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APSU officials give progress report on study of climate racial climate

October 2, 2001

A study of the racial climate of Austin Peay State University, begun in Spring 2001, continues.

Survey data, initially compiled by an outside consultant, was analyzed this summer by a University committee composed of Dr. Houston Davis, assistant vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Carol Kominski, director of institutional planning and analysis; and Eleanor Graves, director of the Office of MultiEthnic Services.

The committee's analysis of the data-in conjunction with other relevant data from various sources such as THEC-will serve as a foundation as the committee begins gathering supplementary anecdotal information through focus-group studies this fall.

The project has three primary phases: Review of existing data sources (complete), Focus-group activities (to begin in October), Analysis of focus-group observations and statewide Enrolled Student Surveys provided by THEC (to be completed by mid-November).

Conducted by external representatives, focus groups will begin to convene in October. To ensure anonymity of participants, there will be "blind" transcripts of each focus group for review after all are completed. Focus groups are: Focus Group #1-African American students, Focus Group #2-Caucasian students, Focus Group #3-Diverse group of students, Focus Group #4-Faculty and staff.

The focus groups will be used to help gauge the satisfaction of each group along academic, social and cultural lines. Such anecdotal information should round out and complement the quantitative analysis of earlier data analyses by offering more depth and explanation.

This information will help APSU officials not only to view the University from the perspective of each campus constituency but also to understand the importance of the local community in shaping perceptions. The focus-group information will be compared to similar statewide data gathered in 2000.

Another statewide comparison will be made when the 2001 Enrolled Student Survey-conducted at all four-year higher education institutions in Tennessee-is compared across racial lines, thus providing the opportunity to conduct cross-race analysis within APSU and among all public universities statewide.

The Statewide Enrolled Student Survey will help APSU officials to determine whether the University's racial climate is unique to APSU or is societal in nature.

For more information, telephone Davis at 221-7676.