AQIP Category Four


Context for Analysis

4C1 Organizing Work Environment to Focus on Student Learning

The University of Saint Mary core values of community, respect, justice, and excellence inform the workplace environment to strengthen focus on student learning and development. The University has established a Mission Council (MC) to keep the mission front and center on all campuses and to sponsor activities that highlight the core values. The MC consists of two administrators, eight staff members, six faculty, and three students. The MC organizes and hosts a variety of activities to educate the faculty, staff, and students about the history and spirit of USM. Also central to student learning is USM's focus on service ( see Category 2 ) which is supported through a Service Learning Office (SLO) that works in conjunction with campus ministry and faculty. Faculty and staff often volunteer as chaperones on alternative-break service trips.

USM has two current AQIP Action Projects in the Valuing People Category: 1) Improving Employee Compensation and Benefit Programs and 2) Developing a Client Service Improvement Plan.

The goal of the Improving Employee Compensation and Benefit Programs Project is to improve recruitment and retention of quality employees. University community feedback has indicated a desire to improve employee compensation and reduce employee turnover. Committee members represent all classifications of University employees who may have some background in the area of employee compensation and benefits. Having this type of constituency representation minimizes resistance to this sensitive change effort. The committee will administer employee surveys to aid in prioritizing options most desired by employees.

As part of the AQIP Client Service Improvement Project, ongoing professional development for faculty and staff on site related to improved service to students, parents, donors, alums, and internal clients strengthens and reinforces the core values of respect and excellence. This action project is organizing service training for the student work force, which includes graduate assistants and work-study students.

Another distinctive way the University organizes its work environment is through inclusiveness in decision-making: academic governance structures (see Category 5); line directors meetings (Academic Leadership Council [ALC], Administrative Services); inclusive University Assembly, Roundtable, Standing Committees and Strategic Planning processes; representation on AQIP Action Project Committees; Ad Hoc committees like Six Terms that are problem solving across many offices; and the Lincoln Lecture Committee.

4C2 Addressing Key Institutional and Geographic Factors

USM addresses the work environment and job classification through updating of job descriptions and adding new positions when the University looks at possible expansion or enhancement of operations. USM recently created a new full-time position of director of public safety as a result of planning to improve campus security and emergency planning to increase student and employee welfare and to create a safer environment. The Improving Employee Compensation and Benefit Programs Action Project committee is in the final stages of gathering data on current compensation and benefit programs and collection and review of internal and external competitive environments that will assist in improving the University's position in the competitive employment workplace.

USM currently has 149 full-time employees and 31 part-time employees, the majority of whom work at the main Leavenworth campus. Ten full-time faculty and staff members work at the Overland Park Campus. Department chairs (for undergrad programs) and program directors (for graduate programs) determine the needs for adjunct and on-line faculty, with the approval of the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA). USM funds part-time student employment through the federal work-study program, with 125 students participating throughout the University. USM currently supports 21 graduate assistants with tuition remission benefits. Graduate assistantships must be approved by the Administrative Council (AC). Additional demographics of faculty and staff at USM are outlined in the Organizational Overview.

4C3 Analyzing Demographic Trends and Workforce Needs

The University analyzed demographic trends in an environmental scan that identified the top community education needs as part of the Strategic Plan (SP) process. Consequently, USM revived the nursing program and started an online RN to BSN program and plans to add additional health care programs in the near future. Expansion of health care programs can directly serve workforce needs for both faculty and staff.

The University is a member of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and Kansas Independent College Association (KICA) that provide information on higher education trends. Demographic indicators for both traditional and nontraditional students were reviewed in the SP Environmental Scan. Probable majors and degrees earned both nationwide and at USM were identified. Factors impacting the changing work place were obtained, including the top fastest growing jobs and occupations with the largest anticipated job growth over the next several years.

USM's Ongoing Improvement Model (OGI) as described in category 8 is the driver for all improvement efforts including the Strategic Plan. A central feature of this model is an Information Gathering step that requires faculty, staff, and administrators to seek and analyze information, demographics, and societal trends that impact change and focus appropriate goals for USM effectiveness in the 21 st century.

4C4 Implementing Key Faculty, Staff, and Administrative Training Initiatives

Key training initiatives for faculty, staff, and administration have been identified in the AQIP Client Service Improvement Action Project. Training areas for 2008-09 were selected and prioritized by the Client Service Improvement Committee. They include Improving Business Etiquette Skills, Supervisor Training, How to Make A Positive and Powerful First Impression, and How to Defuse Angry Clients (Students & Parents). These training sessions will be incorporated into new employee orientation.

The Client Service Improvement Action Project will revitalize new employee orientation and create a Saint Mary Way Resource Guide containing the USM service standards and service guidelines. The USM community will be trained on its contents in February 2009. The resource guide will also be incorporated into new employee orientation.

