Action Learning Projects 2011-2012

Project #1: Developing a Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) Plan for Sustaining Growth and Improving Student Success

In recent years, North Hennepin Community College has seen unpredictable enrollments and inconsistent results from various student success initiatives.  This trend is expected to continue unless deliberative planning is done.  Developing a Strategic Enrollment Management plan would help the college:

  • Achieve predictable enrollments through planning and active management
  • Track and assess student success and engagement initiative
  • Develop a culture of clean, reliable data available at predictable intervals
  • Construct key performance indicators and use of metrics for decision making
  • Utilize technology to collect and analyze data
  • Use enrollment and student success to drive other planning at the college

Team Charge:
The project team would assist with the following:

  • Creating a three year Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) plan;
  • Constructing an internal needs assessment, including process mapping and gap analysis;
  • Developing an external, community needs assessment;
  • Developing outcomes and key performance indicators linked to the college’s strategic goals and directions; and
  • Determining metrics for assessing attainment of outcomes and key performance indicators.

This project would benefit the college, but would help the Luoma participants practice and learn key leadership skills.  Participants would learn about strategic planning, outcome development, project management, setting key performance indicators, communication, and assessment.  These are all critical skills needed by leaders and fit very well with the Luoma Leadership Program Competencies.  Each participant would be able to take what they have learned back to their respective organizations.

Final Report
Executive Summary

Jackie Briggs, Minnesota State College, Southeast Technical
Sarah Carrico, Saint Paul College
Nadine Haley, Metropolitan State University
Nasreen Mohamed, Minneapolis Community & Technical College
Shawn Reynolds, Pine Technical College
Jason Trainer, Northland Community & Technical College
Ginger Zierdt, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Executive Sponsor:
John O’Brien, President, North Hennepin Community College

Team Advisors:
Landon Pirius, Chief Student Affairs Officer, North Hennepin Community College
Jane Reinke, Chief Academic Officer, North Hennepin Community College

Project #2: Administrative Evaluation

The goal of this project is to provide recommendations to update the current administrator evaluation process at St. Cloud Technical and Community College (SCTCC).   Currently the College follows the state statute requirement of completing an annual performance evaluation for administrators. SCTCC recognizes the need for development based on recent feedback from sources including an AQIP Feedback Report, Baldrige Express (MN Council for Quality), and participation in the Foundations of Excellence program.

The College would like to enhance and formalize the current process to include all components of evaluation and develop the infrastructure necessary to connect all evaluation activities to professional development and succession planning.  The project includes the research and development of an updated evaluation policy, process, and procedure for administrators and managers/directors (Administrator Plan, Middle Management Association, Managerial Plan) which includes but is not limited to: professional development planning, supervisor evaluation and assessment, peer evaluation, portfolio development, and succession planning efforts.  Consistency and alignment will help the college:

  • Encourage and recognize the importance of continued professional development;
  • Support quality improvement efforts;
  • Create a systematic approach to evaluation that aligns with system and external research and recommendations, utilizes the leadership competencies as developed by MNSCU and meets all state and MNSCU evaluation requirements;
  • Align evaluation methods for consistency and equity;
  • Effectively manage talent and promote inclusion;
  • Create tools that can be utilized in decision making and promotion within and among campuses

This research and recommendation should align with the ongoing research and system efforts through the Talent Management Division and the previous research and recommendations submitted on succession planning by the 2009-2010 Luoma cohort.  In addition, feedback from the AQIP Report (with focus on Category 4: Valuing People), Baldrige Express Survey, and Foundations of Excellence will act as valuable resources in guiding the continuous improvement efforts of the college in this area.

Team Charge: 
To develop a systematic, comprehensive, formative and summative evaluation process for administrative/managerial employees that allows for strategic decision-making in compensation, promotion and succession planning on campus. 

  • Project deliverables should include:
  • Research on current practices (in and outside the MNSCU system with focus on community, technical or combined campuses). 
  • Policy, procedure and process recommendations for implementation at SCTCC
  • Sample documentation for utilization at various levels of administration (academic deans, VP’s, Directors, Managers, etc.) Sample documentation can include but is not limited to professional development plans, supervisor evaluation and assessment, peer evaluation, portfolio development, and succession planning efforts
  • Recommendation of career development tools to assist in professional development and succession planning.

