SVCC HLC Self-Study Document

Sauk Valley Community College
HLC Self-Study Document

September 19-21, 2011

1E: Integrity

Sauk Valley Community College upholds and protects its integrity.

Sauk consistently strives to adhere to high ethical standards and practices. Integrity may be best demonstrated in having written policies and documenting their implementation in the college’s day-to-day operations. The Board recognizes its responsibility to ensure that the organization operates responsibly and with integrity. To that end, it establishes policies that hold the organization and individuals to high standards. The Board maintains its policies by reviewing 2-5 policies per month and by making revisions in response to legal requirements and to keep each policy current.

1E.1: Ensures Fiscal Honesty

Board policies establish a commitment to ethical fiscal operations. For example, Board Policy 301.01 (link to digital resource room support) requires financial procedures in accordance with appropriate statutes:

  • The college complies with Illinois Law (110 ILCS 805/3—22.1) requiring an annual audit and filing the audit report with the ICCB. The report is available to the public on the Sauk website.
  • The Financial Assistance Office is audited for compliance with federal guidelines as part of the college’s annual audit and every three years by the State (A1 33 Audit).

The fact that no serious findings have been cited in any financial audit provides evidence of the Board’s attention to fiscal integrity.

The Sauk Valley College Foundation is governed by a 15-member Board of Directors. The Foundation adheres to its bylaws and reviews them every year. It also abides by the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice, both of which appear on the Sauk website. The Foundation publishes a statement on the rights of donors and awards scholarships in accordance with the criteria provided by donors in coordination with the Financial Assistance Office. The Foundation was included as a part of the college’s annual audit through FY10, but will undergo an annual audit independent of the college beginning in FY11.

1E.2: Abides by Applicable Laws

Sauk retains the services of Ward Murray Pace and Johnson PC so that legal counsel is present for deliberations and available to ensure legal compliance whenever necessary. All revisions to Board policies are made with the guidance of the college’s legal counsel. Monthly Board meetings are publicized as required by law and are open to the public. Agendas and Minutes for these meetings may be found on the Sauk website or may be requested from the President’s office. The Dean of Institutional Research and Planning is responsible for submitting required legal reports or assuring they are submitted by the appropriate staff person, to state and federal entities.

Following is a brief sampling of selected laws and regulations with which Sauk must comply and the ways in which that compliance is carried out:

  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is adhered to by the college, which publishes various required statements on the Sauk webpage and in the student handbook. The privacy policy is also communicated to students, via a statement which is required on all course syllabi. An audit of syllabi showed that 100% of the syllabi contained the required statement. A section on FERPA requirements is included in each employee handbook. In addition, new employees are provided the booklet “Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Privacy of Student Records But Were Afraid to Ask” and are trained in the requirements, with a sign off that the employee received the training stored in the employee’s file.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is addressed as an obligation for the college pertaining both to facilities and to academics. Job candidates are informed of Sauk’s ADA policy when they interview on campus. The Special Needs coordinator works with students to provide appropriate accommodations for their specific disabilities. The Instructional Technology Office provides students with specialized equipment, workstations, and software. Although the building was constructed prior to ADA, all of the remodeling projects over the last ten years have adhered to ADA requirements. The 2010 Master Plan has committed Sauk to continued efforts to make the college completely accessible.
  • The Emergency Preparedness Plan, developed in 2008 and later revised to meet the requirements of the Illinois Campus Security Enhancement Act of 2008, was coordinated with area emergency responders. The manual has been distributed to college staff with emergency responsibilities and training has been provided to employees who have a role in implementing the procedures. Employees have received regular updates in the Sauk Scout, and monthly posters are displayed in restrooms to update students and visitors.
  • Sexual harassment policies are established in board policy (link to digital resource room support) and explained to students in the Student Code of Conduct. Sexual harassment officers are identified on bulletin boards throughout the building and included in the Emergency Preparedness Manual. New hires receive sexual harassment training, and periodic retraining is provided to the entire staff. Online Workforce Harassment Training, which included sexual harassment, was conducted in FY11.

