Action Learning Projects 2009 - 2010

Project #1: LSC Mentoring for New Faculty


Lake Superior College's current new faculty orientation process includes a first-week orientation session, a handful of online training modules, and voluntary, unstructured mentoring relationships with experienced full-time faculty. The college would greatly benefit from a strategic annual new faculty mentoring program that would provide new faculty with the information, skills, and recourses necessary to teach at the college, including information about department practices, grading policies, curriculum development, classroom management, teaching pedagogies, and academic assessment.

Team Charge: Develop a procedure for a structured, annual new faculty mentoring process that would be used by the Academic Affairs to orient new faculty to teaching and other professional activities at Lake Superior College. The team will analyze current best practices in faculty mentoring and recommend a college-wide mentoring process that supplements and complements MnSCU's system-wide new faculty orientation.

Executive Sponsor:
Kathleen Nelson, President, Lake Superior College

Team Advisors:

Mark Magnuson, Vice President of Academic Affairs
Hanna Erpestad, Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Team Members:
Sam Erickson, Metropolitan State University
Cathering Houghtaling, North Hennepin Community College
Lynn Johnson, Bemidji State University
Jean Mershon, Central Lakes College
Martha Scheckel, Winona State University
Linda Tetzlaff, Normandale Community College

Executive Summary
Final Report

Project #2: Faculty Evaluation Process in Two-Year Colleges

Problem: The goal of this project is to provide recommendations to update the current faculty evaluation process at two year college campuses in the MnSCU system. Currently, each college has its own process, policy, and procedure, but recognize the need for further development, collaboration, and consistency.

The college(s) would like to enhance the current process to include all components of evaluation and develop the infrastructure necessary to connect all evaluation activities. The project includes the research and development of an updated evaluation policy, process, and procedure for unlimited, probationary, part time and adjunct instructors and should address face to face, online and hybrid delivery. In addition, the process should align faculty evaluation, professional development planning (per MSCF contract), and classroom evaluation in all delivery methods. By aligning related activities the college(s) will:

  • Encourage and recognize the importance of professional development;
  • Support quality improvement efforts;
  • Create a learning community within the college that promotes strong collegial relationships;
  • Recognize faculty knowledge, expertise and skillful teaching.
  • Align course design principles, assessment techniques, outcomes and evaluation.
  • Meet accreditation requirements.

Team Charge: To develop a systematic, comprehensive, formative and summative faculty evaluation process that addresses face to face and online instructional delivery methods. A recommendation to the college(s) should be applicable to all two year colleges in the MnSCU system.

Executive Sponsors:
Deb Holstad, Human Resource Director, St. Cloud Technical College
Barry Dahl, Vice President of Technology and e-Campus, Lake Superior College

Team Advisors:
Kristina Keller, Dean of Business and IT, St. Cloud Technical College
Hanna Erpestad, Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Lake Superior College

Team Members:
Laurie Becker, Minnesota State College, Southeast Technical
Rhonda Bender, Northwest Technical College
Todd Digby, Office of the Chancellor
Jeffrey Judge, Normandale Community College
Jo Poncelet, Minnesota State College, Southeast Technical

Executive Summary
Final Report

Project #3: Building Alumni Associations at Comprehensive Community Colleges: Turning Association Members into Future College Donors.

Background: Nationally, 2-year college graduates do not contribute to their colleges at high rates. Career program alumni often are not loyal to the institution, but rather to their program (welding, IT, nursing) and the program faculty. Transfer program majors often consider themselves alumni of the 4-years institutions from which they later graduate. Developing alumni as donors becomes a more critical issue as state funding for Minnesota Community Colleges decreases.

Minnesota State Community & Technical College (M State) was created in 2004 by merging three(3) technical college campuses in Moorhead, Detroit Lakes and Wadena with a transfer-focused campus at Fergus Falls. We have established Foundations on all four campuses that are poised to grow. Our next step is to reconnect with our 20,000 graduates; the focus of this project proposal.

Proposal: M State, a four-campus comprehensive community college in rural Minnesota, has over 20,000 alumni, approximately 6000 per campus. Before the College hires staff to build alumni association(s), we would like to have a three year business development plan based on best practices from community colleges with successful alumni associations that have lead to increased donor development.

Team Charge: Conduct needs assessment to inform the development of a 3-year alumni association development business plan for M State (to be shared with other MN Community Colleges)

Interview campus alumni to determine their interests in alumni activities

  • Interview campus administrators and faculty to gain an understanding of faculty interaction with alumni and recommendations for activities
  • Conduct national research to determine best structures for community college alumni associations that support long-term donor development

Make recommendations for a 3-year alumni association development business plan.

