CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY

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Standard 2: Planning & Evaluation  


Description

Planning

CCSU engages in comprehensive planning and evaluation processes, grounded in Strategic Planning that outlines long-term goals and objectives consistent with the University’s mission. Budget planning and facilities planning are integrated into the Strategic Planning process.

 

Since CCSU’s last self study, the University has completed two iterations of strategic planning. The first iteration grew out of new priorities set in 2004, and the second grew out of the appointment of a new President in 2005 and a new Provost in 2006. This second iteration of strategic planning was based on the goals set forth in the 2004 Strategic Plan (Exhibit 2.1). 

Our strategic planning process is vetted through many constituencies but primarily through the University Planning and Budget Committee (UPBC), a senate standing committee composed of faculty, staff, and administrators. The UPBC guides the development of the Strategic Plan and monitors its implementation. Progress on goals and objectives are reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis by UPBC and senior administrators.  Progress on the University’s Strategic Plan is also maintained on a publicly available Web site. Open forums that involve the CCSU community have been conducted through online discussions and actual meetings to increase awareness and solicit input in defining and accomplishing planning goals.

 

The planning process at the institutional level includes a broad base of relevant stakeholders and campus decision-makers. Senior administrators on the Executive Committee hold responsibility for implementing initiatives in their specific units to achieve the strategic goals and objectives and for measuring their progress. In addition, various committees of administrators, faculty and staff address specific concerns and contribute to the planned advancement of the institution, including the Curriculum Committee, the Information Technology Committee, the Facilities Planning Committee, and the Retention and Graduation Council. These groups issue reports to the Faculty Senate and/or to the senior administration as appropriate.
 

The Facilities Master Plan provides a ten-year roadmap for the implementation of capital projects, improvements, and maintenance required to meet strategic priorities; key elements of this plan incorporate provisions of the CSUS 2020 Program, a $950 million capital project plan. The Chief Administrative Officer had open houses for the campus to provide input on the CSUS 2020 Program and future bonding projects. In November 2007 the CSUS 2020 Program was approved by the General Assembly, which will lead to implementing CCSU’s plans for new and renovated facilities. This should significantly improve the campus and overall education experiences.

CCSU devotes significant resources to planning and evaluation. Beyond the integration of institution-wide budget planning with the strategic planning process, the institution allocates over a third of a million dollars a year for the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA, formerly the Office of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness). The University also supports activities of the UPBC and other committees with responsibilities for planning and provides funds for planning retreats at the institution, division, school, and department levels.

In all instances strategic planning is based on realistic appraisals of (1) the current and future needs of all CCSU constituents and (2) perceived or anticipated needs in the community. Planning processes are integrated and iterative. In the development and ongoing review of the Strategic Plan, administrators and the UPBC examine a wide range of internal data about the University as well as data from the external environment. These benchmarking activities include collection of data from peer institutions and other institutions in the State, as well as environmental scans of state and national trends and economic needs. For example, CCSU has initiated new academic programs to respond to Connecticut’s changing workforce needs. Internally CCSU is focusing on student graduation and persistence rates, improving student learning, improving academic advising, and enhancing faculty and staff satisfaction and success.

The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, working with other university offices, assembles data for planning and evaluation. Much of this information is posted on publicly available or secure areas of the OIRA Web site. Some of these data include key performance indicators (KPIs) for enrollment; degree production and instructional activity, including benchmarking with the Delaware Study of Faculty Costs and Productivity; and survey data from nationally benchmarked instruments, such as the CIRP (The Cooperative Institutional Research Program) Freshman Survey given during the summer orientation program  in 2006 and 2008, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), and the Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI), last administered in 2004 and 2006.
 

Short-term planning occurs on several fronts. The Chancellor and CSU Board of Trustees jointly develop for the President an annual Letter of Priority (Exhibit 2.2) to direct appropriate focus on goals for the institution for the current year. It is meant to help the University chart its course for the year.   The President generates a report on progress achieved. At the end of each year, the Chancellor reviews and evaluates the attainment of the goals in the Letter of Priority.

