SVCC HLC Self-Study Document

Sauk Valley Community College
HLC Self-Study Document

September 19-21, 2011

SVCC and the HLC

In maintaining its accreditation with the HLC, Sauk Valley Community College has acted in response to various concerns and suggestions provided by the two most recent visiting teams.

Sauk Valley Community College is in its 46th year of serving the region. The college was created by the citizens of Public Community College District #506 through public referendum in June 1965.  The first semester of classes for 651 students in fall 1966 was held in a temporary building (T-1) west of the current building.  115 students received degrees at the first commencement on June 2, 1968. The college was granted correspondent status with the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1968 and granted accreditation in March of 1972. Continued accreditation was granted in 1975, 1980, 1985, and 1992 as the result of comprehensive self-studies and HLC consultant-evaluator site visits.  A report on planning was required as a result of the 1985 visit and was submitted to and accepted by NCA in 1987.   A focused visit on assessment and strategic planning was required as a result of the 2002 visit.  The HLC peer review team which visited the campus in 2006 accepted the college’s progress and recommended no further action.

Responses to HLC Concerns

The 2002 HLC Reaffirmation of Accreditation Peer Review Team evaluated Sauk Valley Community College against the set of criteria in place at that time. All page numbers to the 2002 reaffirmation of accreditation visit refer to The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Final Report from Comprehensive Accreditation Visit: April 1-3, 2002, September, 2002. We have chosen to respond to areas of concern and to the suggestions made by that team in the organizational framework of that study. In addition, this section contains responses to the concerns and suggestions of the Focused Visit Team which evaluated assessment and strategic planning in 2006. All page numbers to the 2006 Focused Visit refer to The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Report of a Commission-Mandated Focused Visit: Assurance Section, April 10-11, 2006.

Link to another secion of the Self-Study Appropriate cross-references will be indicated when various core component discussions in this 2011 self-study report provide related details about current practices.

2002 Criterion 1

Evidence that needs strengthening:

None noted

2002 Criterion 2

Evidence that needs strengthening:

The allocation of instructional workloads indicates an imbalance in the appropriate distribution of faculty assignments. Indeed, the institution’s 2001-2002 report of teaching workloads indicates teaching overloads in excess of 360 semester credit hours for full-time faculty. In one case, a faculty member carried an overload of 26 credit hours. Clearly, these levels of faculty workload are inconsistent with allowances for effective teaching for the full-time faculty available. Consequently, the team recommends that the college develop a faculty workload policy consistent with principles of good practice for teaching and learning (p. 8).

Two of the 2011 self-study committees examined the HLC’s concern about instructional workload. The visiting team cited the total teaching load as imbalanced in relation to an “appropriate distribution.” But the study teams generally concluded that what is appropriate for one individual or program is not necessarily appropriate for another. For example, some disciplines lend themselves to carrying overload; but some settings are very labor intensive per student, thereby lessening the desirability of overload. In addition, at Sauk, some open settings (specifically labs and clinicals) are compensated under the heading of overload. What is appropriate in this college community is a case-by-case decision. Figure ix shows the most recent available breakdown of overload distributions:

Figure ix: Overload Distributions
 No overload1 - 10 overload
hours (annually)
11 - 20 overload
hours (annually)
Over 20 overload
hours (annually)
YearTeaching FacultyNumber%Number%Number%Number%
FY0544 3 6.8% 27 61.3% 9 20.4% 5 11.3%
FY0646 10 21.7% 22 47.8% 10 21.7% 4 8.6%
FY0745 12 26.6% 24 53.3% 7 15.5% 2 4.4%
FY0842 10 23.8% 24 57.1% 5 11.9% 3 7.1%
FY0943 9 20.9% 25 58.1% 6 13.9% 3 6.9%
FY1043 5 11.6% 26 60.5% 8 18.6% 4 9.3%
FY1142 5 11.8% 22 52.4% 11 26.2% 4 9.5%
Source: Academic Vice President