Executive Sponsor:
Ann Valentine, President, Minnesota State Community & Technical College

Team Advisor: Patricia Wilber, Vice President for Advancement

Team Members:
Janet Blixt, Lake Superior College
Lisa Bottem, Northland Community & Technical College
Melissa Fahning, Office of the Chancellor
Richard Kangas, Central Lakes College

Executive Summary
Final Report

Project #4: MnSCU AQIP Institutions Common AQIP Category Dashboard

Problem: One of the challenges of participating in AQIP and of developing the AQIP Systems Portfolio is selecting and using appropriate data that are trended, compared, and benchmarked. MnSCU provides campuses with a wide range of data in a variety of reports that could meet these needs if they were organized and reported in a way that was consistent with AQIP standards and Categories. Also, currently, MnSCU has directed that institutions use a number of nationally benchmarked measurement tools, for example CCSSE, PSOL, and Acuplacer. There may be other areas, for example national campus climate surveys, the Presidents' Climate Commitment data, quality-of-instruction surveys, the Kansas Study, etc., where consistent measurement across MnSCU institutions would further enhance institutional quality improvement and help AQIP institutions answer the AQIP "Results" and "Improvement" questions.

Outcomes: Process Improvement and Cost Savings

Team Charge: The work of the team would fall into three areas.

First, aligning existing MnSCU data with AQIP Category "Result" and "Improvement" questions.

Second, researching appropriate nationally-benchmarked as well as locally developed surveys and measures that could be useful in tracking improvement in each Category.

Third, recommending possible benchmarked surveys and measures for adoption by MnSCU AQIP institutions and suggesting ways MnSCU might organize and report data that would facilitate answering AQIP Results and Improvement questions for each Category.

Such system-wide management of relevant measures and results would provide MnSCU AQIP institutions with valuable evidence to demonstrate accountability, establish targets, and drive decision-making and process improvement.

Executive Sponsors:
Cheryl Frank, President, Inver Hills Community College
James J. Johnson, President, Minnesota State College, Southeast

Team Advisor(s):
Lynette Olson, Office of the Chancellor
Joan Costello, Provost, Inver Hills Community College MnQIP

Team Members:
Nicole Bierberdorf, Northwest Technical College
Teresa Brown, Rochester Community & Technical College
Renae Fry, North Hennepin Technical College
Brent Glass, Inver Hills Community College
May Thao, Metropolitan State University

Final Report

Project #5: Metropolitan State University-Inver Hills Community College Degree Completion Collaboration

Problem: Metropolitan State University and Inver Hills Community College wish to develop a stronger, more proactive collaborative model to enable adult learners to complete Metropolitan State's baccalaureate degree programs on the Inver Hills campus. The two institutions already collaborate in a number of areas including nursing, business, accounting, urban education, and computer security. Inver Hills will open 9 new classrooms during the 09/10 academic year. Both institutions want to increase Metropolitan State's degree completion opportunities on that campus and to jointly market those opportunities to adult students in the region. This will require longer-range, collaborative facilities and curricular planning and commitment than has previously occurred (process improvement) and will enable Metropolitan State to serve additional students while minimizing its costs for leased instructional facilities (cost savings).

Team Charge: Develop a protocol and draft for the Presidents a renewable collaborative agreement that will enable Metropolitan State University and Inver Hills Community College to collaboratively plan, implement, and market baccalaureate degree-completion opportunities on the Inver Hills campus.

Executive Sponsors:
Cheryl Frank, President, Inver Hills Community College
Sue K. Hammersmith, President, Metropolitan State University

Team Advisors:
Joan Costello, Provost, Inver Hills Community College
William Lowe, Provost, Metropolitan State University

Team Members:
Tamara Arnott, Anoka/Ramsey Community College
Josephine Books, Inver Hills Community College
Dara Hagen, Century College
Dotty Hayes, Metropolitan State University
Colette Campbell Stuart, Hennepin Technical College
Zack Sulllivan, Inver Hills Community College

Final Report

Project #6: Research to Inform MnSCU Succession Planning Effort

Problem: Current demographic data tells us that there is a wave of retirements coming, even though that wave may be somewhat ameliorated by the present economy. Additionally, there is evidence that we may have significant turnover in certain key leadership positions in our system in the next 5-10 years. As a system, we have begun to invest in several leadership development programs to help build leaders for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. However, that is just one component of creating a successful succession planning effort. (Succession planning is a process of developing talent to meet the needs of the organization now and in the future.) Without a comprehensive and targeted succession planning process that identifies future needs and develops current talent to meet those needs, we risk an inability to lead our institutions strongly into the future.

In order to inform a comprehensive succession planning effort for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, we need to test several assumptions.

Team Charge: Test assumptions and provide research data to inform the development of a comprehensive succession planning process.

Assumption 1: Key linchpin positions* for the system have been identified in the past as presidents, vice presidents, and academic deans. What are our "mission critical" positions or linchpin roles in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities? In other words, for what essential jobs do we need to be developing talent?

Are these the key leadership positions that merit focused succession planning efforts systemwide? Research data can be gathered from surveys and interviews, review of succession planning literature, consultation with demographers, workforce planners, and other key leaders.