Another annual activity involves the Spending Plan, which allocates resources to address priorities outlined in the Strategic Plan and annual Letter of Priority. The Spending Plan is submitted to the CSU System with information on accomplishments of the previous year. The System administration and the Board of Trustees review and approve the annual plan; every two years the System submits a System-wide budget to the legislature.
 

In 2004-06 the Division of Student Affairs took part in a departmental Accelerated Improvement Plan. The plan was a procedural audit of all the departments within the Division of Student Affairs, which included simultaneous assessment of services, programs, and activities for students. The plan was based on the goals of the University and the documented strategic plan for the Student Affairs Division. Outcomes from this plan assisted in determining allocation of resources.

 

An updated CCSU Development and Marketing Plan was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2003 to maximize institutional advancement and, in particular, to align with Institutional Goal 6 contained in the Strategic Plan. 

Two campus-wide surveys by Noel Levitz—the Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) and the College Employee Satisfaction Survey (CESS)—are administered to all students, faculty and staff on a regular basis.   Based on results of the CESS administered in October 2007 and the Survey about Strategic Initiatives administered in February 2008, the President identified three areas for the administration to focus its efforts: establishing a process to get feedback on “managerial leadership”, seeking input from faculty and staff to improve service to students, and clearly articulating the role of academic advising and increasing awareness of that role.  He then asked for specific suggestions from faculty and staff to improve in the identified areas.

Other planning takes place through focused committees that investigate methods for reaching one or more specific objectives. Examples are presented below:

·         The Office of Diversity and Equity develops Diversity and Equity plans (formerly known as Affirmative Action) that guide our hiring and promotion process (Exhibit 2.3).

·         A CSU e-Learning Leadership Team was formed in 2007 to formulate plans governing all aspects of e-Learning at the four Connecticut State universities (Exhibit 2.4).

·         Enrollment Management Teams, which operated from 2004-2006, were reconstituted in 2007 as an Enrollment Management Committee to help CCSU develop and implement plans for recruiting and enrolling a targeted class of students and to ensure that CCSU is prepared to accommodate the needs of each incoming class.

·         The Retention and Graduation Council and the Academic Advising Task Force were, respectively, established in 2006 to develop plans to promote student persistence and success and to improve academic advising.

·         The President’s Committee on Environmental Sustainability was established in 2006 to develop and implement a university-wide environmental sustainability plan (Exhibit 2.5).

 

Evaluation

The University evaluates its success in achieving its mission through multiple and integrated systems of assessment and dissemination of information. Evaluation systems are designed to measure outcomes tied to indicators that have been collectively identified. The University’s previous Strategic Plan approved in 2004 set forth 12 goals with 39 objectives.  An analysis determined that 14 objectives were completely met or adequate progress had been made, leaving 25 objectives as only partially or not met. It indicates that those planning initiatives that are championed by both faculty and administrators result in successful implementation and that campus buy-in is essential to accomplishing ends. Areas in which goals were met include expansion of the First-Year Experience courses and the development of learning communities, which occurred in response to a need for a more cohesive experience for our entering students; the repositioning of the School of Graduate Studies to ensure internal quality control and to distinguish graduate from undergraduate education; and efforts to promote and expand incentives to encourage faculty and student inquiry. Procedures are in place to ensure that progress on goals in the new Strategic Plan is carefully monitored.

 

At the beginning of each fall semester, the President makes a presentation to the campus community about progress on specific educational objectives, including progress on the strategic plan and its respective goals.  In addition, a university annual report is published each year (Exhibit 2.6). Measures of progress on the Strategic Plan are published on the CCSU Web site.

Starting in 2000 and continuing through the present, CCSU has been preparing an annual accountability report that details the University’s progress in five areas: enhancing student learning and academic excellence; joining with elementary and secondary schools to improve teaching and learning at all levels; promoting the economic development of the State and helping business and industry sustain economic growth; responding to the needs and problems of society; and ensuring the efficient use of resources (Exhibit 2.7).

