CURRENT STUDENTS | FUTURE STUDENTS | FACULTY/STAFF | A-Z
|AQIP Systems Portfolio 2009|
CATEGORY 8: PLANNING CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
A schematic of WNMU’s Strategic Planning Process (SPP) is depicted in Figure 8P1.1.
The fall meeting of the Strategic planning Team focuses on reviewing and revising the environmental scan (SWOT analysis). Feedback on this is gathered before the fall meeting for review. The first meeting of the academic year also includes verification of the existing plan: what needs to be changed? What needs to be added? Are there new environmental factors that were not present during the previous strategic planning session, or have existing weaknesses or threats become higher priorities? What has disappeared altogether?
Once the new SWOT analysis is completed, the results are shared with campus via email and through the Strategic Planning Communication Tree. In preparation for the winter meeting, the Team Facilitator aggregates feedback for review and prioritization. From this, the Team can update strategic challenges, as necessary, and begin construction strategies for addressing them. This planning process may take more than one meeting of the Team. In the spring, edits to the Plan are reviewed and strategic challenges are put in priority order in preparation for building the next fiscal year’s budget. The summer meeting agenda consists of reviewing accomplishments and data from the ending planning cycle. After each meeting of the Strategic Planning Team, minutes are distributed to all faculty and staff via email and Communications Tree talking points are provided to team members for reporting out to their assigned departments/offices. While the planning process shown in Figure 8P1.1 is continuous in practice, time lags usually exist between current assessments and the implementation of ideas and action stemming from those ideas. External decision cycles, such as those of the HED, the legislature, accrediting bodies, and the governor, influence WNMU’s decision cycle. Figure 8P1.2 identifies major internal and external decision events affecting WNMU planning and decision making.
The SPP is also used in various offices on campus, although meeting frequency may vary. For example, the Office of Institutional Advancement uses a strategic planning team, called the Institutional Advancement Committee (IAC), for identifying challenges, designing strategies, and setting targets. The IAC meets monthly rather than quarterly. Other departments on campus, including Human Resources/Payroll and Maintenance, are utilizing a variation of the SPP to implement improvements in their areas.
Long-term institutional strategies are guided by the institutional mission, vision, and values. They are developed and reviewed by SEAT and the Cabinet, and are shared with the BOR for their input. Including a broad base of campus leaders facilitates a more extensive picture of teaching and learning, social, economic, and other factors that may impact the future of WNMU. Brainstorming, SWOT analysis, and prioritization are essential parts of the process. Conflicting objectives between VP areas and different stakeholders surface during this process. The case is made and priorities are determined by voting. The President takes all this into consideration in developing the “draft” of the strategic planning document.
Once the institutional strategies are defined, the VPs prepare an operational (short-term) plan for their units to support achievement of the institutional vision and align with the strategic plan. Usually this process involves the personnel in the various units reporting to the VP. As indicated earlier in Category 5, the decision cycle allows for a dynamic planning process that can be responsive to rapid changes in the environment. This essentially makes the planning process continuous with many initiatives developing in response to dynamic market or learning factors that arise throughout the year. Operational plans are revised annually with new or adjusted targets and assessment measures incorporated. Performance is reported to the BOR by SEAT and other key leaders. Concurrent with this process are the AQIP, QNM/MBNQA, program review, and accreditation processes.
Figure 8P3.1 is a summary listing of various plans that make up the WNMU’s integrated planning process components. Action plans deriving from the operational plans are developed within units responsible for each of the plans or through campus hearings. Progress is monitored by the responsible leader and shared through regular meetings of SEAT, Cabinet, AQIP Teams, and specialized committees that are responsible for the various items. For example, the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association monitors the Alumni Plan, and the Instructional Resources Committee of the Faculty (which includes the University Librarian) monitors the Library Acquisition Plan, while the Energy Conservation Plan is largely monitored through the VPBA’s office and communicated directly to the Cabinet and SEAT. Whenever feasible, WNMU utilizes department or program structure as the primary approach to deploying both strategic initiatives and improvement actions.
Campus and unit plans are made available through the various avenues listed in Figure 5P7.1, including placing them on the WNMU Web site, in library reserve, and in the office of the person responsible for their development and maintenance. They are also disseminated to councils and committees. External stakeholders are also kept in the loop on University planning through the Town and Gown Committee, Committee of Twenty meetings, open community forums held during the year, and through the WNMU website. Through these contacts, WNMU validates and assures that its progress is communicated to key stakeholder groups. Stakeholder groups also have access to the University Web site.
When deploying University-wide initiatives, WNMU has standing and ad hoc cross-functional teams that typically have Cabinet leader participation or sponsorship as a means of aligning planning processes, organizing new initiatives, and gathering feedback. Feedback goes to the appropriate VP who recommends full implementation when warranted. The VP is responsible for ensuring alignment with WNMU’s Strategic Plan in its dealings with partners and suppliers, development and updates to articulation agreements, advisory board interactions, interactions with architects and lawyers on projects, and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with partners.
