The embedding of Strategic Goals and Objectives in the Operational Plan Template assures that each office and academic area considers its connection to community organizations every year (Appendix). The planning process engages the entire campus community and enables outreach projects to originate from assessment and program review, while also allowing a venue for staff creativity. The self-study revealed that even prior to the development of the FY11 Strategic Directions, Sauk was actively engaged with the surrounding community in many ways:
As required by the ICCB, Workforce Councils have been used as an information exchange for more than 20 years (formerly called advisory councils). These councils elicit valuable occupational information from local employers and inform them of academic concerns and requirements. This process allows Sauk to create and maintain the career programming that the community most requires. As of fall 2010, two sets of Work Force Councils hold regular meetings at the college (a total of six separate councils):
Sauk’s career program faculty are invited to attend meetings and use council findings as part of their planning. Chaired by the Coordinator of Corporate Business Training, the joint Work Force Councils hold a general meeting at least once annually, and the individual councils, chaired by a Sauk faculty or staff member, meet once or twice a year to discuss data and plan specific projects. A project or issue may be directed to a subcommittee, which may recruit additional people from the college or workplace who do not currently serve on the council. For example, in FY09, a subcommittee was formed to address local industry need for technical troubleshooting. Sauk faculty worked with a local manufacturer to develop and pilot the needed course, with input from the entire Work Force Council ().
Sauk employees gather information and feedback about community needs through membership on professional boards and participation in organizations, including the following examples:
Sauk employees are involved in and serve their home communities extensively. In the fall 2009 staff survey (), over 95% reported that they feel they represent the college when they are engaged in their community work. The survey indicated that 60% of Sauk employees spend up to ten hours per month volunteering and 5% spend 16 or more hours per month. College employees reported serving on over 280 community committees and boards representing local municipal government, economic development boards, faith-based groups, fraternal organizations, social service agencies, service groups, and personal development activities. Existing personal associations between Sauk employees and community organizations have resulted in cooperative community events such as the Big Read, YWCA Women of Achievement Luncheon, and the Red Cross Blood Drive, just to name a few. Faculty community involvement is systematically encouraged through the employee self-evaluation process (), which asks each employee to respond to the question “How have you contributed to your community during the last year?”
Sauk recognizes the growing power of social networking as a tool to connect with external constituents. The college invests staff time in creating and maintaining this media, which is easily reached by links on the college’s homepage.