Quality Endeavors Issue No. 114

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November 2008

Improvement and innovation can be found throughout the University as teams work together to improve and reinvent their processes. The results of these efforts are lowered costs, increased efficiencies, greater accuracy, and greater “customer” satisfaction. Once a team recommends improvements, some time is usually required for implementation, and more time must pass for teams to see the data that documents improvements. The Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment recently followed up with a number of teams who had been active over the past five years to find out more about the results of their work. This article features a few of these teams.

The Services Transition Team (Team #746) in the University Libraries was active during 2005. The objective of the team was to study the impact on the delivery of public and technical services due to the integration of Hershey, Dickinson, and Harrisburg into the University Libraries, and to develop recommendations for optimal services. Members of the team included:

Gregory Crawford (leader)
Lisa German
Virginia Lingle
Rebecca Mugridge
Judy Swarthout
As a result of the team’s work, the Penn State Harrisburg Technical Services Department has been integrated within the University Libraries Technical Services operation. Along with this has come savings from discounts obtained from consolidated purchasing of books for the libraries, a restructuring of the Technical Services functions with consolidated positions, and greater collaboration on reference and instructional services and interlibrary loans and acquisitions.

The Improving the Student Aid Communications Process Team (Team #717) met in 2006 to identify ways the Office of Student Aid could provide information to students and families more efficiently and effectively. The team recommended 11 improvements and is currently implementing them. Ask the LionOne new method for communication is Ask the LION, which allows students and parents to ask questions and receive immediate feedback from the Office of Student Aid Web site. The Office will be tracking the effectiveness of their initiatives using in-house data from the fall 2008 semester. The team includes: Tina Basalla, Shannon Corrigan, Laura Garver, Giovanna Genard (co-sponsor), Anna Griswold (co-sponsor), Tammy Irion (co-leader), Savitha Kolar, Josetta Lichty, Anne Mycek, Carolyn Saona, Anita Sather (co-leader), Paul Simenson, Barbara Struble, and Thad Wayne.

Chart of no showsReducing the number of “no-shows” to medical appointments was the goal of the Finance and Patient Services Team (Team #734) in University Health Services in 2006. Prior to the team’s work, sending reminders to patients was a manual process and reminders could only be sent for only one appointment type. The team implemented new appointment software and the number of no-shows dropped by 11 percent during their first year of operation in 2007. The rate of no-shows continues to be monitored and during the first half of 2008, the rate had decreased again by another 3.6 percent. Michael Gouse in University Health Services was team leader in 2006.

With the inception of the Enrollment Management Team (Team #755) in February 2007 at Penn State Schuylkill, enrollment grew by 50 FTEs. The team continues to meet and is focused on the processes associated with prospect and enrollment management, with an ultimate goal of increasing enrollment. Some initiatives undertaken by the team include increased visibility by the campus at recruitment events, additional contacts with student prospects, and campus-wide engagement in recruitment. [Our] Fall 2008 headcount of scheduled and/or registered students is up over 100 students…I believe the team has made a significant difference.

Keith Hillkirk
Chancellor, Penn State Schuylkill

Current team members include: Tom Cleary, Steve Couch, Tammie Durham (co-chair), Keith Hillkirk (co-chair), Dave Holden, Cheryl Holland, Elyce Lykins, Elinor Madigan, Matthew Swatchick, Mike Verhagen, and Shannon Wabby.

The Interlibrary Loan Lending Material Retrieval CQI Team (Team #716) held four team meetings during summer 2006 to assess their interlibrary loan processes. The team’s work led to funding for updated scanning equipment at campus and University Park branch library locations, increased training for campus library staff, and supported the creation of a periodic campus library staff retreat. The new equipment and training allows staff to create digital images more efficiently and seamlessly for better patron service. These process improvements provided the foundation for the implementation of the Penn State Article Delivery Service. For more information on the Article Delivery Service, see http://www.libraries.psu.edu/news/releases/newservicefor faculty.htmlThrough this service, faculty and staff are able to request electronic copies of articles from print journals held in their local campus library collection. According to Joyce Harwell, the team’s leader, “This value-added service has been well received by Penn State faculty and staff”. The team included: Edward Armstrong, Shane Burris, Barbara Coopey (sponsor), Bobbi DeVore, Joyce Harwell (leader), Anne Hummer, Katherine Lewis, Jeff Marker, Lee Ann Nolan, Carol Riley, Daniel Tingue, Claudia Villafranca, and Bernice Whitehill.

Meeting in 2006, the Adult Learner Points of Entry Team (Team #722) was charged to improve services and processes for returning adult learners. Members of the team included: Kimberly Breon, Brian Clark, Karen Duncan, Betsy Esposito, Felicita Frisch, Lyn Harmon, Charlene Harrison, Martha Jordan (leader), Marie Lindhorst, Elizabeth McKinley, Shannon Ritter, and Ted TimmermanSome of the outcomes of the team’s work include creation of a “No Fail Algebra” workshop to address the needs of adults returning to school, clarification of information for adult learners interested in pursuing a degree in Nursing, and development of a “Welcome” brochure for newly admitted adult students. More information on the resources available to adult learners is at http://www.outreach.psu.edu/adult-learners/.

These are just a few examples of how improvement and innovation teams have cut costs, increased satisfaction, and provided more timely service. These types of teams can be found across the University every year. More information on these and Penn State’s other 800+ improvement teams can be found at /database/indxnumb.htm.