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Community College of Philadelphia


Mission, Goals, and Objectives Self-Study Forum Report


Institutional Context
Standard 1
Mission, Goals, and Objectives

Judy Davidson
Steve Jones

Summary of charge:

Is the mission adequate?
Is the process of reviewing the mission adequate?
Do goals and objectives within planning efforts fit appropriately with the mission?


Existing planning documents:
Strategic Plan 2000-2004
Clarus Report (Marketing)

Institutional Research Reports:
The Progress of 2001 Graduates of CCP in Development of General Education Skills and Affective Attributes
Institutional Effectiveness 2001: A College Report Card
Student Preferences for Alternative Course Delivery Systems
Studetn Attrition at CCP
Graduate Satisfaction Surveys

Curriculum Facilitation Team

Professional Development Week Fall 2002 Focus Groups
Vice President for Finance and Planning
Institutional Research
Vice President Community and Government Relations
Department Head/Curriculum Coordinator Focus Groups
Recruitment Coordinator
Transfer Specialist
Advisory Committees

Surveys:(results not available yet)


Have the goals set forth in 1993 been met?

Is the mission effectively used to guide course and curriculum decisions?

  • Course development models all require that course developers describe a justification for a course in terms of student needs.
  • Program planning and revision models require relationships to developments within the regional job market, transferability, etc.

          This has resulted in support for some new mission-related programs.

  • However, the mission is so broad that it can arguably include almost any new initiative.
  • External accreditation agencies require a relationship to the college mission; external requirements help programs focus on the mission.
  • Day-to-day pressure for new programs is focused on "quick fixes" which take advantage of new opportunities, such as a demand for short-term training.
  • …Yet employers also want candidates with a well-rounded background. The liberal education component in the mission does not always receive administrative attention.

Is the College community adequately aware of the College Mission?

  • Mission Review Roundtables and Focus Groups held during Fall 2002 Professional Development Week reflected a broad awareness of the College's mission within the institution. Many of the comments centered on omissions and changes to the language or style of the mission statement, but there is a general understanding of the values and philosophy behind it. We have more information about mission awareness from college staff than from students. Survey data will give us additional input from students.
  • The Admissions Office displays the mission statement at their counter, and it appears in the college catalog, but otherwise it is not widely visible within the college community.

Has the College mission been successfully expressed to the outside community?

  • The College aspires to be so many things that each of the goals in the Mission has a somewhat distinct sub-constituency.
  • The Marketing Master Plan (Clarus Report) sets goals for creating awareness of the College and initiating interest in attending the College by the public. The plan is based on the values in the Mission Statement, including "access," high academic quality, and the goal of being the higher education institution that responds specifically to Philadelphia's needs.
  • Missing key elements that are required for accurate and widespread understanding of the College's mission in the wider community:
    • the existence of greater "institutional presence"
    • an attractive physical presentation to the public
    • the expression of the College's balance between quality career and transfer programs, and the affordability of the College.

  • There are several key constraints on using advertising to make the public aware of the breadth of programs that are part of the College's extremely broad mission, including budgetary ones.
  • The Government and Community Relations office recently committed to a modest campaign promoting specific College programs, in order to heighten awareness of the breadth of the College's academic mission.
  • The coordination between academic goal-setting and marketing is limited. As the top leadership determines where resources will go (in terms of faculty, new academic programs, capital expenditures, etc.), marketing resources are not necessarily sent in the same direction.
  • Politicians in general have a favorable impression of the College, but have the same misperceptions about the College's mission that other people have.
  • They believe that the College does a good job, but is basically a place for students to go when they cannot go to another college.

  • Efforts to help make important political leaders fully aware of the College's mission are part of the College's overall political approach, which includes coalition-building with other community colleges. The College is an active participant in the state Commission for Community Colleges.
  • Other means for developing understanding of the College's role include the cable TV channel, which does not have adequate resources.
  • In the School District of Philadelphia, teachers and counselors are aware of the College's mission, but not through familiarity with the Mission Statement. People learn about the college's mission by word-of-mouth and indirect experience.
  • Understanding of the College's mission is often expressed in negative terms: Since people are aware of the "access" aspect of the mission, they think of the College as a place where anyone, including low achievers, can attend.
  • Students also see the college as inexpensive; they know people with few financial resources who were able to attend Community College.
  • …However, they don't necessarily see this focus on "access" as a positive, since they may not want to see themselves as going to college with people who could not go to college anywhere else.

  • Older students are also aware of the "access" aspect of the mission, and respond to this as something positive about the College.
  • Some barriers to reaching the outside community, particularly with the message that the College provides rigorous liberal arts and career programs:
    • College representatives do not have many opportunities to make mass presentations to high school groups
    • a widely-held belief in the society at large that open admissions institutions have low quality
    • the public associates the SAT scores of entering students with academic seriousness.

Does the Mission Statement reflect the College's role in the immediate geographic community, in the nation and the world? Are the mission, goals and objectives appropriate to the College's current place and for its present constituencies?

  • The Mission Statement is viewed as particular to our open enrollment, urban institution. It is not a generic college mission statement.
  • The majority of the College's graduates remain in the Philadelphia area. The Mission Statement specifically addresses preparation for life and work in the city.
  • Many students enter the College with little experience outside of their immediate neighborhoods, and with little preparation for academic pursuits. The mission expresses the goal of improving critical thinking and communication skills, which are necessary for any job or further education.
  • Enculturation is another part of what students learn here. We have foreign students, immigrants, adult students. The lives of our students mirror the concerns of the city and the world (e.g. students being called up for active military duty).
  • Some see a need for more emphasis in the mission on international/global education.
  • Focus groups in the Fall 2002 Inservice sessions made these observations:

    On the content of the Mission Statement:

  • The statement seems to be based on a set of values, but that these are not made explicit.
  • The statement be should be used more seriously in decision-making, and that it should have a greater connection to the day-to-day reality of working and studying at the College.
  • Several groups suggested greater emphasis on global education, particularly in the form of international education, and an emphasis on a holistic education, including education for social responsibility and for personal fulfillment.
  • The members also reported a need for a greater emphasis on the College's relationship to the business community, especially our role in providing non-traditional educational experiences for workforce development.
  • This was partly connected to a perceived need for more emphasis on providing training and education in computer technology.