The HLC team noted a faculty member with 26 overload hours. As shown in the table above, an average of about 9% of faculty are consistently willing to take on that level of overload. The team also expressed concern about teaching effectiveness. This is a vital issue as it speaks to the college’s Mission to provide “high quality” learning opportunities (link to an another section of the report1A.5). A closer examination of the situation shows that several practices ensure that those faculty who are carrying the largest loads are doing so because they can maintain high quality:

  • At the beginning of the class scheduling process, each full-time faculty member submits a proposed schedule to the Academic Vice President (VP). Traditionally, the VP honors this proposed schedule as much as possible. In some cases an instructor is asked to take on an additional class, but contract language is clear on the right of faculty to refuse any more than two hours of overload; therefore, no one is forced to accept large overload amounts involuntarily.
  • Every fall, student evaluations are conducted in all on-campus classes. Although the contract prohibits these from being used in the formal performance review process, they are reviewed by the supervising Dean or VP prior to being sent to the faculty member and may be considered a factor in the decision to permit or deny overload requests.
  • The VP and academic Deans conduct yearly evaluations of each faculty member, which form the primary basis for approving overload requests. Based on self-evaluations from the instructor and periodic classroom observations, this evaluation provides evidence for the teaching effectiveness and performance expectations of the faculty.

Although Sauk's practice of overload assignment is suitable in the context of its distinctive institutional needs, the self-study committees recognize that a more systematic policy approach would ensure that this practice is not warped or misused as time passes:

  • The self-study found that Sauk’s student evaluations are not administered to any online classes other than those for the NIOIN program. Although generally confident in the quality achieved by current faculty whose overloads include significant numbers of online sections, the self-study recognizes that the lack of online student feedback could contribute to bringing about the concerns of the HLC. During the spring 2011 semester, the VP organized a taskforce to begin developing such a tool.
  • While the college has been careful about assigning overloads only to proven and capable teachers, there is no policy in effect that establishes the principles to guide that decision. Guidelines in the 1986 faculty handbook were not updated in subsequent versions. The VP has committed to working with faculty to examine overload issues and develop appropriate guidelines in conjunction with the review of the faculty handbook.

2002 Criterion 3

Evidence that requires institutional attention and Commission follow-up:

In a review of the documents, and in interviews with the faculty and administration, there exists no clearly defined philosophy statement regarding general education requirements as agreed upon by the faculty, no identification and articulation of expected competencies to be attained by students within each area, no method of assessment and measurement of those areas of importance, generally no stated career program outcomes, and no current process for including the results in instructional improvement and the annual budgeting of the institution. Faculty generally does not demonstrate a shared understanding of the potential or goals of academic assessment and they demonstrate only minimal buy-in to the overall program. Necessary professional development funds are not allocated to support consultants and travel of employees required to develop an understanding of an effective program of student academic assessment (p. 10). The recommendation of the Team: Focused visit

By time the Focused Visit Team arrived in 2006, Sauk had been transformed: An “effective program of student academic assessment” was in place and driven by the faculty. A general education philosophy statement, competencies, and program outcomes were in place and being assessed. Data from a variety of sources were being collected, discussed, and acted on. Results were documented. Assessment data fed into the strategic planning system to effect curricular change and inform the budget process. Regular self-assessment of the system enabled it to change and improve. The 2006 Focused Visit Report describes the transformation process in detail. The continued growth and improvement of the system since that report is evaluated in the current self-study (Link to another report location 3A).

2006 Focused Visit Report: Assessment Concerns

Evidence that demonstrates that further organizational attention is required in the area of focus:

Although satisfied with the progress made and praising faculty levels of involvement, the Focused Visit Team expressed concerns about several aspects of the assessment system:

