Progress: Accomplishments

Employees View the College as Improving

Employee attitude surveys conducted during the fall of 2004 were used to identify and understand the College’s strengths and weaknesses. In the employee survey conducted in August 2005, employees viewed many of the College’s weaknesses as improving. The new structure and its emphasis on communications were credited with having had a major, positive impact on attitudes. Brief discussions of the top three identified weaknesses are below.

  1. Communication was identified as the number one weakness. Several immediate actions were taken. Administrators were informed about this issue and encouraged to make greater efforts to communicate effectively with their people. Emphasis was placed on improved communication within the committee structure. Area facilitators assumed responsibility for their new roles and began relaying information to and from their respective area faculty.

    For the long term, the Internal Review Team (IRT) recommended that communications training be conducted for SVCC employees. OPIC charged the IRT with developing an RFP for training services, distributing it to staff and consultants, and developing a recommendation for the new president to consider for action after he has had the chance to become familiar with the college. However, since the employee survey conducted at the August 2005 in-service indicated that communications had improved on nearly all of the communications items, the IRT made a new recommendation. Instead of going forward with a communication intervention, the IRT recommended that the workshop/training be tabled for a year until another employee survey could be conducted in August 2006 to determine if such an intervention would still be needed. OPIC accepted the recommendation at its October 2005 meeting.
  1. Lack of money and funding was the number two identified weakness. The Internal Review Team determined that little could be done in the short term to change the financial situation of the College. After extensive review of employee comments, the Internal Review Team recommended that the administration educate the general staff about how the College is funded, the budget restrictions within which we work, and how the College budget is compiled. The Business Office developed such a presentation and presented “Budget 101” to the Board of Trustees and to employee groups. This workshop enhanced communications as it took the mystery out of the budgeting process. Employee evaluations indicated that the presentation was informative and well received. Reference
  1. Administration and leadership was rated as the number three weakness. Again, administrators were informed of this issue and each was encouraged to take appropriate actions individually. Administrators worked diligently to support the new committee structure and planning cycle and to empower employees through the system. The support of the new planning and assessment systems along with the involvement of the new President in the systems also contributed to the improvements of this weakness.

In August 2005, a staff survey was conducted to determine if the strengths and weaknesses identified in the Fall 2004 survey had improved or deteriorated. ( The full text of the survey result summary is available in Appendix K.) Responses to the surveys showed improvement or significant improvement in 15 of 23 items related to the strengths and weaknesses identified a year earlier, as illustrated by 50% or more of those respondents indicating improvement or significant improvement in the following areas:

  • My knowledge of what is happening at Sauk
  • My understanding of the College’s mission
  • The committee goal structure for achieving goals
  • The quality of overall employee participation on committees
  • The commitment of administrators to providing a quality education
  • The commitment of faculty to providing a quality education
  • The commitment of support staff to providing a quality education
  • The commitment of professional/technical staff to providing a quality education
  • Availability of technology to enhance learning
  • Overall communication channel effectiveness
  • Communication between my supervisor and me
  • Communication among my peers
  • My communication efforts
  • Administrative leadership
  • The image of the College among staff

The Internal Review Team was pleased with the low frequency of responses indicating deterioration or significant deterioration on the various items. In fact, in the item that was judged most negatively, only 15% of the responses were negative.

The following areas that were judged to be strengths in the first survey showed continued improvement with no appreciable deterioration as illustrated below:

  • College employees (#1 strength last year)
    • The commitment of administrators to providing a quality education
    • The commitment of faculty to providing a quality education (0 indicated deterioration)
    • The commitment of support staff to providing a quality education (0 indicated deterioration)
  • Technology to enhance learning (#2 strength last year)
    • Availability of technology to enhance learning (only 1 indicated deterioration)

The following areas that were judged to be weaknesses in the first survey showed improvement:

  • Communications (#1 weakness last year).
    • Overall communication channels
    • Communication between my supervisor and me
    • Communication among my peers
    • My communication efforts
  • Administrative leadership (#3 weakness last year)
    • Administrative leadership
    • The commitment of administrators to providing a quality education

The Internal Review Team plans to recommend to OPIC that the staff survey become an annual endeavor at the August in-service. If approved, the Internal Review Team plans to expand the survey by asking employees to rate the quality of various items (i.e. communications, administration, etc) in addition to asking them to rate the amount of improvement or deterioration.

