AQIP Category Three

Understanding Students' and Other Stakeholders' Needs

3C1-2 Students and other major stakeholders

USM segments its stakeholders into internal and external groups and then subdivides them into functional groups based on interrelated demographics and functions. Recognizing the need to work with each group in a unique manner, USM targets needs and expectations and focuses activities to meet the needs of each group. Table 3-1 lists the key internal and external stakeholders and highlights short-term and long-term needs and expectations for each group.

Table 3-1 Stakeholder Needs & Expectations

Internal Stakeholders


Short Term

Long Term



Faculty relationships

Campus safety

Academic support

Campus activities

Campus housing and food service

Transferable education



Support Services

Ongoing alumni communication



Convenience of offerings

Quality of education

Accelerated time to program completion

Transferable education




User friendly environment

Available Tech Support

Ease of access

Transferable education



Trustees and Sponsors

Stewardship of human, fiscal, and physical resources

Compliance with governing documents

Timely and accurate information

Effective strategic planning

Continuance of Mission

Stewardship of resources

Reputable academic programs

Adherence to strategic plan

Faculty and Staff*

Fair compensation

Current technology

Professional development

Recognition for contributions

Advancement opportunities

Institutional distinction

Strategic initiatives

* See Category 4 for addressing faculty and staff needs and expectations

External Stakeholders


Short Term

Long Term

Prospective Students

Variety of majors and programs

Scholarship and financial aid




Sense of belonging



Government &



Compliance with guidelines

Comprehensive program standards

Data management system

Accurate and timely reporting

Well educated workforce

Response to needs of employers

Sound management system

High Schools and Community Colleges

Collaborative programs

Consistent articulation agreements

Ability to transfer credits

Quality education

Collaborative relationships

Articulation agreements



Affordable education

Quality education and outcomes

Campus safety



Employment of graduates



Life-long learning

Ongoing improvement

Employment of graduates

Employment of graduates

Institutional reputation

Ongoing relationship with USM

Workforce needs/local community

Graduates with critical thinking and communication skills

Area specific education, e.g. nursing

Cultural events

Sporting events


Well prepared graduates



Opportunities for continuing education

3P1 Identifying, analyzing, and responding to the changing needs of students

At USM, faculty and staff use student needs as a primary criterion when planning, implementing, and evaluating their activities and professional work. Data collected from these activities are used by academic departments and administrative offices to develop action plans, identify trends, and determine what further action may be warranted. Key instruments used to collect and track information are outlined in Table 3-2.

Table 3-2 Instruments and Measures for Tracking Student Needs



Placement Tests

Compass Math Placement

Midterm and semester grades

Probationary and Dean's Lists


Curriculum Planning Worksheets


National content area exams

Student Satisfaction Survey

Students' overall satisfaction with USM

ACT College Outcomes Survey

USM student satisfaction compared with others

Academic Program Reviews

Assessment of program quality & alumni satisfaction

Administrative Area Program Review

Quality of customer/client services

Compass Math Placement testing is administered to all first-time freshmen when entering USM to ensure proper student placement in the appropriate math course. Pass/fail rates give evidence that enrolling students in appropriate course levels increases students' opportunity for success and continuation in their academic program.

Advisors and the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) monitor the academic performance of students through mid-term and semester grades. See 1P9 and 1P13 for discussion of how student support is provided to meet needs.

USM currently has three programs that are accredited by outside agencies: 1) Education, 2) Business, and 3) Nursing. The regular review process according to professional standards ensures that students receive quality preparation for professional careers. The undergraduate and graduate education programs are regularly evaluated by National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) with the teacher education program leading to licensure. The Nursing program is under the oversight of the Kansas Board of Nursing and is accredited through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The program leads to licensure. The Business program is accredited by International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE). A fourth program, the graduate program in Psychology, provides preparation for a counseling license that meets standards and requirements as established by the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board (BSRB) and the Missouri Division of Professional Registration (MDPR).

