Daemen college



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DAEMEN COLLEGE
SELF-STUDY

REPORT
Prepared for

The Commission on Higher Education

of the

Middle States Association

of Colleges and Schools

April 2006


George Siefert, Steering Committee Chair

Kathleen Boone, Steering Committee Co-chair and Primary Author

Executive Summary
Daemen College continues to refine its contemporary identity as an institution where liberal learning and career preparation are meaningfully and pervasively integrated, where students and faculty alike are engaged by innovative curricula and experiential learning environments, where the College’s historic mission of service finds expression in a growing array of community and international partnerships. Our Mission Statement, revised in 2001, both reflects and continues to forge our identity as an invigorating, experimental and caring community.

The extensive self-reflection a comprehensive self-study process imposes has allowed us to enjoy many moments of pride in our accomplishments. A new skills-and-competencies- based core curriculum is distinctive in its approach to general education, its departure from a discipline-based core intended to provide both creative learning experiences and a solid foundation for lifelong learning. Significant growth in our graduate program includes our first program at the doctoral level, the clinical doctorate in physical therapy, as well as several new master’s degree programs. Opportunities for study abroad continue to blossom, with new institutional partnerships in North America, Europe, and Asia. Our undergraduate honors program has just graduated its first cohort.

Architectural plans for a long-awaited new library are complete, with a capital campaign focused on this signature building poised to enter its public phase. Attractive new residence halls have increased our resident student population and improved the quality of residence life. A surge of growth in grant activity is reflected in several initiatives and partnerships, including the Thomas Reynolds Center for Special Education and After-School Programs, the Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement, and the Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning (CIEL). Important faculty research, with student involvement, is taking place in such areas as wound healing techniques. Community profile and positive public relations have been enhanced by a series of nationally known speakers, from Elaine Pagels to Ice-T, with admission free and open to the public.

Student enrollment has trended upward in the past 5 years, with graduate and linked undergraduate-graduate curricula in three disciplines (physical therapy, physician assistant studies, and accounting) contributing to stability of our enrollments. Important achievements in support services and student life have included expansion of our intercollegiate athletics program, institution of an annual academic festival showcasing student work, and several effective new intervention strategies for students at risk. Student persistence, an area of challenge in recent years, has generally improved, with 1-2 year retention rates rising nearly six percentage points between 1999 and 2004.

A recently revised faculty handbook strongly underscores the faculty’s central role in crafting and delivering the academic program of the College, with faculty rights and responsibilities clarified and appropriately balanced with those of the administration. Faculty development opportunities have expanded, with increased funding for individual undertakings as well as regular opportunities for participation in grant-funded consortia, such as CIEL, of which Daemen is a partner. A streamlined divisional structure, with empowered deans, has facilitated efficiency and flexibility, and fostered much interdisciplinary collaboration. Our academic vice president, hired in Spring 2000, has brought considerable vision and energy to our campus: a self-described “change agent,” he has furnished the tenacious leadership essential to the rapidity and creativity of many of the changes that have made Daemen College what it is today.

Fast-paced change, with entrepreneurial leadership by the academic vice president and other key personnel, has presented challenges. Three issues in particular have arisen throughout this self-study: breakdowns in communication; insufficiencies in strategic planning and assessment; and the inadequacy of our information resource systems. The interrelationship of these problems can be summarized by noting that an unwieldy, antiquated computing system inhibits the efficient collection, analysis, and dissemination of data essential to quality assessment and planning; in turn, the lack of readily available, easily digestible information contributes to a perception by some that decisions are made in vacuums and new directions taken without road maps being communicated clearly to the campus community. The ability of our top administrators to recognize and seize opportunities and to push for needed change without getting bogged down in bureaucratic swamps, together with the sheer busyness that numerous concurrent initiatives entail, has its corollary in a certain amount of confusion and lack of knowledge among stakeholders about important changes occurring on campus. In addition, effective assessment and long-range planning are all too easily overshadowed in an atmosphere of substantial and rapid change.

We recognize the need for clearer and more regular communication, and the need to create the structures that will accomplish this goal. Although some progress has already been made, we also recognize the need for continued improvement in our assessment and strategic planning practices – in ways that ideally will embed the essential elements of self-reflection and rigorous analysis in our decision-making at all levels without inhibiting the flexibility, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit that have made Daemen College a far more vibrant and distinctive institution than it was a decade ago. We are proud of our accomplishments, aware of our shortcomings, and confident of a successful future.