Goals in the accountability report are linked to measures of student learning outcomes, such as student performance on licensure and certification exams; student outcomes in General Education in the areas of English and mathematics; and student success following remediation when remediation is deemed necessary. An evaluation of CCSU’s system for the assessment of academic programs is also included.  

In 1999, CCSU assigned a task force to develop procedures for departments to conduct annual reviews of their academic programs. These guidelines called for the development of an assessment plan for each degree program to include: a list of student learning outcomes, identification of curricular areas through which learning outcomes are primarily delivered, and identification of performance measures by which faculty would evaluate the extent of student learning. The University’s annual Accountability Report contains departments’ assessment findings and planned actions for improvement.  These reports are filed through a web-based survey, summaries of which are placed on the OIRA website and also found in the document room (Also contained in Exhibit 2.7.)

Annual reports submitted by the deans of the five schools and the directors of the Library and the Center for International Education (the Provost’s Council) provide a summary of accomplishments in their respective academic units (Exhibit 2.8). Recognized University Centers also prepare annual reports. In addition, the OIRA prepares reports each semester on headcount and full-time equivalent enrollment in each program, the number of majors in each program, and faculty load. A report on the number of degrees awarded in each program is prepared annually. Since 2000, CCSU has also participated in the Delaware Study of Faculty Costs and Productivity in order to compare all the institution’s programs to external benchmarks.

Student Affairs also went through an external review in 2006 by EBI - Educational Benchmarking Inc. surveys. These surveys are recognized by Student Affairs national affiliate organizations and focus on Residence Life, Student Center, Student Activities, Bookstores, and Food Services. 

Additional external evaluations result from programs that are accredited by national accrediting agencies, such as NCATE, ABET, COAMFTE (Exhibit 2.9) and others, through their review cycles.  External advisory boards also provide another valuable external perspective on the success and effectiveness of CCSU’s academic programs (Exhibit 2.10).

Consistent with the requirements of the Affirmative Action Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies and the University’s commitment to diversity, the Office of Diversity and Equity conducts its annual review and evaluation of CCSU’s Affirmative Action program. Members of the Executive Committee, Provost’s Council, department chairs and directors are asked to respond to questions having to do with affirmative action hiring, promotional and program goals and objectives; Central’s policy pertaining to sexual harassment and their responsibility to assure its implementation; and grievance procedures relating to complaints of alleged discrimination.
 

CCSU has a commitment to the regular evaluation and measurement of outcomes related to its overarching mission to “prepare students to be thoughtful, responsible and successful citizens.” In the area of classroom instruction, students provide evaluations of teaching for every course at CCSU as mandated by the CSU/AAUP contract. These evaluations are reviewed by instructors and in some instances department chairs. The results are used for course and programmatic improvement; they also factor in as an element for faculty promotion and tenure. New promotion and tenure guidelines were presented to the Senate that now include, among other guidelines, a peer review of teaching.

The institution also has a regular schedule for administration of the CIRP Freshman Survey, the SSI, and NSSE. In 2007-08, as an early participant in the Voluntary System of Accountability, the University administered the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) to gather direct measurements of students’ skills in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving, and written communication and compare them to national benchmarks. The School of Graduate Studies also has administered the Noel Levitz Adult Student Priorities Survey for Graduate Students. 

The Connecticut State University System surveys recipients of baccalaureate degrees from the four universities to ascertain their perceptions of their alma mater. Results are shared with each of the universities and survey responses are posted to the OIRA website.

 

Appraisal

Planning

A majority of respondents to questions about strategic planning expressed dissatisfaction with the process. The following responses to a survey distributed at a “NEASC Town Meeting” in January 2008 were fairly typical: “the strategic plan has a tendency to get bogged down;” “the University Planning and Budget Committee process is not open, accessible, or transparent;” “approaches need to be coordinated and communicated throughout the campus.” However, respondents generally agreed that planning, assessments, and evaluations were becoming more evident on the campus.