  • The team noted that "the faculty has not yet come to full consensus on a common rubric for assessing the achievement of the [gen ed] competencies taught at the college" (2006, p. 8). Some increases in standardization have been gained as gen ed data collection has moved into a standardized database form. However, the faculty has not reached nor has it valued “consensus” in the kind of differentiated rubric the Team recommended. The distinctive, discussion-based system that has developed at Sauk benefits from some degree of ambiguity to fuel cross-curricular curiosity on the part of its small, multi-disciplinary faculty. Every year since the Focused Visit, the faculty has participated in review of general education data and discussion of what the results mean, both in cross-curricular groupings and within academic areas, even though sample sizes from classroom assessments are often too small to provide statistical reliability. The experience of the last five years has led to several significant system improvements, including institution-level gen ed assessment projects and professional development on gen ed topics. That experience has also led to cross-curricular discussions of how the gen ed competencies apply to various disciplines and programs. That said, changes made to various other aspects of the system have been in the direction of common rubrics:
    • Career program faculty have created a combined set of program outcomes that they value highly for employment readiness and are assessing them for the first time in the spring 2011 semester.
    • Academic areas that address the General Education Core Curriculum (GECC) requirements have created the standardized rubrics called for by the team as they begin to assess objectives they have developed for those areas: Humanities/Fine Arts; Communications; Mathematics; Social Science; Physical Science.
    • Periodic administration of the CAAP test provides statistically reliable results and external benchmarks against which the ongoing classroom findings can be evaluated.
    The Sauk assessment system undergoes review annually, a mechanism that will allow the ramifications of the most recent change to area and program assessments on the general education competencies to be evaluated in FY12 (link to an another section of the report3A.6).
  • The Team pointed to “a lack of consistency in the measurement of the expected levels of achievement” and noted that “the Core Team has committed, in their planning document, to guide the faculty toward more common assessment tools as they become more comfortable with their assessment initiatives" (2006, p. 8). The FY10 revision to the assessment system, which established area projects as the fundamental assessment task for faculty, and the transition of the documentation method from spreadsheet to database have both honored this commitment in a context that works well for a small, multi-disciplinary faculty. Although instructors still have much latitude for drawing data from events that have intrinsic value in their particular courses, there is a much better understanding of both the levels of achievement and the definition of an appropriate tool as a result of the coordination of projects through the Area Facilitator. A similar improvement in career program assessment has been gained by the development of the common assessment objectives which are assessed and discussed across as well as within programs (link to an another section of the report3A.3).
  • In regard to the commitment to “Link assessment data to instructional improvement plans and to planning and budgeting at SVCC,” the Visiting Team concluded "that SVCC has a strong commitment to linking assessment to strategic planning and budgeting" (2006, p. 9). However, Sauk itself had made a point of identifying the lack of long-term evidence that the system would work as designed. The evidence now exists that the system links work as intended: Various Operational Plans identify assessment data as the source for action plans; Institutional-level change has been discussed, proposed, and sometimes enacted as the result of assessment data. Although the system details have altered somewhat as experience with it has dictated the need for change, the concept of assessment as an essential data stream for strategic planning and budgeting is solidly embedded in the system (link to an another section of the report2C.1).

2002 Criterion 4

Evidence that needs strengthening:

The recent closing of a local steel plant, combined with a state board of education decision to transfer adult education activities to community colleges, has resulted in an approximate 18% enrollment gain for the year. Additionally, these events have provided for unanticipated operational revenues for the FY 2002 current operating budget that included a projected $115,409 deficit. While favorable to the stated budget, the revenues associated with the receipt of job-loss checks for unemployed workers are not long term. College administration should endeavor to plan for other strategies to avoid future budget deficits to ensure sound financial management for the future.

By the FY07 Strategic Plan, the college had committed in its planning to “financially manage the College so an operating surplus occurs on an annual basis” (Strategic Initiative 2.1). In nine of the ten years prior to the 2006 Focused Visit, the college used its cash surplus to cover its annual budget. In the first year of Dr. Mihel’s presidency, the college ran a deficit of $38,400, about 40% of the projected deficit. Each year beginning in FY07, Sauk has added to the fund surplus and no longer relies on the surplus to balance expenses (link to an another section of the report2A.1). Although the unreliability of state funding has provided several challenging situations, the Board is committed to maintaining a surplus. In addition, the significant downturn in enrollment foreseen by the visiting team has not come to pass.

Evidence that needs strengthening:

The college’s Strategic Plan speaks directly and indirectly to the need for employee development. However, as indicated in the budget and as discussed with employee groups, sufficient resources to support this endeavor have been removed. The college should consider methodologies by which it can support its plan for strengthening the organization and achieving its stated goals (p. 12).

