CURRENT STUDENTS | FUTURE STUDENTS | FACULTY/STAFF | A-Z
|AQIP Systems Portfolio 2009|
CATEGORY 4: VALUING PEOPLE
VPs are responsible for working with their units to identify needed characteristics and skills of personnel. For example, the P/VPAA converses with the unit heads about the needs of the department, reviews university strategic goals and other personnel in place based on Chair Council discussions, determines if additional requirements are needed, and asks that a job description be created which embodies these needs. The unit director, dean, or chair usually requests feedback from the people in the department on the job description. The results of program reviews, which consider the number of faculty, number of majors, job prospects of graduates, and other indicators of prospective student interest in the program, help in identifying academic needs.
Assurance of appropriate certification or licensure is carried out at the department or unit level in compliance with state regulations, accreditation requirements, and local program initiatives. Certifications or licenses are verified as current during annual evaluations and program reviews. Where appropriate, employees are supported in formal programs leading to advanced degrees or credentials. Currently, 70% of the faculty hold terminal degrees.
Faculty rank is determined at the time of hire: previous fulltime teaching service with the rank of Instructor or higher in other institutions of higher learning may be negotiated for credit toward tenure at the time of initial appointment.
The BOR Manual states: “When the position of President becomes or is about to become vacant, the Regents conduct a search for qualified candidates for the Presidency. The Board is guided in this effort by ethical and affirmative action principles and procedures and may be aided by an advisory search committee which it appoints. The Board has the sole responsibility for appointing a President of the University [p. 53], although it must operate within State of New Mexico guidelines while conducting the search. Otherwise, the process for hiring administrators is no different than that for exempt staff.
Once credentials, skills, and values are defined for each job description, the faculty, exempt staff, and non-exempt staff hiring processes ensure that only applicants that meet the job requirements are considered for any candidate pool. Initial screening for required credentials, skills, and supporting documentation of both (such as transcripts, letters of reference, and resume or curriculum vita) is done by the Human Resources Office. Further scrutiny is applied to candidates through the screening committee process, which includes a thorough review of approved applications and telephone reference checks. Each screening committee member completes a grid for capturing key information (credentials, skills, and experience) on every candidate; this rubric serves as mechanism for the hiring supervisor in determining which candidates to interview.
Telephone and on-site interviews provide the hiring supervisor and others within the organization to determine whether or not the candidate possesses required values. For example, an interview question commonly put to individuals applying for faculty positions is “How do you feel about working at an open enrollment university?” The on-site interview is especially important for candidates from outside the Silver City region; because WNMU is located in and serves a geographically remote area, it is vital to both inform the candidates of this and to get a sense of potential employees’ comfort levels with living and working in a community that is more than 100 miles away from basic urban amenities.
Management level, administrative, and faculty candidates invited to interview on-site generally participate in open forums. All university employees are encouraged to attend these events and to ask questions of the applicants. An Open Forum Evaluation Form is provided to all staff and faculty members; this feedback mechanism includes a rating system for skills and characteristics, as well as a narrative response section for answering the questions “Can do? Will do? Appropriate fit?” This process enables direct interaction with candidates where skills and values become more apparent and where diverse processing and problem solving skills can be explored. The open forum also affords faculty and staff an opportunity for input via the evaluation form. Evaluations are collected after the forum by a member of the screening committee, then taken back to the hiring supervisor for review.
Faculty advertisements are placed in The Chronicle of Higher Education and other appropriate professional journals, local and state newspapers, sent to other colleges and universities, and Web sites. Staff positions may be advertised nationally, regionally, statewide, or locally depending on the type of position, the level of training and experience required, and available applicant pools. As detailed in 4P1, applications are reviewed by Human Resources to ensure applicants meet posted minimum job qualifications. All screening or search committees receive an AA/EEO orientation before reviewing any files to select the candidates for interviews and reference checks. When the candidates come to interview, there is usually an open campus forum in addition to interviews by the search committee, the hiring supervisor, and the colleagues with whom they will work.
Many staff searches initiate internally to encourage personnel development and provide promotion opportunities. WNMU has a strong Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity (AA/EEO) policy, which is formally reviewed by every new employee, and by every search committee on campus before applications can be examined. The recruiting and hiring policies are available in the WNMU Policies and Procedure Manual.
