SVCC HLC Self-Study Document

Sauk Valley Community College
HLC Self-Study Document

September 19-21, 2011

1D: Organization Structures

Sauk Valley Community College’s governance and administrative structures promote effective leadership and support collaborative processes that enable the organization to fulfill its mission.

1D.1: Board-Enabled Effective Leadership

The Board of Trustees establishes a clear relationship with administration in Board Policy 116.01 (link to digital resource room support), which states that Trustees “recognize that the primary function of the Board is to establish the policies by which the college is administered, but that the administration of the educational programs and the conduct of college business is the primary function of the President and the staff . . . ." In addition, the Board authorizes the organization’s administrative personnel to exercise effective leadership and defines that leadership. The Board conducts an annual spring self-evaluation where it gauges its effectiveness in meeting its responsibilities, the results of which are stored in the President’s office.

The President meets with the administrative staff as two groups, based on their relationship to the specific provisions of their job descriptions:

  • President’s Cabinet meets with the President weekly, consisting of “direct reports” who are tied directly to carrying out major elements of the President’s job description. The Cabinet plans and responds to challenges and opportunities that arise outside of the planning cycle.
  • Administrative Council meets monthly and includes the entire administrative team. The Council discusses and reviews administrative and planning information and recommendations, providing cross-institutional feedback on college-wide issues.

1D.2: A Structure That Defines Authority

The responsibilities and authority for Sauk employees and committees are described in a set of documents and procedures:

  • Organizational chart: Based on Board policy (link to digital resource room support), the President has established an organizational chart that defines lines of authority and accountability. The chart is stored on the website and is available to the college community and the public (link to an appendixAppendix).
  • Job descriptions: For every position, the Human Resources Director maintains a job description that summarizes the job responsibilities and the requisite essential skills. These job descriptions provide information to job applicants and create the basis for annual performance evaluations.
  • Annual goals: As a component of the annual evaluation process, each administrator, faculty member, and professional/technical staff member sets personal goals. These goals are evaluated during the subsequent year’s performance evaluation.
  • Handbooks: As directed by Board policy, “written administrative rules and procedures for the general and specific administration of the institution” exist to clarify how duties are to be accomplished throughout the college (link to digital resource room support).
  • Committee charges: College committees each have a written charge to identify membership and direct the activities of the committee.

One important element of the delegation of responsibilities is that of carrying out Sauk's Mission, which is communicated to new employees during orientation, practiced by employees during the annual operational planning process, and will be reviewed in the employee evaluation process, beginning in FY12.

1D.3: Qualified Employees

The Board has stated that “the quality of the administrative staff and instructional faculty is central to the quality of the educational experience of the students” and committed “to employ and retain persons with the highest professional qualifications and continuously demonstrated ability." Sauk promotes excellence in staff by building into its hiring process several steps that allow scrutiny of the quality and qualification of potential employees:

  • Applications require submission of a resume and appropriate transcripts.
  • The Human Resources (HR) Director verifies that the applicant meets the minimum required qualifications (via transcripts and employment records).
  • In addition to interviews with the hiring supervisor and appropriate administrators, each full-time job candidate interviews with a screening committee on which any college employee may volunteer to participate. This practice encourages different perspectives and allows stakeholders a voice in the selection process.
  • Before a job is offered, the HR Director conducts reference checking, primarily for work history, character, qualifications, and appropriate background checks.

The ICCB has established minimum qualifications for faculty, and Sauk’s full-time and adjunct faculty meet or exceed all requirements. Information regarding employee qualifications is stored in the HR Office and reported to the ICCB. The HR Office also maintains the annual performance evaluations for all employees.

