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Standard 2 Committee Minutes: 4/2/2003


Notes on the Meeting with Dr. Curtis

Q: Where did the Strategic Plan come from?

A: Two sources: The College had just completed a periodic review identifying issues. During the extensive search process for a President, there were numerous discussions about priorities - declared priorities (Board priorities). Therefore, I felt there was no need to start from ground zero and felt that there were some parameters clearly articulated in which to move. In formulating the strategic principles, I strove to provide a focus - to say, "here's the universe as I see it currently defined."

Strategic Planning is, however, a dynamic process - for example, it began with four principles and now there are five. I view SP 3 as the "change principle." Change is a fundamental issue at the College - how do we facilitate change? How do respond to our students? How do we position ourselves in the community? How we change is the fundamental, underlying issue.

Q: The SP appears to be externally directed in contrast to earlier planning at the College that was based on critical issue?

A: I will answer in two ways - First of all it is deliberate that the SP is external. I sensed from the Board that in recent years the way the College positioned itself was an important concern - a concern that derives in part from political concerns due to the funding needs of the College. Secondly, we can't look at ourselves internally unless we look externally. The external constitutes our reason for existing. Two of the SP's are externally focused. I would view the other 3 SP's as internally focused. On the whole the Plan is balanced between the internal and external. I see the College as having three primary foci that are reflected in the SP.
Access issue - this is a fundamental part of the College psyche and the principle on which we are built. For example, the Opportunity Now Program (no other college in the City is doing this) - See it as providing access in a economic climate which places some citizens in jeopardy of not being able to access us to start their education.
Student Success - our reason for being is to help students achieve their goals. Internally the Oasis Project speaks to this. Oasis is not a technology project - it is to help students and employees become more successful and better able to focus on quality.
Role in the community. We can't divorce the College from the context in which it exists. For example, we provide higher education to the largest percentage of public school graduates - therefore our relationship with the school system is crucial. Another example - the new building. It is a symbol that is fundamental to our curriculum. We won't develop things unrelated to where people get jobs. Finally the Regional Centers - They are no longer feeder campuses. They are constantly expanding. Some students will not leave their neighborhoods to come to the main campus - we have to go where the students are.

Q: There seems to be a disconnect internally between assessing outcomes and renewal at the College. For example, there are concerns regarding internal critical issues that need to be addressed in order to meet external concerns.

A: I think you are asking how we make decisions. We are getting better at making databased decisions. Judy on the academic side for example is using assessment more and more. We have a long way to go. Some of it is the College culture.

Q: We have found that there is a lot of confusion regarding existence of a Marketing Plan versus the Clarus Report and the lack of an Enrollment Management Plan.

A: We do not have an overall strategy for marketing and enrollment. Clarus is good and has some clear goals. We will absolutely develop a marketing plan and enrollment management plan.

Q: What has impeded Planning?

A: Competing priorities in the last year and a half. Oasis has been the rising priority. The Strategic Plan says a hundred things - we will get through a percentage. The agenda set out is very, very large. Within the next year we need a clearly articulated enrollment management plan. The time to do one is when enrollment is on the upswing. We are FTE driven and as long as we are, we cannot get smaller. We may not need to keep growing, but we can't get smaller. There are pieces of a plan going forward including some of the things in the Clarus Plan. Oasis will have enrollment tools that will facilitate this.

Q: Resource and budget allocations are missing from Plans? For example, the Facilities Plan lacks priorities for funding.

A: The Facilities Plan on the net is not the whole thing. There is an estimated cost for every item. No priorities are listed, but we aren't there yet. The next step depends on the plan. With the Facilities Plan pieces are budgeted for every year.

Q: SP has no dollars attached.

A: It does set out necessary resources and that becomes part of the budget process.

Q: How are items prioritized in the budge process?

A: Each division sets its priorities before I see it. I can't say how the Divisions do it. At my level, we do a three-year plan for staffing needs and sit down and hash out what we can afford.

Q: How are decisions made at the Cabinet level regarding priorities? What if the priorities mean that one Vice President would get everything requested and another nothing?

A: We work hard not to be in the position of denying all assets to a Division. There are a lot of questions here - including the question of resource development.

Q: How are things prioritized?

A: It's my role at the end of the day to make that call. My approach is a group one at the Cabinet level and I feel it needs to be a group process. Everyone needs to be invested. But the priorities are defined. For example - expanding career services. Before there was one career service professional serving only credit students. I think that an important part of the plan of attack was providing more space - the new building and more staff. We have added a new position and will expand further - one step at a time. Given the goal of expanding career services adequate budget had to provided to Student Affairs. We now have an area for all students, credit and noncredit. This type of decision is made at the Cabinet level.

Q: How will assessment feed into the decision?

A: We will assess the Career Center. We are still putting infrastructures in place for assessment.

Q: How do we get from what we do to vision? How do we get to where we are based on what we said we're going to be? How do we establish a path from vision? This question relates to the college's mission and the President's Vision Statement)

A: Career Services is an example - outcomes can be specified and are part of a larger commitment to preparing citizens for the world. That the SP is a vortex is true - we do shift resources based on a number of factors - not the last of which is funding.

Q: We have to continually focus on immediate needs, immediate problems. How do we get back to the SP?

A: Change is the issue at the College. Dealing with change issue is our biggest challenge. In being student-centered, it is essential we deal with change issues. The large issues of change and partnerships - mega issues - not in isolation.

Q: For example "CAP" - How are defining success? If we are evaluating ourselves - how are defining what success is?

A: A group of factors determine outcome expectation. And I agree with you regarding assessment - some things we are doing aren't working. You are hearing through the appropriate VP that we need to move more in that direction. Assessment has not been part of the normal decision making process. SP 4 articulates assessment, but we haven't done it. We assemble lots of data, but don't use it all.

Q: Governance may cause some of the problems in retarding change - comment?

A: This is an open-ended question. The Institution is very much driven by the fact that it is a unionized environment. There are many ways to skin a cat. We don't have a faculty Senate and, from my vantage point, whether we have one or not is less significant than addressing the issue of allowing for change. Due to the union environment and the culture that has evolved here over the years, we have obstacles to change. Change is the number one issue. Change is the cultural subtext. When change is not successful here, it is due to the culture.

Q: How do you change culture?

A: Make student-centered decisions….change processes. Oasis is a major change in how we service students. Change structures and get different people involved. Many have been here more than two years (example of the state commission of community colleges and the change in its membership in the past four year - 75% change resulting in more being accomplished in the last couple of years than in the previous twenty.) Modeling is another way - from the top down. The tone of the top can help encourage change. I am a realist - it takes time and we need realistic goals and

Q: How can we be responsive when it takes two years to get a new curriculum approved?

A: Some things here are benchmarks: the course development process - CFT is the strongest of any place I have worked - as strong as anything I have seen anywhere. But to get back to your point, we have to be committed to change. We have to build SP into the individual and unit level. We have to articulates goals and reassess performance. People have to be willing to be held accountable. We have tried something different in the SP - In other places I have participated in SP and the result has sat on shelves. With the Board, we need to look for outcomes oriented decisions.