After much thought and consideration, the town hall scheduled for Wednesday morning to address the College of Business & Management climate study has been canceled. Our next steps will be to seek support from the University of Illinois System to determine another resource to assess the themes of concern in the college and develop an action plan.
The climate study was initiated last spring to address concerns of CBM members regarding their work environment. The report reflected many weeks of conversations and interviews to collect and report the perceptions held by members of the CBM community. The methodology of the study is unclear, and unfortunately, the manner in which some of the perceptions were communicated in the report was viewed as offensive to several members of the university community. The sense of trust and cooperation that is needed to make the upcoming necessary work to address concerns has been damaged by the limited understanding of the methods and the tone of the report, and therefore, we will not be utilizing this report to inform our next steps.
There is concern among our colleagues regarding the decision to issue the CBM report without providing context or footnotes to address some of the concerning language used by the authors. After hearing concerns from CBM faculty (who received early access to the report) regarding this issue, Assistant Director of Access & Equity Shelby Bedford worked with the authors to develop an amended version of the report to be shared with the full campus. However, Provost Dennis Papini and CBM Dean Som Bhattacharya wanted to maximize transparency and avoid multiple versions of the report being circulated. Accordingly, they shared the original version with the expectation that the consultants could explain their intended meaning and context for the language choices during the town hall meeting. While there is no clear “right” answer regarding this difficult decision point, I apologize on behalf of our leadership team for how that approach has upset members of our community.
Given the way the report was conducted and subsequently received, we are concerned that relying upon it for our next steps will be unproductive and thus, we will find other tools to identify the concerns and concrete action items to address them in constructive ways. Though this is a very difficult matter, I want to assure you that I am fully supportive of finding the best path forward to address the concerns that prompted the CBM climate study.
Janet L. Gooch, PhD
University of Illinois Springfield