Final Report
Executive Summary

Executive Sponsors:
Joyce Helens, President  
Deb Holstad, Human Resource Director
Dr. Peg Shroyer, Vice President of Academic Affairs
St. Cloud Technical and Community College

Team Advisors: 
Kristina Keller, Dean of Business and IT, St. Cloud Technical and Community College 
Anita Rios, Director of Talent Management and Organizational Effectiveness, MnSCU System Office

Project #3: Embedding Student Research in the Undergraduate Experience

Research experiences are becoming an integral part of the undergraduate experience.  While all students will benefit from such opportunities, this is especially true of those students planning to transfer to four-year programs or who have graduate school as a goal.  Identifying resources to support undergraduate research is a challenge in MnSCU, especially in two-year schools.

Team Charge:
Conduct a literature review of education principles for providing undergraduate research and of ways to structure undergraduate research programs.  Investigate best practices both within and outside of MnSCU for providing research experiences for undergraduates in the upper division and undergraduates in the lower division. Identify sources for both funding and personnel resources to support such research. Look at ways that such research can be showcased and recognized in MnSCU.   

Final Report

James Grabowska, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Mark Johnson, Minnesota State Community & Technical College
Jason Kaufman, Inver Hills Community College
Michelle Malott, Minnesota State University Moorhead
Marilyn Swan, South Central College

Executive Sponsor: 
Dr. Joan Kuzma Costello, Provost, Inver Hills Community College

Team Advisors: 
Kelly Branam, Associate Professor, Anthropology, St. Cloud State University
Susan Krook, Anthropology, Normandale Community College

Project #4: Improving Student Access to Course-Specific Notes when Printing Schedules Using ISRS

Currently, students are able to see any notes related to the course when registering through the portal in ISRS.  The problem is that when they print their schedule, the notes disappear. 

For example, a course that has a specific building or campus location is noted when viewing the schedule through ISRS.  However, when students go to print their schedule this important information does not appear.  Students often print their schedules months prior to semester start so this information is not included, causing confusion and a negative impact at the semester start.  Is there a way for a team to program ISRS to include all course registration (including notes) when students print or save their schedules? 

This is a preferred service approach when dealing with our students.  This would facilitate a smooth semester start for students, faculty and staff.  It certainly would help students be better organized and prepared for semester start.  

Team Charge:

  • Research if other MnSCU institutions are having the same problem and determine  the current “work around”
  • Are there other fields in ISRS that are not appearing when students go to print their schedule?
  • Explore the feasibility of modifying ISRS to include the notes section when students go to print or save their schedules
  • Pilot the reprogrammed ISRS course registration application.  RCTC would be happy to serve as a pilot site.
  • Implement system wide

Executive Summary
Final Report


Abel Asfaw, North Hennepin Community College
Tonya Huber Hanson, Normandale Community College
Scott Streed, Central Lakes College
Matthew Traxler, Inver Hills Community College
Jennifer Willard, Mesabi Range Community & Technical College

Executive Sponsors:
Don Supalla, President, Rochester Community & Technical College
Scott Sahs, Chief Information Officer, Rochester Community & Technical College
Ginny Boyum, Academic Dean, Rochester Community & Technical College

Project #5: Minnesota State University, Mankato's Unclassified Search Process

The purpose of this action learning project is to streamline the Unclassified search and hiring process, thus making it timelier and less cumbersome.  By instituting a change process, the goal will be to increase efficiency and effectiveness. 

The Unclassified search process at Minnesota State University Mankato has been described as time-consuming and cumbersome.  There are 21 steps ( to hire someone for a position in the Unclassified category of employees.  After the interview process the continual steps to get the paperwork approved to actual offer can take weeks.  This extensive process can result in losing prospective candidates to other competitors.

Team Charge:
The team will be charge to develop a continuous quality improvement process that will:

  • Identify and define the problem and do research of similar processes
  • Possibly use educational lean processes to reduce redundancy and cost in the process
  • Propose recommendations to make the process more efficient and effective  (possibly an electronic system from start to finish, such as PeopleAdmin)

Final Report

Maria Baxter-Nuamah, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Donna Brown, Minnesota State University Moorhead
Kent Kogler, Metropolitan State University
Michelle Thom, Normandale Community College

Executive Sponsor:
Richard Davenport, President, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Team Advisor:
Becky Barkmeier, Chief Human Resources Officer, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Project #6: Intercollegiate Athletics Compliance

The Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities established a goal to re-evaluate the overall audit approach for the system in fiscal year 2011.  The committee directed the Office of Internal Auditing to conduct a risk assessment as a step in the evaluation.

