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About the Employee Engagement Survey

Employee engagement surveys are a time-tested way to provide insight and opportunities for growth in terms of employee satisfaction. By hearing candidly from the people who comprise the University of Denver, we can gain a greater understanding of how we all work together in service to our shared mission.

From May 8 through May 22 of this year, 1,650 employees—faculty, staff and administration—completed our first-ever Employee Engagement Survey, a 54% completion rate. This rate is comparable to pilot-year survey participation rates across higher ed and provides a healthy baseline of engagement for University of Denver faculty and staff. In the years to come, we will seek to not only improve the scores we receive across the survey, but to elevate that rate of participation itself, ensuring that the voice of every employee of the institution can be heard.

Survey questions covered 17 unique "dimensions" of employment at the University. Survey format included agreement-scale questions, open-ended writing prompts and demographic questions. The majority of the agreement-scale questions administered were standardized questions developed over the years by our survey partner ModernThink, LLC. These questions enable us to compare ourselves to other institutions of higher education, providing both benchmarks and opportunities to set our goals in the future. Other questions were unique to DU, specific to our institutional needs and addressing the standards we set for ourselves.

Survey Dimensions

Job Satisfaction / Support
Comp., Benefits & Work/Life Balance
Resources &
Supervisors / Dept Chairs
Faculty, Admin & Staff Relations
Respect &

Scoring the Survey

For all agreement-scale questions, options included the following:

  • Strongly Agree
  • Agree
  • Sometimes Agree/Sometimes Disagree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly Disagree
  • Not Applicable

For the purpose of creating "scores" for each question, responses of Strongly Agree and Agree were counted as positive responses. Strongly Disagree and Disagree were counted as negative. In terms of benchmarking, the percentage of each question's responses that were positive were used to create the "score" for each question. Percentages negative nevertheless provide unique insight into the sentiment of our community.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did we conduct this survey?

As part of DU IMPACT 2025 we set out to strengthen engagement and celebrate life together, to be an exemplary employer, to promote flexibility and efficiency, and to identify and use best practices for our organization. This survey is one method to gather information, giving the University the ability to think holistically about our strengths and our challenges. What is exciting is that this survey encompasses both staff and faculty, including adjunct faculty, in a single survey. This has not been done in recent times. This pilot year of this survey approach provides a baseline against which we can measure our own growth moving forward.

Who participated in the survey?

All faculty, adjunct faculty and benefitted staff were invited to participate in the survey. The survey questionnaire was also offered in Spanish with sessions offered to allow any second and third shift staff and faculty to access the survey as well.

When will we conduct the next survey?

Future surveys and timing are being discussed now. The recommended timeline is two years, to allow institutions and divisions to process the data, identify priority areas to address, and implement recommendations. In the meantime the University will continue to solicit feedback through a variety of other tools and means.

How was the survey administered?

The survey was conducted online through a link provided via email sent by ModernThink, LLC. Survey participation was encouraged but completely voluntary. The University worked to ensure all members of the university community had access to participate. The on-line questionnaire was translated and multiple sessions were held on-site to meet 2 and 3 shift needs so all who wished to participate could do so.

Are my responses confidential? Is my participation (or not) confidential?

Both survey participation and the responses provided were (and continue to be) held in the strictest confidence by ModernThink. Personally-identifiable information cannot be traced back to the individual participants by DU. Demographic information and departmental information was tracked to help identify demographic-specific trends and to provide departmental insights which may be relevant to specific areas of the University.

How were open-ended question responses handled?

ModernThink provided verbatim responses to the Chancellor and other members of University of Denver leadership, as well as common themes identified among the responses. These responses and themes are not associated with, or traceable back, to any one individual. Common themes of the comments will be shared with the community through this website, through the Townhall meetings, and other follow-up activities, alongside a small number of anonymous individual quotes which illustrate those themes.

How does DU compare to other schools?

At this time, participation among DU's direct "peer" institutions is too limited to draw clear comparisons. In the absence of this information, work is being done to identify appropriate benchmarks scores for DU. In the meantime, data is available to compare DU to the average among the "Honor Roll" schools from the Great Colleges to Work For program. By looking to the recognized top employers in the country, we can create a better understanding of the scores we should aspire toward as we continue on our journey to fulfill the promises made in DU IMPACT 2025.

Our survey partner

ModernThink, LLC.

Founded in 2004, ModernThink is an organizational development and management consulting firm with particular expertise in improving workplace quality, stakeholder engagement and overall outcomes. ModernThink partners with a wide range of organizations, ranging from small companies to large multi-state hospital systems. In 2008 they partnered with The Chronicle of Higher Education to establish The Great Colleges to Work For program, which every year surveys the staff and faculty of over 1,000 colleges and universities.

ModernThink's mission in higher education is to help colleges and universities become better places to work and learn. To that end, they currently partner with several higher ed consortiums and associations including:

  • Network for Change and Continuous Improvement (NCCI)
  • National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE)
  • Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC)
  • College and University Professional Association of HR (CUPA-HR)