Sauk supports the professional development of all employees in an effort to achieve the FY11 Strategic Goal to “expand and improve the quality of programs and services” ( 2B.8). Another important motivation for providing continuing education opportunities is expressed in the Shared Ethical Value of Responsibility: “We value and advocate that all take responsibility for themselves, their learning, and the environment.” The value that Sauk places on a life of learning is evidenced by a number of policies and practices that target specific segments of the campus community:
Board of Trustees
Board policy does not directly address professional development for trustees; however, Board policy authorizes reimbursement for “reasonable expenses” () and requires that trustees share information from workshops with the entire Board (). Trustees regularly attend Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA) monthly meetings, annual conference, state lobby day, and national legislative summit; and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) conference. The Board has spent an annual average of $8,650 on professional development for its membership during the last five years ().
Sauk supports continuing education for its faculty in several ways (3B.2):
Professional development funds: Each year the college budgets $20,000 for faculty development. Funds are allocated in response to faculty requests by a faculty committee in accordance with the Professional Development Procedure Manual (). Individuals may make one or more requests, limited to an annual maximum of $1,500. In the fall 2009 employee survey, 68% of faculty indicated that they “attended conferences or workshops related to [their] work.”
During the past five years, an average of 40% of faculty has accessed these funds and spent 50% of the budgeted funds (see Figure 4i). There appear to be adequate funds made available for faculty development; however, fewer than half of eligible faculty request faculty development funds.
Figure 4i: Professional Development Funds Used
Number and % of faculty using funds
Amount of $20,000 budget used
18 of 52 faculty (35%)
12 of 49 faculty (25%)
16 of 47 faculty (34%)
24 of 43 faculty (56%)
14 of 44 faculty (32%)
12 of 48 faculty (25%)
22 of 45 faculty (49%)
Average for 5 years preceding travel cuts (FY05 – FY09)
Average for 5 years including travel cuts (FY07 – FY11)
Source: Information Services ** Travel restricted due to budget
However, the faculty appears to be content with the current availability of funds: In the fall 2009 faculty survey, almost all the respondents indicated that their professional development was supported, either “highly” (49%) or “moderately” (47%). In addition, 68% of faculty indicated that they had “never” been refused professional development opportunities within the last five years. In a few cases, faculty have indicated that they pay for conference and meeting attendance themselves, as accounting faculty reported in their FY09 Accounting Program Review.
Graduate credit: Full-time faculty may be reimbursed for taking pre-approved graduate courses related to their work, at a rate of $115 per credit hour and a maximum $1,380 per year, according to the Full-time Faculty Contract. The number of credit hours earned by Sauk faculty dropped in FY08 and then leveled off in the following years (see Figure 4ii).
Figure 4ii: Graduate Credit Reimbursement
Number of Faculty Reimbursed
Amount of Tuition Reimbursement
Graduate Credit Hours Earned
In the fall 2009 survey, only about one-third of all full-time faculty indicated that they had enrolled in at least one graduate class related to their field of study within the last five years. In a 2010 follow-up survey, faculty were asked why they did not pursue more graduate level credit:
Tuition reimbursement rate has not kept up with the rising cost of college tuition (72%). The $115 reimbursement rate has not changed since 1992, so it has not kept pace with expenses. For example, graduate costs at nearby Northern Illinois University ($300 per credit hour plus fees) and at Western Illinois ($265.40 per credit hour plus fees) are significantly higher than the reimbursement rate. 65% of respondents also indicated that the promotional salary increase does not justify the time and expense of earning additional graduate credits.
I am too busy with work and personal activities to take classes (72%). As Sauk has increased its reliance on part-time personnel at all levels in the past ten years, and the number of full-time faculty has decreased by 18%, many have taken on additional duties.
I am satisfied with my faculty rank and am not seeking promotion (67%). Approximately two-thirds of faculty are satisfied with their current rank and would not be expected to be pursuing additional graduate credit for promotional purposes.
In-house activities: Sauk regularly offers in-house professional development opportunities to its full-time and adjunct faculty:
A variety of topics are presented at the in-service and workshop days held each year. Some recent examples include student behavior concerns (2008); gang awareness (2009); and classroom legal issues (2011).
The Assessment Core Team proposes development activities related to general education competencies, which are most often scheduled during the Wednesday activity hour. Examples include a refresher course on statistics (2005), a brown-bag session on listening skills (2008), an e-conference on teaching the millennial student (2009), and training on using Sauk's online databases for research (2011).
Technology training: The Information Technology Department (IT) regularly provides a wide range of activities to help keep faculty up-to-date on new resources:
IT presents nearly two dozen workshops on a variety of topics including the use of technology and internet resources in the classroom, instructional design, and effective teaching practices. A schedule of workshops is provided in print and digitally to the faculty and staff of the college each semester. Many of these sessions can also be attended via webinar.
