Dornsife hosts values town hall

Carol Faull, an external consultant, has been working with USC since August to evaluate the school’s current culture. (Long Le | Daily Trojan)

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences administrators emphasized Thursday the importance of the sessions the will hold to discuss needed changes to USC culture at the third of eight town hall.  Findings of personal values, current culture values and desired culture values by faculty, staff and students were discussed following the release of results from the USC Values Poll administered last Fall. 

More than 50 attendees learned about the experiences of the Dornsife community as reflected in the poll. 

The poll was administered to find out what the USC community wanted to improve regarding the University’s culture. With approximately 20,000 participants across staff, faculty and students, the poll garnered a 27.4% participation rate. Specifically for Dornsife, there was a 24% participation rate.

The University’s Culture Journey is in partnership with 1-degree, an experienced Barrett Values Centre that created the poll and helps organizations build and sustain values-driven culture. The process consists of the poll, reportings through Town Hall meetings and discussion sessions.

According to the USC Values Poll, the University’s current cultural entropy, which represents the amount of energy consumed in unproductive work, is 28%. From this assessment, USC is categorized as facing “significant issues,” which means there are issues that require attention and systems that need exploration. 

Kimberly Freeman, the associate dean and chief diversity officer at Dornsife, said the results of the poll would help identify the key areas that the school needs to improve on and help in bringing the right support to different communities on campus.

“I look toward the data that’s telling me what’s happening for communities that are marginalized,” Freeman said. “There’s opportunities to really understand [what] members within the gender categories are experiencing not only in their immediate environment but at USC as a whole.”

Freeman said releasing the poll’s results and gaining knowledge of community values was essential to Dornsife’s mission as a liberal arts college that centers its research around values. 

“We have world-class research in social sciences and natural sciences and humanities and so we create a lot of the content that eventually shows up in this kind of work around values,” Freeman said. “So I see an alignment with what we fundamentally do as a liberal arts college.”

Carol Faull, a senior consultant with 1-degree, has been working with USC since August to identify the current experience, build the aspired culture and train USC facilitators. Faull said the company wanted to increase transparency by sharing results in a town hall format, both at the University and individual college level.

“We heard in the past that for surveys that had been conducted … people never heard the results,” Faull said. “So we were committed through the working groups to transparency.”

Faull said results showed that five of the top 10 values that were selected for desired culture, including communication, ethical and transparency,  were shared by staff, faculty and students, serving as a starting point for conversations and deciding values the University wants to build.  

“It’s not that we have a list of 100 things to chase,” Faull said. “If we solely focused on those top five, we would have some really rich conversations and be able to shape the core unifying values that will take this university forward, as well as how we define that.”  

Discussion sessions to talk about the poll and its results will be held over the coming weeks with separate sessions for students, faculty and staff. The goal of the sessions is to collectively redefine the values of the University, according to Freeman.

“It’s not intended to be a destination, it’s a journey,” Freeman said. “So I think we need to remind people that we are just beginning.”

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