CURRENT STUDENTS | FUTURE STUDENTS | FACULTY/STAFF | A-Z
|AQIP Systems Portfolio 2009|
CATEGORY 5: LEADING AND COMMUNICATING
Western New Mexico University’s mission and vision are defined, reviewed, and revised, as needed, through the institutional strategic planning process (SPP). The Team used feedback from students, faculty, staff, and community members in drafting the new Mission and President’s Vision statements during the 2008-2009 academic year: both are presented in the Institutional Overview.
WNMU Core Values:
As illustrated in Figure 8P1-1, the SPP is an ongoing cycle that is initiated in the fall, and completed in time to provide a framework for building the next year’s budget. The Team’s membership includes: the President; Vice Presidents; Associate Vice Presidents; Deans; a Director each from Academic, Student, and Business Affairs; the Presidents of Faculty and Staff Senate; The President of ASWNMU; the Assistant to the President for Quality Initiatives; a faculty Chair representative (appointed by the Faculty Senate); AQIP Action Project co-chairs; and student representatives selected by ASWNMU.
The President’s role is to ensure mission accomplishment, adherence to broadly established BOR policies, facilitation of cross-organization communication, and consensus based decision making followed by appropriate action. The President and four VPs form SEAT, the primary decision making body of WNMU. The Cabinet ensures the opportunity for critical input from broad stakeholder representation. In addition to the Senior Executive Administrative Team (SEAT), the Cabinet includes other campus leaders (see Figure 5P2.1). The Cabinet meets bi-monthly and SEAT meets weekly. VPs meet with their respective leadership teams made up of department heads, directors, and deans on set schedules.
VPs meet with their respective leadership teams made up of department heads, directors, and deans on set schedules. They also meet with various other committees, councils, and working groups, as required, and champion AQIP Action Teams within their respective administrative areas. The University President champions the Quality Council; The First Year Experience Team is co-championed by the P/VPAA and the VPSA, and the VPBA champions the Human Resources and Customer Services Improvement Teams. Minutes and deliverables generated by these groups are available in the Resource Room, along with recommendations submitted by the teams to a VP, the Cabinet, or SEAT.
The WNMU Decision Cycle (Figure 5P2.2) is central to WNMU’s leadership system. The philosophy underlying this Plan, Implement, Assess, Adjust cycle is that at any given time a myriad of initiatives are “in process.” The process is continuous; consequently, the leadership communication system must be open, flexible, adaptable, and responsive. VPs are given considerable authority and discretion to make decisions within their areas. At the start of each academic year, each VP, with discussion and input from their directors or department heads and other key faculty and staff leaders, prepares an operational plan that guides actions within that unit throughout the year. Through this process, the concerns of students and other stakeholders are balanced within the institutional priorities.
∙ Strategic ∙ Operational ∙ Campus Master, Plan ∙ BR&R ∙ ADA ∙ Special Emphasis Areas a.
IT and Library c.
Research and Public Service d.
Displaced Workers e.
Extended Learning f.
AQIP Priorities g.
∙ Campus Master, Plan
∙ Special Emphasis Areas
b. IT and Library
c. Research and Public Service
d. Displaced Workers
e. Extended Learning
f. AQIP Priorities
Mid- to Long-Term
Mid- to Long-Term
Senior leaders continuously translate organizational performance review findings into actions. SEAT and others identify improvement priorities by reviewing gaps between current and expected performance, current performance compared to other like universities or best practices, or from proposals from students, faculty, staff, or other stakeholders that require new or additional funding. Performance gaps, along with innovative ideas, result in actions that allocate additional resources or initiate further study and/or benchmarking. WNMU utilizes department or program structure as the primary approach to deploying both strategic initiatives and improvement actions.
When deploying University-wide initiatives, WNMU employs standing committees and ad hoc cross- functional teams that typically have Cabinet leader participation or sponsorship that provides a mechanism for deployment and gathering feedback. Feedback goes to the appropriate VP or the EC, either of whom may recommend full implementation when warranted. SEAT is responsible for ensuring alignment with WNMU’s strategic initiatives in its dealings with partners and suppliers, development and/or updates to articulation agreements, advisory board interactions, interactions with architects and lawyers on projects, and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with partners.
The WNMU approach to organizational learning and sharing of knowledge assets within the organization relies on both formal and informal communication. In any given month, many routine, formal meetings are supplemented by minutes via email or hard copy. Professional development activities, a newly created information station, The Mustang student newspaper, and a variety of other mechanisms, including increasing dependence on the Mustang Express Web portal, provide updates on current information.
potential students and key stakeholder groups
Category Three describes how the needs and expectations of students and key stakeholder groups get incorporated into these processes. Teaching and learning are preeminent at WNMU and take precedence over other activities—a focus on students and learning develops naturally from this emphasis.
Figure 5P4.1 summarizes key learning opportunities that help build and sustain a learning environment at WNMU. By providing funding and encouragement for these types of activities WNMU leaders guide the University in seeking future opportunities and improving existing ones.
