Chapter 9 - Institutional Integrity and Effectiveness
The integrity and effectiveness of an institution are measured by the degree to which it achieves its mission and goals through the academic programs, co-curricular activities and collegial culture that it offers its students and through its relationship with the surrounding community that it also serves. Shippensburg University defines itself as a comprehensive institution, whose primary commitment is to student learning and personal development, and to organizing its curricula to promote both the general intellectual abilities and the professional training of its students. Student life programs and activities are emphasized as complementary to the academic mission of the university, as is a commitment to public service and to cooperation with the surrounding region.
If an institution is fulfilling its purposes, there is congruence between its mission and its functions. Measures of this congruence are the instruments and planning procedures that describe the overall performance of the institution, the critical assessment of information that is generated by these efforts, and the changes that result from the implications of these data. An examination of this congruence and the procedures for its implementation are extremely important parts of the criteria for accreditation contained in the Middle States Association's document entitled Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education. The "ultimate goal" of this assessment process, the document indicates, is the "improvement of teaching and learning" and "ongoing self-renewal." Similarly, the State System of Higher Education in its Imperatives for the Future cites accountability as one of three major initiatives applicable to each of its fourteen campuses. The accountability imperative includes a commitment to continuing assessment of student learning and development, to common financial and budgetary standards and to enhanced communication with the internal and external constituencies of each university.
The University Planning Process
Shippensburg University is extensively and intensively involved in determining and improving the effectiveness of its educational and service efforts at all levels. These efforts begin with an annual planning process. This process, which includes specific completion deadlines, includes both university-wide and divisional planning goals based on the mission of the institution. Both areas of the process are informed by a cycle that comprises the identification and filtering of issues, the implementation of changes and the monitoring of their success. Central to all planning activities at the university are the University Program Plans that are published each summer and prepared during the regular academic year by all the divisions of the institution. This document ultimately includes both maintenance and anticipated goals for each unit of the university over a three-year cycle along with projected budgets. The plans are finalized in June of each year following an administrative retreat at which they are discussed and revised if necessary. The Planning and Budget Council, a branch of the University Forum, discusses the summary of the annual retreat early in the fall semester and this group, which includes representatives of the faculty and the student body, may make further recommendations on institutional priorities. Throughout the process, the university Budget Office meets with appropriate groups, such as the Executive Management Team, to report on available resources. Refinements and adjustments to the annual plans are made during a mid-year review each February by the president of the university.
Revisions or reaffirmation of the mission of the university by the President's Cabinet and the adoption of strategic direction statements begin the planning process each summer. The Planning and Budget Council may also suggest changes. After these reviews and comments, the strategic direction statements become the basis for the development of three-year plans for each of the divisions of the university, which are prepared after the publication of guidelines by the Office of the President at the end of the fall semester. These guidelines often contain special parameters specific to a given academic year. Within each division, administrative and academic program managers are asked to provide non-personnel priorities and objectives for the next planning year and beyond, implementation strategies that include an assessment of resources, and the identification of individuals responsible for fulfilling the goals within a specified time frame. Proposals must include detailed budget requests for the upcoming fiscal year divided between maintenance/enhancement goals, which address immediate or ongoing needs, and new goals that have not appeared in previous plans. Less detailed but nevertheless specific proposals are required for the final two years of the planning cycle.
The individual plans then undergo an extensive review and evaluation process. Plans prepared by individual academic departments are analyzed and modified if necessary by college deans by the middle of the spring semester or, in the case of administrative offices, by the provost or the appropriate vice president. By May, they are combined and compiled at the level of the vice president for each division and submitted to the president of the university. Concurrently, using the operating budget requests for the upcoming fiscal year, the Budget Office prepares a financial matrix for departmental and office maintenance/enhancement and new goal requests. These totals are added to the Budget Office's projected personnel costs based upon complement authorizations. Combining the personnel costs and the aggregate plans for the divisions of the university produces a comprehensive statement of fiscal requests for the upcoming year that is used by the president and the Executive Management Team to finalize the completed plans before the administrative retreat in June. Following review by the President's Cabinet, the University Forum and the Planning and Budget Council, allocation decisions for maintenance/enhancement and new goals are announced during the summer after appropriations for the system have been passed by the state legislature.
