Image

AQIP Category Six


SUPPORTING INSTITUTIONAL OPERATIONS

6C1 Identifying and using key student and administrative support services

Key student and administrative support services are organized and managed by operating departments. The services are depicted in Table 6-1.

Table 6-1 Key Student and Administrative Support Services

 

Student Services

Academic Support Services

Administrative Services

Student and Campus Activities

De Paul Library

Admissions

Career Services

Academic Resource Center

Financial Aid

Health Services & Resources

Information Technology

Advising

Counseling

 

Registration

Service Learning

 

Business Office

Athletic Programs

 

Facilities Management

Student Employment Program

 

 

Bookstore/Spirit Shop

 

 

Public Safety

 

 

Food Services (contracted service)

 

 

Campus Ministry

 

 


Student needs met by these student services, academic support, and administrative services are highlighted in Table 6-2.

Table 6-2 Highlight of Student Needs Met by Support Service Category
 

Service Category

Highlights of Needs Met

Student Services

Locating campus employment, new student orientation and freshman matriculation ceremony, maintaining calendar of student activities, providing information about student organizations, residential life, wellness and health services, service learning projects, intercollegiate athletic sports teams, security and emergency support, acquisition of textbooks, providing food services with flexible meal plans, personal and spiritual growth programs

Academic Support Services

Creating class schedules and course catalogs, providing library, tutoring and study skills training, providing laptop computers to each full-time student, access to technology support, including the Help Desk, and network connections

Administrative Services

Information to prospective students, supplying financial assistance information, preparing financial aid packages, advising and enrolling students, providing clean, safe, and instructionally sound facilities


The key administrative support processes are listed below:

  • accounting and business office functions
    • budgeting
    • accounts payable
    • accounts receivable
    • payroll
  • facilities management
  • information technology
  • human resources
  • risk management
  • fundraising
  • treasury functions

These support services meet the needs of stakeholder groups by processing financial transactions, preparing financial reports, maintaining student accounts, providing student billing reports, maintaining adequate, clean and safe facilities, adequately planning for the financial needs of the University, managing integrated information technology systems and providing access to technology systems and technical support, providing employee hiring, benefits and training resources, providing contact and providing information to alumni and ensuring the fiscal stability of the University through maintaining adequate insurance coverage, appropriate investment policies and short and long term financial planning.

6C2 Administrative and student support for student learning and other distinctive objectives

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

Key student support services reinforce student learning by assessing basic academic skills and providing guidance on programs of study through advising, assisting in integrating instructional technology into the teaching and learning process, providing access to library resources available both on and off campus, and by offering tutoring and study skills training. Student life services support student learning by offering campus activities (e.g. student government, athletics, service learning projects) where students can apply learning experiences to practical experiences.

6P1 Identifying student support service needs

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

•  In the admissions process, testing is done to determine basic skill levels to identify appropriate classes or tutoring needs

•  Evaluations solicited from new students and their parents during the registration process determine levels of client service and satisfaction with the registration process

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

Students provide feedback for functions both inside and outside the classroom with the use of satisfaction surveys, course evaluations, customer comments cards, focus groups, and review of complaints. For example, student feedback indicated residence hall room rates and space were not competitive with alternative housing choices off campus. After review and analysis, the Administrative Council (AC), in consultation with the Board of Trustees (BOT), significantly reduced residence hall rates and made more space available (i.e. changing double rooms to single rooms) to compete in the student housing market.

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

6P2 Identifying administrative support service needs of other key stakeholders

Administrative support service needs of faculty, staff, administrators, and other stakeholders are determined by a variety of processes. The BOT provides direction and feedback and completes evaluations of Board meetings on a regular basis. The AC, representing all areas of the University, meets on a weekly basis to discuss policies and resource issues and holds an annual retreat to plan for the coming year. There is a shared governance structure involving faculty and staff which provides feedback on several aspects of the University's operations.

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

Faculty surveys highlighted the need to address salaries. The administrative council responded with a plan to “catch-up” the salaries of senior faculty to the mean of the Kansas Independent College Association (KICA) schools (other independent colleges in Kansas ). Historically, the senior faculty were hired as some of the first lay faculty joining a faculty of sisters who were only paid stipends. Younger faculty are hired at market rates. The Benefits AQIP Action Project will be using employees' surveys to determine preferred benefits. Then the structure of current employee benefits will be reviewed and changes will be proposed. The committee is currently reviewing a pool of resources funding approach that allows USM to be more responsible to employee needs. (See category 4, Valuing People, for discussion of this Action Project.)