When surveyed through the College Employee Satisfaction Survey (CESS), respondents rated implementing strategic plans as important (48%) or very important (39%).  Satisfaction rates with this same item were low in comparison, with 43% stating “not at all” or “not very” satisfied. A majority of respondents also reported that they were not involved in planning for the future (although employees who have worked at the University for five or fewer years were more satisfied with their involvement in planning than their counterparts). Further analysis of the item listed as involvement with planning and decision making reveals a different level of perceived involvement depending on employee status.  The response to these CESS questions indicates the need to ensure more widespread participation in the planning process.

Repeated requests from the UPBC for input from the university community on proposed strategic goals and objectives elicited virtually no response, except from members of the Provost’s Council. Whereas some members of the university community may rightly claim that they were not involved in the planning process, their lack of involvement does not signify a lack of opportunity to participate. The decision not to participate in the planning process could be indicative of apathy or a lack of confidence in the value of such participation.  The perception that management has been “too involved” in planning and decision making may reflect the conviction that contributing to the process will have minimal impact.

The University has made considerable progress in meeting its strategic goals and objectives over the last three years. Two examples of progress include the steady increase in the one-year retention rates from 69% for full-time, first-time students entering in fall 1997 to 79% for those entering in fall 2006. Six-year graduation rates of full-time first time students also increased from a low of 40% for those entering in fall 1999 and graduating before 2005 to a nine-year high of 44% for those entering in fall 2001 and graduating before fall 2007. Increasing the graduation rate was also listed as one of four top priority goals by all employees on the College Employee Satisfaction Survey.

 

 

Evaluation

The College Employee Satisfaction Survey indicated that 45% of respondents were not satisfied or not very satisfied with the institution having a mechanism for evaluating progress towards meeting institutional goals; the importance of this item was rated as important by 47% and very important by 37%.  Strides have been made to enhance our evaluation process, and this information is being shared through additional links that have been placed on the OIRA Web site, which include data, reports, and other indicators of institutional effectiveness.   In addition, dedicated information sessions have been held for the campus community to describe and interpret results from such evaluation measures as the CESS, NSSE, and SSI, as well as the findings from research conducted by the Retention and Graduation Council. Although data and information have been more widely publicized through web pages and public presentations, greater effort will be needed to ensure that all stakeholders feel they are adequately informed about our progress in meeting institutional goals.


Projection

With the approval of a new Strategic Plan and of the four distinctive elements of CCSU’s identity, CCSU will be dedicated in the coming years to fulfilling the 48 objectives that support its seven principal goals. Baselines and targets for each objective have been established and “enabling activities” have been identified to help fulfill the goals and attain the targets.  Examples of enabling activities include 1) working with AAUP to develop a learning-oriented student rating instrument; 2) defining strategies to improve the quality of services to different types of populations of students; 3) formalizing interventions for at-risk students; 4) working with the curriculum committees to propose instituting a "C" designation for courses that focus on community engagement; 5) pursuing opportunities to support faculty scholarship and creative activity. A new program of Strategic Planning Grants will be announced in fall 2008; the Provost’s office has set aside $50,000 to fund 10 new initiatives to achieve strategic objectives. A new strategic planning website will be launched by fall 2008 that will allow UPBC as well as other constituencies to systematically monitor progress. UPBC will begin reviewing progress on each indicator, starting in 2008-09.

 

Specific initiatives are also planned to help CCSU achieve and reinforce its distinctive identity within the CSU System.  To extend its commitment to international education, CCSU will become a cohort member of the American Council on Education (ACE) Internationalization Laboratory for 2008-2009. The Internationalization Laboratory will assist CCSU in this commitment by 1) reviewing our array of international activities, 2) further articulating our student learning goals for international learning, 3) assessing our progress toward our institutional goals for international education, and 4) furthering our progress to broaden and deepen internationalization on the CCSU campus. CCSU also plans to host an International Education Conference in fall 2008.  The goal of the conference is to strengthen international education across the Connecticut State University System and within individual universities.

