Pulse Survey: Key Findings and Actions

In 2020, a year of extraordinary challenges, the UCSF community has faced converging public health crises of COVID-19 and a national reckoning on racism in addition to the financial fall out of the pandemic.

In August 2020, Chancellor Sam Hawgood and Mark Laret, president and CEO of UCSF Health, sought to take a “pulse” survey of the UCSF community to get its feedback on how UCSF was addressing these important issues as we serve our research, education, care delivery, and public service mission.

All staff, faculty and learners were invited to share their opinions and suggestions on UCSF’s response to the challenges of COVID-19, racism, and financial recovery in a survey conducted August 5 to August 19, 2020. UCSF received 5,144 responses for a 17 percent participation rate to the survey. The findings from this survey have informed much of the ongoing work across UCSF in addressing the issues of COVID-19, racial injustice and finances.

UCSF leaders have been regularly discussing the progress made in each of these areas at town hall forums and in communications to the UCSF community. The survey results were shared at a town hall, as well as with stakeholder groups across the University.

Chancellor Sam Hawgood also addressed the three challenges during his 2020 State of the University address on Oct. 30. 2020. That presentation is available for viewing online.

Here, are some of the key findings and initiatives underway to address the coronavirus pandemic, its impact on UCSF’s finances and racial injustice.


Key Findings and Follow-up Actions

COVID-19 Pandemic

Survey respondents scored UCSF most favorably on its response to COVID-19. Confidence that “UCSF’s health policies will keep me safe” is of utmost importance to the frontline.

A central part of that response is due to frequent and ongoing actions in response to the pandemic across the entire campus and health system.

With the increase in patients, visitors, learners and health care personnel, and the tremendous work done to provide safe spaces for charting, consulting, breaks and eating, the COVID Compliance Task Force was charged with standing up a program to determine UCSF Health’s compliance with COVID transmission prevention efforts.

Regular updates on UCSF’s response and recovery are posted in weekly digests as well as the coronavirus website. Below are resources for the UCSF community:

COVID-19 Resources

UCSF Novel Coronavirus Resources

UCSF Protocol for Working Onsite

UCSF COVID-19 Dashboard


Financial Health

Survey respondents indicated that they would like UCSF to provide more information about UCSF’s financial situation in the wake of the pandemic. Those who strongly agreed that “leaders communicate clearly about financial challenges” were more likely to understand their role in addressing financial challenges and have confidence in leadership.

In response to the desire for more information about UCSF’s finances finance leaders for the campus and UCSF Health included a segment about UCSF’s budget picture at the COVID-19 response town hall on July 24, 2020. A recording of that town hall is available online.

In addition, Finance leaders resumed the 10-Year Financial Road Show, which was streamed live for the UCSF community on Dec. 10, 2020. A recording of that forum is posted online.


Racial Injustice

The largest disparity in the UCSF experience is driven by racial injustice. Almost half of the survey responders strongly agree that they have a role in dismantling racial injustice, with White and Asian respondents scoring this higher than Black and Latinx/Hispanic respondents. The topic of race is the most pervasive theme throughout the verbatims by survey respondents.

Among the recommended actions to take:

  • Increase and empower manager accountability
  • Prioritize staff time and program funding toward racial injustice work
  • Leverage community partnerships and hire and promote Blacks and Latinx employees
  • Provide relevant training for all employees
  • Protect anonymity to encourage reporting that uncovers racism
  • Include disparities for other marginalized groups in the equity conversation

Work on these recommendations is ongoing and involves the contributions of many departments, teams, and stakeholders. To support full community engagement, greater visibility and transparency regarding these efforts will be coordinated by the Anti-Racism Initiative Planning Group.

Here are some highlights of other efforts to address and root out structural racism at UCSF:

UCSF Anti-Racism Initiative: In a message to the UCSF community, Chancellor Hawgood noted that racism in all its forms “contrary to the core values of professionalism, respect, integrity, diversity, and excellence that drive UCSF’s mission of health research, education, care delivery, and public service. To achieve a community truly defined by these values, we must take an anti-racist stance challenging systems, practices, and attitudes that maintain structural inequities against all people of color.”

He appointed Vice Chancellor Renee Navarro to lead UCSF’s Anti-Racism Initiative, which includes several different efforts to:

  • Increase accountability to policing and security under the direction of the UCSF Safety Task Force. Read the Task Force's First Report of Recommendations (October 2020) and more about it at UCSF News
  • Expand learning to include UCSF-wide education and training such as the launch of a mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion training session to launch in January 2021
  • Develop anti-racism curriculum for all learners
  • Advance hiring of under-represented minorities and to implement a UCSF-wide improvement plan to disrupt unconscious bias present in hiring and promotions processes and
  • Foster dialogue in the UCSF community in part through a new series of town halls.

More information about this initiative is accessible on the Office of Diversity and Outreach website. https://diversity.ucsf.edu/antiracism-initiative

More information about Learning & Organization Development’s efforts on racial injustice can be found here.