Survey reveals ‘a lot to address’ at Dallas College

CARMEN GUZMAN, Managing Editor

Employees ranked Dallas College high for its student focus in a recent survey, but the college’s institutional structure received sweeping criticism. 

Almost 1,700 faculty, staff and administrators, more than half of Dallas College’s employees, replied to the PACE Campus Climate Survey last summer, which asked 46 questions on four climate factor assessments: institutional structure, supervisory relationships, teamwork and student focus. 

Items with the most comments got the most criticism. Institutional structure netted 839 comments and the lowest overall score of 3.093 out of 5. Student focus received 378 comments and scored 3.816.

Supervisory relationships had 219 comments and ranked 3.844 while teamwork received 181 comments at 3.875, meaning they were not seen as mean problem areas, said Brad Williams, vice chancellor of operations.

“We have a lot to celebrate as an institution,” Chancellor Justin Lonon said. “But obviously, we have a lot to address.” 

Dallas College is forming a collaborative action plan in response to the survey results. Lonon pledged to increase opportunities to provide feedback on the survey. 

“These roll into the creation of a collaborative action plan that then allows us to hold each other accountable for how we’re managing,” Williams said.

All results, including comments, are available for employees to view on Sharepoint. 

“Together, we’re in an effort to rebuild Dallas College and this is a big part of that,” Lonon said in his 60 Minutes With Lonon video.


Institutional Structure

Institutional structure comprised the entire bottom 10 scoring items, and seven items scored below the 3.0 mark. 

“I found the reorg placed new roles and responsibilities on numerous departments, causing confusion amongst the seven colleges on who can best support them within the new structure,” one commenter wrote. 

The section aggregated opinions on the consolidation and the administrative structure of Dallas College, which employees reported was rife with communication issues, poor administration and favoritism. 

“DC is spread too thin. We were supposed to be united, but it seems like we are more separate than ever and this seriously inhibits communication.”

The lowest-scoring item was “This institution is appropriately organized,” which scored 2.457. 

“What has really impacted our students is the switch to Dallas College and we’re still finding our way,” said Lenora Reece, deputy chief of operations. 

Dallas College proposed inclusive communication to address dissatisfaction toward the consolidation. 

While this PACE survey was exclusive to full-time employees, part-time employees can voice their feed- back in future surveys. 

Lonon said Dallas College wants to “implement a seat at the table” approach in response to the communication concerns voiced by employees, which was one of the action items that received the most engagement in the survey. 

“Proactive and receptive communication is important because we think communication is a one-way funnel sometimes and it’s two-way,” Reece said.


Student Focus

Student focus had four items in the top 10 and was the second-highest ranking climate factor overall.

“Dallas College is committed to providing a high quality, low cost education to all students. I think we do that well,” a respondent wrote. 

Reece said that the amount of responses and high scores indicate the quality of Dallas College’s commitment to students.

“People feel strongly about why we’re here, and there is a very strong student focus,” Reece said. “We know we’re here to support our students.” 

Items such as student diversity, career preparation and learning engagement also received high marks from respondents. 

Job relevance was the highest scoring climate factor overall at 4.397. 

“I am happy to work somewhere that is so future-oriented and forward-thinking,” a respondent wrote. “Those qualities are also important in how we prepare our students for success.” 


Supervisor Relationships

With a score of 3.844, the third-highest on the board, career hierarchy scored high but employees voiced concern over job stagnation. 

“The lack of opportunity to move up in the organization is frustrating. I like the work that I do, but my direct supervisor makes the working environment difficult,” one comment read.  

Supervisory relationship items received 155 favorable votes and 64 unfavorable votes. Although tied with student success with four items in the top 10, problem areas include staff shortages and administrative procedures. 

“Dallas College offers career paths and career planning and those types of things, but we can stand to do a much better job on the employee side,” Williams said. 

Some employees expressed that the consolidation has made it more difficult to identify supervisors and look for assistance from higher-ups. 

However, the item “My supervisor expresses confidence in my work,” was the second-highest ranking of all possible items with a 4.205 score. 

“Those become important conversations that we build into the HR function on learning and development and what is an overall career plan for an employee,” Williams added. 

One of the problem areas listed was favoritism. Some employees also mentioned low wages.

“We already have the technology and talent to fix this place up, but they’re not utilized. I’m usually not one to complain about my pay because I used to think it was fair, but I’ve been doing more than 2 full-time jobs for a while now, partly because no one else will take one for the tragic salary offered.” 

Several items in the supervisory category can be chalked up to improving the communication funnel, said Williams. That starts with gaining more feedback on policy changes. 



Although teamwork had the fewest comments, positivity was near unanimous with 162 favorable responses and 19 unfavorable replies, bringing its score to 3.875. The category featured two items in the top 10. 

“We’re trying to empower people to work as teams, allowing teams to work towards an ideal state that allows them to function in ways that support student success,” Williams said. 

However, some recipients said short-staffing downplays the quality of collaboration at Dallas College. One commenter wrote,

“There is inadequate support staff on multiple levels to effectively and efficiently operate the organization to assist and promote student success.”

Other responses noted the consolidation hurt the chain of communication by not defining where employees can give feedback. 

“Decisions are made without engaging with the people on the ground doing the work,” one commenter wrote. 

When presenting results of the climate survey, the administration stressed transparency in the process, including the adoption of a third party to organize the results.

 Overall, the goal is to promote accountability toward Dallas College’s administration. 

“The creation of a collaborative action plan allows us to hold each other accountable for how we’re managing,” Williams said.