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AQIP Category Six

SUPPORTING INSTITUTIONAL OPERATIONS

 

Context for Analysis

Category Six Contents
6P1
6P2
6P3
6P4
6P5
6R1
6R2
6R3
6R4
6R5
6I1
6I2


USM’s key institutional support services are generally organized and managed by operating departments.  Student support services include admissions, financial aid, registration and academic support through library resources, the academic resource center, student success, and information technology systems.  Student and campus activities, career services, health resources, counseling, service learning programs, athletic programs, student employment, bookstore, and public safety are also key student support services provided outside the classroom.  Finally, campus dining services are provided by an independent contractor. 

Student needs met by these services include offering information to prospective students, supplying financial assistance information and preparing financial aid packages.  Creating class schedules and a course catalog, enrolling students, assisting students in locating campus employment and providing library, tutoring and study skills training are also needs met by student support services.  The need for technology has been met by providing laptop computers to each full-time freshman and by giving access to technology support, including the Help Desk, and network connections.  Student life needs are met by support services which include conducting new student orientations and freshman matriculation ceremonies, maintaining a calendar of student activities, providing information about student organizations, assisting students in locating employment and offering residential life and wellness and health services.  Promoting programs to participate in service learning projects, providing opportunities to compete in twelve intercollegiate athletic sports, and maintaining security and emergency support services are also needs met by support services.  Facilitating the acquisition of textbooks and providing food services with flexible meal plans meet students’ needs as well.

Key administrative support processes include accounting and business office functions, facilities management, budgeting, information technology, human resources, risk management, fundraising and treasury functions.  These support services meet the needs of all stakeholder groups by processing financial transactions, preparing financial reports, maintaining student accounts, providing student billing reports, maintaining adequate, clean and safe facilities, planning for USM’s financial needs, managing integrated information technology systems and providing access to technology systems and support, providing employee hiring, benefits and training resources, providing information to alumni and ensuring the fiscal stability of the University through maintaining adequate insurance coverage, appropriate investment policies and short and long term financial planning.

Administrative support processes reinforce student learning by ensuring facilities used in the learning environment are adequate, clean and safe, providing qualified instructors for each learning opportunity and maintaining information technology resources to enhance the instructional delivery.  Information technology processes also support the gathering, storing and reporting of data related to learning outcomes and assessment.  In addition, risk management processes allow for offering service learning project opportunities which require travel by students and staff.  Finally, administrative support processes provide information (e.g. financial feasibility) helpful in the development of new learning programs.

Key student support services reinforce student learning by assessing basic academic skills and providing guidance on programs of study through advising, assisting in integrating instructional technology into the teaching and learning process, providing access to library resources available both on and off campus and by offering tutoring and study skills training.  Student life processes also support student learning by making available the opportunity to participate in campus activities such as student government and service projects.

 

6P1 Identifying the support service needs of students and other key stakeholder groups


USM identifies the support service needs of students through a variety of information gathering methods as described in the following examples.
 

  • In the admissions process, testing is done to determine basic skill levels to identify appropriate classes or tutoring needs (see Category 3P1)

  • Evaluations solicited from new students and their parents during the registration process determine levels of client service and satisfaction with the registration process.  In addition, USM leadership is present to meet with new students and their parents regarding any questions or concerns they may have. (See Category 3)

  • Development of a CARE (Campus Awareness Response Education) team (Category 3P1)

  • Student Life offices work directly with students to determine needs in both formal and informal relationships, including orientations, residential life services, and student activities.

  • Students provide feedback for functions both inside and outside the classroom with the use of satisfaction surveys, course evaluations, customer comments cards, focus groups, and review of complaints.  Specifically, regularly scheduled “Town Hall” meetings, organized by the Student Government Association (SGA) are held between members of the Administrative Council and students where student concerns are voiced and possible courses of actions are discussed.  The Town Hall meetings include a report on resolutions on previously identified issues.  For example, student computer printing needs and additional campus sidewalks were two issues raised and successfully resolved.