Intercollegiate athletics was identified as a topic area within the risk assessment.  The Office of Internal Auditing has not completed audit work within the intercollegiate athletics area in the past.  In addition, the Office of the Chancellor has limited oversight within this area.  Finally, board policy and system procedures guidance is limited, see attached Board Policy 2.6.

Team Charge:
Conduct research which focuses on the following questions:

• What is the intercollegiate athletic landscape within the system?  (e.g. number and type of teams within each division)
• What are the NCAA compliance requirements for the three divisions?  What are the significant differences between the divisions?
• What are the impacts of not meeting requirements?
• How are Minnesota state colleges and universities meeting the compliance requirements?  What are significant challenges in meeting requirements?
• Nationally how is internal audit being used to review compliance requirements?

Provide recommendations on best practices for colleges and universities in complying with NCAA compliance requirements and potential roles for internal audit within intercollegiate athletics. 

Complete project by the end of April/May 2012 for the MnSCU Board of Trustee’s Audit Committee and internal auditing to use in developing future audit plans.

Final Report
Executive Summary

Erik Bentley, Normandale Community College
Linda Hanson, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Darren Hoff, Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Lori Mjoen, Winona State University
Gina Sobania, Office of the Chancellor

Executive Sponsors:
Trustee Jim Van Houten, Audit Committee Chair
Trustee Phil Krinkie, Audit Committee Vice Chair
Beth Buse, Executive Director, Office of Internal Auditing, MnSCU System Office

Project #7: Winona State University and Southeast Technical College Transfer Collaboration

Winona State University and Southeast Technical College are continuing to look at new ways to enhance student transfer.  Some great programs are in place between the two colleges for upward mobility; however, more and more students are coming to Southeast Technical with the intention of transferring to Winona State University without getting a certificate, diploma or degree first.  One of the problems is identifying these students early and advising them on the best path to a degree at WSU or any other University.  Many are in the Liberal Arts area at Southeast Tech and may not be self-identified as such.  How do we do a better job of identifying this group of students?  Transfer students are one of the fastest growing populations at Southeast, so how do we advise these students so they can make the right decisions on credit transfer, degree selection and/or college choice?

Team Charge: 
Research methods for developing an effective system to identify, advise, and track students who come to Southeast Tech with the intent of transferring to Winona State University.  Draft a set of recommendations to facilitate credit transfer and major selection between Southeast Technical College and Winona State University.  Recommendations should include a tracking mechanism to follow transfer students to the University and measure student satisfaction with advising, ease of transfer and/or their overall experience in the process. 

Final Report
Executive Summary

Tom Boylan, Metropolitan State University
Paula Hoffman, Pine Technical College
Denise Kirkeby, MnSCU System Office
Liz Sabel, Normandale Community College
Katie Svoboda, Century College
Terrence Wilcox, Lake Superior College

Executive Sponsors:
Nate Emerson, Vice President of Students, Minnesota State College, Southeast Technical
Connie Gores, Vice President of Student Life and Development, Winona State University

Team Advisors:
Carl Stange, Director of Admissions, Winona State University
Jo Poncelet, Dean of Liberal Arts, Minnesota State College, Southeast Technical
Becky Alsop, Professor of Biology, Minnesota State College, Southeast Technical

Project #8: Non-Credit Instruction: Improving Access to Higher Education

Colleges and universities face increasing expectations to enroll and graduate non-traditional and under-represented students, yet many of these students begin their higher education path in non-traditional ways, notably through non-credit courses or continuing or customized education. Improving the opportunity for students to transition from non-credit instruction to college enrollment will provide a new entry “portal” for students, and will give institutions an opportunity to enhance their program offerings using curriculum from customized training programs.  

Team Charge:
The goal of this project is to identify the extent to which students begin their college educations in non-credit instruction and determine what institutional changes can be made to encourage students to become degree seeking. 

  • Steps in the Learning Project include examining the following issues:
  • How many students begin their higher education in non-credit instruction and continue to become degree seeking students? 
  • What factors motivate or contribute to students deciding to become degree seeking?
  • What institutional practices encourage students to become degree seeking?   What institutional policies or practices inhibit students’ transitions from non-credit instruction to credit enrollment? 
  • Can institutions improve for-credit curriculum or programs by working with continuing education and customized training instructors?  What barriers are there?
  • What recommendations can be made to improve the relationship between continuing education and academic departments to support student choices?  

