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Strategic Plan, Self-study and HLC Visiting Team Recommendations Document

TO:              Members of the University Planning Group

FROM:         Nicholas R. Santilli, Ph.D.
                    Director of Planning and Assessment

DATE:           January 18, 2005

At our October meeting, it was suggested I draft a document containing the major recommendations from our institutional self- study and the HLC visiting team report.  I also included materials from the JCU Strategic Plan in the document.  Here is the first draft of this document.  The recommendations are categorized by our institutional goals and the source of the recommendation, namely the HLC Self-study, HLC visiting team report, and the JCU Strategic Plan.

In preparation for our discussion, please review the document with these points in mind:

Identify the recommendations that are more strategic from tactical;

Prioritize the strategic recommendations under each goal as either of high, moderate, or low importance; and

Suggestions for strategies to accomplish strategic initiatives.

The purpose of this activity is to establish a set of strategic initiatives for follow-up by the implementation committees of the UPG.  Recommendations judged not to be strategic or under the purview of the UPG will be forwarded to the responsible institutional unit(s).


University Planning Group

Strategic Plan, Self-study and HLC Visiting Team Recommendations

January 18, 2005


Goal 1:  To ensure the Catholic and Jesuit nature of the university

 Self Study:

The future of the Jesuit component at John Carroll University is at best problematic as the number of Jesuits declines and their average age increases.  The University should develop more fully the strategies and tactics that are needed to sustain the Jesuit tradition.

In-depth analysis is necessary to identify the particular application of Catholicism at John Carroll University.  The University should strive to develop a governing consciousness that encourages plurality and diversity as an expression of our Catholicism. (Page 15)

Continuing emphasis on the understanding and application of the University Mission, as embodied above all in the Jesuit and Catholic tradition.  The role of the Mission as it relates to student development needs to be clarified.  John Carroll must also develop a theological and educational policy that encourages plurality and diversity as an expression of its religious heritage.  This reflects Goal 4 in the Strategic Plan.

Strategic Plan:

Assess and enhance current programs at JCU and with other Jesuit schools and organizations.

Study ways in which our constituencies would be most receptive to learning about the Catholic and Jesuit nature of the JCU.

Assess and enhance faculty, student and staff orientations to the Catholic and Jesuit nature of the University.

Identify and assess additional ways to reinvigorate the Jesuit and Catholic nature of the University life.

Investigate ways for “Hiring for Mission” in a viable way consistent with academic freedom.

Encourage Jesuits to come to JCU.

Enhance the availability of Jesuit spirituality.

Investigate the complementary nature of the Jesuit and Catholic and identify viable ways, which might include visible reminders of the Catholic and Jesuit character of the University.


 

Goal 2:  To strengthen academic excellence

Self Study:

The University should make a stronger commitment to the assessment of student learning, beginning with a clear statement by senior leadership as to the purpose, rationale and need for outcomes assessment.

Enhanced commitment to the development and integration of the assessment of student learning outcomes.

Continuous development of the University’s infrastructure, including the application of technology to the curriculum and administrative operations.

The annual faculty evaluation process should be revamped in order to develop a better instrument and procedure.  Uniform teaching evaluation processes that yield credible, meaningful results should be developed by the faculty, especially for the College of Arts and Sciences.  A standardized template congruent with the Faculty Handbook for departmental standards and procedures on tenure and promotion should be promptly developed; then the academic deans and the Academic Vice President should approve departmental standards and procedures consistent with this template as soon as possible. Continued development and revision of teaching evaluation procedures, tenure and promotional policies, and the annual faculty evaluation process.

The University should continue its close monitoring of faculty salaries as they relate to those paid by peer institutions in the CUPA special studies and AAUP reports.  Faculty salaries should be a higher budget priority, so that the University continues to attract and retain the strongest possible instructors and fulfills the salary goals to which it remains committed. Close monitoring of faculty salaries as they relate to those paid by John Carroll’s peer institutions to ensure the retention and recruitment of the strongest faculty.

