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Letter to the Editor: Response to “CSU – San Bernardino, Students Find Climate Survey Corrupt and a Waste of Tax-Payer’s Money”

Dear Editor of the Westside Story Newspaper,

We are the three faculty members who authored the campus climate report that was referenced in a recent post to the WSN: “CSU – San Bernardino, Students Find Climate Survey Corrupt and a Waste of Tax-Payer’s Money,” June 16, 2016. In this letter, we hope to correct the factual errors contained in that article.

There were two primary charges made within that article. Although we support the students’ right of free speech and an open dialog of issues, we must correct their misconceptions that:

1. Taxpayer money was wasted, and

2. The climate survey was “corrupt” (which we interpret from comments in the story that the survey was seen to be “misleading, conveniently inaccurate, and deliberately designed to attack President Morales and his administration.”)

First, we provide a thumbnail reaction to those charges and then for the interested reader, provide a longer explanation with regard to what we perceive as the most serious charge — that the survey was biased.

1. Waste of taxpayer money: We three faculty who analyzed the data and wrote the report

2. Corrupt” survey: As professionals who conduct surveys as part of our work, the survey were not compensated in any way for the work done. More specifically, we did the work without any payment and we did the work largely on our weekends, outside of our usual university duties.

The survey itself was hosted by a marketing firm in North Carolina, without charge to the campus. Further, we did the work on our home computers, so no state resources, apart from the email program to send the invitations, were used in analysis or report preparation. Thus, the charge that the survey was a “waste of taxpayer money” is untrue, as no state resources were used in its administration, analysis, or report preparation was written, administered, and evaluated according to scientific standards. We took every precaution to be sure that the survey would be an unbiased picture of the campus climate as experienced by the employees of the university.

The survey was conducted to assess climate, which by necessity does include leadership as leaders are largely responsible for the cultures of their organizations. Students, who are not employees of the campus, were not invited to take the survey because: a) it was our understanding that CSUSB’s Office of Institutional Research had planned a climate survey for students for 2016, thus any effort on our part to survey students would have duplicated that planned effort, and b) as item 1 above demonstrates, we had very limited resources with which to conduct the survey.

We applaud the fact that the students who wrote the article for WSN are concerned and are committed enough to speak out. We believe, however, that they are misinformed and that the community is well-served by knowing the facts. We stand ready to meet with the students who wrote the original article to provide further information if they are interested. And for readers who are interested, following is more detail regarding the method by which we conducted the survey.

As discussed in the background section in both reports (Phases I and II), the Senate Ad Hoc Committee was formed and included faculty with extensive expertise in survey design, organizational climate, morale, and leadership, survey methods, and data analysis. Additionally, several employees who have substantial knowledge of staff issues on the campus also joined the committee. Three administrators were invited to join the committee; all declined. It was brought to our attention that the administration was working on a student survey. Indeed, as of this writing, a 2016 survey is in development (see Current Student Survey 2015-2016 at www.csusb.edu/institutional-research/institutional-research). Students also have several opportunities to evaluate aspects of university life relevant to their experiences as students. The National Survey of Student Engagement administers a survey on an annual basis and all students have an opportunity to participate (see current year and previous years’ results at www.csusb.edu/institutional-research/institutional-research/national-survey-student-engagement).

The decision to design the survey for faculty, staff, and administrators was appropriate given that organizational climate surveys are typically administered to those employees who have long-
term occupational ties and commitments to the organization, and are most directly affected by the climate. The Chronical of Higher Education (CHE) acknowledges the importance of assessing employee perceptions of climate on a regular basis as a means of understanding employee morale, perceptions of leader effectiveness, job satisfaction, etc. In the CHE national survey titled “Great Colleges to Work For,” the survey sample consists of administration, faculty, exempt and non-exempt staff.

With regard to assertions that the survey was “corrupt” (misleading and designed to disadvantage the President of CSUSB), we direct readers to the Methods section of the campus climate report (Phase I), pages 7 through 9 at http://senate.csusb.edu/reports.htm. The committee began its work by identifying key dimensions of organizational climate based on the relevant literature of climate. We then examined climate surveys that had already been administered at other CSU and UC campuses, including a climate survey of CSUSB staff that was administered in 2010. The majority of the questions in the CSU surveys were in an item database developed at the CSU Chancellor’s Office, and many of those items were in the 2015 CSUSB campus climate survey. The final survey that was administered is open to the public and can be viewed at the following URL: sites.google.com/site/2015csusbcampusclimate. In addition, we encourage readers to review the Frequently Asked Questions, also on that website, to learn more about the survey process.

Steps were taken to minimize biases. For example, when we learned that fall quarter 2015 coincided with the three year review of the campus president, we purposefully waited to launch the survey until after the deadline had passed for the campus community to submit comments about the president to the Chancellor’s Office.