To ensure that job skills are current and equitably distributed among departments and campuses, an analysis is conducted as a part of each year’s budget-building process. For example, the Chairs Council prioritizes needs for new faculty positions or to fill vacant positions. Academic Council hears unit budget presentations at a public meeting. The Faculty Senate Budget committee, president of Staff and Faculty Senates, the VPs, and the President participate in a budget session each spring to develop University-wide priorities. Planning for changes also occurs in the Strategic Planning cycle. For example, the need for a Director of First Year Experience was identified as a strategic priority in 2008, and was thus funded for 2009, in spite of significant budget constraints. This key position will be filled in November, 2009.
A significant recruitment and retention tool is Western New Mexico University’s competitive benefits package. Regular full-time employees receive 8 hours per month (96 hours per year) for annual leave and earn sick leave at a rate of 12 hours per month (144 hours per year). Regular part-time employees receive pro-rated benefits based upon hours hired to work each week. Paid holidays are declared and scheduled by the President of the University in conjunction with Human Resources, and include: Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Holiday, Winter Holiday, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, Spring Break, and Good Friday. The President has the authority to designate additional holidays at his discretion. WNMU also offers a choice of health benefit plans, and a tuition waiver for all regular employees. The tuition waiver supports the institution’s practice of promoting from within; nearly 50% of the administrative staff earned a baccalaureate degree or higher from WNMU.
WNMU’s history, mission, and values are made available to all employees through the University’s web site. The Mission Statement is framed and displayed in most campus buildings, as well. The institution’s history is included in every issue of the WNMU Catalog and is featured prominently in newspaper articles and other publications. For example, the School of Education celebrated its 115th anniversary in 2008. This event was marked with a much-publicized and well attended reception. The WNMU Museum, which is housed in the oldest surviving building on campus, owns and displays extensive information on WNMU’s history, as does J. Cloyd Miller Library. All employees have access to this information and are kept informed via campus email of programs, presentations, and publications related to the University’s long history.
New faculty members receive a comprehensive orientation to the campus that includes an introduction to the WNMU Mission and vision, an overview of the AQIP accreditation process, a review of the MBO process, and discussion of key policies. They are also encouraged to be active on AQIP Action Project and WIN Teams, and in shared governance. Department chairs mentor new faculty during their initial contract. Adjunct faculty receive an orientation by the department chair who hired them. Departments which have a larger number of adjunct faculty have a more formal orientation; for example, English adjuncts are included in ongoing department activities such as scoring Freshman composition exit exams.
New staff members attend an orientation sponsored by the Staff Senate. Each new employee is briefed by Staff Senate leaders and other personnel on University policies, website, resources, organization chart, quality initiatives, purchasing procedures, and ombuds services. A staff mentor is assigned for a period of one year; this person is required to check in with the new employee on a weekly basis, to be available to answer questions, and to assist the new staff member with navigating the organization. Orientees are also afforded the opportunity to participate in a question and answer session regarding policies and benefits, and to complete an orientation evaluation at the close of the program.
To ensure that job skills are current and equitably distributed among departments and campuses, an analysis is conducted as a part of each year’s budget-building process. For example, the Chairs Council prioritizes needs for new faculty positions or to fill vacant positions. Academic Council hears unit budget presentations at a public meeting. The Faculty Senate Budget committee, president of Staff and Faculty Senates, the VPs, and the President participate in a budget session each spring, based on strategic priorities. Planning for changes occurs in the annual review cycle and can include reorganization as well as new hires. For example, the P/VPAA reviews with chairs/deans the results of employee performance evaluations. If necessary a performance improvement plan is developed for employees not performing at expected levels. At the same time, the P/VPAA also reviews any potential retirements that may occur at the end of the current AY.
Another mechanism for planning changes in personnel is the strategic planning process; recommendations from AQIP Action Projects are carried forward by the team Co-Chairs, who also serve on the Strategic Planning Team. Examples of key positions created from AQIP recommendations include the Director of Data Analysis & Research (Measurement Team, which is now retired) and the Director of the First Year Experience (First Year Experience, formerly Foundations of ExcellenceÒ, Team, which is active).