The self-study comprises seven chapters which track our self-study design’s thematic grouping of the Commission’s fourteen Standards for Accreditation into seven “focal areas, ” which were assigned to seven corresponding “focal groups” for study. Over 70 faculty, administrators, staff, and students participated directly in the self-study (appendix i.1). Each focal group contained at least two steering committee members; the composition of each group intentionally included individuals with expertise in the areas under review and individuals outside those areas to facilitate objectivity and freshness of perspective.

Although standards for accreditation are addressed throughout the self-study, focused discussion of each standard will generally be found in the focal area (and subsequent chapter) under which the standard was initially assigned. The chapters (and corresponding standards) are:

1. Effective Planning and Resource Management (Stds. 1, 2, 3)

2. Empowerment, Roles, and Integrity (Stds. 4, 5, 6)

3. Institutional Assessment (Std. 7)

4. Matriculation and Student Development (Stds. 8, 9)

5. Faculty and the Core Curriculum (Stds. 10, 12)

6. Focused Education (Stds. 11, 13)

7. Assessment of Student Learning (Std. 14)

Supporting documentation is typically found in the text itself; as an appendix; or in the on-campus document room (denoted by the parenthetical citation “DR”). Document room materials are available in hard-copy files, online, or often both. A resource directory and online computer access are available in the document room. Our Certification of Eligibility Statement for reaffirmation of accreditation is appended (i.2).




CHAPTER 1: EFFECTIVE PLANNING AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

This chapter, focusing on Standards 1, 2, and 3, examines the mission, goals, and objectives of Daemen College, provides evidence of the adequacy of its financial resources, and demonstrates how resource allocations support institutional mission.



Institutional Mission

Mission, Goals, and Objectives

Daemen’s mission, institutional goals, and objectives have been influenced over the past several years by the 1996 reaccreditation process, institutional challenges prompting intensive institutional self-reflection, the vision and agenda of a new academic vice president, and currently, assessment and planning activities focused on ensuring the mission-centered congruence, clarity, and effectiveness of our strategic planning. While there is much tangible evidence of the coherence and achievement of discernible goals and objectives in recent years, this self-study has also illuminated certain disconnections which the College is committed to addressing.

The College finalized a new mission statement in September 2000 (appendix 1.1). A faculty committee revised the mission statement in conjunction with the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA). It was then presented to the full faculty for comment, underwent further revision, was formally approved by the Board of Trustees, and distributed to all employees. The statement is published in the College Catalog, on the website and in various marketing materials.

Key goals fall into three categories: the institutional goals (IG) expressed in the Strategic Plan of 1997 (DR); learning outcome (LO) goals associated with the current mission statement; and the competencies of the College’s new core curriculum, also developed under the current mission, and implemented with the entering class of 2003. The Strategic Plan of 1997 is an historical document in that it was crafted under the previous mission statement, and most of its goals have now been achieved. It is included in this discussion, however, because it has functioned as the guiding document for many of the changes that have occurred at the College in the past ten years. It is anticipated that the strategic planning committee convened by the President in Fall 2005 will address the critical need for an updated plan explicitly consonant with the current mission statement.



Institutional Goals (IG). The Strategic Plan of 1997 was developed by a committee of faculty, administrators and trustees and submitted for approval to the faculty as a whole as well as the trustees. This strategic plan articulates 11 institutional goals and two to five measurable objectives associated with each goal. Institutional goals directed that Daemen College:

  1. Will extend its reputation for academic excellence.

  2. Will increase its enrollment of students of high academic achievement/ability.

  3. Will enhance our reputation for academic excellence in under-enrolled programs.

  4. Will continue to produce highly successful graduates in a diverse array of programs.

  5. Will develop a strong advancement program.

  6. Will continue to foster an intellectually stimulating atmosphere where teaching and learning thrive, and will encourage interdepartmental curriculum development efforts.