Key training initiatives also tie back to the SP to raise efficiencies in the Jenzabar reporting system to obtain timely and reliable information for data-based decision making. Each department has a limited amount of financial resources for professional development training through conferences, workshops, seminars, and webinars.


4P1-4P2 Identifying Specific Credentials, Skills, and Values in Personnel and

Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining Employees, and Planning Changes in Personnel

USM identifies specific credentials, skills, and values required for faculty, staff, and administrators in an approved job description. Credentials and skills are identified specific to each position, such as degree, scholarship and teaching ability for faculty positions. Most faculty and professional staff positions have industry established credentials. Before a position is posted, the direct supervisor of the position and that person's supervisor 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 and may 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.

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 spelled out in the Faculty and Staff Handbooks.

4P2 Recruiting Hiring and Retaining Employees

USM recruits nationally for faculty through both the Chronicle of Higher Education and area specific publications. Professional staff is generally recruited from the greater Kansas City metro area. Key to retaining faculty and staff is finding individuals who fit with the culture and mission of Saint Mary. The interview and campus visit aspects of the hiring process help both the candidate and the University determine if there is a fit.

All employees go through orientation that happens over several months each fall. This orientation covers mission, values, history, “what I wish I knew when I was new sessions,” handbooks, etc. Benefits are handled individually. Additional orientation specific to the academic department or area is provided by the supervisor.

The University plans for personnel changes when considering possible expansion or enhancement of operations, such as a new academic program or a new residence hall. When AC does the financial analysis, it anticipates any additional staff or faculty that may be required once the program is implemented. USM also expects and plans for frequent turnover of admissions counselors and housekeepers, due to the nature of their positions. The University also prepares for change in personnel by cross training wherever possible, e.g., business office.

4P3 Ensuring Work Processes and Activities Contribute to Communications, Innovation, Performance, Empowerment, and Ethical Practices

USM's decision-making system operates through academic governance and staff structures (See organizational chart in Organizational Overview and academic decision tree in 5P3). The Academic Leadership Council (departmental chairs and academic support directors) engage one another and share concerns on a regular basis. Monthly University Assemblies are another vehicle for all faculty and staff to share concerns and engage in dialogue.

Staff members are cross-trained to encourage skill sharing for organizational learning and to improve process efficiencies. The new USM service guidelines will empower employees to make appropriate service recovery decisions on their own.

USM is committed to conducting its business activities with integrity, fairness, and in accordance with high ethical standards. Every employee is obligated to uphold these standards in performance of work and every activity related to work. Ethical standards are outlined in the faculty/staff handbooks, which are currently under revision to include a newly adopted code of business conduct. To further ensure high ethical practices, USM made a community-wide decision to perform background checks on prospective employees.

4P4 Developing Employees and Reinforcing Training

USM is committed to professional development through faculty funding, requirement through rank and tenure for faculty, and by encouraging faculty, staff, and administration to belong to relevant professional organizations and attend professional meetings such as annual conferences. For example, three USM faculty were selected to take part in CIC partnership to develop multimedia teaching resources. Additionally, USM is involved in a “grow our own” development plan with the nursing department to assure that the director has a doctorate, given the difficulty nationwide in attracting doctorate level directors.

USM encourages faculty and staff to further their education through the tuition remission program at the University and tuition exchange program with CIC schools. Human Resources staff provides regular faculty/staff training on sexual harassment and employee benefits.

USM has utilized University Day, a morning workshop that brings all faculty and staff together twice a year, as a training opportunity. In August 2007, University Day focused on the core value of respect. Faculty and staff presented information on “How to Communicate Respectfully,” through email and cell phone etiquette, body language, voice tone, and improved listening skills. In February 2008, a workshop on “Embracing the Oxymoron: Customer Service in Higher Education” focused on the importance of providing excellent service in the highly competitive higher education field and how it impacts student retention. And in September 2008, the USM Emergency Management team trained faculty and staff in University emergency response procedures in case of natural disasters, fire, epidemic, and an act of campus violence.

4P5 Determining Training Needs and Aligning Them with Planning Continuous Improvement and Other Distinctive Objectives

People are the key to the quality of USM's education. Investing in people and their training is a priority at Saint Mary. All faculty, in conversation with their chair, have a professional growth plan that is updated annually. Funds are available through the VPAA's office for faculty. Each vice president (VP) is responsible for providing appropriate ongoing professional development for staff in his or her area, for example: safety updates for security officers, workshops for marketing personnel, Jenzabar training for business office, etc. Staff and faculty are encouraged to identify their training needs, e.g. the director of online was sent to several workshops to learn best practices.

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

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.

