SVCC HLC Self-Study Document

Sauk Valley Community College
HLC Self-Study Document

September 19-21, 2011

Self-Reflection

Strengths

  • We demonstrate commendable openness to student expression: The content in The Works is not censored by its editorial board or by administration. The theatre department’s commitment to allowing students to work on challenging and provocative pieces is supported. Although the student newspaper is no longer in existence, there is no record of administrative control or censorship of its contents.
  • We encourage a “life of learning” for the Board, employees, and our students, the threads of which weave throughout the college. Particularly, Sauk supports a life of learning financially by giving Sauk tuition between $60,000-$70,000 to Sauk employees and their family members annually.
  • Our Information Services/ Instructional Technology Department provides an exemplary number and variety of professional development opportunities: All employees have access to varied professional development activities hosted on campus, which address a wide array of college systems and newly developing technologies.
  • Sauk promotes student scholarship. Our students can conduct scholarly activities by conducting honors projects in their classes, participating in scholarly presentations on campus, joining academically oriented clubs (Phi Theta Kappa, Math Club), or submitting unique written works to the literary magazine, The Works. Athletes are recognized for achieving Academic All-American status.
  • Sauk conducts a number of activities that recognize our students' accomplishments. Honors students are invited to the honors banquet and may receive monetary scholarship awards. Members of student clubs are invited to the Student Leadership banquet that recognizes exemplary student achievement in leadership.
  • Sauk's student population has many unique challenges. We attempt to help as many of these students as possible by utilizing a diverse curriculum, a variety of scheduling options, and through an open, helpful, and caring faculty.
  • Students have the essential tools to be successful after attending Sauk. Our graduates are regularly above average in health career licensure and certification exams. Also, Sauk transfer students outperform “in-house” students at every surveyed Illinois university.

Weaknesses

  • A vibrant student newspaper is integral to the student’s right of inquiry. The self-study committee recommends that administration re-establish a student newspaper in digital form.
  • Board policies concerning student rights and freedoms are not made easily accessible to students. The self-study committee recommends that the website be revised to include clear statements of student rights and freedoms.
  • In the generally small, rural communities in the Sauk district, honoring an employee brings recognition to that community as well as to the college. Although student accomplishments are routinely released to the press, those of employees are not. The self-study committee recommends that news releases on employee accomplishments should be more systematically released, especially to the employee’s community newspaper.
  • Because students gain co-curricular value from academically oriented clubs and because of the recent loss of clubs like the Culture Club and Campus Women’s Organization, the self-study committee recommends that ways to secure advisors in order to sustain co-curricular clubs should be explored.

Opportunities for Growth

  • Although a community college traditionally values teaching quality more highly than academic credentials for its faculty, there is room for improvement in encouraging faculty to continuously improve themselves as scholars:
    • In order to encourage faculty to pursue additional graduate level coursework, the self-study committee recommends that the college consider adjusting the salary steps to advance pay rates after multiples of 15 graduate hours instead of multiples of 30.
    • The graduate tuition reimbursement rate has not kept up with the rising cost of college tuition. The self-study committee recommends that Sauk should update its reimbursement rate for taking college-level courses to reflect current tuition costs.
    • Nearly one-third of budgeted professional development funds go unused each year. The self-study committee recommends that Sauk should explore ways to encourage greater use of the budgeted professional development funds or to direct unused funds to in-house training opportunities for faculty.
    • In order to provide faculty with additional training opportunities, the self-study committee recommends that significant on-campus professional development opportunities be offered that may be counted toward promotion (similar to the i3 course).
  • Although most of those surveyed have positive impressions of academic freedom, the disparity in the perceptions of high and moderate support presents an opportunity to further align faculty and administration perceptions of the issue. The self-study committee recommends further discussions and professional development on this topic.
  • In order to be more transparent about the academic rights of the employees and students, the self-study committee recommends that the college articulate these rights:
    • Begin cross-institutional discussions to develop a recommendation to the Board for updating the existing policy in a way that clarifies Sauk’s distinctive values for academic freedom.
    • Publicize the resulting statement to students and faculty and staff in the appropriate web-based handbooks.
  • As the proportion of courses taught by adjunct faculty increases, the importance of developing them as teachers and scholars should not be overlooked. The self-study committee recommends that Sauk develop a system to provide, encourage, and track use of professional development for adjunct faculty.
  • A financial commitment by the college shows support to the student rights of “freedom of the press” and “freedom of inquiry.” Having paid advisors would make it possible to sustain a student newspaper and literary magazine. The self-study committee recommends that Sauk provide appropriate financial support for leadership and production costs of the literary magazine “The Works” and a student newspaper.
  • Given the importance of diversity to HLC and other regulatory agencies and the findings that the concept is valued in general by the faculty, the self-study committee recommends that the faculty revisit its original decision not to establish diversity as a general education competency and more clearly define how and where diversity is appropriately an outcome in both transfer and career program coursework.
  • While much has been done to introduce students to the ethical standards of the intellectual community, there is room to improve the consistency in dissemination and enforcement. The self-study committee recommends that faculty work together to develop a required standard syllabus statement that serves to communicate its importance and establish a clear expectation for student behavior. As the result of assessment discussions on research and ethics that resulted in Operational Plan commitments to develop such a statement, the Academic VP convened a taskforce which met for the first time at the end of the spring 2011 semester to begin development of the statement.
  • Although the Acceptable Use Policy is available on computer terminals and housed on the website, no specific expectation is communicated to students enrolled in particular courses that use computers to deliver instruction. The self-study committee recommends that an institutional AUP syllabus statement be developed.
  • Given the Strategic Goal related to creating connections into the community, the self-study committee recommends that the employee evaluation form for staff and administration be appropriately revised to encourage reporting of public service activities.