Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Design Team Updates

Last year we created six System Design Teams, comprised of more than sixty faculty and staff, with each team examining a key college service or operational system. Each Team conducted research of best practices and then made bold and thoughtful recommendations to strengthen a number of important functions for us. I've recently heard the question asked, "Whatever happened to all those recommendations?" The answer is short - much has happened and even more will happen. Having all recommendations come together simultaneously last spring “flooded the marketplace” with ideas, leaving us much to consider! Fortunately, everything the Design Teams submitted was integrated into the Strategic Plan and many initiatives are underway based directly on those recommendations. Here’s a brief review.

Student Intake and Student Support
Many of the recommendations from these two Teams greatly informed the changes to the organizational structure last spring. Two full-time academic advisors were hired as part of a larger effort to improve first-year experiences for students. The Testing Center was renovated to allow for more consistent and comprehensive services. New student orientation was greatly enhanced including faculty meeting with new students in their program of interest. The Process Review Team is working on the remainder of the recommendations and sorting through the complexities of implementing a true one-stop model.

Adjunct Faculty Support
An adjunct support coordinator position was created and Susan Smith now fills that role, reporting directly to the VP for Learning and Academic Affairs. An adjunct faculty orientation was held prior to the beginning of fall semester, with more than eighty individuals attending. The remaining recommendations provide an action agenda for the coordinator and academic department heads.

Hiring of New Employees
The Affirmative Action Committee served as the Design Team for this charter and they have continued to refine their recommendations. Their initial findings and suggestions were presented to the Senate and refined before being forwarded to the Cabinet. The Cabinet suggested further refinements, which were communicated to the Senate. The final recommendations will be discussed by the Cabinet in the next few weeks and we'll see subsequent action taken after the first of the year. The focus of these recommendations is to simplify the search process and increase dialogue between the hiring supervisor and the screening committee. The recommendations introduce some very new thinking about how we conduct our search processes. Training opportunities will also be an important action item here.

Staff Development
The recommendations for a staff development system were certainly bold and thoughtful. Although interesting, the specific recommendation requiring twelve hours of annual staff development for full-time employees will not be implemented this year or next. Remaining recommendations will help guide a viable approach to staff development that yields successful and meaningful experiences while avoiding the distractions associated with what is or isn’t included, and how much is or isn't required. The Executive Assistant to the President's position has been eliminated. A new position, Executive Director of Organizational Development, with administrative responsibility for professional development has been created - John Bullis was hired in August for this role. David Katz is on partial release from teaching to serve as Coordinator of Faculty and Staff Development. David is developing and coordinating the New Faculty Institute that has been very well received by participants. Looking forward to next year, the proposed College Calendar has a professional development day identified prior to the start of the fall and spring semesters to provide opportunities for more coordinated and comprehensive staff development offerings. The remainder of the recommendations will be addressed by John, David and the staff development committee.

Employee Recognition
The recommendations for this system combine a refinement and expansion of our employee awards with some additional ideas that I believe will provide a great program of employee recognition for many years to come. The final recommendations are still in discussion at the Cabinet level and I look forward to sharing the final decisions with the College Senate after the first of the year with anticipated implementation next fall.

The results from each of these Design Teams were all worthy of immediate implementation. Although action on some of these recommendations may seem slower than some would prefer, I recognize that any action may seem too fast for others. As a result, I've chosen a more considered path of dialogue and process to increase the likelihood for wider understanding and longer-term success. When the charters were created for these Design Teams, I wasn't looking for quick fixes for systems, as some weren't necessarily broken. I was looking for, and believe we have found, a clear and ambitious path that provides a strategic focus toward improving major systems in an orderly and effective manner.

Let me know if this helped answer the question - "what's happening with all those recommendations anyway?" - presblog@mvcc.edu.