A parallel planning procedure drives immediate and long-range faculty staffing. This process begins in the fall semester with an analysis of work load allocations by the Associate Provost and continues early in the spring semester with narrative descriptions of departmental needs based on data and projections provided by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning. The departmental reports are then submitted to academic deans who prepare overall recommendations for their colleges that are reviewed and acted upon by the Provost. In recent years, changes in faculty staffing have been accomplished within a fixed overall complement-that is, additional faculty in one or more departments must be matched by declines in staffing in others.
Integral to the annual planning process is the Office of Institutional Research and Planning (IRP), which provides data for analysis at all levels of decision making. The IRP office collects information in three areas: special studies and requests, major publications, and university-wide assessment. Administrators, departments or university offices may generate either special studies or requests that may or may not include non-prescriptive recommendations based on the data. More than 40 such studies have been requested in the last five years. The office publishes an annual factbook for the university-Profile-that brings together routinely kept data on students, faculty and staff, and also compiles statistics used by academic departments in preparing yearly staffing plans and projections.
In addition, the Office of Institutional Research and Planning administers the university-wide assessment instruments currently used by the institution. These include an annual alumni survey, a four-page document most recently revised in 1995, and four nationally or regionally-normed questionnaires that measure student satisfaction with the programs and services of the university. The first instrument is the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP). The CIRP focuses primarily on the backgrounds, attitudes, activities, self-perceptions, values, expectations and goals of new college students, and it has been used by the university to compare Shippensburg freshmen with students across the nation since 1975. The Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI), another nationally-normed instrument, has been administered to sophomores and seniors since 1995. A similar survey, the State System Assessment of Student Satisfaction (SSASS) was also initiated in 1995 and includes areas not examined by the SSI. The College Student Experience Questionnaire (CSEQ), first used in 1996 and administered to upperclassmen, is the only university-wide instrument that measures student satisfaction with the process and the progress of their education at Shippensburg University.
Three other areas of the university-wide planning process are used in the overall assessment of the institution: data related to student persistence, the annual Social Equity Plan, and the annual Affirmative Action Plan. All three areas focus on the retention of students and employees at the university. A general Retention Rates document systematically reports aggregate student retention rates arranged by entering the cohort. In addition, updates and analyses of special retention programs and services for minority and at-risk students, such as clustered learning and mentoring efforts, are regularly generated. The Social Equity Plan is designed to promote and to create an inclusive campus community, and the Affirmative Action Plan displays data in a format that monitors the retention of minorities and identifies obstacles to success.
In examining the information from the university-wide assessment instruments during the 1997/98 academic year, the Institutional Integrity and Effectiveness Study Group found a high degree of congruence between the mission and goals of the university and actual practice. Overall, the nationally and regionally-normed surveys indicated a strong satisfaction by students with their classroom experiences, with academic effectiveness as a whole, with the social climate and environment of the institution and, to a great extent, with the student service area. The four instruments also suggested that the university is fulfilling its mission both to provide academic excellence and to develop the whole individual during a student's years of matriculation. Indeed, the study group considered the profile of the university more like that of a selective liberal arts college than that of most comprehensive colleges or universities. Similarly, data received in recent alumni surveys support the conclusion that Shippensburg has prepared its graduates extremely well for their jobs and for their participation in the larger society.
