5B.1: Support for Ongoing Engagement and Service
A college cannot serve a community without knowledge of its constituents’ changing needs. Sauk has developed planning processes which rely on information from annual environmental scanning as the basis for determining its Strategic Directions (2A.2). These environmental scan results are regularly incorporated into operational planning and program review processes as the college assesses its capacity to respond to emerging needs, expectations, and desires of stakeholders.
The Office of Institutional Research and Planning is responsible for collecting the data needed to support the environmental scan, which includes district demographics, socio-economic data, and occupational data gathered from a variety of local, state, and national sources. The data collected is also used in creating planning documents such as the Campus Master Plan for facilities and in guiding the development and enhancement of individual programs and services.
Sauk understands that a structured system of engagement is essential to building relationships and that it cannot serve the community without knowledge of its constituents’ needs. Many approaches are used to learn from external constituencies, including formal and informal communication, collaboration with organizations, connection with advisory groups, and grassroots discussions. The college applies information from these sources into its operational planning and program review processes as it assesses its capacity to respond to emerging needs, expectations, and desire of the stakeholders it serves.
The FY11 Strategic Plan objective 4.3 calls for Sauk to systematize the collection and use of community information: “Maintain communication with organizations that have a strategic importance to the college, and act upon information received from those organizations.” Although the primary thrust of this initiative is to glean information from formal and informal relationships, it also serves to encourage employees to continue to be public ambassadors for Sauk. The objective was developed during the self-study when it was discovered that no formal process exists to channel information collected from community involvement into the college:
- During the focus group sessions on the proposed Strategic Directions, one of the groups identified a difference between being "seen" in the community and "doing something for Sauk" in the community;
- When the self-study finding was shared with the President's Cabinet, PC recommended that the objective be added in order to assure that valuable information from the community is used by the college.
Several college entities have formal roles in connecting Sauk to its district:
- The Board of Trustees is the ultimate conduit for communication between the organization and its external constituencies. Trustees are elected by local vote to represent the public to Sauk and Sauk to the community. Their role is to provide transparency, direction, and accountability as outlined in board policy ().
- Coordinator of Corporate Training (): The Coordinator of Corporate Training builds long-lasting and beneficial relationships by maintaining one-on-one contact with district business leaders. These relationships provide an opportunity to focus on each business and respond to its needs. The Coordinator chairs the college’s Work Force Council and serves as the liaison to area business organizations such as chambers of commerce, economic development groups, and business service groups.
- The Foundation (): The Sauk Valley College Foundation provides a network of community leaders who support the work being done at the college and engage the larger community through various projects:
- To raise funds to support the college, it has sponsored a number of community events, including the 40th Anniversary Celebration, Draw-Down Dinner Dance, Hot Car/Cold Cash Raffle, Used Book Sale, 45th Anniversary Celebration, and Reagan Scholarship Luncheon, just to name a few.
- When granting scholarships and awards, it invites community members to nominate candidates and to screen scholarship applications.
- Events that it regularly co-sponsors with Sauk clubs and organizations include community participants. Recently, the Foundation partnered with the Criminal Justice Club to present a 9/11 Thank You Breakfast for police, firefighters, and EMT personnel throughout the community ().
5B.2: Connections to the Community
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:
Work Force Councils ():
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):
- Health Careers Work Force Councils:
- Radiologic Technology Council
- Emergency Medical Services Council
- Nursing Council
- Work Force Councils:
- Business and Technology Council
- Human Services/ Early Childhood Education Council
- Criminal Justice Council
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 ().
Formal Organizational Memberships:
Sauk employees gather information and feedback about community needs through membership on professional boards and participation in organizations, including the following examples:
- Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs - ): Sauk has two WIB's within its district. The President serves on the North Central Illinois Works WIA Board, which serves the counties of Bureau, LaSalle, Lee, and Putnam, and the Dean of Instructional Services serves on the Northwest Illinois Workforce Investment Board, which serves Carroll, Jo Daviess, Ogle, Stephenson, and Whiteside counties.
- Lee County Emergency Preparedness Council: The Dean of Institutional Research and Planning serves on the countywide group that coordinates preparedness and shares information.
- Illinois Wind Working Group: The Academic Vice President represents Sauk in this group of educators, wind energy developers, manufacturers, and economic development professionals. The group promotes new developments in the wind industry within the state and offers education to local areas considering the development of wind-related resources.
- Health-related committees: Each of the nursing faculty currently serves on at least one health-related committee within the community to help keep the college's health professions training and information current.
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.
- The college Facebook page began in April of 2008. Since then, various offices (for example, Financial Aid) and student clubs have also created pages. As of June 1, 2011, there are 846 fans on the site (). In addition, the Sauk Valley College Foundation maintains the Sauk Alumni Facebook page that began in May 2009. As of June 1, 2011, there are 158 fans on the alumni site ().
- A Twitter feed is used as a means of communication with college employees and the community to make announcements about upcoming events at Sauk. The college re-posts the items from the Facebook page ().
- A Rich Site Summary (RSS) allows subscriptions which deliver college-related news on a variety of topics to be delivered automatically to the subscriber’s browser or desktop ().
- A Sauk YouTube site allows community access to a variety of videos, including instructions for using library services, interviews with students and faculty, and performances ().
5B.4: Facilities Available to the Community
Sauk opens its doors to community groups to host conferences, training, and other events. Although Sauk is the largest conference facility in the area, the college is careful not to market its facilities in ways that would compete with private meeting sites. Board policy defines the priorities for facility use and the types of groups that are required to pay rental charges (). Other educational institutions and most not-for-profits are able to use the facility rent free.
The 2010 Master Plan includes improving the community access to the building by clustering services around specific entrances. Renovation began in January 2011 when the Personal and Professional Development offices were moved from the West Mall to the East Mall. Other steps will be taken as the phases of the Master Plan come about. These changes will enhance community services already available on campus:
- Library services: District residents may request a library card and check out print and digital resources from the Learning Resource Center (LRC). Interlibrary loan privileges are not extended to residents because of non-compete arrangements with local public libraries. The LRC staff conducts three or four high school class tours a year.
- Testing: In the summer of 2010, the Testing Center was opened in a newly renovated 1,650-square-foot space. Tests proctored for external constituents include internet classes from other institutions, Dantes Subject Standardized Test (DSST), Independent Study Program (ISP), and College Level Examination Program (CLEP). This facility consolidated the same services that had previously been offered in various locations on campus.
- Technology: Sauk allows the public access to its technology capabilities. Computers and wireless access are available throughout the building. Users pay a small fee for the LRC printer and copy machine.
- Emergency facility: The college facility is available in case of a community-wide emergency. Sauk's emergency plan describes the three primary emergency functions:
- Shelter for the Lee County Health Department and Red Cross for any regional disaster.
- Emergency inoculation site for the Lee County Health Department. The H1N1 flu outbreak in 2009 allowed the college its first opportunity to cooperate by assisting with vaccine acquisition.
- Reception center in case of a nuclear accident at the nearby Byron nuclear power plant.
- Grounds: The grounds are available and have been used for tennis meets, cross country events, community walks and runs, to name a few.
- Prairie plot: For over 20 years Sauk has partnered with the local chapter of the Quad City Natural Area Guardians to maintain an 11.1-acre prairie plot in the front lawn and a 2.2-acre plot to the east of the building. Recently, ABC AmeriCorps secured a grant to expand the east plot and make it handicap accessible. A paved pathway to the existing plot and benches have been installed. The grant also calls for paths through the extended new plot so the community can more easily access the area.