WNMU is organized around discipline-based academic departments, administrative and academic support functions, Student Affairs, Business Affairs, and Institutional Advancement. The vice president, dean, director, or chair holds planned, regularly scheduled meetings with the people in that unit who are encouraged to make suggestions about ways to better their work. Each unit contributes to and figures in the appropriate VP’s operational plan. The use of cross-functional working groups (such as the Online policy Working Group), Western Improvement Network (WIN) Teams, and committees to address significant strategic issues, together with the use of quality tools and systems approaches, enable the organization to solve problems in a collaborative manner while building team work and trust across the institution.
WNMU’s basic decision cycle (Figure 5P2.2), provides an institutional decision-making picture. Some divisions and departments, such as Institutional Advancement and Human Resources/Payroll, use the strategic planning process to identify opportunities for improvement and to set targets. Similar, less formal, methods are used at the department, unit, center, or school levels. If the decision does not have institutional implications, it stays at the unit where it is made. However, for decisions that affect or potentially affect the institution or significant numbers of institutional units, the decision ultimately comes through a VP and potentially to the Cabinet or EC. For example, adjustments to the Faculty Handbook requires action by the Faculty Senate, two readings at the Faculty Assembly, approval by the President (or on curriculum matters the P/VPAA), and finally approval by the BOR.
Key players in decision-making processes include BOR, SEAT, Cabinet, AC, the Strategic Planning Team, and Chairs, Deans, Directors, Faculty Senate and Assembly and their respective committees, Staff Senate and Assembly and their respective committees, ASWNMU, WNMU AQIP Team, AQIP Action Project Teams, and various other working groups. Actions may emanate from any of these. For example, when feedback from the 2008 Assessment Convocation indicated a growing dissatisfaction with the recruitment and hiring processes, the AQIP People First Team reviewed, revised, and streamlined these processes and vetted the revisions before all WNMU employees at the 2009 Convocation.
Two levels must be reviewed when looking at the use of results in decision making. Figure 5P6.1 depicts examples of results used in a variety of WNMU departments, schools, or units where unit/department leaders review data and information to support day-to-day decisions. At the institutional level, measures of effectiveness (MOEs), described in more detail in Category Seven and delineated in the operational plans of Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Business Affairs, and in the Institutional Advancement Strategic Plan. Though these processes come the operational results that influence decisions related to mission, vision, strategies, and strategic challenges. Data are central to all phases of the WNMU Decision Cycle.
As indicated earlier, because the decision cycle is continuous, the leadership communication system must be open, flexible, adaptable, and responsive. Figure 5P7.1 provides key face-to-face communication mechanisms utilized by different levels of the campus.
In addition, print communication such as BOR minutes and directives, WNMU Catalog, View Book, specialized reports (e.g., reports on travel and purchasing violations, survey compilations, adjunct salaries, workloads, etc.), Mustang Express, Facebook, Blackboard Vista (the learning management system for online course delivery), WIKI pages, and the WNMU website also serve as communication devices.
For more than a decade, WNMU worked to build a culture based on CQI. Two employees served as MBNQA Examiners, one continues to serve as an alumni examiner. A dozen or so employees serve as examiners for Quality New Mexico with some also serving as team chairs or editors for the examination process.
The rigor of the SPP, and implementation of the Communications Tree to more precisely define its functions and to support participation across the campus, also speak to WNMU’s quality based improvement efforts. In addition, all AQIP teams receive a facilitated orientation session during which they develop an Action Project charter and time line for the activities of the team.
The institution is working to be where it needs to be in communicating a truly shared vision; however, development of an institutional scorecard (WNMU by the Numbers), and divisional operating plans and a budget tied directly to strategic objectives represent more conscious efforts to connect the dots in making such linkages. Experience in leading in a quality environment, more effective communication vehicles, and growing acknowledgement that CQI is here to stay are making a difference at Western New Mexico University.
Increasingly SPP, operational plans, all University convocation and meetings, and conscious efforts to align and link day-to-day activities with mission, vision, values, and high performance expectations are a part of what leaders on the WNMU campus use to communicate with others. Conversations regarding “Leading and Communicating” identified several ways WNMU leaders communicate the culture:
∙ Encouraging people to share their ideas by asking for input
∙ Being accessible
∙ Expecting a “teamwork” attitude
∙ Actively serving as AQIP Action Project champions
∙ Rolling up our sleeves and doing whatever needs to be done to complete the task at hand
Additional examples appear in other sections of Category 5.
In addition to the different practices and processes discussed in earlier items for this Criterion, professional development activities are key to the institution’s efforts to strengthen leadership abilities at all levels. At the executive level, this involves attending AASCU presidential or vice-presidential symposiums/workshops or others sponsored by NACUBO, American Council on Education (ACE), HLC, AQIP, and similar organizations.
