Quality Endeavors Issue No. 122

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September 2009

The annual conference of the National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Education (NCCI) provides an opportunity for institutions from across the country and around the world to share what they are doing in planning and improvement. At this year’s conference from June 25-27 in Boston, Massachusetts, 20 concurrent sessions addressed approaches to professional development, organizational efficiency, measures and indicators, program review, and other related topics. Summaries of all presentations can be found at http://ncci-cu.org/Visitors/ProfessionalDevelopment/AnnualConference/index.cfm.

Some of the highlights:

Leading Cornell

Cornell University recognized that, based on the ages of much of their leadership, there would likely be a high number of retirements in the next 10 years. They also analyzed the costs of external and internal searches, and promotions from within. Working with the idea that there was not a lack of talent at Cornell, but rather that all of the talent available was not visible; they piloted a leadership development program that would make that talent more visible. This increased visibility would give them the option of promoting internal talent and using internal searches as leadership positions opened up. It also provided them with increased choice and ultimately significant dollar savings because they could choose when to hire internally or when to engage in more costly external searches.

The participants in the leadership development program worked for nine months as a team to address a University-wide topic – in this case the University’s performance management process – and identify ways to improve it. The 30 team members had to be sponsored to enter the program, and be familiar with organizational improvement concepts. During the year, they were coached by Cornell’s organizational development staff and provided with background information as they conducted interviews, focus groups, and surveys and identified alternatives. At the end of the nine months they presented their recommendations for an effective staff performance management process to the university president, vice president of human resources, and other senior leaders. Their approach will be piloted this year.

Cornell gained several benefits from this project:

  • A plan for an improved performance management process that could have cost thousands of dollars and had less buy-in if developed by an external consultant
  • Team members with training to lead future teams
  • Visibility across the University for potential future leaders

Cornell plans to bring the team together each semester for seminars on issues in higher education.

More information is available at Leading Cornell: Saving Money by Investing in Leaders or from Chris Halladay at pch9@cornell.edu.

City University of New York Performance Management

The City University of New York (CUNY) has 23 campuses throughout New York City enrolling over 500,000 students (46% of all the college students in New York City). A master plan was first adopted in 2000 to increase accountability and recognize progress across the university. CUNY’s implementation of the plan includes a data-based system to track the performance of the university and of each campus.

The university has three goals: raise academic quality, improve student success, and enhance financial and management effectiveness. Each goal has several more specific objectives, and each objective has university targets and indicators. Each campus has strategies and both qualitative and quantitative targets that align with university objectives. The long-term goal of this approach is an integrated university that focuses on outcomes, is clear about priorities, and recognizes outstanding performance.

An annual year-end report tracks the progress of each campus. University-wide performance has improved since this approach was implemented. From 2000 to 2007, the six-year graduation rate increased nearly 50%, from 30% to 44%, the percentage passing the NCLEX nursing exam increased from 72% to 86%, enrollment in credit courses increased 19%, transfer enrollment increased 40%, grants and contracts have increased 105% and fundraising has increased 270%
For more information, visit http://cuny.edu/administration/chancellor/performance-goals.html or contact Sherri Ondrus, sherri.ondrus@mail.cuny.edu.

Assessing Academic Support at Rutgers University

As a follow-up to recent undergraduate program assessment and resulting reorganization that combined four liberal arts colleges at Rutgers University into the School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers developed an approach to assess cocurricular academic support services. The assessment was viewed as a means to demonstrate the improvements resulting from changes, provide evidence of program achievement, increase understanding of the programs, and develop a model that could be applied to other programs. Four pilot programs were identified for assessment.

The resulting assessment model had four steps:

  1. Articulate and document program goals
  2. Identify existing measures of effectiveness and success
  3. Develop a plan to evaluate areas where data does not currently exist
  4. Use assessment results for improvement

Documenting program goals and measures of success included identifying:

  • Program mission and vision
  • Most important program activities and services and their goals
  • Primary audience for those activities and services
  • Other stakeholders and their criteria for successful program performance
  • Key components of effectiveness such as workplace climate, physical environment, or finances

When appropriate, units benchmarked with comparable units to identify best practices and lessons learned. Next steps include integrating measures into a dashboard to monitor performance and improvement.

For more information, visit the website for the Center for Organizational Development and Leadership at www.odl.rutgers.edu or contact Kathleen Immordino at immordino@odl.rutgers.edu.