Some areas of concern, however, were identified. A review of the alumni surveys revealed the need for a second instrument designed to measure alumni attitudes twenty years after graduation, a suggestion that was implemented in the spring of 1998. The alumni surveys also indicated that greater training in computer technology and more student access to computers might be necessary, a recommendation that has been addressed by the expenditure of $1.75 million over the past five years for new computer laboratories, computer classrooms and technology upgrades. The SSI survey reported student dissatisfaction with the process of registration for classes, a perception that will be acted upon with the implementation of on-line scheduling in the spring of 1999. The University Health Services were also targeted as an area of low satisfaction, though these data may be the result of a flawed sample. The director is currently surveying students about their experiences with the health center. The SSASS confirmed student dissatisfaction with registration and added career services and academic advisement as areas where improvements could be made. The university has responded in part by strengthening and redirecting the operations of the Office of Career Services beginning in the spring semester of 1998. Various groups and committees have considered and implemented measures to improve the advisement of students for many years. Shippensburg students reported greater progress than the national norm in 17 of the 23 areas surveyed by the CSEQ, but they also rated themselves considerably lower than the average in seeing the importance of history and in developing good health and fitness habits. Both of these issues are appropriate subjects for future consideration through the curriculum process, particularly in the area of general education.
The study group found the Affirmative Action Plan of the university operating in conformance with applicable laws and system regulations and indicated that the Social Equity Plan has made progress toward the institutional goal of creating an inclusive campus environment. New programs and services have increased retention rates among black and Latino(a) students, particularly in the mid-1990s. Nevertheless, the gap between retention and graduation rates for African Americans and other students of color and the remainder of the student population remains quite large. This disparity, which resulted in the formation of a Commission on Minority Student Retention in 1992, remains a major priority of the university. Recent institutional efforts to improve minority retention are discussed in Chapter Six, as are efforts to promote a more socially and culturally diverse campus. In addition, the study group concluded that university retention data for all students, which are currently reported only in aggregate form, should be broken down by college and academic departments and widely disseminated-a process that they believe will be more useful for university planning.
Academic Program and Departmental Assessment
The study group also examined the effectiveness of the assessment efforts of the university at the programmatic level. These included the general education and departmental programs in the Academic Affairs division; the Human Resources Office, which is in charge of activities and services for the staff of the university; and various offices related to campus co-curricular activities, including the Office of Admissions, the Career Development Center, the Ezra Lehman Library, and the Offices of Student Affairs and Student Life.
The General Education program at Shippensburg has been under continuous review since its last major revision in 1985. Within the governance structure of the university, the University Curriculum Committee has a permanent subcommittee on general education and review committees have been created within the governance structure of the university every three years to recommend changes in the requirements. Many of their recommendations have been implemented, for example, a modern language requirement for all Bachelor of Arts majors was added in 1996. Others, such as a second college writing course, await necessary funding. The review committees were also instrumental in establishing longitudinal learning attitude surveys in 1993, which have been further developed, coordinated and evaluated by Dr. Lori Nelson of the Department of Psychology as the General Education Assessment Project. These surveys, which are on-going, measure the attitudes and values of first year students and follow the affect of the institution's general education program on them over four years. The results of the first cohort surveys were analyzed in the summer of 1997 and are discussed fully in Chapter Three. In its review, the study group recommended that this effort be given more resources, especially a software program called Teleform, to assist in the collection and analysis of data. The study group also suggested that many of the preliminary findings of the surveys, which advocate changes in such areas as classroom teaching techniques, and any future recommendations clearly warranted by the data, be implemented.
During the 1997/98 academic year, a joint faculty/administration committee developed specific goals and outcomes assessment instruments for the skills courses required of all students in the General Education program. The committee designed criteria for the program as a whole, drafting a series of attributes associated with an educated person. Each of the five required areas-English, Speech, History, Mathematics and Library Skills-then prepared assessment programs for their required courses that will be implemented during the 1998/99 academic year using a one-hundred student sample. The English Department has devised a series of questions that will be used to evaluate the final drafts of papers in the College Writing course, and these papers will also be used to assess library skills. The History Department will administer and evaluate pre and post-tests based upon predetermined skills goals in both World History I and World History II, and the Speech Department will use videotaped student presentations to analyze the effectiveness of its course in Basic Oral Communications in the spring semester of 1999. The Mathematics Department will give a modified version of its placement test for incoming students to all sections of College Algebra during the fall of 1998, as well as a ten-question attitudinal survey. The results of these student outcomes assessments will be analyzed in the fall of 1999 and incorporated into the continuing general education review process. Suggestions for changes in the rationale of the program as a whole will also be brought to appropriate groups in the curricular process.