  • There should be a greater emphasis on service to students, particularly emphasizing our goal of giving opportunities to constituencies who do not otherwise have access to higher education.
  • On the form of the statement:

  • It should be more passionate, explicit, personal, succinct, focused, broad, etc.
  • It does not conceive of a need to change rapidly.
  • According to this view, if the mission were more change-oriented, we would be more ready to let go of programs for which there is not great demand, and would develop new programs more quickly.

How does the College's Strategic plan reflect the institution's mission?

  • One of the links between the mission and the Strategic Plan is the President, whose "vision statement" comes out of the mission, and guides planning.
  • The process that resulted in the plan included an extensive "scan" of the College environment, but also included Presidential determination of the main strategic goals or "principles."
  • The plan contains a statement of many worthy activities that were designed to support the strategic "principles," but these "principles" are disconnected from the goals identified by a broad cross-section of the institution, and don't have a more clear connection to the mission than another set of goals might have.

Analyze how the College goals and objectives, as expressed in the Strategic Plan, effectively focus on student learning and outcomes for institutional improvement

Are the College's goals and objectives, as expressed in the Strategic Plan, sufficiently flexible to allow for the College to effectively respond to opportunities and change?

In general:

  • To varying degrees, the goals and objectives in the plan focus on learning and improvement.
  • The plan is a kind of snapshot of institutional priorities. Mainly, the document is an expression of Cabinet-level ideas about the need for change
  • The plan is an externally-focused statement of aspirations about the College's ability to show that it is doing a good job.
  • A measure of plan "flexibility" might be the inclusion of measurable outcomes, and a component that calls for change based on assessment over the life of the plan. The Strategic Plan does not have a clear focus on outcomes, and does not have a component that encourages change.

Principle I: Key leader in support of workforce and economic development

  • includes career curricula, non-credit offerings, and customized training
  • mission statement defines the college as an associate-degree-granting institution; should include certificate programs and non-credit study
  • new environmental scanning process is expected to provide better information on market needs, leading to more timely programmatic response to industry needs

  • Center for Business and Industry: Processes for responding to the corporate world could be more efficient. Levels of bureaucracy slow down implementation.

  • Political considerations may prioritize what gets done.

Principle II

  • Educational partnerships: K-12, four-year colleges and universities, community-based agencies and organizations

  • Transfer continues to be a strong component of the college. Number of dual admissions, core to core programs has increased. Success of graduates at transfer institutions is tracked.

  • Participation in K-12 partnerships has increased (dual enrollment of high school students in college courses, e.g.), but still impacts a small percentage of students overall - not system-wide

  • Community/agency partnerships: A summer camp was established. No other specific programs are mentioned in the Strategic Plan or July 2002 update. Not clear what the role of the college would be in this area.

Principle III

  • Student-oriented activities include
    • the addition of new courses at regional centers
    • the offering of more distance education courses
    • offering study abroad

  • Many of the "improvements" that are at the heart of Principle III are either a matter of ease of use for faculty, or complying with the requirement of the State regarding the form of course descriptions.

    This could be seen as a type of institutional improvement.

  • Accomplishments" include a set of events that are not necessarily accomplishments in terms of the objectives. Meetings were held, criteria were assessed, models were re-written, etc., but the focus is on administrative work and the production of documents.

  • Many of the activities related to this principle are modest. They touch a limited number of staff members directly.

Principle IV

  • Strategic Principle IV calls for nothing less than the complete overhaul of the system for setting and achieving institutional goals, basing its goal-setting and resource allocation on a system of objective measurements, which in turn are based on a system of commonly articulated values.

    This ambitious vision clashes mightily with College realities and with the resources put behind the implementation of the plan.

  • The revolution imagined in principle IV emerges not from the institution's environmental scan, but from a Presidential vision.

  • Implementation of Principle IV seems hampered by a lack of awareness and institutional "buy-in."

  • There is some awareness of Principle IV:

    Evaluate the goal expressed by Strategic Principle 4 to engage the College community in unit mission review.

  • The promotion of "unit mission reviews" are of two types:
    • program reviews, which include audits of academic programs
    • administrative department reviews.

    The first type has been done at the College for a long time, and has become established. Thorough reviews are particularly established in programs such as Allied Health where there are external accreditors.

Possible Committee Recommendations

The Mission:

  • The College should engage in a rigorous College-wide mission-review well in advance of its ten-year accreditation self-study. Ideas about the basic direction of the College should be developed before they are assessed as part of a self-study.

Goals and Objectives:

  • The strategic plan should provide a set of institutional priorities, and these should flow logically from needs identified in internal and external scans. An explicit method for determining main goals should be developed, based on criteria such whether there is a link to the College mission, whether there is institutional support for pursuing a goal, and whether there is financial support available to meet the goal.

  • Budget decisions regarding marketing should take into account the allocation of resources in faculty, equipment, etc., and should be made with an eye toward supporting those investments.

  • The College should decide, through both internal and external discussion, what activities constitute enabling students "to meet the changing needs of business, industry and the professions." We need to clarify the apparently mixed message we are receiving about training vs. education.