1E.3: Maintains Clear and Fair Policies

Sauk protects its integrity by maintaining policies that describe the rights and responsibilities of its constituencies, mandating procedures that protect those rights, and making that information available to the public. Board policy is carried out in a variety of processes and practices:

Student-Related Policies and Practices:

  • Academic policy: In order to treat students consistently and fairly, Sauk has established a number of pertinent policies, which can be found in the online college catalog. For example, the Admission and Placement Policy ensures that students enroll in courses for which they have the needed skills and abilities. The Academic Appeals Policy ensures that students have recourse if they believe they have been treated unfairly.
  • Student code of conduct: Expectations regarding student conduct are described in several policies. The Students Rights & Responsibilities Statement indicates that students are expected to be responsible and follow ethical standards of behavior to maintain a safe environment that supports the educational process. The Student Code of Conduct & Disciplinary Practices clearly states that students must adhere to all college policies, rules, and regulations and describes the disciplinary actions that may result for violations.
  • Financial aid policy: Information pertaining to the application, distribution, and eligibility requirements for public and private funds is available on the Sauk website. Related policies, such as Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy, Loan Policies, and Return of Title IV Funds Policy, ensure that students understand their rights and responsibilities.

Employee-Related Policies and Practices:

  • Hiring process: The Human Resources Office adheres to a hiring process outlined in the Job Posting and Hiring Guide, which is posted on FAST. This documented process includes membership guidelines for cross-departmental screening committees, conducting reference and background checks, and final employee placement. In addition, all new hires undergo a standard orientation that describes Sauk and its Mission; provides training in various essential expectations (privacy and sexual harassment policies, for example); and clarifies compensation and benefits choices.
  • Contract: Full-time and adjunct faculty must agree to abide by the Contractual Agreements between the Board and the Sauk Faculty Association or the Adjunct Faculty Association, which establish working conditions and compensation. The contracts are posted on FAST.
  • Employee handbooks: Separate handbooks are maintained for full-time faculty, adjunct faculty, professional/technical and support staff, and administrators. Although employee handbooks had become outdated, drafts of new digital versions are ready for input from the campus community.  When approved, the handbooks will cover a variety of policies and practices, personnel matters, and college forms.

Sauk’s Co-curricular Organizations:

  • Athletics: The Athletic Department abides by all NJCAA policies and procedures in offering ten sports with about 140 athletes each year. The Athletic Director and coaches conduct an all-athlete orientation at the beginning of each academic year to inform athletes of their rights and responsibilities under NJCAA and college regulations. Student athletes sign documentation that they have reviewed and understand the policies. As of FY11, an athletic handbook has been created.
  • Clubs and organizations: To maintain their status as active organizations, student groups must adhere to college guidelines published in The Student Organization Manual. Requirements and procedures are provided for club formation; activities and travel; participation in Student Government, and financial accountability. The Dean of Student Services conducts an orientation meeting at the beginning of each academic year for club advisors and officers to clarify the rights and responsibilities under these regulations.

1E.4: Oversees its Auxiliary Services

Sauk has contracted with two auxiliary service providers and expects these providers to maintain policies and procedures that allow them to demonstrate their integrity in providing services. Sauk’s Business Office is responsible for evaluating service and is satisfied that both venders are operating fairly and trying to provide quality service to students and the institution:

  • Food service: The college contracts for cafeteria and catering services through Consolidated Management Company (CMCo), which establishes policies and procedures for pricing and serving. For example, some students may use financial aid to purchase cafeteria food. CMCo abides by all health regulations and cooperates with regular inspections by the Lee County Health Department. The Cafeteria surveys students for input on service every fall and spring semester and has implemented suggestions from these surveys, such as relocating the salad bar, making soup available as self-serve, and preparing hot sandwiches to order.
  • Bookstore: The college contracts with Follett's Bookstore, which establishes and adheres to its policies pertaining to book purchases, using financial aid, returns, and book buy-backs. Students learn of the bookstore policies from the information provided when they make purchases and by checking the bookstore website, accessed from the Sauk homepage.