The institution employs two forms of evaluation to assess colleges and academic departments. Over the last ten years, a State System Of Higher Education policy for cyclical review of academic programs and colleges in the university has been in place. This cycle obligates each college and its departments to prepare an extensive examination of its programs every five years, with an outside evaluator required every other cycle. College and department reviews are forwarded to a Program Review Committee that reports to the Provost who, in turn, prepares written summaries and recommendations. Each department is then given two years to respond to these recommendations. The second instrument is department-based student outcomes assessment, a policy instituted by the university in 1996 that has replaced previous annual self-studies. This procedure requires each department in the university to formulate goals for its academic programs and to devise measurements that faculty can use to evaluate these goals and to suggest changes in their programs when necessary.
The study group found good general compliance with the requirements of five-year college and departmental reviews. Preparation of these reports dates from the early 1980's and has become very much a part of the campus culture. As might be expected, however, the usefulness of these narrative documents has varied historically, and a handbook has recently been prepared to provide uniform guidelines for departments and to establish the principle that data analysis, as well as description, must be an integral part of the reviews. The handbook provides basic information on what is to be analyzed both in academic and in administrative units, as well as reference sources and timetables. It also gives examples of well-written outcomes assessment goals and suggestions for designing measurements to test their fulfillment.
While some departments at the university have measured student outcomes since the early 1990's, the institution began to emphasize and to require such assessment in the academic affairs division only two years ago, partially in response to a directive by the State System. In 1996, the departments were asked to devise databased instruments and to put them into use during the 1997/98 academic year. A number of workshops and conferences were held to assist in the creation of measurements tailored to the needs of each individual department. Plans were produced and then reviewed and revised by the academic administration in the spring of 1997, with most departments meeting the deadlines and receiving approval of their instruments. Methods of assessment approved were wide-ranging; perhaps the most typical were surveys of graduating students and alumni, knowledge and skills-based measurements such as portfolios, and attitudinal measurements. In its report, the study group warned, however, that some departmental assessment plans might be initially too ambitious and time-consuming. They also cautioned care be taken that measurements be used for program review and not for judging individual student or faculty performance.
The latter concerns reflect the fact that student outcomes assessment is new to the university. The institution has made a strong, good-faith effort to promote and to institutionalize these measurements, but the systematic use of their results in the program review process only began in 1996 with their application in the evaluations of departments within the College of Education and Human Services. Among the departments evaluated in 1996, two produced particularly successful assessment plans. The Teacher Education Department developed elaborate and specific goals for its three undergraduate programs and three graduate programs and assessed them using matrices that include portfolios, videotaping, journals, teaching demonstrations and self-evaluations. At least six changes, including three new courses and more emphasis on cultural diversity, resulted in the elementary education program. The Counseling Department also used a matrix with 23 categories to assess the eleven goals of its program and, in addition, relied heavily on the results of graduate surveys to drop two from and add one course to its curriculum. Inevitably, these instruments and those of other departments will be refined as they are more frequently used, and greater sophistication will produce more valid and verifiable results. The university intends that outcomes assessment at the academic departmental level will become a cornerstone on which to build a "culture of evidence" intended to inform decision-making more fully.
