AQIP Category Two



Context for Analysis

Category Two Contents

The University of Saint Mary identifies service as its distinctive objective. The commitment of service to one’s neighbors is derived and informed by the mission of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth and ultimately by the gospel. USM holds that service: 1) assists students in their efforts “to realize their God-given potential”; 2) provides experiences where students use their knowledge and skills to “better their diverse world; 3) inspires dispositions towards helping others; 4) and habituates responsible citizenship.   While service is imbued in USM’s culture, the university has found it difficult at times to create processes and assessments for service as there is resistance to “measuring our efforts to live the gospel” and “reducing our service to our neighbor in God’s name to a rubric.”

USM uses four categories for service: the individual faculty/staff/student, campus ministry service, athletic service and service learning. The first three are forms of volunteerism and the last, service learning, is more academic in nature. USM’s processes for tracking and assessing the first three types are in the early stages, where much is happening but always assessed systematically. Service Learning, on the other hand, has evolved from an ad hoc addition to a class to a program with clear objectives and rubrics approved by the Faculty Senate. In addition, USM has moved from volunteer supervision of service learning to a full time faculty assuming the responsibility of coordinating the office and the collection and analysis of data. Currently, all freshmen enrolled in the First Year Experience Course are engaged in service learning.

2P1 Designing and operating the key non-instructional processes which serve significant stakeholder groups

The approach to designing and operating service efforts at the university is shaped by the person or department doing the service, as well as the stakeholder receiving the service, when appropriate. Individuals engaged in service use their talents and time to help others. Faculty lead book discussions, cantor for churches, work with various not-for-profits such as the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, and engage in multiple types of service for their churches. USM, as an institution, encourages and affirms these works.

USM’s Athletics Program participates in NAIA Division II and thus also in the NAIA’s Champions of Character program. The program promotes five core values: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership. To earn the designation of a “5 Star Champions of Character” institution, the athletes must, among other requirements, engage in service. The Athletic Department designs their service in light of the number of athletes involved in an event and the needs being serviced. Most Athletic Department service events are one day events, with the exception of summer clinics for youth. All service opportunities are managed by the coaching staff.

Campus Ministry’s service flows from the gospel mandate to serve one’s neighbor in need. The service is shaped and informed by the Vincentian charism of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. Service opportunities are designed to educate and stretch students as well as meet a real human need. All service opportunities involve advanced preparation of who, what, when, where and, most importantly, why, and then reflection to help students make connections between their experiences, their faith and the world in which they live. Most service opportunities are done over a semester or during immersion experiences that last for several days and take place away from the comforts of campus. These events are all created, prepared for, supervised and processed by students and the Campus Minister, often with other volunteers from the community or the Sisters of Charity.

Service learning is designed and integrated into syllabi by faculty and must meet the standards for the designation of a service learning course passed by the faculty senate. All service learning courses must:

  • be conducted in and meet the needs of the broader community

  • be coordinated with community partners

  • be integrated into the academic learning outcomes of a course, as reflected and supported by specific course outcomes and objectives in the course’s syllabus

  • be reflected upon in some form (oral and/or written) by students and evaluated by the instructor

  • represent a minimum of 15% of the course grade and involve a minimum of 15 hours of service and supporting activities (e.g. research, classroom preparation and reflection), or the equivalent, as determined by the course instructor.

Courses that meet the qualifications are so designated in the academic catalog and on the students’ transcripts.

Service is also conducted on the graduate level. USM graduate psychology students provide diagnostic screening and assessment of post-secondary career and educational issues for juniors and seniors of Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park, KS. Areas assessed include career decision making, dysfunctional career thoughts, personality components related to careers, and students’ skills, interests and abilities related to choosing a college major. Assessment results are provided to Saint Thomas Aquinas High School counselors for use with students and their parents. Professional organizations, too, frequently request help.

Some USM activities are opened to the community as a service. The USM Community Band serves community amateur and professional musicians, USM alumni, and high school student musicians and band directors.  They are represented by musicians from Leavenworth/Lansing, Basehor, Tonganoxie, Baldwin City, Kansas City, KS, and Kansas City, MO. The band serves the entire community by providing free musical performances. It also provides performance opportunities for those musicians in the area who need a venue in which to play their instruments and perform with a group. Young musicians (high school or even younger talented students) receive additional music instruction and enhanced performance experience by being able to play with more advanced musicians than what they would experience in their own school. They can observe and seek advice from professional musicians in the group. The group also provides free concerts of varied musical styles in a community that has limited fine arts events.  Concerts include seasonal programs—Halloween and Christmas programs, traditional concert band programs, chamber music, and arrangements of Renaissance through Contemporary orchestral repertoire.

USM’s warm water swimming pool is maintained as a service to the community. The pool is used primarily by those recovering from joint surgery or others whose mobility benefits from warm water therapy and by children taking swimming lessons.