  • USM recently administered its first National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the results of which are currently being evaluated.  USM is also planning on using the Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI).  The university plans to administer the NSSE in the spring term and the SSI in the fall term of each academic year.

  • Athletic program staff assists in the integration of student athletes into the learning environment and they facilitate other services to identify their needs, provide additional medical services, and encourage participation in service learning and outreach opportunities. The University participates in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Champions of Character program.


Key Stakeholders have been defined in Category 3 (See Category 3 “Context for Analysis”).  USM identifies the support service needs of other key stakeholder groups by a variety of processes as described in the following examples.
 

  • The Board of Trustees (BOT) provides overall direction and feedback and completes evaluations of BOT meetings on a regular basis. (Category 3P3)

  • USM surveys parents of main campus students and stays abreast of current trends (Category 3P3)

  • USM is owned and sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth (SCL) and identifies the Sponsors needs by a variety of methods.  (Category 3P3)

  • USM regularly includes representatives from the BOT and SCL in the development of our Strategic Plan and other long-term activities.

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6P2 Identifying the administrative support service needs of faculty, staff, and administrators


Administrative support service needs of faculty, staff, and administrators are determined by a variety of processes. The Administrative Council (AC), led by the President and representing all areas of USM, meets on a weekly basis to discuss policies, major projects and resource issues.  There is a shared governance structure involving faculty and staff which provides feedback on several aspects of USM's operations.

USM involved key stakeholders, including the BOT, AC, and members of faculty and staff, in the strategic planning process and utilizes staff and faculty in the implementation of the Strategic Plan (SP). The annual budget preparation process allows for all departmental directors to request supplemental budgets to fund special needs or nonrecurring expenditures. Various accrediting agencies provide guidance in identifying the needs of faculty, staff, and students for institutional support services. In reviewing programs, accreditors evaluate support services to determine if appropriate standards have been met.

University Assembly (UA) meetings for all faculty and staff are held monthly.  Current issues and news are presented and opportunities are made for faculty and staff to ask questions or raise other issues or concerns.

Many key administrative department heads, including the Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services, meet on a weekly basis.  A regular part of the meeting is the sharing of current events or issues in each respective area by the department head.  This shared information often generates discussion among the group and often, improved cooperation, coordination and possible solutions are the result.

USM is utilizing more benchmarks to measure USM outcomes with other like institutions.  For example, USM reviews the annual Kansas Independent College Association (KICA) schools annual salary survey and has recently made adjustments to senior and mid-level faculty salaries to bring them more in line with median salaries of similar schools.  

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6P3 Designing, maintaining, and communicating the key support processes that contribute to everyone’s physical safety and security


The safety and well-being of students, faculty, and staff is of central importance at USM. To ensure the safety and well-being of its campus community, USM has:
 

  • An Emergency Management Team meeting on a regular basis and reviewing all aspects of campus safety and security and making revisions as necessary to emergency systems

  • An Emergency Management Plan for severe weather, fire, health epidemic and acts of violence (See Link 6P3-1: USM Emergency Management Plan).  Students, faculty, and staff are informed of procedures to follow in case of any of these situations. Regular fire and tornado drills are held in the USM residence halls.

  • An Emergency Response Guide (See Link 6P3-2: USM Emergency Response Guide.)

  • Campus security plan including an emergency alert system that can be heard across campus, an emergency alert via mobile device text program (TextCaster),  24/7 security with Public Safety officers making regular campus patrols, and security cameras in the dorms and other public areas of campus.

  • Arrangements with area public safety agencies to provide information to faculty and staff on how to handle certain acts of violence and to conduct exercises on campus in response to mock acts of violence.


In case of emergencies, USM has an average 5-minute response time from Leavenworth/Lansing police and fire departments, and has Emergency Room service next door as Saint John Hospital is located just north of campus.

