Category Archives: Social Sustainability

Community college survey FAQs

I thought it would be a good idea to make a post of FAQs related to the current (June 2020) survey because most invitees (1) don’t know me and (2) haven’t heard about the study until now. I will add to these FAQs as other questions arise.

Due to the pressures on everyone’s time, this survey is only being fielded for a little over three weeks. To date, invitations to participate in the current survey have been emailed to Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) at every locally-governed community college in the United States, and also to the CHRO of each multi-college community college district, system, or state system governing community colleges. The initial response has been very encouraging, and I’m hopeful that as many institutions as possible will participate.

FAQs

1. How long does it take to complete the survey?

2. How many institutions are being invited to participate in the survey?

3. How have you chosen which institutions to request data from?

4. Will the report list or otherwise identify the institutions that participate?

5. Will institutions be identified in subsequent phases of the study?

6. If we have a living wage policy, will it be shared with other institutions?

7. Why are you asking for our contact information in the survey?

8.  I received the invitation with the survey link, but I’m probably not the person who should complete it. How should I proceed?

9.  When does the data collection period end?

10.  Why conduct this survey now?

11.  Our institution doesn’t have a living wage policy – should I bother completing the survey?

12.  Our institution has most employees covered by collective bargaining agreements – should I bother completing the survey?

FAQs & Answers

1. How long does it take to complete the survey?

The vast majority of participants complete the survey in 2 to 4 minutes, with only a couple of participants taking more than 5 minutes to complete the survey – about the amount of time than I described in the invitation.

2. How many institutions are being invited to participate in the survey?

The current number is about 950 institutions.

In the present study, I’m surveying all of the public degree-granting community colleges in the United States. Degree-granting technical colleges and tribal community colleges are also included. Based on the most recent Carnegie Classification report and the American Association of Community Colleges, that comes to between 1,100 and 1,200 institutions.

3. How have you chosen which institutions to request data from?

This survey is designed as a census rather than a sample, since I’m trying to learn about living wage policies and practices across American community college. I identified institutions using the most recent Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) database, which categorizes institutions and provides other institutional data.

The IPEDS list is cross-referenced with the AACC list of community colleges and other college lists (and even Wikipedia!) to make sure I don’t miss any institutions.

For each institution, I’m inviting participation through the top HR person in the organization, as identified by the institution either by their title (e.g., CHRO) or their functional role. In the case of multi-college community college districts and community colleges governed at the system or the state level, the CHRO of the governing authority – vested with the authority to enact a living wage policy – is invited to participate.

I should emphasize that the individuals receiving invitations to participate are being asked to respond on behalf of the institution; this is not a survey about CHROs or their individual perspectives.

4. Will the report list or identify the institutions that participate?

No, not in the present phase of the study. The list of institutions will not be included in my preliminary report on this year’s survey or the resulting cycle of papers (see (5) below).

My pre-publication report of preliminary results to participating institutions this summer will not identify participating institutions by name, nor will it otherwise over-identify any institutions. For example, I’d be using descriptors such as “multi-college district” or “state-governed community college system” and other classification labels to describe data drawn from groups of institutions.

I’ll be reporting out on the response rate, the prevalence of living wage policies and practices, and the nature of living wage policies. A paper analyzing the nature of living wage practices will follow a bit later.

There are a lot of data from IPEDS that can be used to describe the institutions that participate (e.g., enrollment of subsets of the surveyed institutions, funding sources). Again, that will also be reported in aggregate, not by institution.

For institutions where I’m interviewing someone (i.e., where the institution has adopted a living wage practice), the institutions also will not be identified by name.

5. Will institutions be identified in subsequent phases of the study?

Institutions won’t be identified from the current survey, but in subsequent phases of the project, the answer is “it depends.”

Each phase of the larger project is self-contained, and institutions can choose to not to participate in later phases of the project (described on the website under Phases). In advance of each survey or other data collection, an institution will be aware of how its data will be used.

There are a couple of other phase of the project where institutions could be, are, or will be identified, but that is not part of this study:

  • Could be identified: If an interview this spring turns up a promising case study or example of practice/policy/process, I may double back to the interviewee and see if the institution wanted to be identified in subsequent work. If not, that’s fine. My “default” setting is “no identification” and an institution would have to “opt in” to be identified, so that identification would completely be the institution’s call, as it should be.
  • Are identified: My initial research on living wage policies examined policies publicly available via the institution’s public website. The institutions in that paper – which is being prepared for journal submission – will be identified.
  • Will be identified: I anticipate that this project may become a recurring survey (not unlike IPEDS), and there may be some point in the future where institutions would be identified. However, if that is the case, I would disclose that up front on a study-by-study basis.

