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Protecting students’ and employees’ survey responses is our main priority. In order to allow members of the Penn State community to be candid with their input, Penn State contracted with an independent third-party organization who designed and will implement the survey. The HEDS Consortium ( is a nonprofit organization based in Wabash, Indiana. They will distribute the survey and collect data from participants. We will receive a data file that is stripped of all names, IDs, and email addresses.

HEDS uses your email address to invite you to the survey, but then removes the identifiers listed above (e.g., email address) in the data file that they provide Penn State researchers. These Penn State researchers are bound by research ethics, laws, and federal regulations, and will not be sharing data with anyone outside the small research group. What this means, practically, is that your unit chair or executive will not have access to your individual responses.  Responses will be aggregated and only summary data will be shared. If there are less than 20 participants of any group on a question, we will not report the information in order to protect the identities of participants. We apply this “larger-than-20” rule throughout the data analysis. For example, we would not be able to publish a report that involves only women-identified faculty at Penn State Beaver because the numbers are too small. In this example, we would probably combine similar sized campuses. Or, when numbers are too small university-wide (e.g., Asian American women-identified administrators) we would not create such a report.

Similar to other projects (e.g., the Values and Culture Survey), there are numerous administrative considerations that support the confidentiality of responses:


  • Emails, IDs, and names are stripped from the responses by HEDS.
  • A few Penn State researchers from the Office of Planning, Assessment, and Institutional Research, and the Office of Educational Equity will receive this stripped data.
  • University leaders (e.g., executives, deans, directors, managers) do not receive any data.
  • You are not required to respond to any item.
  • Any names mentioned in the open-ended items are stripped by HEDS before the Penn State researchers receive the data.
  • Demographic information (e.g., ethnicity, age, gender identity) will be shared in aggregate only, and only if there are more than 20 participants on that question.
  • Responses across demographic categories will not be shared unless there are at least 20 participants in each group. For example, at least 20 Jewish supervisors would need to complete the survey in order for a report to be generated about this group.
  • Any questions should be directed to


This publication is available in alternative media on request. Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status.