In addition, prior to administering the survey, three CSUSB employees (one of whom was retired) reviewed each item independently to ensure no bias was present in the wording of the items and that the items and instructions were articulated clearly.

Finally, the Campus Climate Ad Hoc committee submitted the full survey and informed consent forms to the CSUSB Institutional Review Board (IRB) and received approval to administer the survey. The IRB is an entity charged with ensuring that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating as subjects in the research. To accomplish this purpose, IRBs use a group peer review process to review research protocols and related materials (e.g., informed consent documents, surveys, interview questions, and protocol design) to ensure protection of the rights and welfare of human subjects of research.

As professionals in the field of organizational behavior, we know that assessing the climate of any institution on a regular basis is crucial for organizational learning. By surveying organizations, leaders gain a better understanding of the overall attitudes of their employees and use the results to develop or change practices and policies based on the actual survey responses/data. Many successful organizations and institutions, as a best practice, administer climate surveys regularly because they recognize the importance of maintaining a healthy climate, which is positively related to employee commitment, productivity, and satisfaction, among other benefits.

CampusClimateReportMarch8 2016 date corrected

Jan Kottke, Professor, Department of Psychology, chair of the ad hoc campus climate committee

Kathie Pelletier, Professor, Department of Management

Barbara Sirotnik, Professor, Department of Information Decision Sciences

Business Education Program for Women Entrepreneurs Now Accepting Applications

RIVERSIDE, CA- If you’re a woman who wants to start a business, or if you know a woman longing to be an entrepreneur, you can start to make those dreams a reality. Applications are now being accepted for an intensive program of education, business planning, and business counseling for women who want to start their own businesses.

The program is offered by the Inland Empire Women’s Business Center, a program of the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship at Cal State San Bernardino in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, and sponsored by Citibank.

“It’s Your Time: Entrepreneurial Training Series for Women,” offers women education, business counseling, and individual support to help them develop a workable business idea. Participants selected for the program must attend a minimum of 12 workshops, work individually with a business counselor for at least two hours, and write a business plan. The cost to participate is based on income, and ranges from a minimum of $25 to a maximum of $130 for all program services. The program is open to women living in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Three graduating participants will be selected to receive an award to help launch their new ventures.

“We know there are women in the Inland Empire who have great business ideas,” said IEWBC director Nicole Kinney. “This program will help them evaluate those ideas and learn how to turn them into a viable business through education, focus, and accountability.  Business counselors and mentors help participants focus on the essential elements of business planning and offer real-world experience to guide them through the start-up process.”

Applications for “It’s Your Time” are available at the IEWBC website at www.iewbc.org, and must be completed and submitted by Friday, July 22, 2016 at 5 p.m. Late applications will not be accepted. Program orientation for qualified participants will be held on August 15. Participants will have until early December to complete the program requirements.

The Inland Empire Women’s Business Center, 3780 Market St. in Riverside, is a program of the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship at Cal State San Bernardino.  Housed in the College of Business and Public Administration, IECE, which administers the program in collaboration with the U.S. Small Business Administration, is inland Southern California’s leading organization dedicated to supporting and promoting entrepreneurship. The IEWBC provides business counseling, training and mentoring designed for women business owners.

The Inland Empire Women’s Business Center hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday by appointment only. For more information, visit the IEWBC website at www.iewbc.org or contact Nicole Kinney at (909) 890-1242.

Set in the foothills of the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, CSUSB is a preeminent center of intellectual and cultural activity in inland Southern California. CSUSB serves more than 20,000 students each year and graduates about 4,000 students annually. CSUSB is listed among the best colleges and universities in the western United States, according to The Princeton Review, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report and Money Magazine.

For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.

Metrolink to operate special holiday service on July Fourth

 LOS ANGELES, CA – In observance of Independence Day, Metrolink will not operate service on Monday, July 4, with the exception of two round-trip trains on the Antelope Valley Line between Lancaster and Los Angeles Union Station.

Antelope Valley Line train 262 will depart Lancaster at 8:55 a.m. and arrive in Los Angeles at 11 a.m., while Antelope Valley Line train 268 will depart Lancaster at 2:25 p.m. and arrive in Los Angeles at 4:30 p.m.

Making the return to trip to the Antelope Valley will be train 263 departing Los Angeles Union Station at 11:40 a.m., while train 269 will depart LAUS at 5:25 p.m. The trains will reach Lancaster at 1:50 p.m. and 7:25 p.m.

The four trains will make stops at all 11 stations along the Antelope Valley Line. Regular service will operate system-wide on Saturday and Sunday, July 2 to July 33, and resume on Tuesday, July 5.