AQIP Category 4



Context for Analysis

Category Four Contents

The University of Saint Mary’s mission and core values of community, respect, justice, and excellence inform the workplace environment and provide guidance for how we value people. The Mission Council was established to keep the mission and core values front and center at USM and sponsor activities throughout the school year to highlight our mission and values. The Mission Council is a 19-member group comprised of representatives from administration, maintenance, faculty, students, development, admissions, the Overland Park Campus, campus ministry, and campus counseling.

USM had two AQIP Action Projects in the Valuing People Category: 1) Improving Employee Compensation and Benefit Programs and 2) Developing a Client Service Improvement Plan. Although both are retired Action Projects, several systematic processes for valuing people were established as a result of these projects.

USM has attempted to address the opportunities for valuing people identified in its last systems portfolio appraisal, making improvements where indicated and making good processes better. Because some of these processes are fairly new, some still in the planning stages, and because the university has just recently filled the positions of Director of Human Resources and Institutional Researcher, it has not yet gathered or analyzed the data to show that all processes are successful.

Processes for Valuing People exhibit a range of maturity levels from systematic to aligned to integrated. Processes related to recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees (4P1, 4P2, 4P3) are systematic and aligned. The university recently reestablished and filled the position of Director of Human Resources which it has been operating without for the past several years. This will increase coordination and accountability and allow the university to establish more standardized methods of staff performance evaluations (4P10), which had previously been left up to individual supervisors.

USM has recently adopted new Business Conduct and Whistleblower policies to better ensure the ethical practices of its employees (4P7). Training on these new policies will soon be developed by the HR director and will be integrated into a systematic process.

The university is doing a better job of clearly articulating and implementing processes for its public recognition and rewards system (4P11) and aligning these with the institution’s key goals and strategies.

The university finds that face to face meetings are the most effective forums where key issues are identified, discussed, and acted upon as necessary. It now has multiple cross-functional institutional units that empower employees to resolve problems and make decisions for process improvement that lead to greater employee motivation and satisfaction (4P12, 4P13). Using its Ongoing Improvement (OGI) process, the university has found that the implementation of after action meetings and reports has proven very effective in staying focused on ongoing improvement and the continued pursuit of excellence, while also providing more opportunities to celebrate successes, which can sometimes be overlooked due to the fast pace at which the university operates. USM acknowledges the need to establish more clear targets in certain areas of valuing people so it can more effectively measure success and progress.

4P1-4P2 Identifying specific credentials, skills, and values in personnel and ensuring that employees possess all we require

USM identifies specific credentials, skills, and values required for faculty, staff, and administrators in approved job descriptions. Credentials and skills are identified specific to each position, such as degrees, scholarship, and teaching ability for faculty. It ensure that academic program accreditation faculty requirements are also identified in credentials and skills required and that we have the number of faculty required for program instruction. Most faculty and professional staff positions have industry established required credentials.

Before a position is posted, the direct supervisor of the position, the overseeing department vice president, and the Director of Human Resources review the description for accuracy. USM hires in conformity with Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Kansas Act Against Discrimination, and other federal and state employment-related statutes applicable to the University. The University reserves the right to exercise preference for a Catholic or a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth where permissible. Having satisfied these requirements, USM then looks for fit with mission, values, and culture.

The evidence provided here and in 4P10 demonstrates that we have met Core Component 3C: the institution has the faculty and staff needed for effective, high-quality programs and student services. Although we are a “lean” organization, which helps keep costs down and control tuition, we have sufficient faculty to carry out both classroom and non-classroom roles, as appropriate to their profession, including oversight of the curriculum and student performance.  They are appropriately credentialed at all levels (graduate and undergraduate) and for all delivery systems (on-ground and online).  USM employs a well defined, industry-common hiring process, usually including national searches, wherein minimal criteria are set and adhered to.  Once hired,  non-tenured faculty are evaluated formally every year by their department chairs and the Vice President for Academic Affairs, and once they have tenure they undergo a formal post-tenure review every five years.  (If the chair or VPAA believe that there is reason to do so, more frequent reviews are implemented.)  All of these reviews include an evaluation of faculty performance in the areas of teaching, scholarship and professional involvement, and service; and they involve a formal, clearly outlined review process with recommendations for improvement.  Our faculty are dedicated to their students – that is their highest priority -- and it is reflected in the many hours they spend with their students, which in turn is well complemented by a dedicated staff in a wide range of student support services.

All faculty and professional staff are hired through a search process that involves university personnel both from the discipline or area and from outside the area of discipline. Each search committee has leeway to define the process within the guidelines articulated in the Employee Handbook.