Work processes are generally designed by the process owner or owners, either informally or through structured efforts such as AQIP Action Project Teams or technology training sessions. Being a small institution with “a shallow bench,” employees are generally given the latitude to design and improve work processes within their areas. When a multi-office or campus-wide work process needs to be created or improved, a more formal structure is employed, usually at the request of leadership. For example, the Customer Service Improvement Action Project Team addresses student admissions, registration, and payment processes to improve not only services to our students but to create more efficient work systems for the staff. Improvements supported by this Team, such as acquisition of TouchNet for electronic billing and financial aid disbursement, will improve the work environment for many offices, particularly during registration “crunch times.”
In addition to emphasizing WNMU’s core values, ethical issues are approached systematically within the University through a variety of policies and processes specified in various documents available on the Web and in hard copy: the BOR Manual, Faculty, Staff, and Student Handbooks, Affirmative Action Plan (AAP), WNMU Policies and Procedures Manual, and the WNMU Catalog. The BOR approves changes to the Faculty, Staff and Student Handbooks which describe the legal, ethical, and moral expectations of WNMU students and employees, and appropriate grievance processes. Furthermore, faculty and staff governance are working together to create a university-wide Ethics Committee. Representatives from both groups are currently being identified by both Faculty and Staff Senate Presidents.
Senior leaders are charged with maintaining an ethical environment and encouraging exemplary legal and ethical behavior. The leadership team has a “zero tolerance” policy when dealing with ethical/legal indiscretions. Mandatory training for mangers at all levels on legal/ethical issues occurs regularly through the state’s risk management offices and through internally generated opportunities, such as the online Sexual Harassment awareness training currently being launched by the Human Resources Department .
Various methods are used to determine training needs including comparing strategic plans to objectives and against needed skill sets; defining critical areas of change; individual determination based on self assessment or performance evaluation assessment; professional licensure considerations; special institutional initiatives, such as assessment, advising, technology, or customer service; new programmatic initiatives; responses to various stakeholder surveys; government regulations; risk management initiatives; software revisions; academic discipline advances; and national or state trends in training.
Two priorities exist related to resources for training and education: (1) alignment with strategic objectives and challenges; and (2) development of skills/knowledge that assist faculty and staff to stay at the edge of knowledge/practice in their area of expertise. Involving faculty and staff in training and education provides a rich example to students about the importance of lifelong learning and adds to the employee’s ability to share new skills/knowledge with WNMU students.
WNMU is small enough that alignment of work processes is fairly clear. Employees regularly interact and often serve on cross-functional teams with members of other work units. Frequently innovation results from and is supported by these team interactions, such as in the case of the Customer Services Improvement Action Project Team. In the academic arena, faculty are encouraged through the performance evaluation process, sabbatical leave, and internal grants to develop and utilize innovative methods to support student learning.
Examples that focus on helping students learn include advisor training, which grew out of survey data and anecdotal evidence into an AQIP Action Project, assessment training that grew out of accreditation mandates and 4MAT, and Blackboard training that developed to support the needs of faculty who were interested in better understanding of new approaches to teaching and learning. Participation in the AQIP accreditation process is another way we build a culture of learning; the process itself reinforces the use of new knowledge and skills. For example, feedback from the AQIP 2007 Quality Checkup indicated that WNMU was lacking in an external and internal sense of identity, or a “brand.” In response to that feedback, WNMU hired a public relations firm to conduct a regional public opinion survey in 2008, and to create the institution’s Marketing & Controls Plan.
The faculty promotion and tenure review process reinforces new knowledge and skills as do the annual performance reviews for faculty and staff. Progressive development of knowledge and skill is required for satisfactory job performance and for career advancement. Knowledge and skills gained are reinforced: when an advisor receives training and uses that training in the next orientation, there is immediate feedback in the orientation evaluation. If the evaluation reveals another training need, it is immediately addressed. The cycle continues; when new skills or knowledge development is a part of a formal performance improvement process, monitoring occurs to ensure that defined milestones are met.