 

To support its commitment to community engagement, CCSU plans to join “Campus Compact,” which is the national organization that supports service learning; the University has applied and has been accepted to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) to become one of 8-12 institutions to join a new “Civic Agency Initiative,” which will focus on integrating citizenship into core curricula. An RFP sent to faculty on February 25, 2008 about a new competition for Summer Curriculum Community Engagement Grants resulted in 15 faculty receiving community engagement grants for the 2008-2009 semester. Continuing annually, these “Community Engagement Grants” will support projects to develop courses that integrate community partnerships. Plans tentatively call for CCSU to apply in 2010 for the elective “Community Engagement” Carnegie classification.  

 

CCSU’s plans for building on its strong commitment to support economic and workforce development in the State include proposing a new degree in Civil Engineering, emphasizing economic development through its commitment to community engagement, promoting expanded outreach to the business community through the activities of the Institute for Technology and Business development, and renewing our grant with the Small Business Development Center. Interdisciplinary and cross-curricular initiatives to be emphasized in the future will include further integration of writing, community engagement, diversity, and international education throughout the curriculum and co-curriculum.

To improve communication and the sharing and interpreting of data for the campus, OIRA will begin tracking the number of enrolled majors in each department over time.  Although this has been a more complicated project than initially anticipated, especially in terms of providing the drill-down to specializations, the University believes that the information will be particularly useful for departments and deans to monitor their respective programs. In addition the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment has begun to compile a set of vital statistics or program metrics for the departments on campus. These data are now online by department on the beta website for OIRA. These reports on program metrics provide trend data for 12 semesters for: FTE Enrollment (by student level and enrollment status); Faculty (FT headcount, PT FTE) and Student-Faculty Ratios; and Degrees Awarded.

A new process is being planned for reviewing departmental assessment programs as well as General Education; this plan will encompass how to provide feedback to the five deans, departments and the General Education Subcommittee of the Curriculum Committee (see Standard 4).  In addition the CCSU Enrollment Management Team is considering the profiles for undergraduate and graduate students as a means of planning for the upcoming years.

Student Affairs will continue to move forward on assessment, utilizing quantitative and qualitative data, such as SSI, CIRP, EBI and internally designed surveys and focus groups, to evaluate its services and programs. Based on current information, the Student Affairs unit will develop measurable outcomes to help ensure continued quality and improvement of student services, with the overarching goal of increasing retention and student success.

 

Institutional Effectiveness

The University Planning and Budget Committee (UPBC) plays an influential role in tracking and monitoring the University’s progress in fulfilling its goals and objectives.  It also is charged with identifying areas to be emphasized and improved.  UPBC has broad-based campus representation including administration (Provost, CFO, V.P. Student Affairs, V.P. Institutional Advancement, a representative from the deans); faculty from each of the academic schools; and members of the faculty senate. The revision of the strategic plan, which began in 2005-2006, was followed by the UPBC formulating guidelines for monitoring progress on the plan.  Formal review mechanisms for examining the effectiveness of planning and evaluation processes have been a major focus of activity starting in 2006-2007.

UPBC also reviews proposed budgets from each administrative unit on campus for their conformity with institutional strategic priorities, making critical evaluation for the alignment of resources with the strategic goals as well as recommendations for changes before they are submitted to the President for his approval. 

In the area of assessment and evaluation, in fall 2007 the University hired a new Director of Institutional Research and Assessment who has experience with program review processes for academic and non-academic programs. With his leadership, the Faculty Senate approved both the charge and structure for a new Assessment Committee and a formal Assessment Plan for CCSU (Exhibit 2.11). The Faculty Senate also approved provisional participation in the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA). In addition, under the leadership of the President, the University has improved in its dissemination of data and information to its constituents. 
 

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