After examining the five-year academic review process and the early results of student outcomes assessment, the study group raised one concern regarding the allocation of university resources. In its mission and goals statements, the institution states its commitment both to professional training programs and to traditional liberal arts areas, but the group's analysis seemed to indicate that more emphasis and resources have recently been placed on professional preparation areas, perhaps reflecting student demand. Many general education courses, and thereby arts and sciences areas as a whole, it was felt, had experienced a growth in class sizes. With finite resources and faculty complement control, the study group argued that this might mean a reduction of upper-division course offerings in many liberal arts curricula. In either case, they perceived that the definition of the two-part "co-equal" educational mission of the university-to develop general intellectual abilities and to provide professional training-was subtly but inexorably shifting.
This concern, however, does not have strong statistical support. The number of upper-division sections offered by the university, including those in the arts and sciences, has actually increased over the last five years, and the data indicate that general education sections have become more fully subscribed rather than more numerous during the same period. At the same time, enrollment as a percentage of capacity in lower-division sections was over 99 percent in 1997, while upper-division courses were enrolled at approximately the 90 percent level.
Administrative and Student Affairs Assessment
The study group also found good indications of careful planning and responsiveness to the implications of the use of evidence in the administrative and student affairs areas of the university. Both of these divisions prepare goals originating in individual units as part of the university planning process that are updated annually, and they keep track of data that are relevant to the success of these plans. They also undergo five-year reviews. The Human Resources Office, which has been led by a new director since 1995, has been actively involved in regular staff and supervisory training, has made changes in its employee relations program and has expanded its orientation efforts for new personnel. The Office of Admissions, which uses numerous attitudinal surveys and demographic assessment tools to evaluate its planning, has maintained its position in the recruitment market and has met or exceeded its enrollment goals for the last five years despite a declining number of high school graduates in its target areas. Surveys suggested some concern about the distribution of program and administrative information, and a booklet was developed to address the issues. The office has also created a new Admissions Newsletter directed to high school juniors and made revisions in the methods and timing it uses in providing financial aid estimates to prospective students.
A five-year program review in 1996 and the results of other assessment instruments have produced numerous recent changes in the Career Development Center. As part of this process, concerns were raised that the center's goals and mission statements were not in harmony with those of the university, and these statements have subsequently been revised with the help of advisory and assessment committees. The activities of the center have also been expanded to include more programs and offerings for underclassmen and a new philosophy of actively pursuing programs in classes and through the academic departments.
The study group's examination of the effectiveness of the Ezra Lehman Library found it to be functioning extremely well. The 1995/96 Alumni Satisfaction Survey showed it as having the highest level of satisfaction among the administrative services of the university. A comparison with other State System libraries saw it as one of the most accessible in the system despite having a relatively small staff. Departmental program reviews occasionally cited library resources in selected disciplines as less than optimal, but this concern was not widespread despite the constant problem faced by the library of maintaining an adequate collection in a period of increasing costs and a limited budget. Departments have been generally cooperative in participating in decisions concerning cost-cutting and limiting materials to be added. One area, however, that may further strain the resources of the library in the immediate future is the extent of their involvement in the university's plan to enhance distance education programming.
The study group also considered the Student Affairs division of the university. A fuller examination of its operations is contained in Chapter Six, but the group noted the use of appropriate assessment techniques by specific offices in each area, including Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) methods which are in keeping with State System guidelines. Focus group assessment has also been conducted in the residence halls. Assessment results have generated recent technological improvements in the Women's Center and in the CDC and the creation of designated study areas in various places on campus. One major area suggested by assessment measurements in the Student Affairs division that has not yet been addressed is a recommendation that students be granted a greater role in the decision-making process in the university residence halls.
The university also conducts regular evaluations of individual employees. Tenure-track and temporary faculty undergo annual peer, student and administrative assessment. All staff and administrative personnel have yearly evaluations in compliance either with union contracts or with State System guidelines. Tenured faculty are contractually evaluated every five years, a process that follows essentially the same review procedures as for other faculty.
