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Official, accurate, and unbiased information and analysis

Cornell Employee Survey

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Cornell conducting a survey of its employees?

    The Employee Assembly and Cornell’s senior administrators are interested in understanding staff engagement at Cornell and they believe that an employee survey is a useful way to collect employee feedback.  As in the last administration of the Cornell Employee Survey five years ago, leadership across the university will use the results of this survey to identify areas of concern, to facilitate campus-wide discussion of those concerns, and to explore solutions.

What areas will the survey focus on?

    The survey will ask about your job, career development, respect and fairness, leadership and direction, and life outside of Cornell.

How long is the survey and what is the format of the questions?

    The survey consists of about 60 multiple-choice questions and one open-ended question for respondents to write additional comments.

How much time will it take to complete the survey?

The survey should take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. If you are unable to complete the electronic version of the survey after you begin, you will have the option to click on “finish later” and your information will be saved so you can return at a later time to complete it.

How long will the survey remain open?

The survey will remain open through the November 11.

Can I respond to the survey during paid work time?

    Yes.  President Hunter Rawlings and his leadership team have asked that supervisors permit employees to take the survey during paid work hours. On the other hand, if you would prefer to take the survey outside of your workplace, you are welcome to access the web-version survey from home or another off-campus location. It is also possible to take the survey on paper; please contact

    to request that a paper survey be mailed to you.

Why is my participation important?

    First, as an employee of Cornell University, your voice matters. Second, in order to have an accurate picture of the university and its individual units and colleges, we need to hear many voices from all parts of the institution.

Who is eligible to participate in the survey?

    All full-time, non-academic staff, librarians, and union employees of the Ithaca Campus, Geneva Experimental Station, and Cornell Tech are invited to participate in the Employee Survey, as long as their employment began prior to July 1, 2016.  Part-time non-academic staff, library, and union employees who are benefits eligible are also invited to participate in the Employee Survey.

Faculty and other academic employees who are at least half-time and were employed as of October 1, 2015 are invited to participate in the 2016 Academic Work Life Survey and will be sent a different questionnaire.

Are my survey responses confidential?

    Absolutely, this survey is completely confidential. The purpose of the survey is to get honest feedback. Your responses will be reported only in summaries; no results will be reported in any way that would allow individual respondents to be identified.

Who will see my survey responses?

Your individual answers will not be reported to anyone.

Institutional Research and Planning staff will combine your individual survey responses with other survey responses in your college or unit so that only grouped results are reported.

Each vice president and college dean will receive a report of combined group results for his or her entire unit or college.  Department or unit managers may also see grouped results, as long as 5 or more employees in your department or unit responded to the survey.

What will happen to written responses to the open-ended question?

    Any written comments you choose to provide will be shared exactly as they are written to a small number of leaders across the university; your name will not be included unless you choose to write it into your response

How do I take the survey?

    To participate online, click on your unique link in the survey invitation emailed on October 6 from Marin Clarkberg, the Associate Vice Provost for Institutional Research and Planning.  If you would prefer to respond on paper, please let us know at

    and a paper survey will be mailed to you.

After the survey closes, what’s next?

    Survey results will be compiled by Institutional Research and Planning (IRP), and a university-wide report will be made available on the

IRP website. In addition, each vice president and college dean will receive a report of grouped results for his or her unit or college.

The President’s leadership team will use the results to identify areas of concern, to facilitate campus-wide discussion of those concerns, and to explore solutions.

What is Institutional Research and Planning and why is that office responsible for the survey?

    Institutional Research and Planning (IRP) is an office within the university that provides official, accurate and unbiased information and analysis about the university in support of institutional planning, decision-making, and reporting obligations.

IRP has an established track record of maintaining data securely, and of reporting on survey data with integrity and fairness.  IRP surveyed Cornell employees in 2011, and has conducted two surveys of Cornell’s tenured and tenure-track faculty (in 2005 and 2010).

You can see other IRP survey instruments and results online:  IRP Survey Page

How do I find out more?

    Feel free to contact

    for concerns or questions about the survey.