The University should make the role of the Office of Faculty Research, Faculty Grants and Faculty Development better understood as a resource for the entire campus community, not only the faculty.  It also should provide the office with the resources necessary to develop policies in crucial areas, e.g., intellectual property rights.

Visiting Team:

There is a need for systematic articulation of learning outcome goals and for a clear and comprehensive assessment program.  As the self-study states (p.44), learning outcomes at the institutional level have not been articulated.  While the University Core Committee has developed a program of assessment focusing on outcomes related to skills (e.g., writing, critical thinking, speaking, problem solving) and values or dispositions, it expects that assessment of content knowledge in disciplines that are included in the core will be conducted by academic departments.  It is not clear to what extent this content knowledge is being assessed and how the results of such assessment are being used.

Levels of assessment within majors and programs vary significantly with some departments having well-established assessment programs resulting in data that are analyzed and used to improve the academic programs, while other departments are at a beginning stage.  The University as a whole is still in the early stages of developing a systematic plan for assessing student-learning outcomes and for the implementation of this plan.  Many faculty members still require training in how to develop and implement assessment plans for their departments.  The University and its departments should be beyond the planning stage by now.

There is a need for centralized leadership in the area of assessment and for coordination and collaboration between assessment and the Office of Planning and Assessment.  There is a lack of coordination across divisions and departments, which appears to be due to the adoption of a decentralized approach rather than an integrated approach with a common language and understanding across the university.

Graduate students told the team that they need to have academic advisors who are available in the evenings when they are taking classes.  The students also expressed a desire to have other institutional services available in the evening, but the team agrees that academic advisors are essential.

Strategic Plan:

In collaboration with faculty and the entire university community:

Be competitive in recruiting excellent tenure-track faculty and increase support for faculty research.

Enhance the dedication and motivation of tenured and tenure-track faculty.

Foster student scholarship and learning.

Commit faculty, resources and fully equipped space for an interdisciplinary program in the visual/creative arts.

Investigate interdisciplinary courses and programs and the creation of learning communities.

Make John Carroll University a global community.

Create an endowed chair in every academic department.

Expand collaboration between JCU and cultural institutions for their mutual benefit.

Investigate/establish appropriate five year programs for undergraduate/graduate degrees.

Be competitive in Recruiting excellent Tenure-Track Faculty.

Foster student scholarship.

Increase the number of tenure-track and tenured faculty per student.

Become and remain technologically competitive with peer institutions.


 

Goal 3:  To enhance the university’s sense of community both internally and externally

Self Study:

The University needs to provide resources that will develop within the whole University community the attitudes, skills and values that are congruent with the school’s mission.

The University should work diligently to implement measures aimed at increasing the feeling of community on campus.  This reflects Goal 3 in the University’s Strategic Plan.

Ongoing implementation and monitoring of the Strategic Plan.

In consultation with the University Council, the administration should review how decisions affecting the wider University community are made, then communicated, evaluated, and administered.  The intent of this recommendation is to insure that all segments of the University have an appropriate voice in decisions that influence the life and mission of the University by establishing better structures of dialogue, communication, and accountability.

The University should encourage and support collaborative initiatives among divisions aimed at strengthening relationships among alumni/ae, prospective students, current students and the University itself, particularly in chapter cities.

The University should improve and coordinate communications to prospective undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and other members of the University community, alumni/ae, benefactors and community leaders whose opinions affect John Carroll’s destiny.

The University should be especially attentive to the opinions and attitudes of current students, both campus residents and commuters, with respect to how their college experience may influence their future relationship to John Carroll as alumni/ae.  (Page 36)

As reflected in the University’s Strategic Plan, the University should create a student center to enhance the sense of community on campus while forming a vibrant campus culture that complements the academic experience through an array of cultural, educational, social, and recreational programs

The renovation of the residence halls should regularly occupy a higher priority in the University’s annual budget.  (Page 61)

Communication within and outside the University, especially the process used for communicating decisions.  This relates to Goal 3 in the Strategic Plan as well as the work of the University Council.