Currently, objectives, MOEs and performance targets for institutional strategies and goals are defined during the SPP and finalized by the President and SEAT. Operational and action plans are defined by the office, committee, or team responsible. Key factors in identifying MOEs include ease of collection, ability to address progress, availability of data, balance among key stakeholders, capacity for identifying causal factors, and data reliability and integrity. In departments and other units, measures are selected according to their specific responsibilities; for example, in academic departments measures may be influenced by accreditation bodies, assessment plans, and program reviews; measures for non-academic areas may be influenced by such things as research studies on retention, energy costs, governmental reporting, or building costs per square foot.
Senior leaders continuously translate organizational performance review findings into actions using the decision cycle. In setting performance targets, senior leaders and others identify improvement priorities by reviewing gaps between current and expected performance, current performance compared to peer institutions or best practices, or current performance versus that defined in proposals from students, faculty, staff, or other stakeholders, but that require new or additional funding or process adaptations. Performance gaps and innovative ideas result in actions that lead to allocation of additional resources, further study, or benchmarking.
The WNMU decision cycle and Planning Process (Figure 8P1.1) ensure that the organization remains responsive to student and stakeholder needs. Regular evaluation of student and stakeholder needs occurs in SEAT and Cabinet. Faculty and staff leaders participate in planning and budgeting processes. Each vice Presidential area along with the President’s office responds to different stakeholder needs. The P/VPAA is primarily responsible for the academic programming needs of students and the work lives of faculty; the VPSA addresses a wide variety of academic support, co-curricular, and community needs as well as staff needs; and the VPBA works with key financial components of the student experience and support services for faculty and staff. The President’s office ensures balance among the varied needs.
Financial and other resource implications of the planning process are a standing agenda item for SEAT, the source of institutional budget adjustments. Regular reviews of financial information occur to ensure that expenditures are in line with budget priorities. A key element of the resource management process that derives directly from planning processes is the requirement that each VP prioritize personnel, capital equipment, and critical program needs. These prioritized lists feed directly into University level decisions regarding priorities and greatly facilitate budget preparation and execution. Operating and capital budget priorities are further divided into three categories based on need (Figure 8P6.1)
There is currently no process in place at WNMU for assessing risk in the planning process.
Training needs frequently emerge as strategic initiative discussions occur. Section 4P2 describes how currency of job skills is tied to the budget process through training efforts. Similarly, Section 4P1 provides information on how future personnel needs are incorporated into the hiring process. As an example of the former, implementation of TouchNet will necessitate training for Business and Financial Aid Office staff, as well as for students. To address the latter, staff and faculty were recently surveyed on training needs in order for the AQIP People First Team to launch a formal Professional Development program at WNMU this spring. Faculty and staff needs are also matched to strategic initiatives through sabbatical programs, internal research grants, conference attendance, learning under the line of fire (triage), mentoring, team teaching, linked classes, accreditation involvement, service on improvement teams, and through the MBO process.
Unique process and output measures related to the planning process itself are not formally kept.
Strategic Challenge 1: Increase enrollment and student success. Figure 8R2.1 illustrates enrollment growth over the past three years. Targeted recruiting of students in various markets throughout the Southwest contributed to these results. Increases in enrollment have also occurred in online student (Figure 8R2.2) and dual enrollment (Figure 8R2.3) student populations. Dual enrollment students take WNMU courses while attending high school; several associate degree recipients attended commencement at WNMU and their high school graduation ceremonies in the same week last spring.
Strategic Challenge 2: Improve, broaden, and sustain a quality life experience for all WNMU students.
The First Year Experience AQIP Action Project is carrying forward the recommendations of the FoE Steering Committee. Once these are fully implemented, all students, not only freshmen, will benefit:
FoE Critical Action Recommendations (1-2 years)
1. Creation of a Director of the First Year Experience (Complete)
2. Creation of the Council on the First Year Experience (Complete)
3. Coordinators of Math and Composition (Complete)
4. Campus-wide adoption of the First-Year Philosophy Statement (Complete)
5. Revamping of the Early Alert system (pending hire of #1)
6. Create WNMU sponsored workshops related to the first year experience and build resources about the first year (pending hire of #1)
7. Expand service learning initiatives (in progress)
8. Emphasize importance of attention to the first year through MBOs and promotion/tenure review (in progress)
FoE Medium-Term Action Recommendations (3-4 years)
1. Incentives and Professional Development opportunities (in progress)
2. Enhance academic support services for students, including a peer leader program, tutoring, and advising (pending hire of #1)
3. Improve ratio of first year seminars taught by full-time faculty (not yet addressed)
4. Revise Student Orientations (in progress)
5. Update the student handbook (not yet addressed)
FoE Long-Term Action Recommendations
1. Expand MASA office through staff, space, and funding (not yet addressed)
2. Expand student resources in SMB (not yet addressed)
3. Explore complex student issues related to retention and attempt to address them with added resources (in progress)
4. Continued campus-wide facilities improvements (in progress)
5. Enhance community activities at WNMU through more activities, an all-campus day, or other events (in progress)
Strategic Challenge 3: Improve and sustain the welfare, morale, and work effectiveness of all WNMU employees.