As outlined in the Employee Handbook, faculty search committees report results of the search, with recommendations, to the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA). The VPAA consults with the President, who makes final approval of the hire. For non-faculty search committees, formal search committees are only for key professional positions. Resumes are screened by the Director of Human Resources before being given to the search committee. Report results of the search, with recommendations, are given to the hiring supervisor. The newly created position of Director of Human Resources provides assistance to search committees.

The Director of Human Resources is currently standardizing job descriptions, including appropriate employee classifications, titles, etc. She is also ensuring job descriptions exist for each position. Job descriptions are being updated on an ongoing basis.

During USM’s Quality Checkup in February 2012, the University discussed with the review team a reference in its last portfolio feedback report to a specific challenge related to staff turnover in two areas.

As stated in the Quality Checkup Report dated February 2012:  “Overall, members of the University of Saint Mary community were in agreement with the feedback from the portfolio review. It appears to have been generally perceived that the Systems Portfolio reviewers understood the institution and the issues that were of importance.  One exception to this related to turnover rates of employees. Administration with the University of Saint Mary sought to clarify that faculty turnover was not an issue at the institution, and many faculty were long serving members of the community. A review of the Systems Portfolio by the review team found that the University had made reference to a specific challenge related to turnover of admissions employees and housekeeping staff. This clarification allowed the administration and the review team to discuss the current state of these employee groups at the institution resulting in a better understanding by both sides.”

Turnover rates have declined in the two employee groups noted above due to improved pay scales and the current employment market.

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4P3 Recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees

USM recruits nationally for faculty through both the Chronicle of Higher Education and discipline area specific publications. In some cases, such as administrator recruitment, it seeks the assistance of search firms. Professional staff is generally recruited from the local Kansas City metro area. Key to employee retention is hiring individuals who fit with the culture and mission of Saint Mary. The interview and campus visit aspects of its hiring process help both the candidate and the University determine if there is a good fit. Annual performance reviews give employees the opportunity to set goals, measure achievement of goals, and identify areas for ongoing improvement.

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4P4 Orienting employees to history, mission, and values

All new employees go through formal orientation (See Link 4P4-1: new employee orientation) that occurs before the start of the fall and spring semesters. Orientation includes a presentation on mission, values, and history. A mission and history video is also posted on the USM website. The university holds an adjunct orientation at the Overland Park Campus at the start of each school year. An online version of orientation that includes mission, history, and values is conducted for online instructors.

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4P5 Planning for changes in personnel

The University plans for changes in personnel when considering possible expansion or enhancement of operations, such as new academic programs or new support programs to enhance student success.

When the VPAA conducts the financial analysis for new academic or support programs, it identifies and plans for any additional staff or faculty that may be required once the program is implemented. Job descriptions are reviewed annually to make sure the university has the right position and departmental infrastructure to meet changing needs and requirements.

Due to USM’s small size and its “lean” staffing, succession planning is limited.  The need for faculty and administrators is determined by the process just noted and hired through a national search.  USM does offer considerable professional development which allows for some lateral, as well as upward, movement, mostly within staff support offices.

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4P6 Designing work processes and activities so that they contribute to organizational productivity and employee satisfaction

USM has decision-making systems that flow through academic governance and staff structures.  The Administrative Council, chaired by the President with all four Vice Presidents as members, meets weekly to reflect on all facets of USM operations. Policies are proposed, revised, reviewed, discussed, and approved as appropriate.

The Academic Leadership Council (departmental chairs) meet engage one another and share concerns on a semi-monthly basis throughout the school year. University Assemblies held multiple times throughout the year are another forum in which all faculty and staff share concerns, ask questions of administrators, and engage in open dialogue.

Administrative department heads meet weekly to discuss university-wide issues and to provide event or project updates to others on the team.

Since its last AQIP portfolio, USM has added a Process Improvement Team comprised of representatives of most operational departments that meets weekly to discuss and implement process improvements impacting the university.  Over 20 USM employees have received LEAN training for process improvement. Roughly half of those employees sit on the Process Improvement Committee that is committed to spreading ongoing improvement across the University.

Using the OGI model, USM has after-action meetings and after-action reports following an event or when a process is completed to review results, determine what worked and what didn’t, and identify where improvements can be made for the future. It often uses these “after action” meetings to show employee appreciation and to celebrate our successes. The after-action reports also make the information readily available to anyone who may need it in the future.

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4P7 Ensuring the ethical practices of all employees

USM takes its ethical practices direction from its founders and sponsors, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, in its commitment to conducting business with integrity, justness, and in accordance with high ethical standards. Social ethics is engrained in our culture. It is part of our mission and Catholic heritage. Every employee is held accountable for upholding these standards in their job performance and every job-related activity.