USM seeks evaluations from its students so that the quality of the total educational experience can undergo continuous improvement. Student Life staff survey students on an annual basis. Over the past 3 years, the staff has modified survey questions to get more relevant feedback from students in relation to the particular features of the Saint Mary experience. Initially and through 2005, the ACT College Outcomes Survey was administered and USM results were compared with similar institutions across the nation. In modifying the questions for 2006 and 2007, comparative validity was lost. USM is currently reviewing the most effective measures for comparative data to guide improvement in meeting student needs at the University.

Student satisfaction surveys solicit feedback on a variety of indicators including involvement in campus activities, support services (see category 6 such as financial aid, laptop program, food service, academic tutoring), academic and co-curricular programs, attitudes about the college experience (e.g. sense of belonging, caring faculty and staff, freedom of expression), and overall satisfaction with their college choice and experiences. Student Life staff compiles and analyzes results and shares findings with faculty and administrators. Based on results, the Administrative Council (AC) prioritizes areas that need improvement. Then relevant departments and committees take these priorities and establish objectives for ongoing improvement projects and action plans. Staff responsible for the action plans use subsequent student satisfaction survey results to evaluate the effectiveness of the improvement efforts. This approach embodies the Ongoing Improvement (OGI) process in place at USM (see Category 8).

Academic Annual Reports and 5-year Program Reviews report on student and alumni satisfaction data. (See 1P1 for detailed discussion.) Faculty collect both qualitative and quantitative data and thereby students and graduates can share unique insights and feedback. Department faculty evaluate the patterns and themes that emerge across information which makes the recommendations more substantive and descriptive. Consequently, faculty can use the descriptive results to focus their improvement strategies. (See 1P6 and 1P8)

Administrative area program reviews use the results of client/customer satisfaction surveys distributed to new and current students and parents. This survey identifies client service throughout the recruitment process tailored for Leavenworth campus (traditional) and Extended Sites (adults). Surveys are distributed annually during orientation activities and request feedback on aspects such as communication and relationship building. Admissions staff collect and analyze the results, making improvements based on findings. (See Category 4 for discussion of Client Service Action Project.)

3P2 Building and maintaining student relationships

Building and maintaining relationships with students is a high priority at USM as reflected in the mission statement, in the retention goals of the Strategic Plan, and in AQIP Action Projects (e.g. Client Service, Student Success). USM's relationship with current students is tailored to each of the three primary student groups: traditional-day, evening-adult, and online. Examples of relationship building activities that are common and relevant for all three groups include:

  • Small class sizes (1/12 faculty-student ratio)
  • Advising and mentoring
  • Academic support services
  • Personal contact with faculty
  • Personal contact with staff
  • Fine arts performances and displays
  • Global Studies Institute activities

In response to the USM strategic initiative for traditional day student retention, examples of faculty and staff efforts to build relationships with this population also include:

  • Student activity programs
  • Varsity athletic programs
  • Student clubs and organizations
  • Student Ambassadors
  • Service learning activities
  • Spirituality and Campus Ministry activities
  • Work-study program

Additionally, USM's Registration Days are the focus of the pre-enrollment process for first-time freshmen. The agenda for Registration Days includes faculty led academic meetings based on student interest, financial aid session, accounts payable/payment plan information, math placement test, and FERPA documentation. Students are advised by faculty to build their course schedule. Transfer students are advised on an individual basis with scheduled appointments as needed.

3P3 Identifying, Analyzing and Responding to Stakeholder Needs

There are multiple ways in which USM gathers information for identifying, analyzing and responding to stakeholder needs. Faculty and staff working with stakeholders collect formal and informal feedback through surveys, interactions, and communications. Based on expressed needs, faculty and staff present recommendations or proposals to supervisors. If approved, proposals are submitted to the appropriate vice president (VP). Depending on type of service, VPs approve or submit to AC for review and approval.

An example of the effectiveness of this process is the outcome of USM's relationship with the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Healthcare System (SCLHS). This ongoing relationship has led to the development of the nursing program, Healthcare Informatics, and the potential of a Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) program to support workforce needs. The SCLHS hospitals serve as clinical sites and also provide scholarships for nursing students.