1E.5: Deals Fairly with External Constituents

Among the college’s external constituents are prospective students, as well as district residents, public and private school districts, businesses, faith-based and social service organizations, and local government (link to an another section of the report5A.3). Sauk maintains policies and processes to ensure that it deals fairly with these stakeholders. Here is a sampling:

  • Prospective students: Student services representatives make information and recruitment visits to every district high school throughout the year. Every high school is treated in a consistent manner, as evidenced by a visit calendar kept of such contacts. All of the high schools in the region’s Partnership for College and Career Success (PCCS) participate in Sauk’s tech prep services.
  • Bidders: The purchase of any equipment priced at $10,000 or higher and any construction project valued at $15,000 or higher is put out for bid. Project advertisements are sent to area newspapers, and notices are sent to known qualified vendors. Any qualified bidder may submit a sealed bid, which is opened at a public opening. To ensure that each bid meets qualifications, the bids are reviewed by the qualified person requesting the purchase prior to being forwarded to the Board for approval. This process ensures that all qualified bidders are given the chance to participate in the bidding process.
  • Work Force Councils are comprised of representatives from regional employers who offer input regarding the types of programs and training that are offered by the college (link to another section of the report5B.2). Sauk strives to ensure that this membership is inclusionary by sending invitations to join the Council to all employers listed on the Sauk database.
  • Building use: Sauk facilities are available for use by individuals and outside groups. Board policy (link to digital resource room support) establishes guidelines for use and appropriate charges. The Information Center handles all facility use reservations. Some of the groups that have used the building include the Women’s Health Fair, Bridal Fair, Boy and Girl Scout Groups, and Fire Departments. Sauk also collaborates with community organizations and schools to offer programs and events such as the Job Fair and Child Fair.

1E.6: Represents itself Accurately to the Public

Sauk honors its Shared Ethical Values in its efforts to present itself accurately to the community and to maintain a reputation among its stakeholders as an institution that acts with integrity:

  • The Sauk website contains a wealth of information for students, staff, and the Sauk community. It provides a way for important information to be universally available and continuously updated.
  • The college catalog has moved to a web-based electronic format. The Academic Vice President’s office, which is responsible for the publishing of the catalog, continuously records revisions for the next catalog edition and leads an extensive review before posting the catalog to the Internet.
  • The semester schedules are published to the website and are refreshed daily for inclusion of the latest changes. Multiple offices, faculty, and counselors all have input into course scheduling.
  • The Office of Public Relations ensures that all Sauk news releases and publications are accurate. Although mindful of the value of portraying the broadest possible community in its photographs, the PR office is careful not to over-represent minority students in photos in a way that would imply the presence of more minority students than actually attend.

1E.7: Makes Timely Response to Complaints

Operating in the spirit of the Shared Ethical Values, Sauk strives to minimize the number of complaints and grievances, but maintains policies and practices that ensure a prompt hearing and fair treatment for those seeking remedies:

  • Affirmative action: The college’s Affirmative Action Plan contains a grievance procedure that any employee, employment applicant, student, or student applicant may obtain by contacting the Human Resources Director. The Affirmative Action Policy is posted on the Sauk website, and job candidates are informed about the policy when they interview. There have been only two complaints filed since 2004, for which confidential investigations were opened within 24 hours.
  • Sexual harassment: Board policy describes how students or employees may file a complaint. Students are informed of the policy and procedures in Orientation (PSY 100). Faculty and staff are informed in their new employee orientation and at periodic training thereafter. Information on filing complaints is also posted around the campus. Confidential investigations are opened within 24 hours. Since 2004, there have been seven sexual harassment complaints filed and resolved in a timely manner.
  • Security: Sauk maintains uniformed security personnel on campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Annual Security Report is produced in compliance with the Campus Security Act of 1990 and is posted on Sauk webpage. The report indicates that there have not been any reported crimes or arrests at Sauk in the past three years.
  • Academic complaints: The complete Academic Appeals Process is described in the college catalog. The appeal begins with the instructor, subsequently with the instructor’s supervisor, and if unresolved, results in a formal hearing to the Academic Appeals Board. Since 2003, there have only been four Academic Appeals Board hearings. In all cases, the initial response was within 24 hours and the Academic Appeals Board met within a week to decide the issue.
  • Student complaints: The general student complaint procedure, which provides students an avenue to have their grievances addressed and resolved in compliance with federal regulations, is posted on the Sauk website. The Dean of Student Services maintains a log of student complaints and provides the log to the Dean of Institutional Research and Planning twice a year to analyze for reoccurring problems and to assure that grievances receive an appropriate response. All of the official complaints have been resolved quickly, most within a week.
  • Financial aid: The Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for financial aid, scholarships, and veteran’s benefits ensures that students meet the pertinent eligibility requirements. When students disagree with an eligibility finding, they have access to the policy’s appeal process. In FY10, there were 594 successful appeals where decisions were reversed and students were found to be eligible. Unsuccessful appeals are not tracked and recorded.