USM’s ethical standards are outlined in the Employee Handbook (See Link 4P7-1: Employee Handbook). USM has recently implemented a new Business Conduct Policy and a Whistleblower Policy incorporated into the Employee Handbook. The Director of Human Resources is currently developing a training program which will include a review of the two new policies.

The USM Mission Council promotes ethical behavior. It frequently utilizes University Day, when all faculty and staff come together for a daylong training session, as an opportunity for the Mission Council to reinforce our values of community, respect, justice, and excellence, and Catholic Social Teachings. New board members are introduced to our ethical practices and processes during Board of Trustees orientation. These are reinforced in board retreats.

The evidence provided here demonstrates that we have met Core Component 2A: the institution operates with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel, and auxiliary functions; it establishes and follows fair and ethical policies and processes for its governing board, administration, faculty, and staff. As noted, USM takes direction in its ethical practices from its founders and sponsors, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth.   Integrity and justice are ingrained in our policies, and every employee is held accountable for upholding these ethical standards, which are clearly stated in the Employee and Faculty Handbook.  Further, USM recently implemented a new Business Conduct (and Whistleblower) Policy.   The University has a detailed policy on academic honesty, outlined in this section, as well as an even more detailed Research Policy Involving Human Subjects, that meets the standards of external bodies such as  the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health.

Academic honesty is expected of all members of the University of Saint Mary community, as stated in the USM Academic Catalog. It is an essential component of higher education and is necessary for true academic growth. Christian tradition and professional excellence demand that truth, honesty, and academic integrity be valued in all interactions.

The most immediate institutional oversight to ensure the integrity of faculty, staff, and students comes from their immediate supervisors – department chairs, directors, and faculty.  Other review processes include the university’s academic honesty policy and the university’s Institutional Review Policy and Board. (See Link 4P7-2: USM’s Student Academic Honesty Policy & Procedures.)

University of Saint Mary Research Policy Involving Human Subjects

Definition of Research - For purposes of this policy, research is defined as an activity designed to test a hypothesis, permit conclusions to be drawn, and thereby to develop, or contribute to, generalized knowledge.  Research procedures include observing, surveying, testing, interviewing, and collecting private information from individuals.  Research would usually involve the gathering of information for scholarly purposes for presentations, publications, research papers, theses, and dissertations. These policies do not apply to assessment procedures conducted in classes for the purpose of program evaluation, evaluating student performance, or improving teaching effectiveness. 

Guidelines - The following guidelines apply to all human subject research conducted by the students, faculty, or staff of the University of Saint Mary (USM) and to all research conducted at USM by individuals not affiliated with USM.  When in doubt about the application of these policies, individuals should contact the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA).

  1. The basic moral principles underlying all research are (a) respect for persons and their autonomy, and (b) fidelity to scientific integrity.  Concerns about the welfare of human subjects of research take precedence over the value of the research to society or the researcher.

  2. Proposals for all human subject research projects conducted by students, faculty, or staff must be submitted to, and approved by, the VPAA. The VPAA may, at his or her discretion, submit such research proposals to USM faculty and/or staff, or individuals outside USM, for evaluation and advice.   

  3. In research involving the collection or study of existing data, documents, or records, information must be recorded whenever possible in such a manner that the subjects of the research cannot be identified, directly or through identifiers linked to the individual.  Confidentially of personal information must be assured.

  4. All human subject research conducted at USM by individuals not affiliated with the institution must receive prior approval by the VPAA.  Research conducted at USM that is affiliated with another institution must have the endorsement of that institution.  In many cases this will require approval by that institution’s Institutional Review Board (IRB).

USM students are guided through the ethical use of information resources by the faculty and “outreach librarian,” who visits classes with instruction on research methods, as well as faculty members including in their syllabi the university policy and, taking the time to explain, the university’s academic honesty policy.

The evidence provided here demonstrates that we have met Core Component 2E: the institution ensures that faculty, students, and staff acquire, discover, and apply knowledge responsibly. USM provides extensive oversight and support services to ensure the integrity of the research and scholarly practice of its faculty, staff and students, including the ethical use of information resources and academic honesty.   We believe this has been adequately addressed in CC2A, to which we would add one other reference.  One of our librarians is responsible for our Information Literacy focus.  As such she visits many classes each year– carefully selected for the relevance of that information to what is being taught – to provide guidance to students on how to find, screen, and make the best use of information resources available to them on the web.   She also makes herself available to students who need further assistance, especially when actually engaged in a research project.

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4P8 Determining training needs & aligning training with short- and long-range organizational plans, strengthening programs & services

USM seeks to identify future goals and training needs through the Strategic Plan. In those instances where there are more than one staff/faculty member, it is able to cross train and prepare for advancement.  In other situations where there is only one staff/faculty member, it is more important that the university prepare professional development plans for new hires. Further, it is able to look within the community and determine if anyone currently employed is available for and desirous of the advanced position, and has promoted them.