USM provides thorough training on campus safety, security, and emergency procedures at new student orientation, a full-time campus counselor and campus counseling intern, and student workshops on sexual assault and domestic violence prevention, self-defense strategies for women, safe dating, the dangers of binge drinking, stress management, Facebook safety, and more.  The USM Student Handbook has sections for student safety policies and procedures (see pages 10, 23, 24, 26, and 32).

USM complies with the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990, also known as the Jeanne Clery Act. USM Public Safety works closely with the Student Life Office, the Leavenworth Police Department, and other agencies to provide annual campus crime statistics to students, faculty, staff, and the general public.

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6P4 Managing key student, administrative and institutional support service processes


The responsibility of managing key student and management support service processes on a day-to-day basis rests with department directors and area managers. Many of the student and administrative support processes are supported by Jenzabar, an integrated information management system. User departments, such as Admissions, Financial Aid, Registrar, Business Office, Development, and Student Life maintain the integrated information management database supported by Information Services. The integrated information system also incorporates certain learning functions in an electronic format. For example, faculty are able to post syllabi, assignments, and grades, all of which their students may access. In addition, students access their information in the system for student billing and account records. The system tracks students from a prospective student level through graduation and beyond as alumni.  Training in the integrated system involves more than one person in each user department and their respective module expert. Information Services staff are trained in the system and, together with user department personnel, receive ongoing training including attendance at an annual users conference.

User committees, both formal and ad hoc, review processes and systems to resolve issues or to improve effectiveness. The level of cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork is very good among system users and ad hoc committees work to quickly resolve minor problems or issues with processes or systems improvements. This empowers users to operate efficiently and effectively and, unless there is a significant policy change, to operate without direct supervision of upper management.  There is also a Process Improvement Team, composed of representatives of all user departments, which meets on a weekly basis.  The Process Improvement Team coordinates efforts on larger issues and projects which impact more than one user department. Several of the team members have received process improvement training (Lean Thinking) and use those skills in resolving issues presented to the team.

Monitoring results and reports provide information on the effectiveness of processes.  Those, taken together with the setting of goals and reviewing historical trends, reveal areas which may require immediate attention.  If, upon further analysis and review, concerns or issues are identified, action is taken to remedy the problem.  For example, admissions data is reviewed each week and progress towards goals is measured.  If progress is not satisfactory, processes are reviewed to determine remedial actions necessary to move admissions back on track toward meeting goals.  Results are also measured against appropriate benchmarks, generally on an annual basis, which also may provide information on the need to improve processes.  For example, annual goals are set for tuition discount rates and actual results are determined for comparison.  Further, tuition discount rates for the University’s peer group are obtained and reviewed to determine the need, if any, to revise processes to achieve a more appropriate result.

System users produce a variety of reports, on a regular basis, reflecting daily, monthly, and year-to-date information. Departmental staff and AC review, analyze these reports to ensure needs are being met in a timely and accurate manner.  The AC shares several of the summary reports with the University community as a whole during the monthly University Assembly meeting.  Selected reports are also shared with the BOT on a regular basis.

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6P5 Documenting support processes to encourage knowledge sharing, innovation, and empowerment


Many administrative departments have manuals documenting work flows, processes and procedures.  Forms related to those processes (e.g. forms to initiate financial transactions) are available to all faculty and staff through shared computer network directories.  Also, there are several USM-wide manuals available to faculty, staff, and in some cases, students.  Examples include the Employee Manual, Emergency Management Plans, Student Handbook, etc. 

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6R1 Measures of student, administrative, and institutional support service processes


USM collects and analyzes several measures related to student-centered support processes.  Many of those support services provide more than one measurement.  In general terms, USM regularly produces and reviews the following student support service data:
 

  • Admissions data

  • Freshmen Orientation survey results

  • Financial Aid data

  • Library Usage

  • Academic Resource Center (ARC) reports

  • Service Learning data

  • Student Activity data

  • Security and safety data

  • Student-athlete information

  • Retention data

  • 20th day, midterm, and final grades

  • Graduation rates

  • Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) results

  • National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) results


The information obtained from the above data is reviewed and analyzed by appropriate faculty and staff members.  The results of the reviews are presented to AC and, on a selected basis, the BOT.  Results of these reviews not only show how student support services are currently being provided, but also how opportunities for improvements may exist.  Leadership reviews such opportunities for improvements in student support services.

