Annenberg Values Poll town hall prompts conversations about culture values

Values Poll results reveal the school’s desired values as accountability, diversity, communication, ethical and transparency.

The Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism administration is taking steps to shift the culture and values within USC. One of the first steps is the Annenberg Culture Journey Town Hall which explored the results of the Values Poll and the next steps.

The university-wide Values Poll released in October collects information about the communities’ personal values, current culture and desired culture from faculty, staff and students.

“This is not going to be a one-year or two-year engagement. It’s a multiple-year engagement that’s really important because this is the start of conversation for us to figure out as a community, where do we want to go,” James Vasquez, Associate Dean of Operations, said during the town hall.

According to the poll results, USC’s current cultures include trojan family, reputation, bureaucratic, budget-driven and competitive, while the desired values are accountability, diversity, communication, ethical and transparency.

In total, about 19,756 students, faculty and staff completed the Values Poll, which is about a 27% participation rate. The Values Poll was intended to “set a baseline” and identify values across the institution, Vasquez said in an interview with Annenberg Media. The next step is to implement tangible change through looking at “recruitment components, systems and processes, and how we think about who we are,” Vasquez said.

The town hall focused on the Value Poll responses from the Annenberg community. There were 892 poll respondents from Annenberg. The poll revealed Annenberg has one of the lowest entropy scores at 21%, meaning Annenberg faces significant issues that need to be addressed and “we have work to do,” Deb Lawler, senior associate dean for administration, said. “I think for us… this needs to be part of a continual, consistent conversation,” Vasquez added.

Willow Bay, dean of USC Annenberg, told Annenberg Media the Values Poll is supposed to elucidate people’s understanding of different values, which further helps the administration to analyze how these values are executed.

“First of all, we need to do a better job of understanding what people mean when they cite values like accountability, diversity, transparency,” Bay said. “The next I think is at the school level, also at the university level, thinking about the ways in which those values are reflected in our mission and are executed in the day-to-day doing of our jobs as faculty and staff, and what that experience looks like by students.”

Bay also said the discussion inspired by the Values Poll is important because it reflects what students mean when they report these values.

“The significance of this endeavor is less the polling which gives us some data and more of the discussions that follow the polling,” Bay said.

Gary Wexler, an adjunct lecturer of master communication management program, was an active participant in Tuesday’s town hall. He said the conversation about values is a good start to involve more students, and professors need to reach out to students outside of the classrooms to “care about them as human beings.”

“The conversations are more important than the messages,” Wexler said. “This is a very good effort that they are making to try to be able to start getting people involved.