On-campus professional development opportunities and general encouragement and support for faculty, staff, and students to assume leadership roles in their professional organizations and to bring their respective professional meetings to campus provide other ways WNMU encourages campus leadership development.
Examples of how sharing of leadership development and abilities occurs include the all University assessment conference that was an outgrowth of an AAHE/HLC assessment workshop; identification of consultants and speakers for University presentations that occurred through AQIP and QNM activities; presentations at AC on key learnings from professional conferences; faculty/staff co-chairs for AQIP teams; and training support for people who wish to become quality examiners at the state or national levels. Sharing of knowledge occurs informally through brown bag lunch meetings, reports at standing meetings, professional development programs, mini-workshops made available on campus, committee activities, and statewide meetings of peer leaders.
A formal knowledge management system is not in place, although steps are being taken with the creation of the WNMU Resource Room, an electronic document storehouse that includes a variety of items including minutes of key meetings, reports of accrediting bodies, strategic and operational plans, and other information. The Resource Room is accessible via the WNMU website.
The leadership succession process at the executive level is ultimately determined by the Board of Regents following state guidelines. President John Counts took office in 1993 and will finish his term in June, 2011. Succession planning by the WNMU President and BOR is underway.
In the absence of the President, the P/VPAA is first to serve in this capacity; the VPBA serves in the P/VPAA’s absence; the VPSCA in the VPBA’s absence; and the VPIA in the VPSCA’s absence. The time and distances to travel to meetings in the state and the limited number on Western’s executive team means that in any given year all these individuals will have the opportunity to be responsible in the president’s absence. The same on-the-job experience is available to the various associate VPs when the VPs are off campus.
At the academic department level, leaders are chosen for three-year terms by the faculty and approved by the president; therefore, only general leadership support can be provided prior to their selection. The P/VPAA holds special training sessions for new department chairs/deans and mentors them throughout their service in that role. Operational Plans for Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Business Affairs, and Institutional Advancement are linked to the WNMU Strategic Plan, ensuring that the mission, vision, and core values are passed on during leadership succession; furthermore, all in the succession line participate in the SPP. Giving hiring/promotion preference to internal candidates also enhances continuity in mission, vision, and core values, as does sharing the mission, vision, and values with potential faculty and staff during the interview and orientation processes.
The VPs work with their managers to provide appropriate professional development opportunities, and all VPs, deans, directors, and chairs serve as mentors for the staff or faculty in their units. As part of the annual evaluation process, both strengths and challenges are identified and a growth plan is created. Individuals showing promise are identified and provided development activities to nurture that promise. Career progression within the faculty ranks is built into the tenure and promotion process. A faculty member with a desire to be chair is mentored by a current chair and urged to place his or her name in contention for the position when elections take place within the academic departments. A dean or chair interested in a higher administrative position is mentored by the VP. All position vacancies are posted on the Web page and electronic copies are circulated campus-wide via the faculty and staff email distribution lists. Internal candidates are urged to apply.
The SPP yields key measures, including those related to leading and communicating, that WNMU uses for monitoring improvement in its leadership, instructional, and communication systems. They include feedback from employee and student surveys on communication effectiveness, leadership development funding, satisfaction with department or unit supervisors/managers, alumni and community surveys, and direct involvement in CQI activities, including AQIP Action Projects.
Leadership efforts related to measures of social responsibility exist throughout the SP. WNMU Reportable Audit Findings, for example, reflect financial leadership measures. Likewise, in the detailed and complicated area of financial aid, no financial aid audit findings exist for over ten years. WNMU’s strong accreditation performance, which includes measures of ethical behavior and stakeholder trust, speaks directly to leadership results. Other compliance audits, including NCAA, as well as graduating senior survey results over the past eight years, reflect leadership’s efforts.
A very limited number of comparative results exist beyond those made available in the annual CUP report.
Recent improvements in leading and communicating are driven by, and are the result of, a mature and effective strategic planning process. Leadership performance measures are linked to the WNMU Strategic Plan through all divisional operational plans, and strategic priorities, identified in the SPP by team members representing every stakeholder group on campus, are made system-wide priorities. Continued development of the organizational scorecard, “WNMU by the Numbers,” will further formalize a systematic and comprehensive process for measuring improvement and gaps in leading and communicating.
Selection of specific processes for improved performance results in leading and communicating can happen in both formal and informal ways. The SPP provides a structured and systematic approach for identifying specific processes to improve, although the detailed approaches to improvement, with associated, specific targets, are defined at the divisional operation planning level. In a less formal way, WNMU’s culture of highly accessible leadership provides continuous opportunities for “as needed” identification of gaps and, more importantly, generous latitude for deans, chairs, directors, and managers make these decisions and set targets. Vice Presidents typically require action item follow-up at meetings with their direct reports, as well as annual documentation on progress toward identified targets.
PO Box 680 Silver City, NM 88062
Phone: 575-538-6149 Fax: 575-538-6243