USM regularly analyses data regarding administrative and institutional support services in the following areas:
 

  • Budget Preparation and Results

  • Interim Financial Reports

  • Audited Financial Statements

  • New Hire Orientation Surveys

  • Tuition Remission data

  • Faculty Development Funds

  • Employee Exit Surveys

  • Work Orders


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6R2 Performance results for student support service processes


Admissions data is summarized and reviewed throughout the student recruitment process.  Data is reviewed on a weekly basis and compared to historical trends.  Significant variations from anticipated year-to-date results lead to action steps in an attempt to correct the variation.  For example, results for Fall 2012 undergraduate recruitment follow:



 

2011

2012

 

Total

YTD

%age

Goal

YTD

%age

Inquiries

3,798

3,798

100.00%

4,284

3,786

88.38%

Applications

1,181

1,181

100.00%

1,309

1,143

87.32%

Admitted

652

652

100.00%

768

565

73.57%

Deposits

226

226

100.00%

257

216

84.05%

Active Deposits

217

217

100.00%

239

201

84.10%


While goals were not met in the early stages of the recruitment cycle, better than expected conversion rates made up for some of the shortfall.  Final Admitted Students and Deposits, and hence Enrollment, was less than goal, as a decision was made to tighten admission standards.

Freshman Orientation is conducted for first year students at the beginning of each fall term.  For Fall 2012, 70 of the 117 freshmen completed the Freshman Orientation survey.  Responses to the various activities conducted and surveyed were generally positive (e.g. Good or Excellent).  Attendance varied for the activities from a high of 94% to a low of 43%.  Comments provided were mixed between positive remarks and suggestions for improvements in the orientation program.

Financial Aid data for all new students is tracked and reviewed on a weekly basis throughout the recruitment cycle.  For Fall 2012, a decision was made to reduce the net tuition cost (gross tuition rate less institutional financial aid) as USM has the highest net tuition rate of our area competitors.  Accordingly, our financial aid program for the current year was adjusted to offer significantly more institutional financial aid to new students.  USM’s tuition discount rate (NACUBO) for the 2011-2012 year, for new students, was 44.9%.  The goal for the 2012-2013 year is a tuition discount rate of 47.5%.  The actual tuition discount rate is estimated to be 54%.

Library usage statistics for the 2011-2012 year include 110 Reference interviews, 1,190 materials circulated and 187 transactions under the interlibrary loan program.

A service learning activity is a part of the annual Freshman Orientation program.  The Fall 2012 service learning activity (Into the Streets) had a high level of participation, 95%, with 74% of survey respondents rating the activity as Good or Excellent.

Student Activity data is tracked through a scanner program whereby student IDs are scanned and recorded for most student activity events.  To encourage students to attend events and have their IDs scanned, prizes were offered as incentives related to attendance levels.  For Fall 2011, total attendance at all scanned events was 3,226 students and Spring 2012 attendance was 1,872.  To date in Fall 2012, USM has had seven campus events scanned with total attendance of 452 students (an average of 65 per event) and has had eight residence hall events with 132 attending (17 per event average).

USM security and safety data for the most recent calendar year can be found online at http://www.stmary.edu/Files/Public-Safety-Support-Docs/SecurityFireSafetyReport-2010_0911.aspx.

Campus first-time freshmen cohort retention data is reported semiannually. A first-time freshman is defined as any high school graduate attending college for the first time, is a full-time student taking at least 12 hours, and was admitted. Results for retention for Fall 2010 and 2011 follow: 
 

  • Of the 129 first-time freshmen who began in the Fall 2009 semester, 72 were retained for their sophomore year in Fall 2010 for a retention rate of 55.81%.