Budget Allocation Assessment
The congruence of resource allocation with the mission and goals of the university is a vitally important element of its effectiveness and integrity. Universities typically operate within an environment characterized by numerous financial and structural constraints, while being expected to absorb and to adapt to the changing needs of the society around them. Shippensburg is no exception to this. The university has a highly-tenured and tenure-track faculty assigned to discipline-specific departments, which limits the rapid shifting of personnel and expertise to new academic areas. Shifting patterns of student enrollment coupled with the expectation for timely degree completion are another constraint. Moreover, the budget allocation for Shippensburg and the other universities of the State System is largely determined off-campus at the state level. For the recent past, this has produced a "zero-sum" game. Since the size of overall funding for the institution is not growing, reduced resources for other areas must offset any new programs. Therefore, the most critical allocations of resources involve reallocation away from the previous usage. Such shifts are difficult and painful to achieve, particularly in the open and collegial decision-making process that the university employs.
Budgetary planning is integrated with the remainder of the planning process, as outlined earlier in this chapter. Guidelines for program planning have recently directed departments and divisions of the university to allocate only very modest annual increases in non-personnel areas. These increases are estimated each year based upon expected state budget allocations and tuition increases. Personnel costs are generally determined by statewide union contracts and are projected by the Budget Office of the university. In addition to its integral role in the university planning process, the Budget Office also makes periodic submissions to the State System that are used to assess the financial position of the institution and to develop the appropriations request of the system to the governor and the state legislature. These include the financial portions of the Annual Institutional Report and the Budget Report, both of which are delivered to the Office of the Chancellor each summer. They contain historical, current and projected budget figures, as well as enrollment and human resource numbers.
Year-end financial statements that compare expenses with projections and explain any variances accompany these submissions. After revisions based on actual appropriations by the state and tuition decisions made by the Board of Governors of the State System, these data are shared with various campus groups, including the President's Cabinet and the Planning and Budget Council. The final submissions then receive formal approval by the Shippensburg University Council of Trustees. The Budget Report is reviewed and adjustments to it are made each January and March during the fiscal year.
Beyond the normal budgetary and planning processes, the institution has also devised procedures to handle and plan for major university-wide special initiatives, most recently a possible School of Pharmacy in 1994/95 and the proposed reinstatement of an MBA program in the Grove College of Business in 1997/98. Although neither proposal ultimately received local administrative approval, the feasibility of each was explored by a special campus committee that was asked to prepare a "statement of intent" for the administration and for subsequent submission to the Office of the Chancellor of the State System, which must review and consider all new programs. In both cases, budgetary considerations were crucial to the decision not to pursue the initiatives. A more successful effort has been the work of the on-going Instructional Technology Committee whose efforts have most recently resulted in a new six-year plan to allocate specially earmarked funds for technological improvements, a designation in keeping with the results of the 1998 survey of alumni of the institution. The ability to consider such initiatives in this fashion has given the institution some measure of budgetary and programmatic flexibility, and it will continue to be used in the future. It is also consistent with the open and transparent processes of the university in all its budgetary planning.
The regular financial and planning documents that the university submits to the Office of the Chancellor when added to similar reports from other system universities, form the basis for comparisons among the fourteen campuses in the area of resource allocations contained in the Common Cost Accounting Annual Report of the State System. The CCAAR lists the percentage allocations of the system campuses in standardized budget categories and, as illustrated in the most current figures below, Shippensburg compares very favorably with her sister institutions, particularly in the areas of scholarships and institutional support. The figures for physical plant and auxiliary services, however, reflect reserves recently committed to the construction of two new buildings, and the relatively high current numbers in these categories have had the effect of reducing overall percentages in others, especially Instruction and Academic Support.
State System Average
Institutional Support (Admin./Management)
In addition, the State System is currently reviewing existing accountability instruments and has developed a preliminary set of definitions for performance measurement that provide standards and refine comparisons between campuses in a variety of both fiscal and academic areas. Many of the results of current financial performance indicators are discussed in Chapter Seven of the Self-Study.