My intent with the current survey is to collect data from as many institutions as will participate and to understand what current living wage practices and policies look like.

6. What about the living wage policies themselves?

The survey asks institutions that have a living wage policy to provide a copy of it; in exchange those institutions will have access to other institutions’ policies that are provided.

When completing the survey, participating institutions that have enacted a living wage policy are given the choice of uploading their document with identification removed or redacted (I’ll even do the redacting, if you’d prefer).

Institutions that share redacted policies will be able to benchmark other redacted policies; those institutions that share un-redacted policies will have access to the entire library of living wage policies. Essentially, an institution gets to “see” policies equivalent to what it has shared.

7. Why are you asking for our contact information in the survey?

For a handful of reasons:

  1. If you’ve already completed the survey, I really don’t want to send you a follow-up note asking you to do it again.
  2. I need to be able to connect your institutional responses to data from other sources (such as IPEDS).
  3. I need to be able to validate who participated in the survey.

8.  I received the invitation with the survey link, but I’m probably not the most appropriate person to complete it. How should I proceed?

Simply forward your invitation to the right person within your organization.

If you are new to your organization or position, there might be someone more knowledgable about living wage policies/practices and when/how they were implemented.

After that person completes the survey, they will become my point of contact for any follow-up.

9.  When does the data collection period end?

The survey is scheduled to close June 26, although I’d appreciate you completing the survey sooner rather than later.

10.  Why conduct this survey now?

I’ve been studying living wage policies and practices since mid-2015. This year, I am on research sabbatical in order to scale up the survey and increase my – and thus our – knowledge about the subject.

Additionally, the most recent Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) changes (effective January 1, 2020) means that HR professionals across higher education have a timely sense of compensation policies and practices affecting their institutions’ lowest paid employees.

The other factor affecting timing is the coronavirus pandemic. This survey was scheduled to begin in mid-March, but that clearly was an impossible time to field a survey with any hope of an acceptable return rate. I recognize that this summer is a chaotic time for almost everyone in higher education, and particularly in human resources; I also recognize that community colleges play a critical role in helping students and building their community, and hope that an investment of 2-4 minutes won’t be too much to ask on this important subject. Given the pressures everyone is under, a survey can be a welcome diversion before diving back into a complex and intense task or project.

11.  Our institution doesn’t have a living wage policy – should I bother completing the survey?

I hope you will, because I’m trying to survey every community college in the country and get the most complete and accurate data possible.

12.  Our institution has most employees covered by collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) – should I bother completing the survey?

I hope you will, because I’m trying to survey every community college in the country and get the most complete and accurate data possible.

To date, each of the colleges that have I have identified as having a living wage policy or living wage practice have some employees covered by CBAs.

Community college survey launched

I have launched the survey of American public community colleges regarding each institution’s written living wage polices and/or unwritten living wage practices. This survey mirrors the survey conducted of all four-year institutions that I completed earlier this year.

I had originally planned to begin this survey of community colleges immediately after the earlier study of four-year institutions, which luckily was completed in early March, just days before the coronavirus disrupted everything.

My hope at this time is that — despite the great uncertainty surrounding our campuses both this summer and for the coming fall — community colleges HR leaders are interested in learning about living wage policies and practices that their peer institutions have implemented. Doing so will take only a couple of minutes to provide valuable data regarding the state of living wage policies and practices in their institutions.

Who’s invited to participate?

I am inviting institutions to participate in the study by email, and to benefit from participating by receiving research results in advance of publication.

  • Roughly half of American community colleges are governed by a local board, and I am personally sending an email to the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) of each locally-governed community college.
  • For the half of community colleges without a local governing board, I am contacting the CHRO where the authority to approve policy is vested, either (1) a multi-college community college district, (2) a university within which the community college is housed, (3) a system of community colleges, or (4) a state-level board/agency.  

About the survey

Based on the previous study, the survey takes less than 4 minutes to complete, and the majority of respondents complete it within 2 minutes. All invitations to participate in the survey are sent from my email: weidner@sju.edu. The survey is hosted on Qualtrics (qualtrics.com), and invitees are provided a secure link to the survey.

Based on participants’ survey responses:

  • institutions with written living wage policies are asked to submit their institution’s policy (if you wish, we will redact all identifications of your institution); and
  • institutions with unwritten living wage practices are invited to be interviewed (about 30 minutes) about their practices (interview dates and times are available through the survey and run through July 3).

For either branch of the study, institutions and individuals responding will not be identified in our research results and reports.

Timeframe

The first invitations to participate will be sent out on a rolling basis through June 12; successive cycles of reminder invitations will continue until the survey closes (tentatively scheduled for June 26).

If you are a CHRO and haven’t received an invitation to participate in the survey, please email me: weidner@sju.edu.

