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Climate Assessment Committee activities (2021)

The Computer Science and Engineering Division as part of the College of Engineering is committed to fostering an inclusive environment, where all community members feel safe and welcome. 

CSE and the Dean’s Office are both working to lead change within the institution. Recent allegations of sexual harassment involving faculty of the department have left many members of the community feeling hurt, insecure, and angry. While the department under the leadership of its Chair Michael Wellman is taking actions to remedy the situation, Dean Alec Gallimore has initiated College-level parallel actions that target assessing and improving the departmental climate.

View a report on Giffen & Kaminski’s findings and recommendations.


In February 2021, Dean Alec Gallimore announced the formation of the CSE Climate Assessment Committee. This independent, cross-departmental committee will be led by CLaSP Department Chair Tuija Pulkkinen. Other members include:

  • Jon Kinsey, College of Engineering Chief of Staff
  • Heidi Sherick, College of Engineering Director of Leadership Development
  • Mary-Ann Mycek, College of Engineering Associate Dean for Graduate and Professional Education, Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Rada Mihalcea, Janice M. Jenkins Collegiate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
  • Westley Weimer, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Chair of the CSE Diversity and Outreach Committee


CLASS was charged to organize and oversee a review of the overall culture and climate in the Division of CSE. The climate assessment was conducted by engaging a third party to lead the assessment, as requested by the CSE faculty open letter.  In particular, CLASS:

  • Selected the third party conducting the assessment for final approval by the Dean
  • Assisted and advised the third party in conducting the assessment
  • Assisted CSE in devising an implementation plan for the recommendations from the third party report
  • Identified assessment tools and recommendations that could also apply to other areas of CoE
  • Worked with the Dean’s Office to engage stakeholders in the process


The committee finished its work in August 2021. As a final product from the CLASS charge, the committee produced:

  • A final report of the CSE climate assessment performed by a third party
  • A list of specific recommended actions to improve culture and climate of CSE


Throughout the process, CLASS:

  • Communicated with the CSE community to inform about the progress and to share the findings of the assessment process via regular email updates, invitations to participate in the assessment and all-community meetings
  • Assisted the department in developing a framework for implementing the recommended actions


In selecting Giffen & Kaminski to conduct the survey, CLASS deemed the following things important:

  • Conforming to the College of Engineering values:
    • Leadership and excellence in the process of improving climate and culture
    • Creativity, innovation and daring in creating opportunities to be heard, influence the process and change
    • Diversity, equity and social impact as a core value guiding the change process
    • Embracing collegiality and collaboration 
    • Transparency and trustworthiness including showing respect while openly and honestly sharing diverse perspectives
  • Experience in:
    • Working constructively with academic communities
    • Educational environments with diverse and underrepresented populations

NOTE: The following actions fall outside the CLASS remit:

  • Any allegations or subsequent disciplinary or HR actions taken as a result will be handled according to U-M processes, as appropriate.
  • Implementation of recommendations from the third-party, or additional trainings or assessments requested by the CSE community, is the responsibility of appropriate offices within CSE, the College or the University.
  • Communication from the CSE division is the responsibility of the CSE division and its Chair.


02/12/2021Committee kick-off meeting with Dean Gallimore
02/16/2021Dean’s message to College community
02/22/2021CLASS meeting #1:
• Review of charge and timing
• Review of outside firms
• Communication plan
03/01/2021CLASS meeting #2:
• Prepare for meeting with CSE community
• Update on outside firm selection process
• Conflict of interest discussion
03/02/2021Meeting with the CSE community:
• Motivation for climate assessment
• Introduction of the committee charge
• Introduction of criteria for third party conducting the assessment
• Q&A
Meeting slides
03/08/2021CLASS meeting #3:
• Evaluation of proposals from outside firms
• Decision to schedule follow-up meeting with selected outside firm
(meeting held 3/11)
• Discussion of feedback mechanisms to CLASS committee
03/15/2021CLASS meeting #4:
• Selected the third party conducting the assessment for final approval
by the Dean
• Discussed survey development and implementation process
03/22/2021CLASS meeting #5:
• Survey planning discussion with external firm Giffen & Kaminski, including:
• CSE involvement in preparation of the survey
• Survey focus and relation to prior questionnaires
03/29/2021CLASS meeting #6:
• Discussion of mechanisms for CSE feedback to CLASS committee
• 25 persons representing CSE students, faculty and staff selected to help prepare the external climate survey
• Giffen & Kaminski expected to reach out to this group shortly
04/05/2021CLASS meeting #7:
• CLASS communication plan for CSE community: action items to improve awareness and engagement
• Climate survey planning
04/12/2021CLASS meeting #8:
• Giffen & Kaminski updates: G&K spoke with 24 out of 25 approached CSE community members & is finalizing the climate survey instrument based on the input and feedback 
• CLASS to review the survey next week
• Discussion of survey audiences and test groups
04/19/2021CLASS meeting #9:
• Discussed CLASS presentation at CSE Faculty Meeting 4/16
• Discussion of climate survey communication & updates for CSE community
04/22/2021CLASS meeting #10:
• Review CLASS committee feedback on draft climate survey instrument
04/26/2021CLASS meeting #11:
• Meeting with Giffen & Kaminski: discussion of draft climate survey
05/03/2021CLASS meeting #12:
• Meeting with with Giffen & Kaminski: revisions to draft climate survey tool
05/10/2021CLASS meeting #13:
• Meeting with with Giffen & Kaminski: discussion to finalize climate survey tool for testing
05/17/2021CLASS meeting #14:
• Discussion of participant lists for CSE climate survey
• Process for climate survey launch
05/24/2021CLASS meeting #15:
• Final approval for CSE climate survey launch
06/07/2021CLASS meeting #16:
• Discussion on preliminary results from the survey
06/14/2021CLASS meeting #17:
• Discussion on preliminary results from the survey
06/21/2021CLASS meeting #18:
• Planning sharing initial results with the CSE community
06/29–06/30/2021Meetings with the CSE community:
• 6/29: CSE faculty and research fellows
• 6/30: Graduate students
• 6/30: CSE staff
• Initial findings from the assessment
• Initial recommendations to CoE and CSE
• Q&A
Meeting slides
8/16/2021CLASS meeting #19:
• Final report draft and recommendations to CoE and CSE
09/01/2021CLASS Committee draft report discussion with Dean Gallimore
09/01/2021CLASS Committee Chair draft report discussion with CSE Chair Mike Wellman
Survey result publication and presentation to the CSE community.

Final report

RSVP form:


February 27, 2021 – Introduction to CSE Climate Assessment Committee

March 1, 2021 – Reminder: Invitation to meet CSE Climate Assessment Committee Tue Mar 2, 9-10 am

March 25, 2021 – Giffen & Kaminiski, LLC selected to lead CSE Climate Assessment

May 27, 2021 – CSE Climate Assessment Survey Open

June 29-30, 2021 – CSE Climate Committee Preliminary Findings

September 2, 2021 – Hear CSE Climate Assessment Results & Recommendations