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2P2 Determining major non-instructional objectives for external stakeholders

When appropriate, the organizer of the service opportunity dialogues with the external stakeholder about objectives to be achieved for the stakeholder. Together they set mutually agreeable outcomes and meet after the service event to determine if the objectives were met or not, and if not, why not. This process for setting objectives is used for all service learning courses and some Campus Ministry and Athletics service opportunities. The service learning professor ensures that the activity ties into the curriculum and allows students to use the skills and knowledge they are gaining in the course in the activity.  When working through an organization, Campus Ministry or Athletics discusses and agrees upon outcomes. However, Campus Ministry does not believe such questions are appropriate when doing direct service to the poor.

While gathering data from those served is at times difficult or even inappropriate, Campus Ministry does have objectives for the students involved in providing the service. These are discussed and agreed upon before the service event. After the event, students process and reflect on their service in light of the gospel and their objectives.

In regards to the band and the pool, the services are offered by the university and individuals set their own objectives: using skill, gaining skill, staying mobile, etc.

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2P3 Communicating your expectations regarding these objectives

USM communicates its expectations regarding its objectives to both those giving the service and, when appropriate, those receiving the service.

For example, the Faculty Handbook makes clear USM’s expectations of a faculty member regarding service. The handbook states, “Faculty members should make their unique expertise available to others in their community and profession.”

The university communicates the standards and criteria for service learning courses to all faculty through the catalog and annual updates. Information on service learning courses is part of new faculty orientation. Each faculty member is responsible for communicating and establishing objectives and desired outcomes with the community partner.

When communicating with a community partner, Campus Ministry establishes mutually agreed upon objectives and outcomes. In doing direct service with the poor, Campus Ministry dialogues with stakeholders when appropriate. Each coach communicates with a community partner and establishes mutually agreed upon objectives. These are sometimes just the task to be completed (e.g. leaves raked).

Service and its value are recognized internally through public announcements, scholarship awards (Saint Vincent de Paul Service Award), special recognition, mission awards and the Mother Mary Ancilla Award for Service given to a graduating senior for his or her outstanding service to those in need. These are communicated on the large TV monitors in the main halls, in the Aspire magazine and in Spireworks (e-newsletter), and at University Assemblies.

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2P4 Assessing and reviewing the appropriateness and value of these objectives

Objectives for the external stakeholder are most systematically assessed and reviewed in the service learning courses. The stakeholder fills out a written evaluation of the service and the professor meets with the stakeholder to discuss the findings and then makes adjustments for the following year. Thus, the OGI loop is closed. A summary of these objectives and findings are then reported to the Service Learning Office at the end of the academic year. The Service Learning Coordinator then reviews the data for learnings and trends.  The loop has only been closed for a year, so there is no trend data to report.
Campus Ministry assesses and reviews each service activity using the “after action” and OGI model, always tracking lessons learned. Students who participated in the service are involved in these “after action” meetings which are different than the faith-based reflection on the service.

The Athletics Program’s success in assessing and reviewing the appropriateness and value of the service varies. Athletics has yet to develop clear processes for collecting and analyzing this data.

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2P5 Determining faculty and staff needs relative to these objectives and operations

The Service Learning Coordinator, who is a full time faculty member, presents to the Faculty Senate at least twice a year to promote service learning. Faculty who are teaching a service learning course communicate their needs directly to the coordinator. Since the Faculty Senate approved clear standards and guidelines, the questions are now more related to establishing communication with appropriate community partners. Campus Ministry communicates its needs to the Vice President of Student Life as does the Department of Athletics. Campus Ministry needs are usually related to finances and supervision on longer mission trips. Athletics’ service is local and underdeveloped as far as identifying clear goals and needs. Identified needs are reported in the annual reports. 

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2P6 Incorporating information on faculty and staff needs in readjusting these objectives or the processes that support them

The service learning program is reviewed annually by the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Service Learning Coordinator. Together they review the data that has come in from the academic departments regarding service learning. Trends and issues are identified and the process, the policies, or the communication loop is adjusted as necessary.

Both Campus Ministry and Athletics report to the Vice President of Student Life. Many of the smaller issues identified in “after action” meetings can be incorporated immediately. Campus Ministry does produce a yearly report that identifies issues with service and possible solutions. In the spirit of subsidiarity, most of these adjustments are made at the department level. Issues of funding are brought to the Administrative Council for consideration in the next budget cycle.  

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2R1 Measures for accomplishing major non-instructional objectives and activities

USM collects a variety of information on how service is accomplished. Beyond counting hours, service-learning faculty assess the impact of the service experience through student critical reflections that are presented in writing or orally. Service learning instructors and partnership agencies evaluate the service contributions to their agencies and the effectiveness of communication and coordination. Through the personnel evaluation system, annual reports, and rank and tenure process faculty report their service activities.

Campus Ministry and Athletics track hours of service. While Campus Ministry does preparation and post service reflection, it is not evaluated in any sort of rubric. Athletics tracks hours, but has no measure of impact on the students or the stakeholders.