The following chart Table 3-3 highlights processes USM uses to gather information for identifying, analyzing, and responding to the various needs of different stakeholder groups.

Table 3-3 Stakeholders Needs




Prospective Students

Interaction with Admissions


Government & Regulatory Bodies

Respond to requirements on schedule

As required and requested

High Schools & Community Colleges

Regular communications and advisory meetings

At least twice a year and upon request



During enrollment activities


Alumni Survey


Employers & Community

Employer surveys in Academic Program Reviews; Market studies & environmental scans

At least every 5 years


Board of Trustees

Interaction with President


Retreat in February

President's annual evaluation

Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth

Interaction with Board of Trustees, President, Faculty and Staff

Regular updates with Q & A

Increased partnerships

3P4 Building and Maintaining Stakeholder Relationships

Building relationships with stakeholders occurs during the process activities listed in Table 3-4. Faculty and staff use communication systems and the OGI model (See Category 8) to maintain mutually beneficial partnerships. To exemplify, the system for building relations with prospective students follows.

USM begins its relationships with prospective students during the recruitment cycle by strategically attending certain college fairs and visiting high schools. The communication flow is diverse and organized to reach students through different methods throughout the recruitment process. Phone calls, emails, online USM brochures, University website, and direct mail are common means for communication. Application and admissions material, financial aid information, Open House invitations, and registration forms are sent to students as appropriate. Table 3-4 outlines the recruitment system.

Table 3-4 Recruitment System





Direct mail search

Email Blast


Prospective names are purchased based on historical data of conversion. Also new initiatives are considered.


Personal Email

Email Blasts

Phone calls

Inquiry letter with view book

Overall inquiries and their demographics are tracked to anticipate enrollment numbers.


Personal Email

Phone Calls

Social Networking

Application Letter

Resident status, sex, student status (transfer and freshman) are carefully examined and compared to previous years and outcomes.


Phone Calls

Acceptance Letter

Scholarship Letter

Personal Emails

Financial aid award

Acceptance rates and other academic data are gathered for comparison to target goals and previous enrollment patterns.


Phone Calls

Personalized emails

Housing/student life information

Information is gathered to prepare for, and accommodate, new students prior to their arrival on campus

Admission procedures and practices are driven by historical data, mission of the University, current trends and threats, and staff experience. An admission funnel report is generated weekly that provides specific data on each stage compared to the previous two years. Different aspects such as sex, resident status (on or off campus), student status (freshman, transfer, international, or readmit) are carefully examined and compared against goals and historic data. This report serves as a guide in progress through the entire admission process. When an issue is identified, strategic measures can be used to specifically focus on correcting it.

3P5 Determining new student and stakeholder groups

Demographics, trends, and University Strategic Plan influence the selection of new student groups. USM uses internal knowledge and experience, along with strategic enrollment management practices, to recruit a “good fit” student to the University.

Consistent with the strategic initiatives, new stakeholder groups are currently developed based on heath care partnerships, online programs, and donor base. Staff responsible for these areas have established plans for developing mutually beneficial relationships.

3P6 Collecting complaint information, analyzing the feedback, and communication actions

University of Saint Mary responds to student and stakeholder complaints according to policies and procedures outlined in USM's graduate catalog, undergraduate catalog, and handbooks. These documents address student grievance and appeal process, University policies and procedures, academic and social (behavioral) expectations, and resident responsibilities. The University of Saint Mary complies fully with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). Student complaints regularly are monitored by the Student Life Office who has defined procedures to collect and analyze the complaints received, actions taken, and monitoring of results.

3P7 Determining, Measuring and Analyzing Student and Stakeholder Satisfaction Results

USM determines student and stakeholder satisfaction through surveys, course evaluations, ad hoc focus groups, annual reports, and informal discussions. See 3P2 and 3P4 for measures and analysis schedule.