"Culture of Evidence"
In response to many of the issues raised by the report of the Institutional Integrity and Effectiveness Study Group, campus-wide discussions were held during June of 1998 on the existence and efficacy of a "culture of evidence" at the university. The phrase was defined broadly to mean a situation in which the planning and assessment processes of an institution are informed by regularly collected data and in which the implications of the analysis of that information are acted upon whenever possible. The discussants generally agreed with the study group that Shippensburg does have such a culture and that the university makes its decisions systematically using both quantitative and qualitative data.
At the same time, some of the participants questioned the degree of the institutionalization of the culture and the acceptance of it. Many faculty, they argued, view extensive data collection and departmental assessment as either "forced on them" or as yet unrelated to decision-making. Others at the meetings cited a need to improve the reliability of data by such methods as increased sample sizes and the use of more longitudinal studies at the departmental and college levels. There was also general agreement that the university should collect all forms of information in ways that relate to its mission and goals and should organize its databases for better access by appropriate divisions and units. The latter might involve providing data from university-wide assessment instruments to academic departments and colleges in a "disaggregated" form more appropriate for specific disciplines.
Most of the participants in the discussions agreed that the "culture of evidence" should be communicated more effectively, particularly to faculty, in order to foster consensus on its efficacy and to build confidence in its use. One suggestion was that an annual report highlighting either the uses to which data had been put or the issues that they had raised during a given year would be useful in generating acceptance and familiarity. Some discussants also saw a need to address what they described as occasional "information overload," or the existence of too much data without readily apparent relationships to decision-making. These comments suggest the possibility of the creation of informational structures that can give guidance on the applicability of data and that can relate appropriate data to the questions that should be considered in the planning and budgeting processes of the university.
There was also discussion of the degree to which the university has acted or will act to implement the results of evidence collection and analysis. Many participants noted the constraints on resource allocations mentioned earlier and expressed doubt that rapid changes in any area based on assessment outcomes could happen. One suggestion to address this problem was to create a dedicated fund within each college for new curriculum and programming development. Other discussants indicated that the institution has only recently begun to use many data, particularly information on student outcomes assessment, and that the real test of congruence between the implications of more sophisticated and extensive quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis and decision-making at the university lies in the near future.
The integrity and effectiveness of the institution may be viewed as a circle. Planning, arising from the stated mission of the university, leads to specific functions that are congruent with this mission. Good planning is systematic and inclusive. A wide variety of assessment measures must be utilized at all levels as the basis for planning, and the resulting changes and improvements are regularly reviewed in terms of their fulfillment of the mission of the institution.
A careful examination of the consistency between the stated mission of this university and its specific functions indicates that the university has been generally very successful in this endeavor. Based on the results of a wide range of assessment data reviewed by the study group and the summer discussion groups, the self-study has identified some specific recommendations which may further validate the congruence between mission and function.
- Strengthen and further support the gathering and use of evaluation information for institutional decision-making. The Office of Institutional Research and Planning, which has been allocated additional resources, should provide the data for this effort, including:
- Assistance to units in improving data reliability and organizing databases for better access.
- Disaggregation of data for academic departments and colleges.
- The Planning and Budget Council, working with the Office of Institutional Research and Planning, needs to involve the entire campus community in becoming part of the "culture of evidence." For instance, they should:
- Supplement the annual IRP Profile with a summary of issues generated by the data.
- Prepare a follow-up report on subsequent utilization of data by various units.
- Monitor the balance between the two "co-equal" goals of the university-the development of the general intellectual abilities of students and their professional training in a variety of fields. Data should be generated and provided to the campus community on a regular basis, and any indication that this balance is shifting should be addressed immediately.
- The Divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs should address the following issues raised by the assessment data:
- Review and refine online class scheduling.
- Review the follow-up survey conducted by the University Health Services.
- Evaluate the redirection of the Office of Career Services.
- Review and evaluate advisement procedures.
- Develop criteria for better assessing the accomplishment of the university's general goals within the next academic year.