At the time of the previous comprehensive visit, approximately $300 was budgeted annually for each individual faculty member’s professional development. Some faculty attended events and remained within their allocated amounts, some personally paid the difference between budgeted and actual expenses, and others chose not to participate in professional development and did not use any of their budgeted funds. Few faculty were pleased with the small budgeted amount, as the team noted. Shortly after the visit, the limited funds budgeted for each faculty member were combined into a single pool of $20,000. The Faculty Development Committee was formed and established guidelines and procedures for faculty to access that pool of development funds. In the 2009 employee survey, most employees indicated that Sauk is moderately to highly supportive of professional development: 96% of faculty; 93% of administration; 92% of support staff; and 88% of professional/technical staff (Link to another section of the Self-Study4A.2).

Evidence that needs strengthening:

Program, curricular and degree alignment are essential for a college’s instructional program and ultimately student benefit. However, a review of the college catalog, as well as through conversations with the faculty, revealed that instructors are unclear as to who directs curriculum. Additionally, it is unclear as to where the stated coursework leads with regard to the AA and AAS degrees. The college should ensure that faculty are fully understanding of their role in the ownership and direction of the curriculum, as well as provide for clarity in a student’s progression through coursework to a degree (p. 12)

One of the first transformative steps taken after the 2002 Visit was to put curriculum control firmly in the hands of the faculty: The charge of the Curriculum Committee shows it to be comprised mostly of faculty (link to an appendixAppendix). Faculty members serving as Area Facilitators take a primary leadership role in faculty development of course outcomes, outline development and revisions, as well as new course and program development. Faculty are responsible for the annual operational planning and the periodic program review for their academic areas, both of which require review of curriculum. These systems have also broadened the scope of faculty program evaluation to include budgetary and facilities issues related to curriculum ().

Evidence that requires institutional attention and Commission follow-up:

The strategic planning process at the college has improved since the 1991 Team Visit. For example, college administrator evaluations included questions regarding their contribution to stated goals. However, surveys, meetings with trustees, administration, and staff indicate challenges associated with plan achievement, plan progress evaluation, levels of employee involvement in plan development, clear linkages with other college plans, succession plans and budgets. A review of the 2000-2003 Strategic Plan reveals no provisions for persons responsible, resource implications, timeline for implementation, nor evaluative components. Annualized operational plans do provide an improved level of detail, but fail to include many of the aforementioned elements of a quality plan. The next iteration of the Strategic Plan should include the aforementioned essential elements, linkages to other developed plans, and clarity in implementation strategies. The recommendation of the Team: Focused visit

The HLC Visit Team’s directive resulted in the development of a new conception of strategic planning that has rooted Sauk firmly in a commitment to continuous improvement principles. The “next iteration” was being finalized, having received the Board’s approval to implement it in FY07, at the time of the Focused Visit. It built on strengths already existing in the operational planning process and added the components necessary to ensure accountability, integrate the timeline with the budget cycle, and link to program review and assessment processes. By FY09, a subsequent iteration emerged that increased the role of data in decision-making and strengthened the links between program review, assessment, operational planning, and the budget process. As the self-study concludes in FY11, the new rolling plan process is underway. FY12 should see a greater alignment of other internal processes, such as facilities planning, with the planning process (Link to another section of the Self-Study2C.1).

2006 Focused Visit Report: Planning Concerns

Evidence that demonstrates that further organizational attention is required in the area of focus:

“Some faculty members of OPIC reported that there is still some discomfort with their role in making budget decisions as part of OPIC. . . . A review of the number of reports that OPIC must consider during their planning process confirms that SVCC should consider a more stream-lined review process” (2006, p. 12)

Continued experience of OPIC the year following the Focused Visit confirmed the need for streamlining its role. Faculty representatives repeatedly expressed hesitation to approve or disapprove budget requests, preferring to forward them to administration. Discussion of program review became burdensome and resulted in little or no action, despite several attempts to simplify the format. For FY09, a major revision in OPIC’s charge resulted in several major changes (link to an appendixAppendix):

  • The number of members was reduced from its high of 32 members to 12 by reducing the number of administrators and faculty. Because administrators commonly discuss the same issues at President's Cabinet or Administrative Council, their participation in a discussion at OPIC was repetitive. Half of the Area Facilitators remained as members of OPIC, and the remainder now serve on the Assessment Core Team.
  • The revised committee charge placed OPIC’s emphasis on strategic planning, assigning it many of the data-gathering and evaluation tasks of the internal and external review teams, which were both then eliminated.

