Overview - The Self-Study Process
This self-study report is the culmination of a wide-ranging study of the College’s effectiveness as an institution. Preparations for the Self-Study began in the fall of 2003, when Linda Flickinger, Professor of Psychology and Social Science Department Chair, and Michelle Mueller, Dean of Workforce Development, Planning & University Center, were appointed Co-Coordinators of the self-study.
The decision was made to organize the self-study using a thematic approach rather than organizing around the five criteria for accreditation. If the self-study is to be a guide for the College in the future, it should be more than a request for reaccreditation: it should assess the College as a learning-focused organization, a distinctive organization, a connected organization, and as a future-oriented organization. To accomplish these goals, four committees were established:
- The Learning-Focused Organization
- The Distinctive Organization
- The Connected Organization
- The Future-Oriented Organization
In the spring of 2004, the Steering Committee (the Provost, coordinators, and committee chairs) was established as committee chairs were chosen and several members of the Steering Committee attended the NCA Higher Learning Commission’s Self-Study Institute.
Data collection began with the establishment of a website for self-study materials. Co-coordinator Michelle Mueller had the responsibility for establishing this website, putting materials on the website, organizing the materials, and working closely with staff in information technology to maintain the site. The availability of the data on the website was a tremendous advantage to the committees as they did their work.
Following the development of a strategic plan for the College in the fall of 2005–which included a revised mission statement, new goals, and new values, work on the self-study began in earnest with the recruitment of members for the committees from the entire College community–administration, faculty, and staff. Including the members of the Steering Committee, over 40 individuals participated in the self-study (See Appendix C).
In January, 2006, a Self-Study Workshop was held to orient the committee members to the self-study–its process, procedures, and expectations. The College’s NCA liaison, Dr. Robert Appelson, participated in this workshop as a resource person. Committee members were given a Guide for Conducting the Self-Study, which was prepared by the Steering Committee. This Guide covered the objectives of the self-study, the plan for conducting the self-study (including a timetable), a preliminary outline for the self-study report, and guidelines for writing committee reports. Intended as a continuing resource, along with the North Central Association Handbook of Accreditation, the Guide provided a comprehensive plan for the self-study.
The plan for the self-study was good, but there were some difficulties encountered along the way. One of the first problems was the need to replace two of the four committee chairs because of the responsibilities those individuals had with the 2005-06 Capital Outlay project. Then, those replacement chairs had to be replaced when one of them left the College and the other suffered a personal tragedy. It was also apparent that as the committees began analysis of data there were significant differences of opinion on the part of various groups as to how the data were to be interpreted and reported, and this slowed the process in some instances.
As the various committees collected and reviewed data, analyzed those data, considered the College’s strengths, identified areas of concern, and discussed possible actions to be taken, everyone came to know the College much better. This knowledge was incorporated into the committee reports, which form the body of this Self-Study. This Self-Study Report summarizes the research done by the committees, their assessment of the College, and their recommendations.