  7. Will develop a campus environment which stimulates both academic and social activities.

  8. Will continue to increase faculty development funds to assist professional and scholarly research.

  9. Will promote interaction with the broader community.

  10. Will develop a strong alumni program which fosters loyalty and support.

  11. Will continue the development of additional academic offerings and graduate programs.

The goals articulated in the Strategic Plan of 1997 accurately reflected a new direction for Daemen College, largely coherent with the new statement of mission and associated learning outcomes eventually articulated in the year 2000 (cf. tables 1 and 2 below). Indeed, implicit in this 1997 plan was the need to reexamine and in all likelihood revise our mission statement – a need upon which the Middle States evaluation team of 1996 had also remarked. Meanwhile (and perhaps not unsurprisingly), an insufficiently anticipated decline in enrollments in the College’s largest program – physical therapy – culminated in an eight percent drop in overall enrollment for the academic year 1999-2000. During this period in time, a strategic planning task force of faculty, staff, and administrators undertook a comprehensive self-reflection process, its Fall 1999 Report (DR) taking a problem-solving approach to the stalled progress of attaining institutional goals, particularly in the areas of academic program, enrollment, and student persistence. Concurrently, a search for a new Vice President for Academic Affairs was underway – a search aimed at securing a seasoned administrator with the qualities necessary to articulate and sustain a viable direction for the College. Edwin Clausen was appointed VPAA in Spring 2000 and in fact made it his first task to shepherd revision of the College’s mission statement.

Learning Outcome (LO) Goals. The learning outcome goals of the College were modified by the Educational Policy Committee (EPC) from 1999 to 2001 concurrent with the development of our new mission statement. The goals, published in the College Catalog and on the website (http://www.daemen.edu/academics/catalog/general_information.html), state that Daemen prepares graduates who:

  1. Are informed citizens, prepared to play productive roles in local and global communities both as effective participants and leaders.

  2. Are prepared to work collaboratively as well as independently in the pursuit of knowledge and problem resolution.

  3. Engage in higher order thinking.

  4. Make reasoned ethical choices and consider connections between values and behavior.

  5. Can effectively access, evaluate, and apply relevant and valid information using a variety of information resources.

  6. Have writing and speaking skills necessary for effective communication.

  7. Are well prepared to pursue meaningful career opportunities or advanced study.

Core Competencies. Over the past five years, the College has developed and implemented a new skills-and-competencies-based core curriculum designed to achieve the above learning outcomes; the curriculum is described at http://www.daemen.edu/ academics/core/ and discussed in detail in Chapter 5. The seven core competencies are:

  1. Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving

  2. Literacy in Information and Multimedia Technology

  3. Communication Skills

  4. Affective Judgment

  5. Moral and Ethical Discernment

  6. Contextual Competency

  7. Civic Responsibility

Evidence of Implementation of Goals and Objectives

The goals of the College, as described in the learning outcomes, core competencies and institutional goals, address principal components of the mission, as shown below:



Table 1 Learning Outcomes, Institutional Goals, Core Competencies and Relation to Mission

Principle Components of the College’s mission statement

Applicable goals in:

Learning Outcome (s)

Institutional Goal(s)

Core Competencies

“Prepare students for life and leadership”

LO-1

IG -4

V, III

“Education should elevate human dignity and foster civic responsibility and compassion”

LO-1, LO-4




VII

“Integrate the intellectual qualities acquired through study of liberal arts”







IV, V

“Preparing graduates who are dedicated to the health and well-being of both their local and global communities”

LO-1




VII

“Students will acquire the skill to solve problems creatively and think critically”

LO-3, LO-5, LO-6




I, II

“Comfortable with diversity and will recognize the importance of a global perspective”







VI

“Work with others and be invigorated by environments that present challenges and demand innovation”

LO-2, LO-3

IG- 6

VI

“Expected to be active participants in their own education”

LO-2

IG-7

I

“Informed citizens who understand that learning is a life-long journey”

LO-1, LO-7







“Maintaining a student-centered atmosphere and a close professional and collaborative” association among all members of the College community”.

LO-2

IG-7





Academic program goals. Detailed discussion of the establishment and achievement of program goals and objectives takes place in Chapter 7 Assessment of Student Learning. For purposes of the present discussion, it is noted that there is currently no single document available to the College community as a whole that lists the specific goals and objectives of each academic program. In addition, while each academic department at the College is devising or has devised specific objectives that correlate to the mission statement, there is currently no plan to coordinate these objectives to reflect college-wide objectives. The assumption may be made that if all the departmental goals have measurable outcomes and these are met in each department, that College-wide goals have also been met. This assumption, of course, needs to be questioned, and this matter will undoubtedly be taken up in the course of the new institutional assessment processes described in Chapter 3.

Recommendations

  1. The Strategic Plan of 1997 and the ensuing Task Force Report on Strategic Planning of 1999 have served their purpose. The College’s Strategic Planning Committee is now poised to draft an updated plan that explicitly and clearly reflects the current mission and learning outcome goals of Daemen College, and it should do so without delay.