6P3 Managing and documenting key student and administrative support service processes

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

User committees, both formal and ad hoc, review procedures and systems to resolve issues or to improve effectiveness. The level of cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork is very good among system users and ad hoc committees work to quickly resolve minor problems or issues with processes or systems improvements. This empowers users to operate efficiently and effectively and, unless there is a significant policy change, to operate without direct supervision of upper management.

System users produce a variety of reports, on a regular basis, reflecting daily, monthly, and year-to-date information. (See Table 6-3 below for listing of reports and category 7C2 for reporting schedule). Users and AC review, analyze these reports to ensure needs are being met in a timely and accurate manner. The AC shares these with the University community as a whole during the monthly University Assembly meeting.

6P4 Using information and results to improve key services

Monitoring results and reports provides information on the effectiveness of processes. This information, taken together with the setting of goals and reviewing historical trends, reveal areas which may require immediate attention. If, upon further analysis and review, concerns or issues are identified, directors or VPs take action to remedy the problem. For example, the Director of Admissions reviews data each week and progress toward goals is measured. If progress is not satisfactory, the director in consultation with the VP determines remedial actions necessary to move admissions back on track toward meeting goals. The AC measures results against appropriate benchmarks, generally on an annual basis, which also may provide information on the need to improve processes. For example, the AC sets annual goals for tuition discount rates and actual results are determined for comparison. Further, the AC obtains and reviews tuition discount rates for the University's peer group to determine the need, if any, to revise processes to achieve a more appropriate and competitive rate.

Students and staff provide feedback, both written and oral, to improve services. For example, student and staff evaluations of freshman registration and orientation indicated that the process was overly complex and time consuming. The departments involved have met regularly, as a group, over the past three years, and will continue to meet, to determine ways to streamline and simplify the registration process. Improvements have been made each year throughout the process. As a result, new student registration now takes much less time and is less complex than in the past. This success is validated by the most recent results from the evaluations, completed by students and their parents, which showed a high level of satisfaction with the experience. (See 4R3). Another recent example involved the formation of a committee, comprised of members from several operating departments, to determine the requirements to increase from five academic term starts each year to six academic term starts a year. The committee reviewed, revised and implemented changes to processes, including computer system modifications, to accommodate this change. Both of these efforts utilize the user committee model referred to above (6P3).

6P5 Measuring student and administrative support services processes

The University collects and analyzes several measures related to student and administrative support processes. Many support services rely on more than one measurement. For example, the admissions process measures the number of potential student inquiries and tracks the conversion rate to applications. In addition, while many of the measures have been in place for some time, the University continues to develop new and meaningful measures for service processes. For example, the Academic Resource Center (ARC), which provides tutoring and study skills training, is in the process of revising measures of the type and frequency of services being used by students. The ARC records the information and results are measured and reviewed. The student and administrative support processes and associated measurements which directors and AC regularly review are summarized in Tables 6-3 and 6-4, respectively.

Table 6-3 Student Support Processes and Measures
 

Student Support Services

Measures

Admissions

  • Inquiries
  • New student enrollment
  • Conversion rates
  • Enrollment

Financial Aid

  • Tuition discount rate
  • ERMS results

Student Life

  • Residential students
  • Retention-1 st time F-T

Information Services

  • Helpdesk response rate
  • Helpdesk client satisfaction

Service Learning

  • Project summary and results
  • Number of participating students & agencies

Athletics

  • Number of student athletes

Security and safety

  • Crime statistics made available

Academic Resource Center

  • Services used statistics

Health Center

  • Number and kind of visits

Resident Life

  • Attendance at activities
  • Incident Reports

Table 6-4 Administrative Support Processes and Measures

 

Administrative Support Services

Measures

Accounting

  • Annual audit opinion
  • Management letter comments

Budget preparation

  • Balanced budget
  • Decreasing level of sponsor support

Finance

  • Positive cash flow
  • Endowment balance

Information technology

  • Work order status

Business Office

  • Student account balances

6R1 Results for student support services processes

Data are kept for many student support service processes referenced in the services and measures in Tables 6-3 and 6-4. Key results included in this section align directly with strategic and distinctive objectives. The impact of support processes can be measured in terms of progress toward meeting strategic goals such as enrollment, retention, and service learning.

Enrollment of new full-time freshmen is evaluated through tracking admissions data through the inquiry to enrollment stages shown in Table 6-5 and results by site in Table 6-6.