At the end of the year, OPIC members agreed that the change in the committee charge had been beneficial and that their creation of a list of data-based strategic planning priorities was a significant and tangible accomplishment (link to an another section of the report2A.2).

2002 Criterion 5

Evidence that needs strengthening:

As described in the catalog and each course schedule, students enrolling in most credit courses and also testing into remedial reading, must concurrently enroll in remedial reading courses. Faculty and academic administrators should discuss and arrive at agreement regarding the logic of enrolling students in any required remediation as a co-requisite along with transfer courses that purport an expectation of expertise in reading ability for student success (p. 12)

Disagreement with this particular finding was addressed immediately in a letter from President Richard Behrendt, indicating clearly that “the reading co-requisite requirement was agreed upon and instituted at Sauk Valley Community College after much discussion and debate . . . based upon several factors”Letter to Dr. Karen Kietzman, July 31, 2002, bound into Final Report from Comprehensive Visit, April 1-3, 2002. Given the conclusions elsewhere of the 2002 Visit Team that faculty were not adequately in control of curriculum and that planning and assessment were not systematic, it makes sense that the team questioned both the motives for this policy’s existence and the means by which it was developed. Sauk's response to the concerns about assessment and planning has, as a byproduct, created systems and vitalized faculty involvement in curriculum in ways that should make clear that the concurrency requirement is currently recognized by both faculty and administrators as an integral part of an overarching approach by the college to assisting and supporting the underprepared portion of an open-enrollment student population. However, because the Visiting Team addressed this concern as an integrity issue and because Dr. Behrendt promised that “This new requirement will continue to be monitored,” the response merits an extended discussion:

Reading skill is only one of a variety of barriers to success that students bring with them into the open enrollment environment of a community college. Sauk has always shared and addressed the concern expressed in the team’s statement that students need to be adequately prepared to succeed in college-level course work. To this end, an array of support services is provided for students. Students placed in reading courses are being provided help with strategies to aid in other courses they are taking concurrently (whether developmental or college-level). For underprepared students, reading skill is sometimes less a factor in a failing grade than time management, lack of family support, or just finding a quiet place to study. Assistance for overcoming these barriers is necessarily provided “concurrently” to the student’s enrollment in coursework. So, the concurrent enrollment policy in reading is an important part of a larger arsenal of support  that Sauk provides to many students while they pursue courses they have selected (Link to another section of the Self-Study3C.4).

In addition, the strategic planning and assessment systems establish reliable processes that ensure administrative and faculty attention is given to policies like the concurrent reading enrollment requirement. Faculty address reading skill prerequisites as a curricular decision whenever outlines are written or revised, and they assess and discuss student reading skills as part of the regular general education competency cycle. The inclusion of the Academic Development Department as an operational planning group in FY11 provides additional assurance that annual review takes place; in addition, state-mandated cross-curricular program review ensures a comprehensive review every five years. If the concurrent reading enrollment policy were to become a detriment to students, the college would know and take appropriate corrective action.

Current data confirms that the concurrent reading enrollment is not harming student success rates. Students who earn a C or better in Efficient Reading (RDG 098) are also reasonably able to succeed in the college-level courses in which they are concurrently enrolled. Data for FY10, for example, showed that 70% of those who earned a C grade in RDG 098 earned at least a C in a college-level course; 66% of those who earned a B and 72% of those with an A had been successful in a college-level course. By contrast, 29% of those who earned a D in RDG 098 were also able to earn at least a C in a college-level course; only 21% of those who earned an F and 14% of those who withdrew were successful in other college classes. This data supports the assertion that the skill set necessary to succeed in college work is much broader than solely reading level. The college has concluded that holding students out of college-level courses until the reading level reaches college level on a standardized reading test would unnecessarily hamper those students who are ready and willing to engage in the broad spectrum of support services available while they learn and apply them in ways that allow them to succeed in coursework.

