Back See this section in context: Criterion 2 Core Component 2A
2A.5: Support for Innovation and Change
The Strategic Directions and aligned processes keep the college systematically moving toward its vision of excellence. Sauk welcomes and supports internal innovations, especially those that result in improvements and expansions within the college’s fiscal restrictions. Several recent changes demonstrate that spirit of innovation which allows individuals or offices to initiate changes outside the planning process:
- In FY09, Sauk shifted the course schedule so that daytime classes meet two days a week, Monday -Thursday, with additional classes scheduled to meet only on Fridays. Initiated by administrative concern for students’ costs to commute to campus, this change was supported by data from a Student Scheduling Survey conducted in January 2007.
- The new Academic Development Department was established in FY08 by merging several programs designed to enhance student success under one administrator. This organizational change originated as a recommendation by a developmental education faculty member to the President, who formed a cross-institutional task-force to study the issue, which eventually recommended the establishment of the department.
- During the spring 2011 semester, the Retention Committee piloted a Learning Community, designed to provide the support needed to be successful to new students who had tested into two or more developmental classes. The grant-funded initiative also relates directly to several FY11 Strategic Objectives that address student retention, persistence, and program completion.
- Even before the shooting at neighboring Northern Illinois University in February 2008, the Counseling Office had already initiated interventions for troubled students. The Sauk Valley Crisis Assistance Team (SVCAT) was established in FY09 and in its first year responded to 21 personal crisis situations, either by the team or individual counselors.
- As Sauk began making more data-influenced decisions, the cost of packaged software was prohibitive. In response, the Dean of Institutional Research and Planning and the Dean of Information Services created an in-house digital depository of commonly used institutional and regional data. The cooperative efforts of the two departments working together have enabled timely response to all requests for data for strategic planning, grant writing, reports to external agencies, and marketing.
- During the five-year period ending with FY09, Sauk initiated 27 new programs, including eight new Associates degrees. Several of these resulted directly from the creativity of college personnel:
- NIOIN: The Northern Illinois Online Initiative for Nursing program is an online nursing degree partnership among four community colleges, eight hospitals, and the Workforce Investment Board (WIB), created in response to the regional shortage of skilled nurses. The Dean of Health Professions played a key role for Sauk in this partnership. After four years of development and preparation, the first cohort of students began in January 2009, and 100% of SVCC students passed their NCLEX examination.
- Agriculture degrees: Sauk eliminated its agriculture programs about 25 years ago. While the general demand for agriculture programs has declined as fewer people are employed in farming, a degree of local need has remained. The Academic Vice President pursued a partnership with the University of Illinois to offer their online courses to Sauk students, establishing two new A.S. degrees in Agriculture and Agribusiness in FY09.
- Wind energy certificate: With an eye to the importance of sustainability, the Dean of Information Services and several faculty developed a wind energy certificate program, for which the first classes met in FY09. The college has also been planning to erect a wind turbine on campus, which would provide a training platform for students in this program, as well as help meet college electricity needs.