Final Report
Executive Summary

Angelique Calotescu, Metropolitan State University
Jennifer Eccles, Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Nerita Hughes, North Hennepin Community College
Betsy Picciano, Central Lakes College
Debra Sidd, Normandale Community College
Gail Wahlberg, Lake Superior College

Executive Sponsor:
Michael Murphy, Associate Vice Chancellor, Strategic Partnerships, MnSCU System Office

Team Co-Advisors:
Mary Rothchild, System Director, Office of the Chancellor
Jess Niebuhr, Dean of Workforce Development, Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Project #9: Building College Readiness and Success in High School and Beyond

Hennepin Technical College has experienced an enrollment decrease in high school seniors and recent high school graduates taking college-level courses.  To address this decrease, HTC identified four feeder/partner high schools (Robbinsdale-Cooper, Bloomington Kennedy, Brooklyn Center, and Minneapolis South) with high percentages of first generation underrepresented students, including students of color. The College created two Readiness Advisor (RA) positions and placed them in the 4 partner high schools two days a week. It is the RA’s role to build a college-going culture at the high schools – especially among the target population. The Readiness Advisor’s responsibilities are varied and depend on the identified needs/interests of the high schools. Some of their responsibilities include:  administering the Accuplacer Placement Test; meeting with groups of students on the financial aid application process; arranging for tours to the HTC campuses; meeting with parents to familiarize them on the college application process; working with high school teachers to assist in preparing students to increase basic skill abilities through practice on the A+Advancer; and exploring Hennepin Technical College’s program offerings.  After 1.5 years of implementing this strategy, the college wishes to assess the overall effectiveness of this strategy and refine its implementation to consider expanding the approach to other high schools.

Team Charge:
Assess the overall effectiveness of the Readiness Advisors (RA) in partner high schools. Produce an evaluative report with recommendations that could increase the effectiveness of college readiness efforts for high school populations. Questions that should be considered include:

  • What programs and/or services are evident in high schools that embrace a college-going culture?
  • What relationship does the high school and college curriculum play in implementing a successful college-going culture?
  • How is developmental education impacted through this type of culture?
  • What specific skills are necessary for the high school teachers and staff? What skills are necessary for college faculty and staff?
  • From best practice research identify similar programs that include clear pathways to college for at-risk high school students with key intervention points.

Final Report
Executive Summary

Thomas Matos, Saint Paul College
Bill McMahon, MnSCU System Office
Andrew Nesset, Century College
Janet Steinkamp, St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Michael VanKeulen, Minnesota West Community & Technical College

Executive Sponsor:

Cecilia Cervantes, President, Hennepin Technical College

Team Advisors:
Director of Admissions and Dean of Instructional Programs

Project #10: New Employee Orientation Systems for Pine Technical College and Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College

The current new employee orientation systems at Pine Technical College and Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College are not effective in reaching the entire population of new employees.  Off-campus employees at remote sites, adjunct or part time faculty teaching evening and weekend hours and faculty hired to teach online courses are not well-integrated into the institutions as a result.  It is also difficult to reach new employees, particularly faculty, not hired near the common semester start dates.  This failing has been cited by employees in Pine Technical College’s biennial Climate Survey as an issue that has a negative impact on the climate of the College. This is significant to both colleges in terms of working effectively with a class of employees that has been growing rapidly in recent years.

Team Charge: 
Design a systematic, comprehensive and possibly technology-enhanced process for orienting new employees to Pine Technical College and Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College in such a way that will improve outreach to new hires who are off-site, working at different hours or hired at different times.

Final Report
Executive Summary

Bill Brady, MnSCU System Office
Kathy Hanon, MnSCU System Office
KimChau Ngo, Hennepin Technical College
Linda Pesch, Minnesota West Community & Technical College
Debra Whited, Normandale Community College

Executive Sponsors: 
Penny Hudlow, Chief Human Resources Officer, Pine Technical College
Louise Lind, Chief Human Resources Officer, Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College 

Team Advisors: 
Janis Wegner, Chief Financial Officer, Pine Technical College
Tony Gantenbein, Executive Director, ETC, Pine Technical College
Jason Spaeth, Dean, CE/CT, Pine Technical College
Joan Bloemendaal-Gruett, Chief Academic Officer, Pine Technical College
Anna Fellegy, Chief Academic Officer, Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College  
Heather Kidd, HRIS Director, MnSCU System Office