Three years later: An update on UF’s Climate Initiative

Published: October 2, 2018 8:45 am

Designed to help determine how well the university fosters an overall sense of belonging for faculty and staff, UF sought feedback across campus in fall 2015 through the Faculty and Staff Climate survey “Your Voice, Your UF.” Nearly 5,600 faculty and staff participated in the survey.

Following the survey, UF held a series of town halls and forums to share and discuss the results in order to begin identifying action items and next steps. Faculty and staff were invited to review the survey report, attend forums and share their thoughts and insights online. Suggestion boxes were also placed in areas throughout campus where employees might not have access to computers.

Based on the feedback received, three major focus areas were determined: inclusiveness, professional advancement and respect. Led by the UF Faculty and Staff Climate Survey Working Group, university members have been working diligently on action items and initiatives in these areas. Here’s an update.

Inclusiveness

President Kent Fuchs announced a search for UF’s first Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) back in summer 2017. In July of this year, Antonio Farias, former vice president for equity and inclusion/Title IX officer at Wesleyan University, joined UF as CDO and senior advisor to the president. Farias is responsible for overseeing university-wide efforts to advance equity, diversity and inclusion, and establish a new standard of inclusive excellence. He has been hard at work meeting and collaborating with faculty, students and staff across campus in his first few months. Read this issue’s campus spotlight of Farias here.

A Diversity and Inclusion Liaisons group was recently established to begin to identify and share best inclusiveness practices among colleges and units. Additionally, UF Training & Organizational Development (T&OD) launched Gators Together, a professional development program designed to help faculty and staff, leaders, and teams at UF improve performance and engagement by cultivating more inclusive behaviors and creating environments that more fully leverage our diverse talents.

Professional Advancement

Beginning in the spring of this year, UF Human Resources (UFHR) has been asking TEAMS employees across UF about the knowledge, skills and behaviors that they believe make them successful in their jobs. The “Success at Work” survey is part of an effort to begin building enhanced training, develop career maps and provide other tools to help staff grow and flourish in their careers. The UFHR initiative is identifying 10 to 15 skills that make employees successful in their current jobs. Jobs are being mapped to career frameworks that are intended to serve as guides for staff in identifying ways to advance at UF.

T&OD has also launched the Thrive at UF professional development program to help UF faculty and staff advance their skills and effectiveness. The program gives all employees at UF the opportunity to build professional skills and maximize their performance.

Respect

In February 2017, the Climate Survey Working Group announced that Ron Anderson, university ombuds, would expand his role to serve the needs of UF staff. The following month, the College of Medicine shared the appointment of Keith Stone as its faculty ombuds. These roles supplement the services provided by the Faculty Ombuds Ken Gerhardt.

Onboarding processes, including New Faculty Orientation, have been improved to help new faculty and staff feel more welcomed, inspired and prepared to excel at UF. The university’s new Experience UF program, hosted at sites across campus — including the Florida Museum of Natural History and University Galleries — has begun bringing new faculty and professional staff together to help them get to know UF and the Gainesville community and support them through their transition.

Craig Runde, an expert in conflict management, was also brought to campus to work with UF leaders on exploring and developing more competent approaches to conflict. UFHR WorkLife programs and a website have been introduced to support the health and well-being of faculty and staff, as well as foster a sense of connection and community.

We look forward to continuing to share UF’s progress in these areas and more in the months to come.

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