Quality Endeavors Issue No. 120

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May 2009

With the completion of their five-year strategic plans in 2007-08, many units have begun to implement the strategies and actions called for in their plans. Some have used continuous quality improvement teams to begin to achieve some of their goals. This article highlights the work of such teams in three different units across the University.

In their recent strategic plan, University Outreach placed emphasis on using “technology to advance the design and delivery of programs and enhance educational experiences” and enhancing services so students could “interact with the University efficiently and effectively”. Innovation was the foundation on which ISSO was built … End users were encouraged to come up with creative ideas for improving the processes, and time and time again, the developer created solutions to make it happen.

Paula Hamaty
Assistant Registrar/Office Manager
University Outreach
The Integrated Student System for Outreach (ISSO) World Campus Development Team reflects this commitment in their redesign of the registration and records system for World Campus students. The purpose of the new system was to provide better service to students and to be integrated with the University system.

Prior to the redesign, student registrations in World Campus required a number of manual transactions, and took place across five systems that did not “communicate” with one another. With the high growth rate of World Campus enrollment (17-18 percent annually) and large number of registrations, it was impossible to ensure all students were registered in a timely manner. In addition, World Campus has a large number of proctored exams, and the process was manual and very time consuming, so the team also looked at the proctored exam system along with the registration system in their redesign.

The team’s work has resulted in a number of positive outcomes:

  • Staff are able to more easily access information while they are on the phone with students,
  • Costs and staff time associated with welcome letters to students have decreased with a move from postal mail to emails,
  • The registration process was reduced from eight steps to two steps for staff to process, which resulted in a cost savings, and
  • There have been dramatic reductions in overtime during peak registration times

The cost savings have been substantial, including approximately $7,000 in postage, $20,000 in printing costs, and substantial savings associated with not replacing two full-time equivalent staff positions. With ISSO, the team was able to incorporate online exams in ANGEL instead of paper exams. Students receive their exam results in a timely fashion, rather than waiting weeks for the postal mail system, and students have expressed their satisfaction with the quicker response.

The team continues to meet monthly to evaluate the system and look for improvements and enhancements. Team members include: Tom Alterio, Tom Collins, Anita Colyer, Sarah Cook, Bonnie Dailey, Rich Genovese, Tracy Gross, Paula Hamaty, Helen He, Kimberly Ishler, Lisa Komidar, Sandy McClain, Linda McDonald, Jean McGrath, Tammy Myers, Cheryl Seybold, and Steve Welshonse.

In their 2008-09 through 2012-13 strategic plan, Penn State Erie – The Behrend College established a goal of building a more diverse and supportive campus community. As one strategy to achieve this goal, Penn State Behrend established the Continuous Quality Improvement Minority Recruitment Team to look at minority student recruitment efforts. Felicia Williams lead the team, which was facilitated by Ken Miller. Other team members included: Melissa Borgia, Jane Brady, Biddy Brooks, Randy Brown, Andy Herrera, and Terri Mando Smith. The team was sponsored by the Educational Equity and Campus Environment Committee, the Enrollment Management Group, and the Associate Dean’s Office and included representatives from admissions, student services, Student Affairs, faculty, and staff.

The team’s goal was to increase the number of minority students recruited. To inform their work, the team conducted focus groups with minority and other students. The team has recently provided a report with recommendations to the Chancellor. Some of the recommendations include:

  • regular invitations to local and prospective minority students to campus events such as speakers, concerts, and athletic events
  • determining minority student interest in Greek fraternities/sororities, and
  • developing a network for minority alumni to contact and inform prospective minority students about the benefits of The Behrend College

Penn State Erie tracks minority student enrollment and graduation rates as part of their strategic plan, and the team will use these indicators to measure progress.

In their recent strategic plan, Finance and Business renewed their commitment to the “Focus on People” key initiative. This initiative recognizes that quality service depends on quality people, so employees are the key element in the organization. The University Budget Office (UBO) has taken this to heart, with the formation of their “UBO Reward, Recognition and Wellness Team”. The team included: • Steve Curley, Sponsor • Mary Jane Fisher, Co-Chair • Stephanie Snook, Co-Chair • Rich Heininger, Member • John Matty, Member • Brenda McDowell, Member • Michele Schirm, Member • Patty Tarbay, Member The team’s objective is to encourage and maintain a high level of morale within the staff by developing an environment that supports, recognizes, and rewards exceptional performance.  The team recently added a wellness component to their charge and works to provide group activities and opportunities to promote healthy changes to our employees’ lifestyles. The team recognizes and rewards individual achievement/milestones and group reward celebrations.

The team has tracked group weight losses, has nominated individuals for awards, provided programs for added awareness for general health improvements, and combined education and training retreats with wellness initiatives. The team is trying to incorporate awareness of health issues into the daily life of employees by emailing health tips, holding stretching programs, developing programs for weight loss and healthy eating, and providing reference materials. The ultimate goal is to produce a staff that is happier, healthier, and more productive, resulting in less sick time and lower utilization of health insurance.