4P6 Designing and Using the Personnel Evaluation System

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, and annual reports with ongoing improvement goals. For staff, each department has its own process for personnel review. Staff supervisors utilize the University's OGI process where employees identify their own strengths and areas for growth; assessing improvements, achievements, and goals set last year; and setting goals and developing 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.

The AQIP Client Service Improvement Action Project committee shares positive feedback from student service satisfaction surveys when individual staff or faculty members are noted for providing exceptional service – such as the Spirit Shop staff and Admissions. Negative feedback is shared with the employee's immediate supervisor.

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 is reviewed annually by the Board of Trustees (BOT).

4P7 Designing Recognition, Reward, and Compensation Systems

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 works to improve recruitment and retention of quality employees. The key organizational processes targeted for improvement are compensation, employee benefits, and employee performance. The first result of this action project is a BOT approved plan for an incremental increase over the next two to three years for senior faculty, which will make their salaries competitive with the average salary for like positions at KICA schools.

The Mission Council recognized students, faculty, and staff who live the mission in a series of Mission in Action Awards from 2003 to 2006. The recipients' pictures were hung on the Mission Wall at the main campus and Overland Park Campus with an explanation of why each was chosen. Seventy-two individuals were thus honored over the three year period. The following year, various groups on campus were highlighted in the same way.

USM faculty awards include the Sullivan Award for Teaching Excellence, which goes to a faculty member who demonstrates excellence in teaching, creativity in course development, ability to motivate students, concern for students and leadership, and service to the University. Additional faculty awards are Program Development Awards and Professional Development Awards that provide funding for faculty. The University also has Post Tenure “University Commended Faculty” and Professor Emeritus awards. USM just established its first fully endowed chair, the Sister Mary Janet McGilley Endowed Chair in Liberal Studies, which will soon go to a senior faculty member.

The Caritas Award, the University's highest distinction, honors outstanding contributions in the fields of Catholic education and human services. Tony and Sharon Albers (a 1965 Saint Mary alum) received the award in 2005 for selfless dedication and outstanding contributions as they lived in a dormitory and volunteered for 18 months, establishing the University's Service-Learning Office.

Student awards include the Mother Ancilla Award for Service which goes to a student who has demonstrated concern and commitment of time and effort in service to others, the Sister Mary Erwin Baker Award for Caring Behaviors goes to a nursing senior who has exhibited the 5 Cs of caring: Compassion, Competence, Confidence, Conscience, and Commitment. The Students Appreciating Students Award is presented to the graduating senior who has demonstrated qualities that have enhanced student life in the spirit of USM . Other student awards are the E-Award that goes to a sophomore English major who has demonstrated excellence in that subject, Outstanding Business Student, and the Chase Award in Biology. Various awards that recognize academic achievement are All University Honors, Departmental Honors, Honors in Course and Field.

The Alumni Office presents alumni awards at Reunion . The USM alumni awards are the Saint Vincent De Paul Award recognizing the alum who exemplifies the mission of the University, the Sister Mary Mark Orr Pioneer Spirit Award recognizing the alum who has achieved great success in her/his professional career, and the Sister Mary Janet McGilley Service award recognizing the alum who has helped advance the University by sharing her/his time and talent with USM.

4P8 Motivating Faculty, Staff, and Administrators

USM determines key issues related to the motivation of faculty, staff, and administrators through annual faculty/staff cultural audit surveys and student and parents service satisfaction surveys that were instituted as a part of the Client Service Improvement AQIP Action Project. The AC analyzes results from the cultural audit surveys and shares findings with the USM community. Group concerns are identified and the AC develops a plan to address those issues. The Client Service Improvement Committee reviews results and acts upon service issues repeatedly identified as problem areas, e.g. eSpire was identified by Overland Park students as not being user friendly. An internal task force worked through the summer to resolve issues identified in the surveys and added an eSpire training session in new student orientation and new adjunct faculty orientation.

Key issues are also determined through inclusive and interactive University Assembly forums, collegial governance system, and line structures (ALC, Administrative Services, Six Terms) that encourage cooperation, problem-solving, and support to improve the institution.

4P9 Creating Employee Satisfaction, Health, 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)
  • intensive orientation on benefits, contents of the staff handbook, and overall guidelines from the payroll/benefits coordinator upon employment.
  • free access to campus fitness equipment. Students, faculty, and staff receive free membership to neighboring Genesis Health Clubs Fitness and Wellness.
  • discounts to the USM Spirit Shop and campus cultural and sporting events
  • an Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Plan that is currently being updated
  • the hiring of a director of public safety and compliance and the implementation of 24/7 security to ensure public safety on campus.  