Faculty self-identify areas for professional development.  Further, the VPAA collects faculty evaluations on in-service activities that occur throughout the year. These evaluation results identify additional needs and recommendations for professional development. The agendas for Faculty Institutes incorporate this input as well as needs expressed by departments and committees (e.g. Assessment Committee, ALC, Freshman First-Year Experience, Academic Resource Center, and Service Learning).

In academic affairs, faculty are notified of the availability of professional development funds and priorities for that funding each August.  They are provided with the appropriate form to request funding and asked to submit that form as early as possible.

The OGI model described in Category 8P7 and the ongoing curriculum improvement process described in Category 1C3 offer additional explanations on the systems USM has put in place to support professional development of faculty, staff, and administrators.

Staff departmental professional development processes are developed and managed by the individual department director and vice president for that unit (e.g. academic affairs, administration, marketing, and student life). Priorities and allocation of professional development funds are set by each unit based on the needs of the university and the department and the intention of developing high performing employees. 

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4P9 Training and developing all faculty, staff, and administrators to contribute fully and effectively throughout their careers

All faculty have a professional growth plan that is developed with their department chair, and updated annually. Professional development funds for faculty are available through the VPAA's office.

USM is committed to professional development through faculty funding, rank and tenure for faculty, and by encouraging faculty, staff, and administration to belong to relevant professional organizations and to attend professional meetings. The faculty is guided by specific rules spelled out in the faculty specific section of the Employee Handbook.

Each vice president is responsible for providing opportunities for appropriate ongoing professional development for staff. Annual professional development goals are set by individual employees, which are reviewed and approved by their supervisor after consideration of budget and how training will advance department and university goals. Personal professional development goals are also taken into consideration.

USM continues to provide training for all faculty and staff at University Days and by means identified in the Client Service Improvement Action Project. Recent training included user training on the university’s new emergency mass notification system, the basics of emergency preparedness, dealing with difficult employees, dealing with difficult customers, and how to intervene when employee performance falls short.

Several of our training sessions are the result of employee suggestions in participant evaluations of previous training sessions.

More than 20 employees have received LEAN training and have spearheaded several LEAN projects for process improvement.

The Human Resources Director has developed a schedule for delivering compliance, and supervisory and employee training programs on varying subjects. Training attendance will be monitored, as appropriate, for proper recordkeeping. Supervisors are encouraged to review, at least annually, the training an employee has received during a specified time period (e.g., evaluation year).This review helps insure supervisors remain cognizant of the employee’s training needs, requirements, and goals.

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4P10 Designing and using a personnel evaluation system and aligning this system with objectives for instructional and non-instructional programs and services

The University has clear guidelines for regular faculty performance evaluations including annual evaluations for non-tenured faculty, VPAA annual interviews with non-tenured faculty, rank and tenure, process reviews, and annual reports with ongoing improvement goals. The VPAA and Department Chairs also review student evaluations of classes and instructors.

To help keep instructors current in their disciplines and in their teaching, faculty explore current issues in higher education relevant to USM at Fall and Spring Faculty Institutes.

For staff evaluations, each department currently has its own process for personnel review. Individual performance goals are aligned with university goals outlined in the Strategic Plan, which include instructional and non-instructional programs and services. Staff members who provide student support services are trained and supported in their professional development (e.g. the registrar attends annual FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] conferences and gives university-wide FERPA refresher training annually and alerts team members if there have been any changes to FERPA regulations).

Staff supervisors utilize the University's OGI process where employees identify their own strengths and areas for growth; assess improvements, achievements, and goals set last year; and set goals and develop action plans for the next year.  Most staff members have a weekly one-on-one meeting with their immediate supervisor for regular feedback and checking of goal progress.

Each VP develops an OGI report outlining goals achieved and goals set for the following academic year, which the President reviews and provides feedback. The President’s performance, as measured against goals set by the Board of Trustees, is reviewed annually by the Board.

The evidence provided here and in 4P2 demonstrates that we have met Core Component 3C. (covered in 4P1 & 2)

The HR director is in the early stages of developing a standardized, university wide, non-faculty performance appraisal.  The evaluation will consist of varying components.  The first component would be the evaluation of job duties, as defined by the job description.  The second component would be competency based.  The competencies the university would use in this section would relate to the mission statement and other important areas.  The third component would be a goal section which would allow a person to be reviewed on the previous year’s goals (individual, department and/or university) with an opportunity to establish goals for the upcoming year.  The fourth component would be related to training/development. This would allow the university to ensure employees are attending compliance training and also being recognized for additional training/development they have received.