2002 Advancement Section

The 2002 visiting team did Sauk the courtesy of providing advisement on several topics. Here is a brief summary of how the college has responded to various suggestions:

Topical Area: Recruitment of adult learners:

“. . .The Team was asked by college officials to provide suggestions and recommendations regarding the recruitment and retention of adult learners, particularly in the areas of ABE, GED, ESL, senior programs, and general interest topics” (p 3). The college considered each suggestion and took action where the suggestion was feasible (Link to another section of Self-Study 5B.2):

  • Sauk has joined community groups to obtain advisory input, including the Bilingual Advisory Committee of Sterling Unit 5 Schools and Trabajando Juntos, as well two separate Workforce Investment Boards. In addition, the college maintains an Adult Education Area Planning Council and a variety of community-based Work Force Councils.
  • In FY05, Sauk identified two target markets for promoting adult education classes and services: a) individuals who were in need of services like GED and ESL; and b) individuals who did not need services themselves, but were close to those who did (relatives or employers, for example). As a result, in FY06 and FY07, schedules and information were sent to local churches and social service agencies about adult education services and appropriate Personal and Professional Development (PPD) and community service activities.
  • Adult education has experimented with class locations without any significant change in enrollment. While it has been a predominantly community-based program with only a few courses offered on campus, all classes were recently moved to off-campus locations. For FY12, several low enrollment class locations have been discontinued and are being rescheduled on campus.
  • The electronic marquee sign was placed at the college entrance in 2005 and has been used regularly to promote AE, PPD and community service events, theatre and music productions, and adult recruitment events.
  • Sauk's facilities have been made more available to the community. High schools have held tennis tournaments and a conference cross-county meet. The Sauk gym has been made available to several local high school basketball teams while their gyms were undergoing renovation or repair. Sauk regularly hosts the Sauk Valley Newspaper’s basketball all-star game. The general public regularly comes to Sauk to use the tennis courts and to walk in-doors or on the track.
  • The river continues to provide a beautiful natural backdrop for the college’s outdoor activities. For example, the theatre program has periodically conducted a Shakespeare Hike event where college actors perform various Shakespeare scenes on the lawns between the building and the river. However, Sauk’s insurance carrier continues to advise against offering canoe and kayak classes due to increased liability.
  • A combined publication of credit and non-credit offerings was attempted briefly as a cost-cutting measure, but as of 2007, the Sauk course schedule is available only online while the non-credit courses are still provided in a printed catalog through general mailings; as specific event notices on posters; as news releases in local newspapers; and in special mailings to past participants. Local employers receive promotional information for general-interest, large events like the Child Fair. This combination appears to reach the public in a cost-effective manner.
  • Having already investigated the National Elderhostel Program prior to the 2002 visit, the college had been advised that Sauk's rural location made success unlikely. However, Corporate and Community Services did operate a senior program independently and under the auspices of Elderhostel’s Learning in Retirement. While there was initial interest, enrollments declined because other local organizations were able to offer free or low-cost senior programs. Sauk prefers to cooperate rather than compete with other local senior service organizations.
  • Sauk continues to promote the fitness center as a credit class to adults and senior citizens, who receive tuition waivers. The college has strong competition, however, as local agencies such as park districts, the YMCA, and the YWCA have established fitness centers in the higher population communities of the district.
  • Sauk has utilized senior citizen workers through Experience Works and AmeriCorps in Admissions, PPD, Learning Resource Center, and public relations/marketing.
  • Local youth programming has taken a similar direction as senior citizen programming. The number and variety of programs available locally to youth have grown significantly. Parents tend to choose local options in favor of driving out to campus. As a result, PPD has successfully restructured its youth programs into special interest camps which do not compete with other local service programs.
  • The promotional items that would be of greatest interest to the Spanish speaking population have been translated into Spanish, including, for example, adult education information and schedules; career planning literature; FUSE mailings. In addition, the college website now has a link that allows the entire website to be translated into multiple languages. This is promoted to potential ESL students.
  • Sauk has hosted several cultural events on campus to encourage the participation of minority groups, including Dia de los Muertos and a variety of FUSE-sponsored events. In addition, Sauk participates in community cultural events, including Dixon’s Cinco de Mayo celebration and the Sterling/Rock Falls Fiesta Parade.
  • Community Services pulled away from a community-based program in the mid-1990’s due to the low enrollment and a high class cancelation rate. Most programs are now offered only on campus. To make the campus more inviting to community members, the 2010 Facilities Master Plan includes reconfigurations taking place during several phases of the project that will turn the East Mall entrance into a community entry.
  • Employing community college private analysis companies for market analysis was too expensive to pursue, but participation in the Sauk Valley Partnership has improved the college’s ability to coordinate non-credit educational offerings in a way that cooperates rather than competes with community providers.

