Sauk Valley Community College’s mission documents are clear and articulate publicly the organization’s commitments.
1A.1: Clearly Defined Mission Documents
The Mission and Vision Statements form the basis for the Strategic Directions, which combine them with a statement of Shared Ethical Values, a set of Strategic Goals and Objectives, and Key Performance Indicators ( Appendix) . Together, they provide a road map for where the institution is going and how it will get there, establish a basis for measuring progress, and identify the priorities that are important to the institution.
The Strategic Directions for FY11 mark the culmination of an evolutionary process that began in January 2004. These efforts resulted in the current form of the Mission Statement, which was originally adopted by the Board of Trustees on March 22, 2004. The strategic planning system implemented prior to the 2006 HLC Focused Visit established the concept of moving from the Mission toward the Vision by way of goals and objectives and integrating day-to-day operations with Sauk's priorities. This design of a reliable, mission-based strategic planning system met with approval. However, the desire for better linkages between systems led to further revisions of the system. At its April 2010 meeting, the Board adopted the Strategic Directions, thereby re-affirming the Mission, Vision and Shared Ethical Values and adopting the current Strategic Goals and Objectives. This approval marked the first-time completion of a continuous improvement process designed to be undertaken annually by the Board and campus community to evaluate the success of the college in carrying out the Mission.
1A.2: Systematic Review of Mission
The college must continually re-evaluate its Mission and Vision in light of its ever-changing environment. In recognition of the need to adapt, Sauk is committed to a regular, systematic review of the Strategic Directions. Several systems have been established to ensure that appropriate revisions occur:
Board policy establishes an annual review of the Mission and Vision Statements.
The timeline for the review process is spelled out in the Planning Timeline, which coordinates the college’s planning processes with the budget allocation cycle (Appendix).
The regular annual review of the Strategic Directions is built into the charge of the Organizational Planning and Improvement Committee (OPIC), which forwards data-influenced recommendations to administration and the Board of Trustees each February (Appendix).
1A.3: Defined Constituents
As a community college, Sauk is aware of its need to carry out the community college mission established by the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) to serve a wide range of community needs related to pre-college preparation, transfer, and employability, among others (). As a public institution of higher education, Sauk serves traditional instructional functions for its college district. As an employer, the college recognizes that the faculty, staff, and administrators are a vital internal constituency.
Sauk’s identification of its constituencies is addressed throughout the Strategic Directions: in its Mission and Vision Statements that recognize the “diverse needs” of students and community; in all of its Shared Ethical Values; and in its Strategic Goals that call for it to provide “effective assistance activities” to students and to be “responsive to non-academic community needs.”
1A.4: Strategic Directions Publicized
In order for the Strategic Directions to successfully direct decision-making and the operations of the college, they must be embedded in the thinking of the community. To ensure regular contact with the Strategic Directions, Sauk publicizes them to the following groups:
Faculty, staff and administration: The Strategic Directions form the basis for the annual operational planning process, which involves every college employee. Operational planning creates a direct link between the Strategic Goals and Objectives and the day-to-day operations of each office or academic area (Appendix). In addition, strategic planning updates are presented to staff at appropriate meetings, in mailings, or both. Job candidates receive a copy of the Strategic Directions at their interviews.
Students: Sauk engages in regular practices to inform students about the mission documents. Students in Orientation (PSY 100), a course required of degree-seeking students, learn about the Mission, Vision and Shared Ethical Values. In addition, the Strategic Directions are included in the Student Government Association (SGA) annual officers’ retreat.
Public: The Mission Statement has traditionally been printed in the college catalog, and currently the Strategic Directions appear in the online catalog. The Strategic Directions are also maintained on the college website to be available to the Sauk community and the public in general.
1A.5: Commitment to High Academic Standards
The Mission and Vision establish the clear expectation that Sauk will “provide quality learning opportunities.” In FY11 Strategic Goal 1, Sauk pledges that “the college will expand and improve the quality of programs and services.” This commitment to maintain the highest standards for quality of its instruction permeates academic processes and practices:
Assessment: Faculty have established and continue to improve a program of assessment of student learning, to ensure students are achieving program goals and the general education competencies expected of graduates.
Course outlines: A consistent format used for all course outlines requires clearly stated learning outcomes. These standard course outlines ensure that all teachers can understand and carry out the quality expectations for student learning.
Curriculum Committee: A cross-institutional Curriculum Committee is charged with reviewing and approving all course and program changes to ensure that high academic standards are maintained (Appendix).
Faculty evaluation: A contractual process for full-time and adjunct faculty evaluation exists “to ensure quality education."
Operational planning: Annually, each of the academic areas uses a variety of data and information sources to prepare a tactical action plan focused on achieving the college’s objectives for academic quality.
Program review: Sauk conducts regular, comprehensive reviews of all academic programs to ensure quality and viability, in accordance with ICCB guidelines. The process allows the review team to answer critical questions about program quality and to chart progress.
In addition, all Sauk courses and programs meet the standards set by the ICCB, whose charge is in part “to provide high-quality, accessible, cost-effective educational opportunities for the individuals and communities they serve” (). Sauk also belongs to the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI), a statewide group of faculty and academic administrators which ensures the quality of instruction and guarantees acceptance of course credits for transferring students ().
Documents published through a variety of media clearly communicate to both internal and external constituencies the college's commitment to high academic standards:
Catalog: The catalog shows that all programs have an appropriate mix of general education credits and subject-specific courses to provide a broad-based general education and suitable content-area instruction. It also contains the general education philosophy statement, which provides standards for basic knowledge and competencies for graduates.
Website: The college website displays the Mission Statement in a banner on the front page and includes for community viewing various documents that show its commitment to academic quality, such as the Board of Trustees’ policy manual, the online catalog, and annual reports.
Public forums: Information pertaining to the commitment to quality education is regularly communicated in brochures, billboards, and newspaper articles, as well as at annual high school counselor breakfasts and talks presented to students and parents at district high schools.