Committee Operations

The committee charges were effective in directing committee activities. While some of the responsibilities were initially unclear, they were clarified and committees worked hard to complete their responsibilities.

Overall, committee members approached their committee work with positive attitudes. This may have been due to the structure of the committee charges that helped members understand how their work fit with the work of other committees. The low-key “grumbling” and skepticism that had been common in the past was less evident.

The comprehensive planning cycle was effective in keeping committees focused on making progress and completing their work on time. The committees strived to complete their responsibilities on time and were free to determine how best to do so.

While we fell behind on meeting some of the deadlines, administration allowed the committees the time to continue and complete their work as best they could. In year two, committees were better informed and prepared to complete their work on time. Instead of scheduling regular monthly meetings, committees scheduled their meetings as frequently as needed to get their work done.

Operational Plans Completed

The departmental operational plans now include all the department’s major planned activities for the year. These activities reflect findings from assessment, curriculum development, program reviews, and other committee work. Department plans are no longer completed in isolation from other College activities. The compiled plans are bound and stored for reference. Reference The operational plan year-end reports completed by each department are now summarized and presented to OPIC and the Board of Trustees. The 2005 report is available in Appendix L.

Program Review Underway

The Program Review Committee reviewed and revised the academic program review guidelines for 2005 – 2006. The revisions included relating the program’s mission to the College’s mission and utilizing an analysis of assessment data. The Program Review Committee considers the recommendations made in each review in light of their congruence with the mission and goals and their grounding in valid data. The program review committee is preparing a written summary of the recommendations to present to OPIC. (NOTE: This focused visit report will be completed and printed prior to the first time that the new summary program review report is presented to OPIC in February 2006. Reference)

Information Sharing

Each committee produces a large volume of information and data. It is doubtful that any one individual, let alone the members of a committee such as OPIC, would have the time to wade through the entire amount of information that is produced. Therefore, two methods are used to summarize each committee’s work.

First, minutes of every committee meeting are maintained and distributed to all staff via e-mail. This is done in an effort to summarize progress, keep staff informed, and elicit feedback from non-committee members.

Strategic Planning

Barring major events or changes that may impact SVCC, the College’s strategic plan will be reviewed and revised every three years. A strategic planning procedures manual was developed to guide the process. See Appendix M for the current strategic plan and the procedures manual.

HLC Expectation

Board of Trustees Involvement

As a co-chair of OPIC, the President keeps the SVCC Board of Trustees informed of the status of projects and activities. The Board acts through its authority to approve the annual budget and the College’s plans. Monthly Board packets contain the Mission Document which reminds them regularly of the mission, values, philosophies and strategic goals and the role they play in decision and policy making. The Board took on a key role in strategic planning when they assumed responsibility for creating the College’s vision statement.

Assessing Progress

The committee structure has multiple ways for committees to monitor progress on their assigned activities. The committee charge helps to focus committee efforts on required activities. As they prepare reports, they assess their procedures and suggest improvements for the future.

As OPIC reviews reports, it assesses the value of the report’s information and suggests modifications that would make the information more meaningful in the future. The committee representatives who present the reports to OPIC take the suggestions back to the committee for consideration.

Planning Cycle Maintenance

The planning cycle is a comprehensive system that was designed to be a routine part of College operations. Some of the planning activities are done once every three years, while other activities are done annually.

Once every three years, major planning occurs at which time the mission, vision, and strategic goals and objectives are revisited and revised as appropriate. New directions and new goals are established. Other activities are scheduled annually and assure that the planning process continues as a routine part of the College. The Strategic Planning Procedures Manual was developed as a guide for both three-year and annual activities. (See Appendix M.)

Several key elements were designed into the system to achieve easy maintenance:

  • Defined committee responsibilities and timelines for task completion. Committee members understand their responsibilities, the deadlines for completing their work, and how their work contributes to the larger system.
  • Recognition of the interrelatedness of all of the College’s activities. This system coordinates and sequences task completion.
  • Continuity of committee members. Every committee has a chair and some have co-chairs, along with a clearly identified list of members. Many of the committee members are identified by position title, while others are by the type of position. This structure easily accommodates rotation of staff on committees while also maintaining a continuity of members. This capability minimizes the chance that any committee will face a major disruptive membership turnover.