  • Of the 134 first-time freshmen who began in the Fall 2010 semester, 63 were retained for their sophomore year in Fall 2011 for a retention rate of 47.01%.

  • Of the 103 first-time freshmen who began in the Fall 2011 semester, 66 were retained for their sophomore year in Fall 2012 for a retention rate of 64.07%.


Four year graduation results for 2006 and 2007 first-time freshmen follow:
 

  • Of the 82 first-time freshmen who began in the Fall 2006 semester, 23 graduated for a four-year graduation rate of 28.04%.

  • Of the 66 first-time freshmen who began in the Fall 2007 semester, 29 graduated for a four-year graduation rate of 43.94%. 

  • Of the 113 first-time freshmen who began in the Fall 2008 semester, 30 graduated for a four-year graduation rate of 26.54%. 


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6R3 Performance results for administrative support service processes


USM adopted a budget covering operations, new programs, endowment funds and capital projects for Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2013.  Fiscal Year Ended 2012 ended with actual financial results better than adopted budget estimates.  For example, the Operating Budget estimated a deficit (funded from prior year surplus funds) of $801,905 with an actual deficit of $513,700, or an improvement of $288,205.

Interim budget reports, year-to-date, are favorable (i.e. revenues better than expectations and expenditures in line with expectations) and Endowment investments are increasing from $15.6 million at June 30 to $15.9 million as of August 31, 2012.

USM has received an unqualified opinion of the audited financial statements for fiscal year 2011 and anticipates receiving an unqualified opinion for fiscal year 2012.  No material weaknesses were noted and there were few, minor findings of noncompliance in federal programs for fiscal year 2011. Similar results are anticipated for fiscal year 2012.

All new employees attend an orientation program on USM history and mission.  The most recent session involved nine new employees who rated the program on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent. Ratings of the components of the program varied between 4.3 to 5.0 points.

Tuition Remission for 2011-2012 included 13 undergraduates at a cost of $63,930 with 11 graduate students at a cost of $66,300 for a total of 24 eligible students with a total tuition remission amount of $130,230.  In addition, there were 17 graduate assistants with a total tuition remission amount of $144,840.

For fiscal year 2011-2012, $18,650 was expended for faculty development.  $25,000 has been budgeted for faculty development for 2012-2013.

Since June 2012, there have been three employee exit interviews conducted.  Employees are asked to rate, on a scale from 1 to 4, with 4 being “More than Satisfactory,” several topics related to their employment with USM.  Ratings on the 10 topics averaged from 2.7 to 3.3 with an overall average score of 3.2.

Information Services maintains a log of work orders for 16 separate categories (e.g. Jenzabar, email, etc.).  For the first eight months of 2012, 1,399 work orders have been received and resolved.  The number of work orders ranged from 303 related to Jenzabar, to three related to Campus Security Systems.

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6R4 Key student, administrative and institutional support areas use of information and results to improve services


Information from the monitoring and analysis of various reports, including the reviewing of results with established goals, historical trends and comparisons with like institutions and benchmarks, taken together with feedback from students and other stakeholders provide a basis for identifying processes in need of improvement.  As the needs for improvements are identified, appropriate user groups or committees, such as the Process Improvement Team, determine the priority of making improvements.  The importance of the need for improvement, as well as the resources required to implement the improvement are factors used in determining priority.  Identified needs for improvement vary in size and scope from minor issues to major projects. 

More significant needs for improvements are presented to AC for determining priority with the input of staff.  Approved projects for improvement, including AQIP Action Projects, are then given appropriate faculty and staff assignments, and any other required resources, in order to achieve the desired improvements.  Completion of more notable process improvements are reported to the AC.