3R1-2 Student Satisfaction and Relationship Building Results

The results of the 2007 Student Satisfaction Survey are reported in Table 3-5. The students were satisfied with their academic advisors, faculty, the bookstore staff, the content of their major courses, equal opportunity in athletics for both sexes, and a safe campus. The students were not satisfied with the food selection, intramural opportunities, weekend activities, or use of activity fees. Also, the students were dissatisfied with parking, billing policies, and the performance of the residence hall staff.

Table 3-5. Student Satisfaction Survey



Sense of belonging


Staff caring and helpful


Faculty cares




Financial aid helpful


Advisor approachable


Advisor concerned


Adm. response to needs


Activity fees good use


Selection of food


Weekend activities


Res. Hall staff




Billing policies


(1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=agree, 4=strongly agree, N/A=does not apply to me)

Based on these results, Student Life staff targeted two priorities for 2008, to work with Aramark for food service and to expand weekend activities. The food plan has been revised to provide greater flexibility and quality. The bookstore has added food items and a cappuccino bar. For weekend activities, a stadium has been built on campus and tailgate parties have been instituted. Funding proposals have been developed to expand multimedia resources in common spaces on campus so that movies can be shown. Additionally, a new apartment style dorm is being built which is evidence of administration's response to the needs of residential students.

3R3-4 Stakeholder Satisfaction and Relationship Building Results

The satisfaction of USM stakeholders is primarily measured by their support of and participation in University programs and activities. (See Cat 9R1) Surveys of recent graduates provide information on the quality of USM programs.

Alumni Satisfaction Survey data are collected annually and report satisfaction with overall preparation of their program major. Data are tracked by student group ( Leavenworth traditional day, Extended Site adult evening, and Online). Response rates by student group vary. For the data shown in Figure 3-1, the response for some groups was too small to report. Therefore, Leavenworth student group is reported and compared with total response rate. Satisfaction is rated as at least 4 on a 5 point scale and is increasing overtime.

Figure 3-1 Alumni Satisfaction Survey

3R5 Results Comparisons

USM's system of establishing benchmarks and comparisons for student and stakeholder satisfaction is developing. As described in Category 9, the Development staff are currently upgrading the system for collecting information on alum, donor, and sponsor satisfaction. As mentioned in 3P1, student satisfaction surveys have been modified and national comparisons using current data are invalid. However, Student Life staff are currently updating procedures for the purpose of establishing relevant comparisons. The most recent, valid, student satisfaction comparisons are for 2005 and are listed below in Table 3-6.

Table 3-6 USM Student Satisfaction Compared with National Norm


Nat'l Norms Avg.

Faculty respect for students



Class Size



Availability of faculty for office appointments



Concern for me as an individual



Quality of my program of study



Residence hall services and programs



Campus AIDS education program



Recreational and intramural programs



Language development services for students whose first language is NOT English



Practical work experiences offered in areas of related to my major



(Satisfaction Scale: 5=very satisfied, 4=satisfied, 3=neutral, 2=dissatisfied, 1=very dissatisfied)

Overall, students rated USM higher than their national peers in the area of faculty respect for students, academics, and student life and lower in recreation and intramural programs. As mentioned in 3R1-2, resources have been prioritized to address recreation activities. With follow-up focus groups, students identified entertainment activities that they would enjoy such as on-campus stadium, movies, big screen TVs, and weekend activities. Funds were allocated to address many of these requests. Student Life formally surveys students annually and will use the results to evaluate the quality of improvements and to determine the next set of priorities for increasing student satisfaction.

3I1 Improving Current Systems and Processes

USM is working on developing a systematic approach for soliciting the needs of students and stakeholders. As described above, USM collects and uses information from prospective students during the recruitment and enrollment process. Data are also collected from current students. However, there is a need to create an operational system that yields ongoing, valid results. When this is implemented, then USM's OGI model will be used to examine and act upon the needs of students and stakeholders.

3I2 Setting and Communicating Targets for Improvement

Currently, USM Student Life and Admissions staff analyze survey results and recruitment stage response patterns. From this information, admissions staff target activities that will address problem areas. Student life staff follow-up with focus groups and research to determine what efforts can be successful in addressing the identified needs. Proposals are developed and submitted to AC for approval and funding.