1D.4: Faculty Responsible for Curriculum

Sauk’s faculty are the primary force for developing curriculum, establishing and assessing student outcomes, and conducting operational planning and program review for academic areas. Their work is reviewed and approved by the appropriate college committees and supervisory administrator. After the 2002 HLC Reaffirmation of Accreditation Visit, Sauk established systems to safeguard the principle that faculty have ownership of the curriculum:

  • Area Facilitators: Faculty Area Facilitators, charged primarily with coordinating assessment and operational planning, play a key role in moderating discussions among faculty regarding curriculum and academic issues.
  • Assessment: The Assessment Plan (link to an appendixAppendix) mandates regular discussion and review of the general education competencies by the whole faculty, as well as by area-level groups. In addition, annual evaluation of assessment data by faculty places them in the position to propose curricular changes and submit budget requests designed to improve student learning. Inclusion of assessment findings and plans into Operational Plans ensures that the faculty’s intentions are communicated to administration and into the planning system.
  • Wednesday meetings: Faculty meetings are scheduled two Wednesdays a month (12:30 – 1:30 p.m.), in accordance with the Faculty Contract. One of those meetings involves the full faculty in an assessment or professional development activity, and the other is usually reserved for academic areas to do assessment, planning activities, or other curriculum-related projects.
  • Committee membership: Beyond the Curriculum Committee, which is charged with approving all curriculum developments and revisions, all of the college committees include faculty members so that curricular and student learning implications are represented in discussions and decision-making.

1D.5: Effective Communication

Sauk has improved communication over the last ten years, both by establishing or improving internal processes and by increasing the use of the Internet.

  • FAST: FAST (Faculty and Staff Tools) is a password-protected portion of the college webpage restricted to employees. It provides access to internal documents, procedures, and committee minutes. In the fall 2009 survey, 97% of employees reported that they were aware that committee minutes are available on the website.
  • Email: The availability of FAST has greatly reduced the number of internal emails with attachments. Only a few vital reports are still emailed to receive greater visibility:
    • Human Resources updates contain information related to benefits, current job openings, and new hires.
    • President’s Cabinet and Administrative Council Minutes draw attention to current issues that are receiving administrative attention.
    • Board of Trustees meeting agendas and minutes provide information on policy and budget items under consideration.
  • Employee newsletter: Until recently, the Sauk Scout was a weekly newsletter published online. The newsletter contained information regarding upcoming events, meetings, activities, emergency information, and accomplishments of faculty and staff. Information Services records show that over a six-month period of time, the Scout had 1345 unique viewings, and the fall 2009 survey showed that the Sauk Scout was read on average by 67% of employees weekly and 41% of the adjunct faculty. The Scout was discontinued in January 2011 while the entire marketing function went through a review and reorganization after the Coordinator of Public Relations resigned. A reformatted Scout is scheduled for fall 2011.
  • Meetings: Preparation for the 2006 HLC Focused Visit created a complex system of groups and meetings. Since then, the number and type of meetings have been reduced. However, regular meetings continue as a demonstration of the shared governance expectation that has become embedded in the institution’s philosophy. For example, each semester, a workshop day is conducted which includes campus-wide information for faculty and staff.

1D.6: Organizational Review

In the 2006 Focused Visit Report, the college acknowledged that past practice allowed structures and processes to grow stagnant. Subsequent changes in the institution have served to embed a commitment to regular evaluation and review of processes, as evidenced by the following:

  • The Dean of Institutional Research and Planning: The position of Director of Grants, Planning and Institutional Research was revised and elevated to a dean level in FY08. Among the charges for this position is to “Coordinate institutional strategic and operational planning as a system of continuous improvement . . . .” This accountability provides a driving force for cross-institutional awareness of the importance of continuous improvement.
  • Program Review Committee: The Program Review Committee regularly reviews and modifies the program review process to benefit the institution and meet ICCB requirements (link to an appendixAppendix). Revisions to the Guidelines in the last five years have improved links with the Strategic Plan and budgeting, as well as creating accountability for assessment and operational planning processes (link to an appendixAppendix).
  • Assessment Plan (link to an appendixAppendix): Sauk’s current assessment system was founded on the principle that it must continually change and grow. To that end, the Assessment Plan requires an annual system evaluation, which includes a summary of the year’s activities, recommendations for system changes, and a proposed schedule of activities for the year ahead (link to an another section of the report3A.6).