This remains a serious challenge, particularly in the face of a significant budget shortfall in the state of New Mexico. Leadership’s efforts at improved transparency through face-to-face meetings of the President with each department, fall Convocation, Strategic Planning Communications Tree reporting and feedback gathering, and enhanced internal and external communications through the Office of Institutional Advancement, support strategic challenge #3 and address 2007 AQIP Quality Checkup feedback. Additional results include the new Professional Development Program and the purchase of TouchNet, the latter of which will enhance work effectiveness of many WNMU employees and better serve our students.
Strategic Challenge 4: Sustain and improve a quality technology environment that supports students, faculty, staff, and communities in the use and value of instructional, administrative, and communication technologies.
The WNMU IT Department continues to provide quality services to faculty, staff, students, and the various communities that use our website, electronic library services, and the Alumni Social Network. As is detailed in Category 7, IT accomplishes this with minimal resources.
Strategic Challenge 5: Improve, broaden and sustain WNMU’s economic development, community, regional, and global relationships.
WNMU is the only university in the U.S. to offer an accredited Economic Development Course in Mexico, and the VPIA is currently negotiating taking the Basic Course to Argentina. Community and regional relationships are being developed through vastly improved public and alumni relations: these and other results for Institutional Advancement are presented in Category Two.
As a response to the 2007 AQIP Quality Checkup feedback Report, in which auditors noted “External communication might improve in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to…: public relations efforts to off campus constituent groups; [and] marketing relationships to a variety of stakeholder groups,” WNMU hired an Albuquerque-based public relations firm, Garrity Group. The brand, “A University Worth Discovering,” was instituted, as well as a formal style manual for consistency in all published and manufactured WNMU materials. The Marketing & Controls Plan was also created with extensive input from the community and all areas of the University. Garrity Group results as of spring 2009 are as follows:
• Key messages in news releases were consistent, there were 118 news releases issued,
clippings collected (70% were from WNMU news releases).
Strategic Challenge 6: Improve fiscal and material resources in order to address the needs identified in the strategic plan.
A description of the events and resolution surrounding University audit findings is provided in 3R5.
Strategic Challenge 7: Increase accountability to all stakeholders
Strategy 7.1 regularly inform stakeholders, and strategy 7.2 regularly seek stakeholder feedback are addressed through the WNMU Marketing & Controls Plan and the Office of Institutional Advancement. Results include vastly increased communications with alumni and citizens within our service regions; improved and effective recruiting; and more press releases and visibility in the community.
Performance projections within operational plans and units tend to be project or process completions by a certain date rather than numerical target performance metrics. They include items such as the following:
§ Implementation of all Foundations of ExcellenceŇ Steering Committee recommendations through the First Year Experience AQIP Action Project Team
§ Continued growth of key graduate programs, including the OMAIS, MSW, and MOT
§ Growth of international student recruitment, particularly in Mexico and China
§ Replacement of key faculty positions as individuals retire
§ Smooth transition as a new University President assumes office in 2011
§ Successful and seamless transition from Blackboard-Vista to Blackboard Next Generation in approximately two years
§ Development and full use of WNMU by the Numbers
Targets for the newest division on campus, Institutional Advancement, are detailed in its operational plan and include establishing new alumni chapters and launching a formal giving program (including corporate giving) in the coming year.
During the WNMU Decision Cycle, effort is made to identify appropriate comparative data sources at both the state and national levels. Required HED and CUP reporting provides timely comparative information in selected areas, primarily within the state. Comparisons at the national level are harder to secure. Some national comparisons, such as the IPEDS, lag in availability; others, such as nationally normed surveys, are usually available within six months of being administered. Still others depend on the willingness of similar AQIP or Renaissance partners to share data in selected areas. Comparative national data are also available on licensure rates in some disciplines, but generally not in the area of strategic planning. Past performance data provides another set of key comparative data.
Continued involvement with and recognition by Quality New Mexico demonstrates the effectiveness of strategic planning and continuous improvement efforts at the institutional and division levels. WIN and Action Project team work has resulted in improved student services, work processes, and employee development initiatives. Results presented throughout this portfolio, and specifically those provided in 8R2, are evidence that the strategic planning process is effective at WNMU.
The most significant improvement in this category is the development and use of the institutional scorecard, WNMU by the Numbers. Other improvements include:
Process improvements and targets are selected formally through the SPP; these are determined by feedback during the SWOT phase of planning and are prioritized by the Team. VP division-level operational planning is a collaborative and requires input from all employees within that area. Informal selection occurs daily as needs arise. The culture at WNMU is supportive of innovation and solutions for improvement. For example, when the University Librarian and her staff received a request from mothers for a designated breastfeeding space in Miller Library, it was quickly approved and created. For their efforts, library staff were publicly acknowledged and thanked by the Southwest New Mexico Breastfeeding Council.
Through our continuous improvement efforts, WNMU is building ever stronger academic opportunities, improving community outreach, providing a supportive work environment for WNMU employees, expanding technology applications in learning and work activities, and better serving our students.
PO Box 680 Silver City, NM 88062
Phone: 575-538-6149 Fax: 575-538-6243