There will be extensive training for both the evaluator and recipient on how to complete the appraisal, establish goals (using the SMART methodology - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based) and evaluate before implementing.

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4P11 Designing employee recognition, reward & compensation, and benefits systems to align with instructional & non-instructional programs and services

USM designs recognition, reward, and compensation structures to model its expectations for living out USM values and recognizing the primary mission of helping students learn. These expectations are manifest in AQIP Action Projects, Mission Council activities, and annual awards and recognitions.

USM's AQIP Action Project on Improving Employee Compensation and Benefits Programs (See Link 4P11-1: AQIP Action Project on Improving Employee Compensation and Benefits Programs) worked to improve recruitment and retention of quality employees. The key organizational processes targeted for improvement were compensation, employee benefits, and employee performance. Evaluation of the action project has been done as documented in the final AQIP Action Project Update (9/23/2011).  In summary form, the Committee found planning for a project of this scope to be more difficult than anticipated.  Significant outside changes, for example health care reform, in employee benefits impacted the progress of the Committee.

The Committee also found the topic of compensation and benefits to be a sensitive and emotional topic for employees. While the Committee strived to be fair in any proposed plan of action, it realized that not all employees were satisfied with the changes.

The AQIP Client Service Improvement Action Project committee chair continues to share feedback from student and parent service satisfaction surveys and secret shopper reports when individual staff or faculty members are noted for providing exceptional service. Negative feedback is shared with the employee's immediate supervisor.

USM has a balanced and public recognition and rewards system, which is coordinated with Categories 1 and 2 and which shows commitment to valuing people. The following are the awards and processes used to define the employee honorees:

The Sullivan Award - This award is named after Sister Mary Louise Sullivan, Academic Dean of USM from 1952-1974. She was a model of academic integrity, vision and excellence in her own life and tried to instill these same qualities in the students at Saint Mary.  This award is given to a full-time faculty member who has made a distinct difference in the teaching climate at the University.  It was established to recognize, reward and encourage excellence in teaching. 

The Process - All faculty members, staff, and students are encouraged to nominate a teacher who fulfills the above requirements. The nominations are given to a committee of three former recipients of the honor who, in turn, recommend the winner to the Academic Dean. The winning teacher receives $1,000 and the award is announced at spring convocation and at commencement.

The Living the Mission Award - This recognition is given to the faculty member, staff or student who has gone above and beyond the given expectation of their defined job and is perceived as ‘Living the Mission’ in an extraordinary way.

The Process - Anyone (faculty member, staff, or student) can submit a Mission Recognition form explaining why they think a specific person is worthy of recognition in a special way. The nominator can sign the form or can remain anonymous. The nomination is sent to the mission leader who writes a letter to the honoree stating why he/she were chosen, along with a small token of appreciation from the Mission Council. The mission leader sends the information to the marketing and communications department who then takes the recipient’s picture for the TV monitor. The recipient of the award is announced in the monthly employee newsletter.

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4P12 Determining and acting on key issues related to the motivation of faculty, staff, and administrators

USM determines key issues related to the motivation of faculty, staff, and administrators through inclusive and interactive University Assembly and University Day forums, the collegial governance system, and line structures (e.g. ALC, Administrative Services, Faculty-Senate, Process Improvement) that encourage cooperation, problem-solving, and support to improve the institution.

Because USM is a smaller university, it is not limited to a standardized course for action.  Multiple avenues are available for key issues to be identified, discussed, and acted upon as necessary.  Employees of all levels are encouraged to bring forward key concerns, ideas, and information through various methods (e.g., department meetings, supervisory/director meetings, performance appraisals, exit interviews, email, and more). The Administrative Council (AC) reviews, discusses, and encourages a course of action for university-wide issues, such as the recommendation of developing a lean committee or lean project to resolve the issue.

Employee discussions with human resources also assist with identifying key issues which may need a course for action. Human resources also provides feedback, as appropriate, from exit interviews and will be maintaining collective data for further trending analysis.

Key issues are also identified in annual student and parent service satisfaction surveys and secret shopper reports instituted as a part of the Client Service Improvement AQIP Action Project. The Client Service Improvement Committee chair reviews surveys and reports results to the AC. The chair informs department directors of recurring patterns of service issues (e.g. technology and equipment at the Overland Park Campus, customer service in a particular department) and a course of action is determined. The Committee knows the problem has been resolved if it does not resurface as a pattern or theme in the next year’s survey.