IT has developed a free online course called the Innovative Internet Instruction (i3) Workshop for which faculty may receive two promotional hour educational credits. i3 covers online teaching strategies and course design concepts. Although it is available to anyone who is interested, the course is now required for faculty who are preparing to teach an online course for the first time.
Online tutorials, many developed by the IT staff, are maintained to assist faculty with the various tools that are used in learning management software and revised as the systems are upgraded or changed: WebCT until 2007, then Blackboard, and as of 2011, Moodle.
Adjunct faculty are eligible for “approved travel and expenses to professional meetings as per current Board Policy,” according to the adjunct faculty contract (). Approval for adjuncts to use faculty development funds is made on a case-by-case basis, and college support has averaged less than $400 a year. However, when surveyed at the end of 2009, 70% of adjuncts reported having attended conferences or workshops related to their work and 43% reported enrolling in at least one graduate course within the last five years.
Administrative, Support and Professional/Technical Staff
Each non-instructional department’s annual budget includes funds for professional development, based on departmental needs, the annual employee evaluation process, or program review. The employee evaluation allows individuals to plan for their own professional growth by providing prompts that encourage discussion about such plans between the employee and supervisor. During program review, offices and academic areas are asked to examine the extent to which the full-time staff has engaged in professional development in the past five years and to take action where necessary to provide opportunities. When surveyed in fall 2009 about how supportive Sauk is to their professional development, the support staff and professional/technical staff responded favorably: 92% of support staff and 88% of professional/technical staff thought that Sauk was “highly” or “moderately” supportive of their professional development. Several other opportunities for professional development also exist:
Tuition reimbursement: Full-time administrators, professional/technical, and support staff may be reimbursed for taking pre-approved courses related to their work, at a rate of $115 per credit hour and a maximum $1,380 per year. Classes may be taken for graduate or bachelor level credit and have been used by employees from all job classifications. In the period FY07 to FY11, an average of four employees received an average total reimbursement of $4,698.
Staff Development Committee: Comprised of professional/technical and support staff, committee members meet regularly to plan professional development activities for Sauk staff. The college budgets $2,000 for staff development and provides paid time for approved activities. In addition, committee members voluntarily pop and sell popcorn one day every week of the academic year to supplement its budget and to enable a staff reception at the year-end holidays. The committee coordinates the following two activities:
Staff retreat: For more than 15 years, Sauk has held a day-long retreat for full-time and part-time staff during spring break. Examples of workshop topics include stress management and conflict control, diversity, meditation and breathing, and team building. Participation is voluntary and attendees are paid for the day, with 30% to 50% of eligible employees in attendance.
Staff exchange:Sauk belongs to the Northern Illinois Network of Staff Developers. This group of 13 community colleges has provided opportunities for employees to attend annual staff exchanges. Participation is a paid workday. During fall 2010, for example, a group of Sauk representatives of various departments spent a workday at Highland Community College, where they interacted with their counterparts.
Campus-Wide Development Opportunities
Several of the professional development opportunities and services provided by the college are available to the whole campus community:
Sauk tuition waivers: One of the ways that the college promotes a life of learning is to provide free Sauk tuition to all of its full-time faculty and employees, their spouses, and dependents under the age of 23 years old, based on Board policy () and various contract provisions. These benefits are also extended to part-time employees on a pro-rated basis:
Employees working at least 20 hours a week receive a tuition reduction that is equal to the percentage of work hours scheduled. Therefore, a part-time employee who works half-time will receive a 50% reduction in Sauk tuition.
Adjunct faculty receive free tuition that is equivalent to the number of credit hours they teach at Sauk. For instance, if an adjunct faculty member teaches a three-credit course, then three credit hours of free tuition can be used by the adjunct, the spouse, or the dependent children within two semesters of earning it. The amount of free Sauk tuition awarded to its employees and family members annually is impressive, averaging $61,487 in the past five years and maxing at $68,643 in FY09.
Library services: The Learning Resource Center (LRC) provides a wide range of services free of charge to the entire college community: circulation services; interlibrary loans; access to print and digital newspapers, magazines and journals; audio and video resources; as well as extensive children’s and adolescent selections. Thus, it serves not only the academic needs of instructors and students, but the professional and personal growth needs of Sauk employees. In FY10, the LRC had 192 faculty and staff library accounts, and these patrons borrowed 3,156 books and audiovisual materials from the LRC.
Access to technology: Besides being entitled to use computer technology on campus under the same terms as external constituents, staff and faculty can check out laptops; digital cameras and digital video cameras; projection equipment; microphones, webcams, and other accessories. In addition, the Business Office provides loans to allow employees to purchase a computer or laptop at no interest through payroll deduction over one year.