Annual Communicatiaon Report 2002

September 11, 2002

1) In the past year, what have you accomplished on this Action Project? What is its current status?

After identifying the primary concerns of staff, faculty and students, the committee chose to focus on student communication needs during its first year. Committee members with the assistance of the Institutional Research conducted a focus group session with students in addition to utilizing input from various campus constituencies. After a time of research, deliberation, and reflection, the Communication Teams' efforts were concentrated toward creation of an "Information Station" to serve as a centralized provider of information for all University constituents (but especially for students). The recommendation was reviewed by the Executive Council and approved for implementation. The Committee asked that the station be operative for fall and took on establishing a temporary station for a three-week trial period during the month of August when student registration was at its highest. The committee agreed to train a temporary staff, establish a location, and acquire the necessary equipment. During the data collection phase, information was gathered from campus departments identifying the most frequently asked questions and appropriate answers for them. The Information Station was staffed by three individuals with lunch hours and end-of-day shifts taken by committee members who volunteered their time during the three-week period. Satisfaction surveys on the Information Station were distributed campus-wide and the committee will review their results as well as information gathered during the stations' trial run.

2) How did you involve people in your institution in your work on this Action Project?

a) Campus departments provided a list of most-frequently asked questions (and the appropriate answers in most cases) which were then utilized at the Information Station

b) A number of departments and individuals contributed equipment, signs, materials and assistance in setting up the Station.

c) We enlisted the support of the University's Executive Council for the creation of the Information Station by communicating to them the progress of our recommendation.

d) Regular reports were provided at Faculty and Staff Assemblies.

e) Minutes of meetings are available on the WNMU AQIP page.

f) A section on AQIP opportunities and activities was included in New Faculty orientation sessions.

3) What are your planned next steps on this Action Project?

a) The Committee will continue to refine the design of the Information Station, lobby for the implementation of a permanent information station, and utilize the information gathered during the pilot for its future recommendations. We remain focused on how to decrease the "run around" that students often face.

b) The Committee's focus this year begins with examination of the data gathered from faculty and staff to identify key processes that will support faculty and staff needs, to design appropriate strategies that address these concerns, and to collect information essential to support the design of improved communication processes for faculty and staff.

c) Continue working with the Noel-Levitz data to better meet the communication needs of our students. While we are still considerably below the national group means in the items we identified as related to communication, we did make progress over the past year when comparing 2001 and 2002 WNMU survey data. Improved satisfaction ranged from 4.36% to 10.21% higher than the previous year. This resulted in a range of decrease in the performance gap of 16% to 27%, with the least improvement occurring in students getting the "run around" and the highest in "know what's happening on campus".

d) Local items designed by the team were included in the Noel-Levitz survey and we will continue to monitor those over time.


4) Has your work on this Project resulted in an "effective practice" of which you are proud and that we could share with the broader higher education community? If so, describe the practice.

We can't say yet that it has resulted in an "effective practice". We do think, however, that the trial run with the Information Station was a real success.

5) What challenges or problems, if any, are you still facing with regard to this Action Project?

The Information Station was operational only temporarily. The challenge is to convince the University decision makers that the recommendation to dedicate the resources necessary to support a permanent and high profile information office (of which the Information Station could be a part) would result in minimizing the frustrating experiences many students suffer in trying to secure information from University personnel and faculty.

Another critical challenge will be to hone in on appropriate strategies for effectively dealing with staff and faculty communication needs. However, just as the Information Station emerged from the discussions last fall, we anticipate similar opportunities will emerge in the faculty and staff areas as well.