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4P13 Providing for and evaluating employee satisfaction, health and safety, and well-being

USM provides multiple support systems for employee satisfaction, health and safety, and well-being. USM supports employees through

  • benefits such as medical insurance plans, dental, vision, pharmacy benefit plan, flexible spending accounts, a retirement plan, long and short-term disability, life insurance, and New Directions Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

  • Balanced Living monthly e-newsletters from EAP.

  • free biometric health screenings once a year.

  • free access to exercise facilities and equipment on campus.

  • new employee orientation, one-on-one explanation of benefits, contents of the Employee Handbook, and overall guidelines from the HR upon employment.

  • 24/7 security on campus. 

  • emergency preparedness training, fire and tornado evacuation drills, and crisis simulation exercises.

  • the emergency alert system through a loudspeaker system on the main campus and through text and email alerts.

The university periodically reviews and analyzes employee satisfaction and utilization of Saint Mary benefits. USM most recently performed a university-wide survey in the spring of 2010, in which employees were asked to rank the relative importance of different benefits offered by the university. This and other methods, including a Fall 2011 analysis of a free gym membership program, allows the university to more wisely spend its benefit dollars in a way that addresses its employees’ top benefit priorities.

The university surveys faculty and staff immediately following a university-wide professional development session to measure session satisfaction and identify improvement areas, as well as get input on what training employees would like to receive in the future. It also sends out evaluation surveys after new employee orientation and makes modifications based on feedback.

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4R1 Measures of valuing people

USM has identified measures of valuing people and collects, analyzes, and communicates information on these measures, which include:

  • Campus Crime Statistics are posted each year on the USM website. These statistics are shared with all employees through University Assembly reports.

  • Surveys of adult students at our Overland Park Campus and parents of new main campus students once a year. The Client Service Improvement Committee chair reviews the data, notes if service rankings have improved or declined from the previous year and looks for patterns and themes of both positive and negative feedback. The chair then shares this information with the AC, and department directors, who in turn, share it with their teams.

  • An annual secret shopper report of both main campus and the Overland Park Campus, which ranks delivery of customer service by our admissions representatives, evaluates the quality of our website and marketing collateral and how we rank with our top competing institutions. The report, which includes suggestions for improvement, is shared with the director of enrollment management to take action steps for improvement.

  • The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which is administered to freshmen and seniors annually. The university just received results of its first NSSE survey, and it is in the process of analyzing the data. NSSE includes a section on student satisfaction.

USM found the cultural audit survey of faculty and staff not to be an effective measure of valuing people. Other Kansas Independent College Association (KICA) schools have shared that they too did not find a cultural audit survey to be a useful tool. USM finds face-to-face interaction more effective in identifying areas for improvement. The Director of Human Resources is exploring other methods to help the university measure employee satisfaction.

USM also encourages inclusion in committee representation, making sure that both faculty and staff have a voice on committees and task forces developing major projects, such as the website redesign (e.g., a faculty member was on the website redesign review committee, along with staff department designees).

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4R2 Performance results in valuing people

USM measures its performance results in valuing people in several ways.

  • Senior faculty have received incremental pay raises to be more in line with like positions in KICA schools as a result of the Improving Employee Compensation and Benefit Programs AQIP Action Project.  We are now working on adjusting mid-level salaries.

  • Training workshop attendance and evaluations by faculty and staff.

  • The systemized annual service satisfaction surveys of Overland Park students and parents of new students on the main campus help identify areas of concern and provide the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate employees who deliver exceptional service.

USM established an AQIP Action Project for Client Service to improve service provided in institutional operations (e.g. business office, financial aid, admissions, registrar) and overall response to needs. USM sends out an online student satisfaction survey each spring to Overland Park Campus students to determine if support operations effectively achieved their goals of providing responsive service to new students. (See Link 4R2-1: Overland Park Student Service Survey Results.)  (See Link 4R2-2: Main Campus Parent Customer Service Survey Results.)

Survey comments are also reviewed for qualitative data, identifying areas for improvement, such as the request for more and better directional signage, better website navigation, or investigating negative experiences in a particular office. The university also notes themes and patterns of positive comments. Survey results are shared with the AC and in the orientation planning committee after action meeting.

The concept of valuing people is embedded in the very fiber of the USM community. Examples are too numerous to list here, but include faculty “showing off” their students by opening presentations to everyone, emails circulating touting the accomplishments of staff/faculty/students in endeavors both inside and outside of USM, and watching staff and faculty as they speak with students outside of functional areas, thus becoming a caring part of each other’s lives.

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4R3 Evidence that indicates the productivity & effectiveness of faculty, staff, and administrators in helping achieve our goals

Faculty productivity and effectiveness is continually monitored by our accreditors, including not only HLC but also NCATE (Education), CCNE (Nursing), CAHIIM (Health Information Management), IACBE (Business), and CAPTE (Physical Therapy), as well as by the various licensing exams they and other associations administer to students.