  2. There are currently no specific objectives associated with the learning outcome goals. A committee of faculty, staff and administrators should review departmental objectives and construct College-wide, measurable objectives that correlate with the learning outcomes.

  3. To this end, a summary of all departmental goals and objectives should be prepared and made available to members of the College community.


Planning, Resource Allocation, and Institutional Renewal

Resource Allocation and Prioritization of Goals and Objectives

Review of resource allocations has been prompted by the 1996 Middle States evaluation, the 1997 Strategic Plan, the 1999 Task Force on Strategic Planning, and a Campus Facilities Master Plan, focusing on physical plant goals, also finalized in 1999 (DR). The Report of the Strategic Planning Task Force of 1999 outlined objectives and assigned priorities, timelines and accountability for fulfilling those objectives. One of the immediate priorities was enrollment management. The College secured the consulting services of Miller/Cook & Associates in June 2000. In 2004, the College contracted with GDA Integrated Services to assist with image- and financial aid-related improvements. Both firms facilitated long-range strategies relative to enrollment management.


The Campus Facilities Master Plan outlines goals and objectives for the College relating to the physical plant. The Board of Trustees designated campus housing as a top priority, agreeing with campus recommendations that new residence halls would aid in student retention. Coordinated demolition of old Campus Village halls and phase-in of new apartment-style halls was completed in September 2002. As discussed further in Chapter 4, student demand for on-campus living space now exceeds capacity; improved living conditions are also one significant factor among several in our rising retention rates.

A September 2004 progress report on the facilities master plan (appendix 1.2) demonstrates that the College has also fulfilled many of its less costly physical plant goals (e.g. improved landscaping) and made timelines for fulfilling the rest of the goals. The next major physical plant goal is construction of a new library.



Improvement Processes

Appropriate constituencies are involved in improvement processes. In all major planning efforts, notably those stemming from the Strategic Plan of 1997, the College has engaged trustees, faculty, administrators, staff, and where appropriate, students and external consultants. For example, in the Strategic Planning Task Force Report of 1999 and the 1999 Campus Facilities Master Plan, objectives are clearly defined with assignments for responsibility for improvements. Members of the campus community have effectively ensured accountability by working in collaborative teams and completing follow-up status reports.



Evidence of Use of Assessment Results. The 1996 Middle States site team’s evaluation has been incorporated into all strategic planning processes, recommendations, and resulting improvements. Some of the academic, organizational, and programmatic improvements that were made as a result of the 1996 evaluation are: the adoption of a new mission statement; the appointment of a dean of enrollment management and the development of monitoring committees and work groups to support and monitor this function (e.g., an advisory committee on student retention); the establishment of a group to evaluate and revise the core curriculum; allocation of resources for the position of core curriculum director; elevation of the position of chief student affairs officer to a position reporting directly to the President with membership in the President’s Cabinet, the College’s executive council; revamping our new student orientation program, with collaborative programming by enrollment management, student affairs, and academic affairs; increased support for faculty development, including faculty research and travel funds as well as in-service training; and the increased coordination of instructional technology. Although influenced by the site team’s evaluation, these achievements are also directly linked to stated institutional goals and the concomitant commitment of institutional resources, as is evident in Table 2 (certain details of which will be covered in subsequent chapters).

Table 2 Learning Outcomes, Goals, & Core Competencies & Relation to Allocated Resources

Improvements supported by allocated resources

Applicable goals in:

Learning Outcome (s)

Institutional Goal(s)

Core Competencies

New Residence Halls

 

IG-6, IG-7

 

New Library

LO-1, LO-5

IG-1, IG-6

II

Increase Development Staff

 

IG-5, IG-9, IG-10

 

Athletic Facility

 

IG-7, IG-9

 

New Core Director/Travel/In-Services

ALL

IG-1, IG-6, IG-8

ALL

Technology Refresh Plan

LO-5

IG-1, IG-8

II & III

Cyber Learning (Distance Ed)

LO-5

IG-1, IG-9

II &III

Vice President for Student Affairs

 

IG-7

 

Increased Staffing in Academic Advisement

LO-6, LO-7

IG-1

 

Miller/Cook ==> Increased Student Aid

 

IG-3, IG-2, IG-11

 

Reynolds Center, Spec Ed.

