment process as we move forward.

The Steering Committee met for the first time on February 5, 2018, and will convene for at least three additional meetings during the Spring 2018 semester. Manuel Alejandro Pérez, Interim Assistant Vice President for Equity & Community Inclusion, and Leticia Márquez-Magaña, Professor of Biology & Lead PI for SF BUILD, have graciously agreed to serve as the co-conveners for this Committee.

The Members of the Steering Committee are:

  • Jill Anthes, Executive Director, Planning & Design
  • Derwin Deon Brown, Student
  • Jesse Cantley, Director, Marketing and Brand Strategy
  • David Celoria, Faculty, Educational Leadership
  • Katon Dalton, Manager, Equity Programs & Compliance
  • Meredith Eliassen, Senior Assistant Librarian, University Library
  • Celeste Francisco, M.A. Student, Asian American Studies
  • Jesus Garcia, Executive Director, Administration & Finance
  • Trevor Getz, Faculty, History
  • Colleen Hoff, Faculty, Sexuality Studies
  • Yadira Ibarra, Faculty, Earth & Climate Sciences
  • Venoo Kakar, Faculty, Economics
  • Catherine Kudlick, Faculty, History
  • Janet Lopez, Student
  • Leticia Márquez-Magaña, Faculty, Biology
  • Rick Nizzardini, Interim Director, Health Promotion & Wellness
  • Jeannette Peralta, Interim AVP, Human Resources
  • Manuel Alejandro Pérez, Interim AVP, Equity & Community Inclusion
  • Veronica Rabelo, Faculty, Management
  • Johnetta G. Richards, Faculty, Africana Studies
  • Christina Sabee, Dean of Equity Initiatives
  • Emily Shindledecker, Senior Institutional Research Analyst
  • Oscar Stewart, Faculty, Management

Project Staff from Rankin & Associates:

  • Kadian McIntosh, Executive Associate & Senior Research Associate, Rankin & Associates Consulting
  • Dan Merson, Executive Associate & Senior Research Associate, Rankin & Associates Consulting

Projected timeline for SF State’s CCAP.  Because this process is intended to be collaborative, consultative, iterative and organic, please note that the timeline milestones may shift somewhat as we progress forward.

Below is the projected timeline for CCAP.  Because this process is intended to be collaborative, consultative, iterative and organic, please note that the timeline milestones may shift somewhat as we progress forward.

February/March 2018

  • Initial meeting with the Campus Climate Steering Committee

  • Begin planning for focus groups

April 2018

  • Conduct focus groups

  • Begin survey development

June-September 2018

  • Prepare thematic analysis report from the focus groups

  • Complete the survey development

  • Develop the marketing/communication plan

  • Submit IRB application and seek approval

October 2018

  • Survey administration to all students, staff, faculty and administration

November/December 2018

  • Data analysis

January/February 2019

  • Report development

March/April 2019

  • Public presentation of the results (note that the President’s Cabinet will NOT review the report prior to this presentation)

  • Initiate implementation of the campus action plan

  • Campus Climate Assessment Project Follow-Up Community Forums

    • April 29, 2019

    • April 30, 2019

    • May 3, 2019

May/June 2019

  • Campus Climate Steering Committee review of feedback from Town Hall meetings and Follow-up Forum Debrief Sessions

Additional materials about the CCAP. 

All of these materials can be found in our archived document folder.

President's Task Force

  • Recommendations of the President’s Task Force on Campus Climate (February 4, 2018)
  • President’s Response to the Task Force on Campus Climate (March 15, 2018)


  • “Why Campus Climate Matters” Presentation - February 5, 2018  (Project Kick-Off)

  • "Assessment of Climate for Learning, Living, and Working" Final Report Presentation - April 23, 2019


  • Rankin & Reason (2008) - Transformational Tapestry Model: A Comprehensive Approach to Transforming Campus Climate

Survey Results

  • Executive Summary - Spring 2019

  • Final Report - Spring 2019

Follow-Up Events

  • Campus Climate Assessment Project Follow-Up Community Forums

Process for Data Access

Update Reports

  • Report 02/2018
  • Report 04/2018
  • Report 06/2018
  • Report 10/2018
  • Report 01/2019

For the first time in the history of San Francisco State University, we embarked on a journey to understand our campus climate and the personal stories that define this University — both past, present and future. These stories will helped us continue to be agents of change.  As such, based on our survey responses, Rankin & Associates worked with San Francisco State to develop an action plan that allowed us to improve the campus experience for everyone

For more information about our survey, please watch this video: 

Your Story Matters

The Your Story Matters Campus Climate Assessment is a campus-wide confidential online survey of all students, faculty and staff. This anonymous survey provides an assessment of the campus climate, which includes campus safety, interpersonal interactions, inclusion and equity, along with other factors that contribute to our campus environment.

A mobile station was located at Cezar Chavez Student Center Plaza (lobby) for students, faculty, and staff who would prefer to take this 20-40 minute survey using iPads.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Susan Rankin, of Rankin & Associates Consulting, which is serving as the outside consultant for SF State 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.

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

The Campus Climate Assessment Project Steering Committee (CSSC) is charged with conducting SF State’s climate survey. After a review of potential vendors, a committee from Student Affairs & Enrollment Management selected Rankin & Associates Consulting to conduct the survey. Rankin & Associates reports directly to the committee. Although the CSSC will regularly update SF State 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. Susan Rankin (Rankin & Associates Consulting) is the consultant working directly with us on this project.

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. Rankin has conducted multi-location institutional climate studies at more than 170 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 170 institutions across the nation and developed a repository of tested questions. To assist in contextualizing the survey for SF State, and to capitalize on the many assessment efforts already undertaken, the CSSC 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 SF State-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. 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 SF State for the IRB process is Sutee Sujitparapitaya, associate provost for Institutional Analytics, at SF State. 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 develop an action plan for an improved climate at SF State.

The target communities who will be invited to participate in the survey are all students, faculty, and staff at SF State. 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 university 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 university 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 that they are not attributed to any individual demographic characteristics. Identifiable information submitted in qualitative comments will be redacted and the university 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.

SF State 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 Consulting project coordinator Susan Rankin will have access to the raw data along with several Rankin & Associates data analysts.

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 170 institutional surveys and maintains an aggregate merged database. The data from the SF State 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 and employees at SF State. Climate exists in micro-climates, so creating opportunities to maximize participation is important as well as maximizing opportunities to reach historically underrepresented or marginalized 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, SF State collects population data on gender and race/ethnicity, but not on disability status or sexual orientation. So a sample approach could miss many groups.

This initiative will include five primary phases. The first will involve focus groups (Spring 2018), survey development (Spring/Summer 2018), survey implementation that will seek input from all students, faculty, and staff at SF State (Fall 2018), and reporting of results (Spring 2019). In May and June of 2019, the Campus Climate Steering Committee will review feedback from both Town Hall meetings and the 10 subsequent Follow-up Forum Debrief Sessions. The committee will then produce an update about next steps based on this feedback.



We welcome your feedback via email through equity@sfsu.edu.

You will receive a response from our Campus Climate Advisory Board convener, Frederick Smith.