SVCC HLC Self-Study Document

Sauk Valley Community College
HLC Self-Study Document

September 19-21, 2011

The Self-Study Process

Over the years, Sauk employees have participated in a variety of brainstorming activities. When asked to identify the college’s strengths, they have always included “employees” as one of those strengths. If there were ever any doubt about that being true, the self-study should put it to rest. Sauk employees demonstrated what makes them an institutional strength by how they worked on the self-study:

Photo of ACE, the Sauk monkeyThe entire self-study was accomplished by volunteers. Except for the writer (who received some release time from teaching duties), the people involved with the self-study received no extra compensation for any of the extra work they took on. The Steering Committee listed below is one such group. They volunteered to take responsibility for a portion of the study, attend meetings, conduct research, write outlines and drafts, and support one another. But much of the rest of the campus also volunteered their time to the effort: providing data and information; reading drafts; providing input and feedback; and participating in promotional activities, overseen by the self-study mascot, ACE, the Sauk Monkey (pictured). The HLC Focused Visit in 2006, for which the entire campus community prepared and which was credited with having “transformed” campus community interaction, also helped to keep the importance of the affirmation of accreditation process fresh in the minds of the faculty and staff who had participated.

As one of the first steps in the process, President Mihel articulated the following goals for the self-study:

  1. To assure that every employee understands and has the opportunity to participate in the reaccreditation process.
  2. To engage employees from all job classifications in a critical, comprehensive evaluation of the institution.
  3. To better understand our students and our evolving population base and to identify ways to better serve them.
  4. To identify the institutional strengths which may be built upon and the weaknesses which need improvement.
  5. To generate findings to be used in the institution’s strategic plan.
  6. To receive a ten year, continued accreditation from the HLC.

The contents of this report testify to the achievement of the first five of these goals. Sauk Valley Community College submits this self-study report with the assurance that the consultant-evaluators at the Reaffirmation of Accreditation Visit will be thoroughly convinced by their contact with the college community that the college merits continued accreditation from the HLC, thereby meeting the sixth and ultimate goal set for the self-study process.

Self-Study Process Chronology

FY08: The self-study process began early in FY08 with the appointment of Tom Gospodarczyk, Dean of Institutional Research and Planning, to the position of Self-Study Coordinator. By the end of that year, several important preparatory steps had been taken, including establishment of a budget for the project, design of the committee structure, and development of the timeline for completion.

FY09: The important task of assembling the self-study committees began in FY09 with the recruitment and orientation of criterion study committee co-chairs and other key resources who formed the Steering Committee for the study (listed below). In addition, orientation sessions were held for key leadership groups in the institution, including the Board of Trustees, college administrators, and the Sauk Valley College Foundation Board. After the entire campus community participated in an orientation session at the January 2009 in-service, the steering committee began recruiting volunteers for the criterion committees. Other activities during the year continued the preparation process:

  • The Steering Committee met regularly to finalize the self-study design, the mission and charge of each committee, and the timeline for completion.
  • The Self-Study Coordinator officially launched the study to the campus community at the March 2009 In-Service, introducing the self-study process, committee members, and the timeline.
  • A group of nine Steering Committee representatives attended the self-study workshop at the HLC Annual Meeting.
  • Each criteria study committee held its initial meeting before the end of the spring 2009 semester.

FY10: Starting with a kick-off at the opening in-service, Phase 1: Research engaged the college community during the fall semester of FY10. The steering committee met regularly to discuss progress and share issues; criterion committees collected data to evaluate and discuss; an employee questionnaire conducted electronically in November surveyed employee practices and attitudes identified by the various study committees.

By the spring 2010 semester, the self-study had reached Phase 2: Drafting Reports, using Cascade for web-based sharing of document outlining and data reporting. The Steering Committee meetings mixed serious discussion of the process with light-hearted, motivational camaraderie. The Study Coordinator, for example, presented each Steering Committee member with a wind-up chicken as a reminder that the punishment for submitting a criterion draft late, selected from a dozen or so options, was to be locked in a room to finish the report with the “Chicken Dance” song playing repeatedly. All drafts from the committee chairs were submitted on time, and Report Writer Jane Hamilton began her primary role in the self-study. Drafts were stored in to allow for document-sharing during the early review and editing processes. A group of three attended the self-study workshop at the 2010 HLC Annual Meeting, where the new digital format requirement for the self-study was announced.

