SVCC HLC Self-Study Document

Sauk Valley Community College
HLC Self-Study Document

September 19-21, 2011

2D: Planning Aligned with Mission

All levels of planning align with Sauk Valley Community College's mission, thereby enhancing its capacity to fulfill that mission.

Almost every reference to the strategic planning system at Sauk has included references to other planning processes and to the Strategic Directions because the alignment of the planning systems is so integral to how they each work. Much of the description of the interlocks and loops has already been evaluated in the context of previous core components. The inability to describe one process separate from others provides evidence of the conscious and careful efforts of Sauk to align planning with the Mission.

2D.1: Coordinated Planning and Budgeting

Sauk has undergone a transformation in the last ten years in its understanding of what it means to coordinate planning processes. Mission-driven planning is now embedded in the institution and is following an established process that should allow it to continue to improve itself at the same time it works to improve the college. All of the major planning systems are intertwined:

  • Strategic Directions (link to an appendixAppendix), which are reviewed annually by OPIC and the Board, contain all of the foundational priorities around which planning is coordinated. The Strategic Goals and Objectives form the basis of planning templates of other systems and for the organization of the Annual Report (link to an appendixAppendix).
  • Operational planning is organized around the Strategic Directions. Each planned activity is aligned with the Strategic Goal and Objective to which it pertains. Offices and academic areas report on the completion status of their past year's goals, based on assessment of the planned outcomes, and submit new goals for the upcoming year.
  • Program review is linked directly to the Strategic Directions through the design of its template. At the end of each section of the Program Review Template, review teams are prompted to indicate if activities they have identified to respond to issues of that section will be included in the Operational Plan. The Dean of Institutional Research and Planning verifies that activities so noted have indeed been added to the appropriate Operational Plan.

Sauk has also done considerable work to ensure that the entire planning cycle is timed to feed into the annual budgeting cycle. This reliability is evidenced by the timeline that directs various planning groups to have data discussed and action plans in place in time for the budget process deadlines to be met (link to an appendixAppendix). To further strengthen the link between the budgeting process and the Strategic Goals and Objectives, budget forms are being revised to create a direct link between the request and the planning process.

Although the data cycle which began with the FY09 revisions is just now completing its first cycle through the system, some of the successful timing connections between planning and budget are documented:

  • Over $149,000 of requests were received from FY10 Program Reviews. Nearly $9,000 of requests were withdrawn or the equipment was donated, purchases on nearly $21,000 were made, and the remainder was put on hold due to budget constraints.
  • A $35,000 request for a full-time faculty position was submitted from FY10 Operational Plans, but not funded due to budget constraints.
  • Just over $115,000 of requests were received from FY11 Program Reviews, comprised mostly of requests for three full-time faculty positions. The faculty position, the same that had been requested in FY10, was approved, along with $400 of equipment.

2D.2: Planning is Implemented in Operations

Offices and academic areas throughout Sauk pursue numerous activities intended to meet college Strategic Goals and Objectives, as evidenced by Operational Plans. These efforts are summarized in annual reports, which are organized by Strategic Goal.

For example, FY07 Strategic Objective 2.1 calls for Sauk to "financially manage the college so an operating surplus occurs on an annual basis.” Annual reports show that a variety of activities occurred in various offices and academic areas to support this objective:

  • Energy consumption outside of normal hours of operation was reduced by scheduling multiple activities within the same ventilation zones, during FY07.
  • Health Careers saved $1,000 per year by revising its off-campus clinical schedule so faculty could consolidate site visits and reduce travel expenses, during FY08.
  • The Special Needs Office reduced tutoring expenses for special needs students by linking them with other college tutoring resources, during FY09.
  • The Physical and Life Sciences area purchased more than 90% of their lab materials in bulk to maximize quantity discounts, during FY10.

A review of annual reports on file on the college website demonstrates a similar cross-institutional implementation of many of the Strategic Objectives (link to an appendixAppendix).

2D.3: Strategic Planning Responds to Change

Board policy requires annual approval of Sauk's Mission, Vision, and Strategic Goals by the Board of Trustees (link to digital resource room support). As a result, the potential has always existed for the college to respond to changing conditions in the surrounding community. However, the new strategic planning system was developed to draw attention to the changing environment through its “rolling” process:

  • Regular scanning: OPIC annually scans the environment for changes and emerging trends, reviews institutional progress toward achieving the Strategic Plan, and recommends any necessary adjustments to the Board. The goal is to maintain a viable long-range plan, and the regular environmental scanning provides the basis for updating either long-term goals or short-term objectives.
  • Long-range planning is embedded in the Mission and Vision Statements and in the Strategic Goals. These are presumed to need revision less frequently and only in response to significant changes. So, for example, the negotiations of the federal government to buy in-district Thomson prison from the state, which would bring federal-level criminal justice jobs to the local area, is being carefully watched as it affects long-range planning on the related degrees offered. A recommendation for change to long-range planning components would likely initiate institution-wide discussion.
  • The Strategic Objectives are more fluid, changing as necessary to reach the Strategic Goals. So, for example, periodic fluctuations in funding sources are likely to influence the Strategic Objectives as the college responds tactically to continue to reach its Strategic Goals.

2D.4: Planning Supports Graduate Preparation

As has already been described, the intentional alignment of the planning processes ensures that all offices and academic areas contribute to Sauk's Mission and Strategic Goals. The desire that students leave the institution ready to be successful in pursuing additional education or in their careers is intrinsic in the Mission and defined through several components of the planning system:

  • Strategic Directions: Several of the FY11 Strategic Objectives address the college’s definition of the current climate faced by students and graduates, especially those that seek to increase student access to education.
  • Operational planning: Sauk’s Strategic Objectives for student success may be seen implemented in Operational Plans. Each planning unit is prompted to consider how it contributes to these objectives.
  • Assessment: The four goals of the assessment system specifically seek to carry out the college Mission. The data from assessment of these goals flows into the planning system primarily through the Operational Plan (Link to another section of the Self-Study 3A.2).

2D.5: Planning Processes Involve Constituents

The FY04 revisions to the planning system incorporated shared governance as defined in the learning college philosophy. The planning system has retained its priority for shared governance as Sauk has personalized its system to a more sustainable learning organization model. Cross-institutional input has become embedded both in the systems themselves and in the expectations of the campus community. As evidenced in descriptions of the planning system, all members of the college community have the opportunity to participate in annual planning processes. To a lesser extent, students and external constituents are also involved in the planning processes:

  • Students: Although students are members of selected committees (as indicated on the committee charges) and in program review, participation by student members is sporadic and actual meeting attendance is low. A student trustee has a voice in the planning activities of the Board.
  • External constituents: The primary formal input of external constituents in the planning process comes through members of the Work Force Councils, although not routinely identified in Operational Plans. In addition, the Program Review Guidelines recommend inclusion of community participants to encourage input from stakeholders. A future objective of the strategic planning process as it continues to evolve is to create a mechanism by which the surrounding community may have input into reviewing and formulating the Strategic Directions.