Table 6-5 Admissions Statistics
 


Fall 2008

Fall 2007

Fall 2006

 

Goal

Actual

Conversion

Actual

Conversion

Actual

Conversion

Inquiries

3,300

2,966

 

2,933

 

3,141

 

Applications

765

822

27.5%

698

23.8%

747

23.8%

Accepts

455

540

65.7%

410

58.7%

415

55.6%

Deposits

205

215

39.8%

162

39.5%

196

47.2%

Enrolled

185

198

92.1%

141

87.0%

178

90.8%

Table 6-6 Enrollment Statistics-Total Headcount
 


Fall 2008

Fall 2007

Fall 2006

Undergraduate

 

 

 

Main Campus*

523*

434*

414*

Extended Sites

133

163

136

Total Undergraduate

656

597

550

 

 

 

 

Graduate-Extended Sites

301

289

289

 

 

 

 

Total Headcount

957

886

839

 

 

 

 

*Full-Time Students

446

388

389


Financial aid results provide evidence of services supporting student needs and contributing to enrollment goals. USM consulted with Noel Levitz to create a plan for the management of institutional financial aid known as the Enrollment Revenue Management System (ERMS). ERMS allows the University to plan how much institutional financial aid will be provided and to what targeted group of prospective students such aid will be offered. During the admissions cycle, ERMS reports are reviewed regularly to ensure compliance with the plan. At the conclusion of the admissions cycle, final ERMS reports are reviewed in depth and serve as a basis for the subsequent year's financial aid plan. For Fall 2008, the goal was to maintain a tuition discount rate of 41.5% for new full-time students, while the actual tuition discount rate for the Fall 2008 class was 40.3%.

Student Life processes resulted in a growth of full-time residence students from 109 for Fall 2007 to 167 for Fall 2008. First year retention of first-time full-time freshmen has grown from 56.7% for Fall 2003 to 71.2% for Fall 2007.

Quality of student life as a result of support services is represented by crime statistics and NAIA Champions of Character program. USM had 205, 170 and 184 NAIA eligible student-athletes for Fall 2006 thru Fall 2008, respectively. Crime statistics for calendar years 2005-2007 are low and are decreasing over time. View the online statistics.

Service Learning results in Category 2 indicate the level of service to the community on the part of students as well as the support that faculty and USM VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America ) provide students to carry out USM's mission.

6R2 Results for administrative support service processes

Administrative support services accomplished the following results:

  • Received an unqualified opinion on the audited financial statements for fiscal year ended 2007
  • Received no material weakness comments in the fiscal year ended 2007 management letter from the independent accounting firm
  • Adopted and met the balanced budget for fiscal year ended 2008
  • Adopted a balanced budget for the fiscal year ended 2009
  • Maintained a positive cash flow during fiscal year 2008 and to date during fiscal year 2009
  • Endowment balance has grown from $7.8 million for fiscal year ended 2005 to $10.5 million for fiscal year ended 2008
  • Initiated construction of a new residence hall to be opened by fall 2009
  • Completed the University's first public bond issue for $4.5 million for the purpose of funding construction of a new residence hall

6R3 Results comparisons

The Kansas Independent College Association (KICA) and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) are two primary peer groups with which the University compares results. Both organizations provide a significant number of measures involving operating and financial statistics. The KICA provides information from each member institution while the CIC Toolkit report groups institutions with similar characteristics, such as enrollment size and geographical region. The KICA also prepares an annual comprehensive salary survey and distributes the results to member schools. The University compares key measures and results in several key areas to these reports. These comparisons assist in determining the appropriate benchmark to establish in the University's operations.

USM also uses historical trends within USM as a major factor in evaluating goals and establishing improvement interventions. Data are tracked over time and the AC and BOT review these patterns annually. They monitor trends in retention, budget, and enrollment which are key areas for evaluating administrative and student support capacity.

6I1 Improving current processes and systems

USM identifies processes in need of improvement by using the OGI model for data-based decision making by evaluating information from the monitoring and analysis of various reports, including the results on established goals, historical trends and comparisons with like institutions and benchmarks, and feedback from students and other stakeholders. As the needs for improvements are identified, appropriate user groups or committees determine the priority of making improvements. The the need for improvement, as well as the resources required to implement the improvement are factors used in determining priority. More significant needs for improvements are presented to administration for determining priority with the input of staff. Approved projects for improvement, including AQIP Action Projects, are then given appropriate faculty and staff assignments, and any other required resources, in order to achieve the desired goals.

6I2 Setting targets for improvement

In key areas where improvements are needed, reasonable targets are established. For example, continuing improvement in the admissions process will yield a higher number of new student enrollment for Fall 2009. The target for Fall 2009 is 210 students, an increase over the 198 students enrolled in Fall 2008. Targets for each area are agreed to by department heads and their respective supervisors. Improvement priorities are determined by the anticipated scope of impact upon University operations. Areas of improvement related to the objectives of implementing the strategic plan take top priority. AQIP Action Projects also receive top priority. Administrative Council communicates key improvement priorities, and the progress towards implementation, to key stakeholders at Board of Trustees meetings, University Assemblies, Faculty Senate, and on the USM web site.