FY11: During Phase 3: Review, committee chairs worked to fill gaps in the report draft, and a second survey was conducted in November to obtain additional information from employees. During the spring 2011 semester, “reading parties” were conducted to obtain staff review of the self-study draft. Input and questions resulting from these sessions were used to improve the clarity and accuracy of the study report. The sessions began at the spring workshop day in March and continued through April, with 80 people participating in one or more of the sessions. Participants in the “reading parties” were included in a drawing for one of five $25 gift cards from local businesses. Administrators did a separate review of each criterion report to assure accuracy. The four steering committee members who attended the self-study workshop at the 2011 HLC Annual Meeting focused on information about the site visit. (This group brought to 100% the attendance at the Self-Study Workshop by Steering Committee members and Sauk administrators.) When digital requirements for the self-study report were finalized, Digital Report Designer Eric Epps took on a critical role in formatting the report for HLC as a .pdf and in creating an electronic resource room in Cascade.

The SSSS: During the fall 2010 semester, Coordinator Gospodarczyk had recruited membership for The Secret Society of the Self-Study (SSSS) to plan and carry out an awareness and information campaign. During the spring 2011 semester, the campaign got underway, overseen by the self-study mascot, ACE, the Sauk Monkey (a sock monkey). The primary goal of the campaign was to engage students as well as faculty and staff in the findings and significance of the self-study. The SSSS devised a semester-long campaign of information and activities that culminated in an online test, with prizes available for participants:

  • A series of five postcards summarized findings, each featuring one criterion. These postcards were released periodically during the semester, handed out in conjunction with some activity (and candy) and available online. For example, when the final postcard was released, everyone on campus was invited to participate in a paper airplane throwing contest.
  • A set of 12 posters featuring ACE were displayed around campus to announce the availability of each postcard and the activity accompanying it. By time the final postcard was available, a total of 60 posters had been displayed throughout the building.
  • In April, a voluntary self-study test was conducted online, for which the postcards could be used. If a person could ACE the test with 100% correct, that participant’s name was entered in a drawing for one of five $25 gift cards from local businesses. The grand prize was a gift card and the chance to “Pie the President” in a public event on campus. A total of 78 staff and students took the test with  68 (87.2%) scoring 100%:  51 (92.7%) of 55 staff and 17 of 23 (73.9%) students.

FY12: At the end of FY11, the self-study process is going quietly forward. As the content is finalized, the work of editing and formatting the study in accordance with the new digital rules is underway. The college has solicited third party comments. The report will be submitted on time. In the meantime, the campus will begin FY12 in preparation for a site visit by an HLC Peer Review Team. The SSSS is prepared to undertake a final awareness and information campaign to make sure the whole campus community-- especially new students, faculty, and staff-- is aware of the study in its final form and the significance of both the study findings and the visit itself to the institution.

HLC Self-Study Committees

Every employee was invited to participate on a self-study committee. The resulting group included 55 members, six of whom had participated in the 2001 self-study committee; 33 who were present for the 2006 Focused Visit; and 22 who had joined the college community following the focused visit. (Of those, five had experience with accreditation at a prior institution.) As of June 30, 2010, the 55 self-study leaders below represented a total of 583 years of experience at Sauk Valley Community College, an average of 10.6 years per member.

Figure viii: HLC Committee Participation
+Dr. George Mihel President College President
+Tom Gospodarczyk* Dean of Institutional Research and Planning Self-Study Coordinator
+Shirley Walker* Admin Asst, Inst Research and Planning Coordinator Assistant
Deb Dillow* Admin Asst, President and Board of Trustees Resource Room Coordinator
+Jane Hamilton Assistant Professor of Reading and English Report Writer
Eric Epps Technical Support Specialist – Web Digital Format Designer
SSSS (Secret Society of the Self-Study
Chris Byar Admin Asst, Athletic Director Support
Carrie Conderman Assistant Professor of Mathematics Faculty
Linda Dhaese Coordinator, LRC Technical Services Professional/Technical
Chris Shelley Director of Instructional Technology Administrator
Lisa Anderson Venner Adjunct Faculty  - Geology