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6R5 Results for the performance of processes for supporting institutional operations compared with the performance results of other higher education institutions and, if appropriate, of organizations outside of higher education


The Kansas Independent College Association (KICA) and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) are two primary peer groups with which the University compares results.  Both organizations provide a significant number of measures involving operating and financial statistics.  The KICA, composed of 18 institutions, provides information from each member institution while the CIC report groups institutions into groups with similar characteristics, such as enrollment size and geographical region, as the participating institution.  USM compares key measures and results in several key areas to these reports.  These comparisons are made to assist in determining the appropriate benchmark to establish in USM’s operations.  USM also compares our Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Financial Ratios to the stated desired range in for three primary ratios.  USM also calculates the HLC composite score.

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6I1 Recent improvements in supporting institutional operations; how systematic and comprehensive are processes and performance results for supporting institutional operations


Using data, including prior outcomes, USM continues to improve its Admissions and Financial Aid awarding processes.  USM has begun to track specific student characteristics and traits of its graduating classes, as well as tracking similar characteristics and traits of new students.  The university will use the data to implement predictive modeling techniques to shape its incoming students.  USM believes this will lead to successful recruitment efforts in obtaining a sufficient number of students who will tend to graduate.  The university has also made recent improvements in the awarding of institutional financial aid to make USM more tuition price competitive and to improve its student recruitment conversion rates.  Both areas of improvements, the university believes, will improve USM’s recruitment of students, student retention and graduation rates.

Based upon prior survey results, USM has recently added student Orientation Leaders (OL) to provide peer leadership to the incoming freshmen classes.  One outcome of the improvement has been better participation rates by freshmen in the orientation activities.

USM currently has an Action Project to assess the role of the Academic Resource Center (ARC), which has resulted in significant improvements both in the ARC and by providing complementary programs for improving student services.

USM also has an Action Project to improve the transcript analysis procedures.  To date, the Registrar has identified and put into an action plan about a dozen improvements in the Registrar’s office, mostly focused on the improved use of technology but also including changes needed to support those improvements -- software, personnel, etc.  The next step involves fully implementing the Jenzabar Advising Module.

USM has recently added and filled the position of Director of Human Resources.  The director has provided assistance in obtaining qualified faculty and staff candidates for open positions, designed a comprehensive training program for all employees and is designing and administrating surveys such as new hire orientation surveys and employee exit surveys.

USM, through the Process Improvement Team, is undertaking a project to clean up the Development data base, which due to turnover, changing software systems, and inadequately trained staff, has many inaccurate and incomplete data fields resulting in inaccurate reports.  USM is currently in process to correct the data base and is revising procedures to ensure accurate and complete data is entered on a timely basis in the future.  These changes will include providing adequate training to appropriate staff.

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6I2 How culture and infrastructure help to select specific processes to improve and to set targets for improved performance results in supporting institutional operations


USM identifies processes in need of improvement by using the OGI model (see Category 7P1) for data-based decision making.  Further, USM’s Strategic Plan provides overall guidance as to USM highest priorities, including areas of improvement.  For potential process improvement projects that are large in scope, a cost-benefit analysis is completed.

There are several committees, such as the Process Improvement Team and the Administrative Department Head group, which meet on a regular basis to discuss processes and procedures, potential for improvements, revising and designing improved processes and final outcomes.  Many of the participants have completed LEAN Training, which is a methodology focused on eliminating all waste in processes, team training and the AQIP process improvement training.

Process improvement is ingrained in our culture as evidenced by the successful implementation of process improvements that occur as a matter of routine in many departments.  While some process improvement efforts are large in scope (e.g. Action Projects), many are small in scope and may involve the effort of only a few staff.  Oftentimes, process improvement occurs without the direct knowledge of administration.  Though small in scope, these minor improvements do add up to make overall processes more efficient and effective.  In other words, process improvement is a part of the daily, on-going operations at USM.

In key areas where significant process improvements are identified, reasonable targets are established, generally arising from the cost-benefit analysis. Targets for each area are agreed to by department heads and their respective supervisors.

The AC communicates key improvement priorities, and the progress towards implementation, to key stakeholders at Board of Trustees meetings, University Assemblies, Faculty Senate, and on the USM web site.

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