Professional development activities are key to the institution’s efforts to strengthen leadership abilities at all levels, and to develop or enhance skills needed to be successful on the job. 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 for faculty and staff include the following:
· Defensive driver or safety training provided as part of risk management and maintenance activities
· Mandated training from external sources such as diversity training or employee supervision training from the NM Risk Management organization
· Training offered in conjunction with other organizations in the community, such as first aid training and CPR
· Diversity or sensitivity training facilitated by different campus offices such as Multicultural Affairs or Athletics
· Advisor training open to faculty, coaches, secretaries and other staff; employees interested in this are also invited to select particular topics of interest
· Training to support CQI activities, including just-in-time briefings on team dynamics and facilitation; quality tools are taught by example
· QNM and Baldrige examiner training
· Teleconference workshops when sufficient interest is identified or the topic supports strategic initiatives
· Blackboard-Vista and online course development training for faculty
· Instructional technology training (ITV, Smart boards) for faculty, staff, students and offsite ITV course facilitators
A formal Professional Development program is also being developed by the AQIP People First Action Project Team. In September, 2009 an online survey was sent to all WNMU employees requesting feedback on a number of proposed topics: this feedback will be used to design this academic year’s professional development program.
Student worker training is largely dependent on the unit in which the student works; for example, student workers employed in Maintenance receive training with a strong emphasis on safety, while students employed at Miller Library receive customer-service-focused training with a focus on technology and, in most cases, Library of Congress Classification. A general handbook for students is available on the WNMU website and outlines services, procedures, and governance.
The current faculty evaluation system (a Management by Objectives or MBO process) supports high performance work by focusing on five key areas: teaching, advising, scholarly and creative activity, professional contributions, and personal relationships. Teaching (which must account for between 40 to 60 percent of the evaluation and time commitment) and advising (all components other than teaching must count for at least 5 percent of the evaluation) serve students who are our primary stakeholders. The research/creative activity and professional contributions areas go beyond helping student learn to also serve internal and external local, regional, and national stakeholder interests and help ensure currency in credentials and programming. The personal relationships area focuses on internal faculty and staff interests.
Staff are supposedly evaluated at least once a year. The process includes a self-evaluation followed by a supervisor evaluation. The staff member and the supervisor discuss both evaluations in a joint meeting and come to a consensus on strengths and challenges as well as on goals for the coming year. Action plans and training needed to accomplish those goals and procedures for assessing the extent to which the goals are met are discussed. This process contributes to the understanding of overall University goals, and unit goals that derive from them, and involves the individual staff in action plan accomplishment. In Student Affairs, for example, most of the unit goals are focused on meeting the needs of students and other stakeholders. In some cases, however, staff performance evaluations are not regularly administered. The People First Team identified in its September, 2009 AQIP annual action project update to review and revise the employee performance evaluation process for staff so that it is consistently used across campus and learning centers.
While compensation is tied only indirectly to performance, recognition of outstanding performance of individuals is noted in a number of ways. Recognition for faculty includes awards for outstanding teaching, outstanding professional service, outstanding research; and a student award for the “Teacher of the Year.” The Staff Senate Awards & Recognition Committee collects nominations for and selects an “Employee of the Month” and, from this pool, a staff “Employee of the Year.” Nominations for Staff Employee of the Month must address specific criteria including collaboration, respect for WNMU’s diversity, and demonstrated professional growth. During the 2008-09 academic year, employees involved in the University’s early efforts at web-based teaching and course design were recognized in a ceremony as “Online Pioneers.” In spring, 2009, the Provost/VPAA held the first annual “Online Academy Awards,” recognizing outstanding web-based teaching. Faculty and staff are also recognized through extensions of holiday periods in recognition of all employees’ efforts related to quality improvement and AQIP activities.
Employees may use a tuition waiver to take classes during working hours. Time off with pay can be granted whether the class is being paid for by the individual or the university. All courses taken during working hours must be approved by the supervisor and appropriate VP. The VPs and Directors ensure that non-exempt employee hours do not exceed 40 hours per week between work and time in class. Employee health is encouraged by access to wellness facilities such as a weight room, a swimming pool, racquetball and tennis courts, circuit training, and a track.