In conjunction with the foregoing point, faculty and staff morale as it relates to the process of communication used by the administration; faculty involvement in academic decision making.

The administration and faculty should open a dialogue to identify and implement measures aimed at improving the effectiveness of the Faculty Forum.

Focus on perceived problems with faculty governance structures and the need to improve the role of the Faculty Forum.

Visiting Team:

The team acknowledges recent efforts by the president to improve communication and to reduce the strain between faculty and administration that was noted in the 1994’s team report.  Nonetheless, this team finds, as did the self-study (pp. 222-223), that the concerns cited in 1994 persist throughout the campus.  “Disconnect” was the word used by many faculty to describe the communication patterns and decision-making.  A number of faculty continue to resent the lack of faculty input on key personnel decisions several years ago and misperceptions abound regarding institutional policies and procedures.

Individual and group meetings with over 150 staff and lower-level administrators, the institution’s self-study (p. 24), and the results of a campus internal survey led the team to conclude that the University has a serious morale problem within these groups.  As in the case of the faculty, this situation appears to stem from inadequate communication from the higher administration, a lack of feedback provided to staff and lower-level administrators, a lack of understanding of personnel processes (and possibly some inadequate or inconsistently followed personnel processes), and a sense by many that their efforts are not appreciated by their supervisors and by the higher administration.

For increased educational effectiveness, the team recommends that attention be given to governance systems and processes for faculty, staff, and lower-level administrators.  The Faculty Forum is a body of the whole that represents the faculty’s formal role in institutional governance, but its record of effectiveness is episodic, its authority is limited to that of recommendations only, attendance is sporadic, and its leaders perceive that the administration does not support the Forum.  The Staff Service Committee is an active, representative, elected group of the support staff but, according to committee members, the University does not officially recognize it and it lacks an institutional role in governance.  The President stated that this perception is incorrect and provided evidence to support his position.  (This striking difference in perception may be related to the communication problem mentioned on page 12, 2.b. of this report).  Lower and mid-level administrators do not have any organization and they told the team that they feel that they have no role in institutional governance or decision-making.

Strategic Plan:

Establish a Committee for Community and provide ongoing support and encouragement from the highest University administrators.

Investigate how similar educational institutions deal with community on campus and in their relations with the outside community.

Survey faculty, staff and students to determine their views of the sense of community on campus and the factors that contribute to and detract from that sense.

Continue and expand current efforts to improve and share information throughout the campus through web-based directories, a web-based newspaper and a community calendar to promote interest and readership.

Heighten awareness that the form and wording of a communication have as much to do with how it is received as its content.

Develop ways for faculty, students, staff and administrators to share goals and strategies for teaching and learning on campus.

Forge inter-departmental connections to avoid isolation.

Evaluate the University’s standing as a just, diverse and open community and enhance those values.

Provide more communal space for interaction among the University community.

Find ways for the University community to affirm and celebrate the heritage of John Carroll.

Develop ways to interact with the immediate community and with adjacent communities.

Develop activities that enable students and faculty to work with the elderly, poor and newly emigrated in local communities.

Establish a vehicle for discussing university/community concerns.

Include a regular JCU segment in the University Heights cable program.

Include a University newsletter to the community in the University Heights monthly mailing to its residents


 

Goal 4:  To attract and support a more diverse university community

Self Study:

Admission priorities need to be ranked, and admission targets more clearly articulated.  This includes the recruiting of international students and students who are ethnically and culturally diverse, as reflected in the University’s Strategic Plan.  Long-range goals need to be defined by senior leadership in consultation with Enrollment Services and then clearly articulated to all those employed in Enrollment Services.

Development of human resources as they relate to hiring for Mission, institutional quality, policy issues, gender equity, and diversity.

Development of a more diverse campus culture, including attention to gender issues.  The ongoing plan to increase diversity and multiculturalism on campus is Goal 4 in the Strategic Plan.

A clear and sustained voice of authority must keep the commitment to diversity and multiculturalism before the collective consciousness of the University community.  The committee also recommends the scheduling of more activities among administrators, faculty and staff to develop a common language for discussing multicultural and diversity issues.  The coordination and evaluation of these activities will occur as part of the University’s planning process, specifically, through the work of the University Planning Group’s Goal 4 Subcommittee.

