Andrew Eppig

Andrew Eppig loves finding the stories and revealing the patterns in data as part of his work as the institutional research analyst for the Division of Equity & Inclusion at Berkeley.

Case Study Highlights

THE CATALYST MOMENT

A compelling data-driven story can drive action on improving campus climate.

BEST PRACTICES

  • When analyzing results, disaggregate repeatedly.
  • Survey at the local or department level.
  • Dedicate resources and staff to collect and analyze diversity-related data. 

LESSONS LEARNED

  • Ask fewer questions to boost response rates.
  • Ask better questions on sexual harassment to examine sexual violence as a continuum of behavior.
  • Heavily promote the survey administration across all departments. 

WHAT'S NEXT

  • Tools and sample questions will be provided for departments to create their own follow-up surveys.
  • The lead research analyst will publish historical trends of faculty hiring that compares the faculty availability pool to faculty applicants and hires by discipline, race/ethnicity, and gender.

Andrew Eppig loves data. “Data helps us learn more about the world,” he said. “I don’t just love data, but I love analysis too, because analysis helps patterns emerge. Then we see the individual stories come together.”

Both his skill set and passion are helpful in his current job as the institutional research analyst for the Division of Equity & Inclusion at Berkeley. In 2013, the University of California system undertook what is believed the largest survey of campus climate in American higher education. The survey, made up of more than 100 questions, sought to measure the attitudes, behaviors, and standards of faculty, staff, administrators, and students concerning the level of respect for individual needs, abilities, and potential. It was offered to over 400,000 faculty, students, staff, and fellows across UC’s 10 campuses, a national lab, and other locations.

At Berkeley alone, 13,000 campus members responded to the survey. When disaggregated by demographic characteristics, the survey data yielded millions of data points.

Eppig likes to tell the story of his first presentation on the campus climate survey, which had more than 100 slides and took well over 90 minutes to present. “Initially, I looked at just some basic things. But then people started asking about this question, or that question. When you have 100 slides to show, even the most engaged people lose interest, and it would get very technical very quickly. I needed a way to capture the most salient points,” he said. “Then I realized that every way you sliced the data, it pretty much told the same story. I was looking for a way to A) not bore the audience and B) respect the fact that the survey asked many questions. We realized we had to distill the essence and tell the story across all of these questions.”

And what is that story? “There is a certain subset of people at Berkeley that is experiencing a worse climate than others, and those are people who are also marginalized in the broader society: Blacks, Latinos, LGBTQ, persons with disabilities, Pacific Islanders, and staff employees,” said Eppig. “This marginalization in society was being reflected on campus. It was about finding this story and finding a way of conveying this succinctly. We went from 100 slides to 15 slides. Now, people were more engaged, because the issues were more tangible. These are simple declarative findings that we can move forward on and begin to change things.”

“When you can bring something that distills the story in five minutes and we tell them we have good evidence on what’s going on, they’re saying, ‘Oh, that doesn’t look good…what can we do to improve the climate on campus and in our departments?’”

—Andrew Eppig

“Some people have said that these findings are not surprising, while for others the data really opened their eyes. The fact that most exclusion occurs in classrooms was new information. And now Graduate Student Instructors have undergone training to improve classroom climate,” Eppig said.

“We live in a world where people respond well to data, especially those who control budgets and make decisions,” he concluded. “When you can bring something that distills the story in five minutes and we tell them we have good evidence on what’s going on, they’re saying, ‘Oh, that doesn’t look good…what can we do to improve the climate on campus and in our departments?’”

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  Data and Strategic Planning