As evidenced in Table 4R2-1, USM has been generally successful in achieving its goal of receiving a 50% or higher score in the top rating (#5 Doing Great) at the Overland Park Campus and continue to improve each year. In the 2012 survey, it saw a dip below 50% in the financial aid and business offices service ranking. Student comments identified a problem in the phone message system and returning phone calls in a timely fashion. The VP of Administrative Services worked with these issues with related offices to find resolution. In most cases, the university can identify the cause for slips in rankings through the student comment section that brings service issues to its attention.

In 2008 student satisfaction surveys at the Overland Park Campus, data cited dissatisfaction with access to the course management system (eSpire). The university created an internal task force with members from the marketing team and Information Services, creating a dummy account and walking through eSpire through the eyes of a student. It took action steps to improve the structure of eSpire to make navigation more intuitive for students.

Since 2008, new leadership and faculty in the Master of Arts in Psychology and the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology programs have energized both programs leading to greatly improved student satisfaction with the programs and higher enrollments.

Although USM does not separate student respondents out by program now that it has moved to an online survey, the programs do give respondents opportunities to submit comments.  A survey instrument is administered at the end of the semester for each class providing students with an opportunity to indicate satisfaction and to make suggestions about possible areas of improvement.  As students near completion of the entire program, graduating students are also asked to provide us with responses to a questionnaire designed to indicate areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.  Since the implementation of the staff changes previously mentioned, satisfaction levels with the two graduate psychology programs appear to be steadily improving. (See Category 3, as well.)

As evidenced in Table 4R2-2, USM has also consistently surpassed our goal of a score of 65% or higher for the highest ranking (#5 Doing Great) in each area.

The implementation of systemized annual service satisfaction surveys to students and parents identifies areas of concern and provides the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate employees delivering exemplary client service.

The Overland Park Campus now holds a new student orientation that includes a segment led by a member of Information Services explaining eSpire. An eSpire overview is also provided in new employee orientation. After the university implemented its eSpire improvement plan, complaints about eSpire significantly declined in the following year’s student satisfaction survey. It continues to survey students about eSpire’s user-friendliness and any areas of concern are shared with the Director of Information Services, as they continue to look for ways to improve the user-friendliness of eSpire.

USM has successfully launched the new employee orientation, receiving positive feedback from participants. It has established a systemized annual secret shopper process that has provided valuable service feedback, and it has reacted to growth opportunities. The university distributes a monthly employee e-newsletter to keep employees better informed about new faculty and staff and other important information to help them better serve students. Lunch n’ learn opportunities are provided to keep employees better informed about new academic programs, providing short talking points for them to relay to any prospective student they may encounter.

USM established a signature Network Event sponsored by the University of Saint Mary Overland Park Campus in which it brings in a guest speaker on a hot topic of interest to the business community. The event is free and open to the public and provides a service to the community. Success was measured by surpassing attendance goals and attendee survey feedback.  Fifty-five people attended the first event, held in August 2011, on Marketing Yourself through Social Media. The attendance goal was 40. Twenty-nine people attended the second Network Event in December 2011–Standing Out in Today’s Crowded Job Market. The attendance goal was 25. The event shows a commitment to valuing people by providing these free services for the benefit of the community.

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4R4 Results for the performance of processes for valuing people compared with performance results of other higher education institutions and, if appropriate, of organizations outside of higher education

The university analyzed comparisons of faculty salaries with KICA schools.  Below average salaries have been adjusted as appropriate.  It also found that some staff salaries needed to be adjusted, as they had not been adjusted to reflect changes in job descriptions and added responsibilities.  USM’s benefits package is continually monitored and adjusted, as well.

The university has two consecutive years of Secret Shopper Reports for the main campus and the Overland Park Campus MBA program.  A ranking system was established that included delivery of customer service, timeliness of response, marketing collaterals and website impressions, etc. In 2010, the secret shopper ranked the USM Overland Park Campus second out of four area universities secret shopped. In 2011, USM ranked first out of six schools investigated.

In 2011, the main campus ranked third out of four schools investigated in 2011 and first out of five schools investigated in 2012.

Areas for improvement were suggested by the secret shopper in their final report, which was reviewed by the VP of Marketing and the Director of Enrollment Management.

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4I1 Recent improvements made In valuing people

The hiring of an HR director is a key recent improvement for the university in valuing people. The HR Director will establish comprehensive standardized processes for staff performance appraisals and develop a plan for university-wide professional development training.

The appointment of an institutional researcher provides a valuable resource for team members to turn to for more thorough analysis of survey data, so the university can better identify areas for improvement and make year to year comparisons to better measure results and impact.

