2022 Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey Results Provide Benchmark for Ongoing Diversity Work

The survey, administered every two years, is part of Lehigh’s ongoing work to enhance diversity, inclusion and equity on campus and to ensure all members of our community feel safe, valued and welcome.

Story by

Carina Sitkus

Photography by

Ryan Hulvat

Lehigh has received the results of the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium’s (HEDS) Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey, administered in March of 2022.

Lehigh began participating in the survey in 2020 as part of the university’s efforts to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus community; the 2020 survey results provided baseline data for Lehigh’s climate. Administered every two years to provide a snapshot of progress over time, the survey also provides benchmarks from similar universities regarding multi-faceted topics, including:

  • Perceptions of students, faculty, staff and administrators regarding our climate; 
  • How Lehigh supports diversity and equity; and 
  • The community’s experiences with insensitive or disparaging remarks and discrimination and harassment

“By surveying biennially, we can use the data to identify potentially problematic developments or areas of improvement and work to address those areas before beginning the next survey cycle,” said Vice President for Equity and Community Donald Outing. “Additionally, we can use the longitudinal data to identify trends that persist over time.”

2022 Results Compared to 2020

Response rates varied by category: 13% for undergraduate students, 16% for graduate students, 27% for faculty, and 36% for staff/administrators.

There was little change in terms of the data from student, faculty and staff respondents in 2022 compared to 2020 across the categories:

  • Satisfaction with Campus Climate for Diversity & Equity-  Lehigh's overall score on the Satisfaction with Campus Climate for Diversity and Inclusion indicator was 3.5 (compared to 3.7 in 2020). On average, people were between ambivalent to generally satisfied with the campus climate.
  • Institutional Support for Diversity & Equity- Lehigh's overall score on the Institutional Support for Diversity and Equity indicator was 3.4 (compared to 3.5 in 2020). On average, people were ambivalent in their perceptions of institutional support. 
  • Experience of Insensitive or Disparaging Remarks-  Lehigh's overall score on the Experience of Insensitive of Disparaging Remarks indicator was 2.0 (compared to 2.0 in 2020). On average, these remarks are perceived as rare.
  • Experience of Discrimination or Harassment- In 2022, Lehigh's overall score on the Experience of Discrimination or Harassment indicator was 1.8 (compared to 1.7 in 2020, indicating little change). 

Results Comparable to Similar Universities

In benchmarking provided by HEDS, Lehigh’s scores from responses across the survey’s four general indicators (Satisfaction with Campus Climate for Diversity and Equity, Institutional Support for Diversity and Equity, and Experience of Insensitive or Disparaging Remarks), were in line with those of other institutions.

However, African American, Hispanic/Latino, and non-binary and/or transgender Lehigh students reported less satisfaction with the campus climate at Lehigh and a less favorable perception of institutional support for diversity and equity than their peers at other institutions and report encountering more disparaging or insensitive remarks and experiencing more discrimination/harassment than do their peers at other institutions. 

Overall, experiences of Discrimination or Harassment were slightly higher at Lehigh (21%) than at peer institutions (18%).

“Though the survey results indicate that we have a healthy campus climate, we recognize that there remain disparities,” said Outing. “Again, these disparities illuminate the work that we still need to do in order to create a community where everyone feels a sense of belonging.”

Identifying Gaps in Results 

In addition to benchmarking results at Lehigh and compared to other institutions, the HEDS survey data breaks down varying experiences of Lehigh’s campus climate depending on identity. There were no substantial differences across demographic groups in the experiences of discrimination or harassment. 

However, there were some differences in other areas. For example, in terms of campus climate, LGBTQ+ individuals held more negative views of the climate than did heterosexual individuals, BIPOC US citizens held more negative views of the climate than did non-BIPOC US citizens, and international respondents held more positive views of the climate than did US citizens.

The comprehensive data and interactive report are available on the website.

These differences, in addition to the overall results, provide opportunities to strengthen support and identify areas of growth for the Lehigh community. Since 2020, there have been new initiatives enacted to continue to improve and foster a positive and inclusive campus culture, including the launch of a comprehensive Diversity, Inclusion & Equity Plan (2021-2026)

Enhancing Lehigh’s culture is a priority of the plan, as is the goal of creating a campus climate that is supportive and respectful and values different perspectives and experiences. Diversity and Inclusion also is a throughline value of Lehigh’s overarching strategic planning process, underscoring the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in every facet and area.  

As part of recent work in alignment with the plan, Lehigh has:

  • Conducted a comprehensive review of LUPD policies and procedures to ensure they are aligned with our diversity, inclusion, and equity goals.
  • Expanded support and programming for our low-income, first-generation, and BIPOC student populations
  • Facilitated learning communities and workshops to help faculty infuse our systems approach to achieving inclusive excellence into their curriculum and classrooms
  • Expanded First Year Experience programming to include issues of race, racism, class, gender, religion, law, and challenge students to identify and critically analyze their own stereotypes and biases

In addition, we soon will be publishing metrics associated with the progress measures shared in Spring 2022 on our expanded DI&E plan site.

“This survey is a great opportunity for us to assess our campus community’s perceptions of our campus climate and university support for diversity, inclusion and equity as well as their experiences,” said Outing. “In order for us to accurately capture this data, we need more community members to participate in the survey [in the future]. This is a great opportunity to make your voice heard as we continue to work together in creating a community that celebrates diversity, embraces inclusive excellence, and everyone experiences a sense of belonging.”


Story by

Carina Sitkus

Photography by

Ryan Hulvat

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