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2R2 Performance results in accomplishing other distinctive objectives

In 2010-2011, there were 10 service learning courses with a total of 150 students; in 2011-2012 there were 8 service learning courses with 112 students. For the fall of 2012, there are 9 student learning courses and 184 total students. The large increase in the fall 2012 numbers is because service learning has been incorporated in the First Year Experience course that is required of all freshmen.

Campus ministry recorded 1,271 hours of service in 2010-2011 (See Chart 2R2-1) and 2,261 hours of service in 2011-2012 (See Chart 2R2-2).  Athletics recorded 1,224 hours of service in 2010-2011 and 1,170 in 2011-2012 (See Chart 2R2-3). Further, USM Athletics has been declared a “5 Star Champions of Character” institution since NAIA started the program. This is NAIA’s highest designation. (Link 2R2: 'NAIA Names University of Saint Mary A Five Star Champions of Character School')

Chart 2R2-1 Campus Ministry Program Total Hours per Project
Academic Year 2010-2011

Chart 2R2-2 Campus Ministry Program Total Hours per Project
Academic Year 2011-2012

Chart 2R2-3 USM Athletic Department Service Total Hours
Academic Years 2010-2012

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2R3 Results for the performance of these processes compared with the performance results of other higher education institutions and, if appropriate, of organizations outside of higher education

USM compares its service hours in the state and nationally through Campus Compact. Nationally, 37% of the students participated; in Kansas, 26%; at USM 35%. Overall Campus Compact students across the country spent an average of 3.6 hours per week in service activities, amounting to a total of 158,464,950 hours, valued at $3,384,811,327 to the entities.  Kansas Campus Compact students served an average of 2.3 hours per week, totaling 1,988,213 hours, and valued at $42,468,233 to the entities served. USM students served an average of 10 hours per week, totaling 6,500 hours, and valued at $138,840 to the entities served. *Kansas Campus Compact 2011 Member Engagement Profile

Chart 2R3-1 Community Service/Service Learning/Civic Engagement Hours Compared Nationally

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2R4. Results strengthen the institution and enhance relationships

The results give evidence of USM’s commitment to service, which USM believes aids students in developing an enhanced sense of social responsibility to address injustices and inequities. Moreover, students are learning to recognize the dignity of each person's capacity to learn, relate, and better our diverse world. In addition, real community needs are seen and met.

In the curriculum, there are direct links between academic objectives of service performed that enhance the learning objectives of the class. Students are required to connect theory with practice, meeting a University Learning Outcome. This direct link has been augmented by the adoption of a standardization of service learning courses and more opportunities for students through Campus Ministry.

Pedagogically, there is evidence of advocacy for active learning with field-based problem and problem-solving experiences. There is clear evidence of course design and teaching styles that again link theory to practice. There is also demonstrated growth and success in community relations. USM has developed relationships with over 60 community agencies and schools.

Agencies asking to partner with USM and/or willingness to partner year after year give evidence of stable, strong relationships and that agencies value the services USM students provide.

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2I1 Recent improvements made in this category

The establishment of clear standards and criteria to be considered a service learning course has provided consistence and clear outcomes for the service learning classes. The incorporation of service learning in the First Year Experience course that is required for all freshmen introduces students to USM’s culture of service early in their college experience.

USM has begun to close the feedback loop from service/service learning data collected from community partners in evaluating how well USM service achieves its goal. The service learning evaluation distributed to sample schools within the Leavenworth Public School system is an important and major step in that direction.

Overall, there has been an increase in the number of students participating in service. USM was one of 16 Kansas universities that hosted a SWIPE event (the State-Wide Packaging Event supported by Numana) that packaged food for the hungry in the horn of Africa. 2011 was the inaugural year for Numana's State-Wide Packaging Event or SWIPE. Over 200 students, faculty, and staff took part. It was a concrete and major realization of the university’s core values of service.

USM is engaged in improving the internal data collection processes. The Service Learning Coordinator and Campus Ministry are modifying departmental reports that help collect data related to service activities, their nature, effectiveness, and community partnerships and provide for better benchmarks for success.

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2I2 How culture and infrastructure help select specific processes to improve and to set targets for improved performance results

As a small institution, agility in communicating and meeting for planning and assessment is a valuable element of our institutional culture. Further, a general commitment to service pervades the departments and personnel, making everyone more open and sympathetic to service issues and opportunities. This culture helps USM continuously improve its service to the community.

USM faculty and staff have identified the need for a systematic approach for collecting information and focusing the objectives of service activities. USM is exploring whether or not a focal point for service could better mobilize the USM community. The following is a list of goals looking forward.

Goal 1. Establish and maintain a clearinghouse of at least twenty volunteer needs.
Goal 2. Develop clear processes for collecting and analyzing data.
Goal 3. Develop objectives for service in Campus Ministry and Athletics.
Goal 4. Develop assessment tools for service in Campus Ministry and Athletics.
Goal 5. Explore and decide whether or not it is appropriate or helpful to establish benchmarks and goals for USM students who engage in service before graduation and/or for the number of hours of service to be completed.

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