Board of Trustees

Penn State: Culture survey to examine values, not address problems

Penn State’s upcoming culture survey isn’t meant to address a problem with the university’s values, the university’s chief ethics officer said.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Regis Becker said during a board of trustees committee meeting Thursday.

Instead, the survey is meant to find out what employees and students here think the values are and what they should be, he said.

The culture survey was the first of 119 recommendations in the Freeh report. The scathing report last summer found that the football culture here at Penn State and the reverence for the football program led to the failures of protecting children from Jerry Sandusky’s abuse more than a decade ago.

There will be a question about the football culture at Penn State when the university launches the survey later this year to 130,000 faculty members, staff and students, he said.

The results of the survey will be used to develop a statement of universitywide values, he said.

The university piloted a survey to a small group of faculty, staff and students this summer, and officials are now analyzing those results, he said.

As a result, the survey was determined to be too long.

Some of the questions will ask employees how they’d rate the importance of certain values at the university, such as respect, accountability and discovery.

And students will be asked about the party atmosphere at Penn State.

Becker said Penn State has not taken on a survey on such a large scale in the past, and the findings could be used to establish a baseline to measure the university’s values in the future.

Alumni not at the university may be disappointed they cannot take the survey, but Becker said that’s because it’s hard for alumni not working or going to school here to be a part of the “daily culture” at Penn State.

Becker said the launch date of the survey is being finalized and that it will be made available online only.