Adjunct Faculty

Therese Wood Natural Science Lab Asst


Sophia Aponte


Criterion 1: Mission & Integrity
+Dr. Don Pearl Academic Vice President Co-Chair – Administrator
+Alan Pfeifer* Dean of Information Services Co-Chair – Administrator
Pam Cunningham Assistant Professor of Nursing Faculty
Terry Lyn Funston Associate Professor of Psychology Faculty
Judy Happ Admin Asst, Academic Vice President Support Staff
Janet Matheney Coordinator of Counseling, Assistant Professor Counselor
Jennifer Patterson Learning Resource Assistant II Support Staff
Carmel Paulsen Admin Asst, Director of Bldg and Grounds Support Staff
Ana Salgado Cross-Cultural Coordinator Professional/Technical Staff
Criterion 2: Preparing for the Future
+Tom Gospodarczyk* Dean of Institutional Research and Planning Co-Chair – Administrator
+John Ditto Director of Building and Grounds Co-Chair – Administrator
Cathy Dorathy Coordinator of High School Relations Professional/Technical Staff
Jane Grove Admin Asst., Admissions and Records Support Staff
Dave Habben Coordinator of Network Services and Computing Professional/Technical Staff
Mary Ann Hurd Asst Professor of Office and Administrative Services Faculty
Janet Lynch* Dean of Health Services Administrator
Paula Meyer Dean of Business Services Administrator
Carl Paxton Asst Director Buildings and Grounds Professional/Technical Staff
Brad Smith Associate Professor of Biology (Area Facilitator) Faculty
Criterion 3: Student Learning & Effective Teaching
+Mary Heitmann Assistant Professor of Nursing (Area Facilitator) Co-Chair – Faculty
+Chris Shelley* Director of Instructional Technology Co-Chair – Administrator
Diana Brevitt Associate Professor of Radiologic Technology Faculty
Ed Carli Adjunct Faculty - Education
Adjunct Faculty
Heather Dowd Instructional Technology Designer Professional/Technical Staff
Penny Duncan Asst. Professor of Nursing Faculty
Dave Edelbach Professor of Chemistry Faculty
Jessica Edwards Student Needs Coordinator Professional/Technical Staff
Lisa Peck Human Resources Assistant Support Staff
Jane Verbout Learning Assistance Center Coordinator Professional/Technical Staff
Criterion 4: Acquisition, Discovery & Application of Knowledge
+Richard Eichman Professor of English and History Co-Chair – Faculty
+Steve Nunez Professor of Biology Co-Chair – Faculty
Charles Atchley Professor of Physics/Mathematics Faculty
Amanda Eichman Associate Professor of English/Education Faculty
Eric Epps Technical Support Specialist - Web Professional/Technical Staff
Eric Forman Adjunct Faculty - Biology Adjunct Faculty
Chris Gehlbach* Assistant Professor of Nursing Faculty
Eva Harvey Adjunct Faculty - English Adjunct Faculty
Jon Mandrell [Assistant] Professor of Criminal Justice Faculty
Jeanine Tufty Assistant Professor of Nursing Faculty
Criterion 5: Engagement & Service
+Amy Viering Director of Foundation and Grants Co-Chair – Administrator
+Jeanne DePuy Coordinator of Personal Development Co-Chair – Professional/Technical
Dave Boehme Maintenance Mechanic, Mechanical Support Staff
Tom Breed* Assistant Professor of Counseling Counselor/Faculty
Kathy Dirks Instructional Technology Assistant Professional/Technical Staff
Sabrina Earl Program Director of ABC Americorps Program Professional/Technical Staff
Heather Gieseke Admin Asst., Foundation and Grants Support Staff
Luis Moreno Dean of Student Services Administrator
Brian Olmsted Coordinator of Public Relations Professional/Technical Staff
Deana Seeley Assistant Professor of Nursing Faculty
Scott Seeley* Security Lead Professional/Technical Staff
Therese Wood Natural Science Laboratory Assistant Professional/Technical Staff
* 20+ years as a Sauk employee.
+ Member of the Self-Study Steering Committee (boldface type)
Note: Italicized names are no longer associated with the college on the visit date of September 19, 2011.