Topical Area: Private Funding:

“SVCC is probably limited in what additional private funding initiatives it can undertake with the current level of staffing and institutional priorities. However, some immediate opportunities exist” (p. 5). 

  • The alumni mailing list was updated during FY07 in response to the suggestion that “updating the alumni mailing list could serve as a preparatory step to re-activating the alumni association” (p. 5). Creation of an alumni webpage in 2007 was followed by a Facebook group in 2009.
  • Funding for federal programs as suggested by the visiting team has been difficult to obtain and retain in recent years. Although AmeriCorps and Trio grant funding has been threatened a couple of times, Sauk has been able to retain the grants without any reduction in services.

See link to an another section of the report5A.1 for a discussion of ways that Sauk extends its capacity for service.

Topical Area: Student Housing:

“The Team recommends that the college administration consider placement of the facility on the college campus proper (perhaps immediately east of the main college building) so as to encourage student interest in the facility. While not a major factor, students do look for convenience factors in their consideration of housing options, particularly in the winter months . . .” (p. 6).

For student housing to be constructed as suggested, the college would have had to sell the land to the Sauk Valley College Foundation and would have lost control of grounds that could be used for future expansion.  The student housing was instead constructed just east of the campus on private land that had been donated to the Foundation specifically for that purpose.  Given that the project has not been financially viable, Sauk's decision not to part with any acreage was sound (link to another section of the report2B.4). 

Topical Area: Leadership and Communications:

The team found “a degree of [leadership] disharmony . . . to be problematic in terms of communications, production, and the orderly flow of college activities . . . Additionally, faculty and students also cited communication challenges during the Team’s visit to the college” (pp. 6-7).

  • Leadership positions have been re-organized several times. First, academic and student support service administrative duties were combined in FY04 in a Vice President of Learning Services position. Under a new president in FY06, the two positions were separated again as part of an organizational restructuring that established that all other functions serve teaching and learning. In that shift, the number of vice president positions was reduced to one: The Academic Vice President. The chief student services officer and the chief business officer were both reclassified at the dean level.
  • During the years preceding the 2006 Focused Visit, several things occurred which improved communications. The Sauk community united to respond to the shortcomings identified in the comprehensive visit’s findings. Changes in organizational structure broke down silos and improved cooperation and teamwork. Committees were formally charged to engage in specific activities, and their meeting minutes were posted on the college website for all employees to read.
  • The President formalized administrative meetings into the President’s Cabinet, consisting of the president’s direct reports, and the Administrative Council, consisting of all of the administrators. The minutes of these regular meetings are sent electronically to all employees, then posted on the college website.

Topical Area: Mission & Accreditation:

  • "In keeping with GIR 1, the college should consider the modification of its mission statement and include language that declares, '…that it is an institution of higher education'" (p. 7). This language change was incorporated in the 2006 revision of the Mission Statement.
  • "Additionally, NCA-HLC requires that the college provide complete accreditation contact information. Both college catalogs (i.e. 2000-2002, 2002-2004) do not provide this level of detail. Thus, the college should ensure that future publications include the HLC-NCA name, address, phone number, and email address" (p. 7). This change was made in the 2004-2006 catalog and has remained in place up to and including the current online version. The college has also included the HLC mark of affiliation on the website in accordance with HLC requirements and guidelines.