LO-7

IG-4, IG-9

VII

Service Learning

LO-1, LO-4

IG-9

VII

Brooklyn Program

All

IG-1, IG-2

 

Academic Grants Office

LO-1

IG-5, IG-8, IG-9, IG- IG-11

 

International Education

LO-1

IG-9, IG-11

VI

Academic Festival

LO-1, LO-3,

LO-5


IG-1, IG-3, IG-6, IG-7

I & III

Speaker Series

LO-1, LO-5

IG-6, IG-7

VII

In their 1996 report, the Middle States evaluation team rightly remarked on the inadequacy of our library space. In 2000, the Head Librarian prepared a report for the Cabinet stating the case for a new library rather than renovation of existing facilities. The President appointed a library planning committee composed of librarians, faculty, administrators, staff and students. This team hired noted library building consultant Jay Lucker, and following his recommendations, a subcommittee of the planning team interviewed 18 architectural firms. The nationally known Boston firm of Perry Dean Rogers was selected, and their plans for a user-friendly – and “green” – signature building are complete.

Our current capital campaign “Anthologies: The Campaign for Daemen,” approaching entry to its public phase, has set a goal of $8 million ($6.5 million for the library and $1.5 million for scholarships), has hired additional development staff to support the campaign, and is strategizing to obtain resources. As of Spring 2004, fundraising for the campaign had successfully secured $1.9 million from the foundation, government and individual sectors, including approval for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) funding pool for green construction. We anticipate securing an additional $1 - $1.3 million from the government sector by Fall 2005, and have identified several individual prospects in the $1 - $5 million range that will be approached prior to December 31, 2005. Approval is pending from several corporate and foundation supporters totaling $300,000, with over $21 million identified in potential corporate and foundation support. Daemen anticipates public announcement of the campaign by Spring 2006, at which point we expect to have secured 40% of the campaign goal as well as a lead individual gift.

Evidence of Institutional and Departmental Improvement

The institution’s periodic assessments of planning, resource allocation, and the institutional renewal process have resulted in concrete improvements. This self-study, however, has also revealed fragmentations in institutional assessment, addressed in our new institutional assessment plan, and discussed in more detail in Chapter 3 Institutional Assessment.

Administrative units of the College define and assess attainment of their objectives through the use of standing committees, ad hoc committees, and task forces. The Cabinet supports these team efforts by considering their recommendations seriously and in many cases providing the resources to implement them. For example, an information technology (IT) advisory committee was formed in April 2000. The IT committee reviewed fundamental technology issues, prioritized campus-wide needs, and recommended improvements, including a three-year technology refresh cycle. The administration supported and implemented a number of the committee’s recommendations. (The College’s 2003-2005 Technology Plan is available in the document room.)

Formed in 2001 by the Vice President for Academic Affairs, a Quality of Life ad hoc Committee, comprising faculty, staff, administrators, and students, completed a set of recommendations for improving the quality of life at Daemen. The institution provided support for the formation of this committee as well as many of their recommendations, as noted in the November 2002 status report (appendix 1.3). For example, a campus-wide voice mail system was the committee’s top recommendation; the College soon after purchased a system and provided training to all employees in its usage.

The Academic Grants Task Force is an example of a committee formed in response to a key administrator’s needs assessment, in this case, the Academic Grants Director. Formed in 2002, this task force presented a set of recommendations to the Cabinet in February 2004, suggesting ways the College should ensure compliance, effective management, and efficiency as the College’s grant revenue increases (appendix 1.4). As a direct result of these recommendations, the Cabinet approved a new post-award position to facilitate grant administration and approved a handbook outlining policies and procedures for compliance with sponsor, College, and federal regulations.

As recommended by the 1996 Middle States evaluation team and in keeping with the College’s own assessments, Daemen has increased funding for faculty travel and research; in 1997, for example, the travel budget was doubled. Since the spring of 2001, faculty members have received, from general institutional funds, a total of $54,526 (97 separate requests) for travel to professional conferences and $19,315 for research (18 separate requests). The College has also procured external funds for faculty development. For example, a 2001 grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation, authored by the VPAA, has funded attendance of two workshops on sustainability by 22 faculty and administrators, with faculty also receiving a total of over $87,000 in core innovation awards (additional compensation) for revising or creating courses for the new core curriculum. Additionally, funds for department-specific training and travel to conferences and workshops have been increased in departmental budgets.




Recommendations

1. In keeping with new institutional assessment procedures, ensure that administrative and academic departmental goals and objectives are coordinated, communicated across departments and aligned with College-wide long-range planning.




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