Faculty and staff are motivated to develop and use their full potential as part of developing a culture of assessment and quality. Determination of key issues related to motivation may be done formally, such as through the environmental scans (SWOT analyses) regularly conducted in the SPP, or informally, such as day-to-day conversations between employees and supervisors. Courses of action are selected based on the employee’s needs, and are often centered around improving communications throughout the organization, and making more professional development opportunities available. Improvements in communications have occurred through practices such as the strategic planning Communication Tree structure, increased use of technology (e.g. Mustang Express for surveys and announcements), face-to-face visits to all departments by the University President, and regularly scheduled “Office Hours” with the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs and “Coffee with the School of Education Dean.” Mechanisms used to help faculty and staff attain desired development include: tuition waivers; faculty and staff awards; professional travel and conference attendance; on-campus development programs; encouragement and resources to teach in a variety of delivery formats; support for faculty and staff to achieve advanced degrees; opportunities for faculty and staff to participate in their respective governance; and encouragement for all employees to do scholarly, creative, and/or public service work in the community.
Annually, the Faculty Senate hosts a retreat on a topic of faculty interest. The School of Education holds an annual retreat to discuss issues and policies within the School. The P/VPAA has an annual retreat for the Chairs Council on topics of academic concern; discussion and group work at the fall 2009 Chairs’ Retreat focused on the SP, specifically Category 1. Classroom visitations by department chairs and student evaluations of faculty provide opportunities for motivation and discussion regarding both strengths and weaknesses identified therein. Intervention strategies and development plans are part of the follow-up to such learnings.
The faculty promotion and tenure process with its annual feedback mechanism helps faculty set realistic goals that further departmental and institutional goals and work toward their achievement. Performance reviews do the same for staff.
As detailed in 4P11 and 4P12, WNMU has in place a number of mechanisms to provide for employee satisfaction. The two major channels used to determine the factors that affect faculty and staff well-being, satisfaction, and motivation are the strategic planning process and feedback from faculty and staff governance activities.
Employee concerns are also captured, assessed, and acted upon by utilizing the forums and tools mentioned above. For example, the SPP annual SWOT analysis provides leadership with organizational weaknesses and outside threats upon which the University’s strategic challenges are based. Feedback from employee surveys and performance evaluations also provide leadership with a clear picture of where there are gaps in satisfaction. Most recently, when the scope of the economic crisis in New Mexico, and the impact it will continue to have on the institution’s budget, became clear, the President scheduled face-to-face meetings with every department or office on campus to assure employees that their jobs were not in jeopardy. This affirmation directly addressed employee safety and well-being, and stopped potential panic before it could start. In a related effort, an H1N1 Response Plan was developed by the P/VPAA at the beginning of this academic year and distributed campus-wide. Both initiatives represent immediate response by WNMU leadership to critical issues of concern for all employees.
The SPP provides leadership with regular feedback through the SWOT analysis, and this includes strengths and weaknesses related to valuing people. In addition to environmental scans conducted at the institutional level, some departments and offices are also conducting strategic planning, beginning with their own SWOT analyses. Most recently, the Maintenance Department, consisting of skilled craft staff, groundskeepers and custodians, began strategic planning specifically to address their concerns about not feeling valued as employees. While this process is still underway, the prioritization of weaknesses and threats revealed a clear need for improved communications, both within the department and with other departments and offices on campus. Since most of the Maintenance employees did not have convenient access to computers, and many had received no training in accessing Mustang Express to read email or view announcements, the Director had IT install extra workstations in the Physical Plant break room and Mustang Express training was provided to the department by the Webmaster.
The faculty evaluation of administration is administered annually and analyzed by WNMU leaders. Other measures include employee satisfaction surveys (generally conducted every two years at Assessment Convocation and compiled by an outside entity), annual employee turnover, and yearly number of grievances filed by faculty and staff.
At a recent Strategic Planning session, Team members had a conversation about why we are at WNMU. This group includes students as well as faculty, staff, and administrators. The overall consensus was framed in a baseball metaphor: we like it here because the bench at WNMU is shallow and we all get to be starters (and maybe even our own coach, manager & umpire)!