4P10 Collecting and Analyzing Measures for 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
  • The Client Service Improvement Action Project calls for surveying new students and parents once a year
  • Culture Survey of Faculty and Staff results indicate progress in implementing USM values and these are posted on eSpire
  • Alumni Survey results indicate satisfaction with preparation in their major field


4R1 Achieving Results in Valuing People

USM measures its success in living its mission and values in several ways. Recent examples include:

  • As the result of 2006 alumni survey assessment, USM re-evaluated content for the Aspire Alumni Magazine based on alumni preferences.
  • Senior faculty are receiving 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.
  • USM has installed an emergency alert system, additional outdoor lighting, surveillance cameras, 24/7 security, and the new position of public safety and compliance director.

USM conducts a Culture Survey of faculty and staff to determine the level by which USM values are evident in the lived experiences of faculty and staff. Results from 2007 survey items shown in Table 4-1 indicate agreement that excellence in serving the USM educational mission is evident (Items 4-5). Faculty and staff ratings on Items 1-3 indicate that interactions and encouragements could be improved to more fully model the values of respect and community.

Table 4-1 Culture Survey Items 2007

Culture Survey Item


N = 79


N = 21

1. Encourage each other to air differences openly and respectfully



2. Administrators encourage staff/faculty to air differences openly and respectfully



3. Conflict and criticisms surrounding issues are effectively resolved



4. USM faculty, staff and administrators believe that students are the reason we exist



5. Faculty does an excellent job in meeting the educational needs of our students



1-strongly disagree, 2 disagree, 3-nuetral, 4- agree, 5-strongly agree

4R2 Accomplishing Results in Processes Associated with Valuing People

USM's results in processes associated with valuing people are:

  • The creation of comprehensive faculty and student orientations at the Overland Park Campus (OPC) that includes eSpire training
  • A complete restructuring of Leavenworth campus and Extended Sites (ES) recruitment and admissions processes through Noel Levitz Consulting
  • A cooperative effort with the main campus business office to improve communication and procedures related to ES student registration and billing procedures
  • The implementation of systemized annual service satisfaction surveys to students and parents that identifies areas of concern and provides the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate employees delivering exemplary client service

4R3 Providing Evidence for the Productivity and Effectiveness of Faculty, Staff, and Administrators in Achieving Goals

Evidence supports employee effectiveness in meeting the goals and objectives in the Strategic Plan. Leavenworth Campus full-time enrollment is at its highest since 1974. The 2008 freshman class is the largest since 1999. Extended Sites enrollment is growing and online program enrollment continues to grow. Inquiries are have increased at ES for 2008.

USM surveys new students and their parents to determine if support operations effectively achieved their goals of providing responsive service to new students. Based on 2007 results, USM established an AQIP Action Project for Client Service to improve service provided in institutional operations, e.g. business, financial aid, admissions offices and with facilities and technology support. VP for Marketing collected and analyzed responses for specific offices and services. Data was disaggregated by site (Leavenworth, OPC), level (freshman parents, adult OPC undergraduate, graduate students), and graduate program (MBA, MA Ed, MA Psychology). While responses were satisfactory in general, disparity existed on some items. For example, dissatisfaction with access to the course management system for new students at the OPC site led to targeted efforts for service and training at that site. Detailed analysis by item, group, and location can be reviewed at New Student Parent Survey Results. Overall satisfaction ratings by location and group are reported on Table 4-2.

Table 4-2: New Student Service Survey





Overall ease to do business with USM




Freshman Parent Lvnwrth S07




Freshman Parent Lvnwrth S08




Elem Ed OPC S08




Degree Completion OPC S08




MBA Sp 08




MA Ed Sp08




MA Counseling Psych Sp08








Son/daughter overall experience




Freshman Parent Lvnwrth S07




Freshman Parent Lvnwrth S08








Smooth & positive experience with all departments




Elem Ed OPC S08




Degree Completion OPC S08




MBA Sp 08




MA Ed Sp08




MA Counseling Psych Sp08




1=need help; 2=below average; 3=average; 4=above average; 5=doing great

4R4 Comparing Results

The University analyzed comparisons with KICA schools on senior faculty salaries that resulted in the incremental pay increase.


4I1 Improving Current Processes and Systems for Valuing People

The USM evaluation process is a tool for identifying professional development and training needs. Developing a regular assessment and feedback process through the Client Service Improvement Plan allows USM to quickly identify areas requiring immediate and long-term improvement.

4I2 Setting Targets for Improvement

USM will continue to strive for improvements in service satisfaction surveys of students and parents. USM will continue to survey faculty and staff to identify areas for improvement. An area targeted for improvement is new employee orientation .

Current results and improvement priorities are communicated to students, faculty, staff, administrators, and appropriate stakeholders through internal and external communications such as email, newsletters, news releases, Aspire alumni magazine, University Assembly, and USM website.