If you aren’t a CHRO, please encourage your CHRO to look for the survey and complete it. Living wage policies and practices are an increasingly important subject that higher education institutions will likely need to address, either sooner or later – but we can’t learn about HR practices in higher education without your help!

Thank you!

Ken

A busy fall – and an inspiring video

Who knew that a sabbatical could be so busy?

In October I presented at CUPA-HR (Denver) and AASHE (Spokane) in back-to-back weeks. At each conference I got to meet many interesting people and reconnect with a number of colleagues.

I had the wonderful privilege of hearing and meeting Michael J. Sorrell, one of the featured speakers at CUPA-HR. Sorrell is president of Paul Quinn College, an HBCU in Dallas. He shared PQC’s singular goal: “To end poverty.” He discussed leadership, food deserts, student loan debt, textbook costs, and so much more.

Along with the rest of the audience, I found Sorrell’s presentation moving – beyond inspiring. And he was just as genuine when talking with me in person as when he was on the stage. Call me a fan.

I tried to pick out a favorite quote, but there are far too many to choose from; for example: “We believe small schools can do big things.” That’s my only spoiler.

Although video of his CUPA-HR presentation doesn’t appear to be available, I found a video of earlier presentation of his that covers some of the same themes and material from SXSW EDU 2018: https://youtu.be/snE6nBlwSxY (unfortunately most of the slides aren’t visible).

It’s worth watching. It’s worth an hour. It’s worth rewatching.

Please let me know what you think of his talk!

 

Exciting news: 2019 AASHE presentation

It’s been awhile since my last post; folks following the blog will be hearing from me more frequently during my sabbatical, which started earlier this week…

I’m starting off the sabbatical year with great news – I’ll be presenting at the 2019 AASHE Conference & Expo in Spokane, WA (October 27-30). I’m delighted because AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, aashe.org) has been an ideal venue for me to report on my research-in-progress and meet colleagues from a range of higher education institutions. This year’s conference theme is Co-Creating a Sustainable Economy, and the conference:

“…is tackling the root cause for the continued rise in carbon emissions: our dysfunctional economic system. The conference seeks to showcase and strengthen higher education’s contributions to the movement for a sustainable economy, which we see as inclusive of the exciting work happening under a variety of other names such as the solidarity economy, wellbeing economy, circular economy, post-growth economy, regenerative economy and restorative economy…”

My contribution to the conference is a presentation on the morning of Monday, October 28:

Illuminating the Invisible: How Institutions Address and Afford Social Sustainability” (9:15-10:15 AM, Monday 28 October, Spokane, Room 300D).

Click the title above for a full description of the session.

If you are planning on attending AASHE 2019 and would like to connect at (or before/after) the conference, please drop me a note.

I hope to see you in Spokane!

 

On the 2019 NCAA women’s bracket & living wage policies

Today I’m taking a look at the 2019 NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament bracket (yesterday I provided some decidedly non-expert analysis of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament). I’m methodically completing my women’s brackets, trying to decide whether strength-of-schedule, conferences, geographical or academic loyalties, mascots, or school colors are sufficient to overrule seedings and produce upsets. As with this year’s men’s tournament, I can’t pick an all-Jesuit women’s final four this year because only three Jesuit institutions have teams in the tournament – Gonzaga (5), Marquette (5), and Fordham (14) – although all three of them could (in theory) make it to the final four…

…as with the men’s tournament yesterday, I refer back to this project and last year’s (2018) list of 32 American higher education institutions (HEIs) with (either all or part of) a living wage policy publicly available on their institution’s website – that about 1% of all four year HEIs (see my AASHE webinar here).

Out of the 64 teams making the 2019 women’s tournament, five institutions made last year’s list – just under 8 percent of the field. Those institutions are 2 seed Stanford (2018 Living Wage Policy score 85), 10 seed Auburn University (45), 6 seed UCLA (70), 8 seed University of California (70), and 15 seed UC Davis (70).

Three of those teams are in the upper half of their regional bracket (i.e., 8 seed or higher), but three of them are in the same first and second round grouping playing at Stanford, which means at best three of these five teams can make it to the “sweet 16.”

Notably, Auburn was the only institution to field teams in both the men’s and women’s tournaments and have (all or part of) a living wage policy.

I’m interested to see if additional tournament teams have instituted living wage policies since last year. I’m about to begin soliciting participation from chief human resource officers (CHROs) in our 2019 data collection effort to answer that question. As before, I’ll be asking if living wage policies and/or practices are in effect; I’ll be asking institutions with policies to provide them, and I’ll be inviting CHROs at colleges with living wage practices to be interviewed about their institution’s practices.