The university is now much more cognizant of making sure it is listening to the voice of its customers or clients and insuring that processes revolve around the needs of students, not necessarily what’s easiest for university personnel or departments. (e.g. Recently the chair of the Client Service Improvement Committee was appointed to lead a LEAN project on communicating timely bill payments to students and parents in a customer-friendly way. Several actions were taken based on student focus group feedback that resulted in improvement in timely bill payment.)

USM launched two new websites since its last systems portfolio: the main site and Overland Park Campus site, seeking input on information architecture, navigation, and content from prospective students, prospective parents, current students, focus groups and surveys, faculty, and staff. One month after the new main campus site launched in June 2012, the Google Analytics reports showed:

  • Many numbers have improved from the monthly Google analytics prior to launch, including the bounce rate (the rate at which users exit the site). The old site had an unusually high bounce rate of nearly 72 percent. The new site has cut that rate down to about 59 percent, which means people are finding the information they want faster. Ease of use is very important to all users.

  • The university has increased its total page views per visit by an entire page (1.70 for the old site, 2.83 pages per view for the new). People are also staying longer on the new site versus the old site (1:37 for the old, 2:56 for the new).

  • The total number of pages viewed for the new site has increased significantly. The old site produced approximately 51,000 page views. Since the new site, we have seen a drastic spike to almost 80,000 (79,822) (over the same 30 day period of time).

The new website’s goal is to also help with student retention by targeting the profile of the student most likely to stay all four years at USM. We developed a YouTube video, “Will I Fit In?” which received over 250 views in one month’s time. The university has also created more interactive, sharable content through social media, photo galleries, and videos to meet online expectations of today’s college-bound students.

USM has added “Report a Concern” links throughout the website and on eSpire. These Maxient Reports are followed up by the USM CARE Team.

USM launched the new emergency alert system in August of 2011 to incorporate text messaging and email into the university’s emergency communications. The system is to be used for serious or life-threatening emergencies occurring on campus. The system is also used to disseminate information such as weather-related closings or delayed openings. Reminders on bill paying, class registration deadlines, sports team updates, and student life events are available on an opt-in basis. Parents are made aware of the USM alert system and may also sign up for alerts. The university systematically includes flyers about the alert system in new student welcome packets and parent information packets during move-in days each fall. A marketing representative also gives a presentation during parent orientation.

Overland Park student service surveys are systematically conducted each spring. The university continues to look for ways to increase response rates. The new student parents annual survey is systematic as well. Once the university receives the NSSE student survey results, it will determine if the NSSE provides enough information about customer service and satisfaction to adequately measure and monitor the delivery of customer service across campus.

The establishment of a regular secret shopper process has resulted in additional secret shopper projects as USM launches new healthcare academic programs, which is continued initiative in the Strategic Plan. Prior to launch of the Accelerated BSN program, the university conducted a secret shopper survey of competing programs which was very helpful in developing recruitment materials and making sure USM is a strong competitor in the marketplace. The university also conducted a secret shopper survey of our new Health Information Management program. USM ranked first out of five universities with similar programs surveyed.

USM launched new employee orientation and will continue to look for ways to reevaluate and improve orientation to meet the employee needs. This is now systematic, occurring in the fall and spring semesters.

The university has greatly improved interior signage on campus and has developed a comprehensive signage improvement plan with multiple phases dependent upon budget resources.

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4I2 How our culture and infrastructure helps us to select specific processes to improve and set targets for improved performance results in valuing people

Regular, cross-functional meetings and after-action meetings and reports that focus on living the mission help the university select processes to improve results in valuing people. The commitment to lifelong learning and ongoing improvement, being student-centered, and the demand for excellence in all things established by USM’s founders, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, is imbedded in the university’s culture and is its heritage.

USM will continue to strive for improvements in service satisfaction surveys of students and parents and secret shopper rankings, addressing areas for ongoing improvement. The HR Director will develop a new way to measure employee satisfaction to help establish a baseline from which to measure improvement.

In coordination with the HR Director, USM will develop an employee training schedule and identify areas where refresher training is needed. While the university shares the contents of the Saint Mary Way Guidebook with service guidelines with new employees, it must also develop refresher training, particularly for staff in mainline areas such as admissions and student services (business office, financial aid, registrar, etc.). It will also develop service guidelines and training for specific student workers, student ambassadors, and graduate assistants.

USM will do a comprehensive review of valuing people processes to make sure it has closed the loop – that when areas of improvement and action plans are identified, it follows up to make sure action has been taken, that the desired result was achieved, and that clear targets for improvement based on our data have been established.

USM continues to expand ways through which it shares goals and data with the university community to further demonstrate its commitment to employees and to valuing people.

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