The University should study the facts and perceptions with respect to gender equity in decision-making and advancement at John Carroll and take action to address disparities where needed.  The University should strive especially to achieve gender parity in filling senior-level administrative and academic positions.  The Human Resources Department should assure gender equity in administrative and staff positions by addressing job title, position descriptions, and promotion policies along with compensation.  (Page 74)

Continuing emphasis on the understanding and application of the University Mission, as embodied above all in the Jesuit and Catholic tradition.  The role of the Mission as it relates to student development needs to be clarified.  John Carroll must also develop a theological and educational policy that encourages plurality and diversity as an expression of its religious heritage.  This reflects Goal 4 in the Strategic Plan

Visiting Team:

In keeping with the University’s mission, sustained attention is needed to strengthen diversity by attracting and retaining faculty, staff, and students of color.  Surprising to the team, minorities constitute a smaller percentage of staff employees than of the faculty.

The team concurs with the self-study (pp 70, 71) that the University should review the facts and perceptions with respect to gender equity in job advancement and in decision-making and that it should take action to address disparities where needed.  The team’s on-campus meetings suggest that there is substantial concern that women do not have equal status in decision-making and do not have as many opportunities for advancement as do men.  Concern was expressed about the fact that while 60.4% of the staff is female, only 31.5% of the higher administration is.  The percentage of women faculty members only increased from 29.3% to 34.4% during the past ten years (Fact Book 2003-2004, p. 68) and 49% of the women are instructors or assistant professors in comparison to 37% of the men (self-study, p. 127).

Based upon interviews, a tour of facilities, and an analysis of participation rates and budgets, the team believes that there are gender inequities in the athletic program.  In particular, attention is needed in the areas of the softball facilities, budget allocations to comparable men’s and women’s sports, and in the scheduling of practice times for men’s and women’s sports.

Strategic Plan:

Evaluate and improve current admission and financial aid procedures.

Evaluate and improve academic support systems in both advising and programming.

Evaluate the formation of “sister-university” relationships with HBCU’s and similar universities.

Evaluate the need for an African-American /Minority Studies program.

Evaluate the creation of a visiting scholars/distinguished lecturers program.

Evaluate and improve current procedures for new faculty, administrative, post-doctoral and staff hires.


 

Goal 5:  To increase the university’s revenues through philanthropy and similar means

Self Study:

Maintenance of fiscal stability and continuous efforts to organize and improve the University’s development and capital campaign strategies.

Continuous market research and increased University visibility as reflected in the need for an institutional marketing plan.  This reflects Goal 6 in the Strategic Plan.

The University periodically should conduct market research to assess opinions and attitudes about its mission and programs and to provide the basis for decisions about communication goals, strategy and plans.

 Visiting Team:

Given the many strengths of the University, a comprehensive marketing plan is needed to enhance the identity and to increase the visibility of John Carroll University.  As pointed out in the self-study (p. 32), name recognition outside of the area is low and undergraduate programs are better known than graduate programs.  Although JCU has a positive image, it is not well known as some other institutions that invest heavily in promotion.

 Strategic Plan:

Adopt an ongoing major gift fund raising strategy.

Revitalize the annual fund campaign.

Develop a University Marketing Plan.

Investigate way to change the University culture to welcome external partnerships with corporations and other organizations.

Expand the level of governmental and foundation support through grants and contracts.

Increase the level of endowment and maximize government support to continue to provide University-based grants and scholarships in order to reduce the University’s dependence on tuition.


 

GOAL 6: To Increase the University’s visibility and recognition

(The work of this goal was transferred to the University Marketing Steering Committee)

Strategic Plan:

Define the process and structure of organizational communications

Establish “brand-name” recognition for all printed and electronic communications of the University

Develop market research to address internal and external values and issues

Develop a University Marketing Plan

Expand the level of government and foundation support through grants and contract


 

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