Below are responses from each of the SPP participants:
Graduating Senior Survey results provide a comprehensive snapshot of faculty, staff, and administrator effectiveness in WNMU’s ability to support preeminence of teaching. Since 2003, or graduating seniors have expressed satisfaction levels of 90% or better with their college experience at WNMU. Accreditation and licensure results provided in Category 1 also speak to faculty effectiveness.
Other evidence of effectiveness includes:
All of these address challenges and goals identified in the Institutional strategic plan, as well as the aligned, divisional strategic plans outlined for Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Business Affairs, and Institutional Advancement. On the department level, Valuing People is the driving force behind strategic planning for Human Resources/Payroll, and for Maintenance, which began its SPP in August, 2009 and is currently in the process of identifying strategies to improve communications, build a stronger team, and increase productivity.
Comparisons are more difficult in this area because WNMU uses local instruments for employee satisfaction and faculty and course evaluations by students; however, other information does exist. The annual Council of University Presidents’ Performance Effectiveness Report of New Mexico Universities provides statewide comparisons related to workforce diversity: WNMU has the highest percentage of full-time female faculty and the second highest percentage of full-time Hispanic faculty in the state. Additional attention to gathering appropriate and useful comparative workforce data related to valuing people needs to occur.
The AQIP People First Team, in an effort to demonstrate WNMU’s commitment to valuing people before they are hired, spent the past year reviewing and revising the hiring procedures for faculty, exempt staff, and non-exempt staff. The goal was to make these processes more efficient in terms of time and cost. The revised faculty and staff hiring processes were piloted during the spring and summer of 2009; feedback was gathered from all employees at the University’s annual Assessment Convocation, as well as from new hires at both faculty and staff orientations in the fall of 2009, and from employees who served on the pilot screening committees. The Team is in the process of reviewing and incorporating this feedback, and will finish this second round of revisions during the fall semester.
In another recent improvement, the New Staff Orientation process was designed and launched in December, 2008. This revised format includes a New Staff Mentor Program that was developed and implemented in conjunction with the WNMU Staff Senate. This program partners a “seasoned” staff employee with demonstrated leadership qualities and a positive attitude with a new hire for a period of one year. Mentors are trained and are expected to check in with new staff at least once a week, and to answer promptly all email and telephone questions posed by the new employees. Feedback from the “pilot” new orientation program was helpful and allowed staff presenters to address problem areas, including not scheduling future orientations during final exams week. Performance results for both sessions are encouraging, with most attendees determining that the program was very helpful (Figure 4I1.1). The fall, 2009 New Staff Orientation will be held in November.
The SPP provides the central framework for selecting processes for improved performance results, and the WNMU Strategic Plan specifically targets improvements in Valuing People:
Strategic Challenge 3: Improve and sustain the welfare, morale, and work effectiveness of all WNMU employees.
Strategy 3.1 Create an environment that supports faculty and staff dedication to WNMU’s mission, vision and values.
Strategy 3.2 Nurture and celebrate diversity throughout WNMU campuses and their respective communities.
Strategy 3.3 Systematically review staff and faculty/adjunct classifications, salaries, and benefits against relevant benchmarks and make necessary adjustments as possible.
Strategy 3.4 Increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the recruitment, screening, and hiring processes.
Strategy 3.5 Implement and maintain a Human Resource Plan that addresses needs for and skills of current and future employees.
Strategy 3.6 Maintain a consistent and systematic employee orientation.
Strategy 3.7 Develop and implement cross-training programs that support continuity of services in University operations
Strategy 3.8 Initiate a defined professional development and training process for staff and faculty.
Strategy 3.9 Use effective and inclusive communication strategies and processes.
Selection of processes for improvement also comes through Human Resources/Payroll department-level strategic planning, through state and federal regulations and laws, and through the AQIP People First Action Project Team. Setting targets for the People First Team is largely done through defining and adhering to action item completion deadlines, such as those submitted to the Higher Learning Commission in annual Action Project Updates. The HR/Payroll strategic planning process identifies targets based on urgency (changing legal and regulatory requirements), other deadlines (contracts, upcoming orientations), and availability of resources. Target setting at the institutional level is in the process of being formalized through development of the institutional scorecard, WNMU by the Numbers.
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