*Linchpin positions deserve special attention because they represent strategically vital leverage points, which when they are left vacant...the organization will not be able to meet or exceed customer expectations, confront competition successfully, or follow through on efforts of crucial long-term significance.

To identify these linchpin positions, ask:

  • How significant are the consequences of having this particular position vacant?
  • How does this function contribute uniquely to the organization's mission?
  • If the leader were gone, could it still operate effectively?

Assumption 2: Leadership competencies have been identified for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Do these leadership competencies reflect what current incumbents of key linchpin positions need to be successful? How will changing student demographics, funding, and position requirements impact what future incumbents will need to be successful? Data can be gathered system-wide surveys and interviews, research of best practices from other higher education systems, and review of succession planning literature.

Executive Sponsor: Lori Lamb, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Team Advisors:
Anita Rios, Director, Staff and Leadership Development
Succession Planning Subcommittee - Staff and Leadership Development Steering Committee

Team Members:
Michael Amick, Central Lakes College
Vi Bergquist, St. Cloud Technical College
Scott Goings, Office of the Chancellor
Lisa Kvas, Mesabi Range Community & Technical College
Allan O'Bryan, Rochester Community & Technical College
Lou Urban, Office of the Chancellor

Final Report

Project #7: Creating Effective Listening Systems for Community & Business

Problem: The current economic situation has focused more attention on the ability of colleges and universities within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) to meet the workforce retraining needs of the state. The recent Legislative Audit (2009) notes that MnSCU institutions need to improve the data collected on recent graduates. These findings are part of a larger need to develop more systemic approaches to collecting, synthesizing, and communicating community and business needs to institutions. The upcoming System report Leadership Reaches Out to Business is one such example, but individual institutions must also build their capacity to "listen" to their external stakeholders if they are to remain competitive with proprietary schools.

Team Charge: This team would conduct research to identify essential elements of an effective listening system, capable of seeking out feedback from businesses, community organizations, transfer institutions, alumni, and other external stakeholders; analyzing that information in relation to the System mission and resources and an institution's mission and capacity; and providing access to the information in ways that campus faculty and staff would find useful in planning and developing programs and services. The team's research would also include communicating with colleges known to have effective systems in place. The final report should identify essential elements of effective listening systems and exemplary practices in this area. The team would be expected to model action learning in its work and to work with Normandale Community College in piloting some of the recommendations.

Executive Sponsor:
Joe Opatz, President,Normandale Community College

Team Advisor:
Rick Smith, Dean of Enrollment Management, Marketing, and Multicultural Services

Team Members:
Marc Breton, Office of the Chancellor
Susan Carter, Office of the Chancellor
Jennifer Lambrecht, North Hennepin Community College
Tom Staael, North Hennepin Community College
Daniel Wildeson, St. Cloud State University

Final Report

Project #8: Student Recruitment/Marketing Management Project

Problem: What marketing/recruiting/campus programs that are currently being used for student recruitment have the best return on investment for Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical?

As an administrator for student affairs at Minnesota State College-Southeast, I have worked with my staff to figure out what is the best return on investment when spending marketing dollars to attract prospective students. With shrinking budgets, it is very important that we put our resources where they give us the most return. However, through student surveys, staff meetings as well as round table discussions, we have not been able to pinpoint what is the best avenue to attract students, i.e., newspaper, TV, radio, online brochures, mailings, campus visits, high school visits, night programs, mentorships and so on. We need an accurate tool to measure and evaluate our efficiency, effectiveness and viability within the array of programs currently being utilized at MSC-ST.

Team Charge: Develop a tool to measure the effectiveness of our marketing/recruitment efforts in student affairs that could statistically label each effort currently being utilized at the college. A rating scale that could be used to prioritize our efforts.

Executive Sponsor: Nate Emerson, Vice President of Student Affairs, Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical

Team Advisor:
James Johnson, President, Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical

Team Members:
Guntis Dombrovskis, Metropolitan State University
Keswic Joiner, Office of the Chancellor
Amber Luinenburg, Minnesota West Community & Technical College
Paul Nelson, Northwest Technical College
Amos Olagunju, St. Cloud State University

Executive Summary

Project #9: Using new Technology for Targeted Communication Statewide

Problem: This is a process improvement project with cost-savings implications.

There are so many electronic modes of communication that it seems people are turning themselves off to them, making it hard to communicate statewide either to wide audiences or to targeted groups. Compound that with the difficulty reaching people with print material, partly because more and more faculty, for example, are no longer place-bound (as we teach more online) and it is harder and harder to get the word to anyone about anything. E-mail boxes are jammed because of big broadcast announcements, causing (we think) users to ignore messages, just delete them, or the messages simply get "lost".

We would like to get recommendations on how communication with various constituencies can be more surgical, reach people where they are, and get read.

Team Charge: Inventory and assess currently used communication tools and strategies. Find out which audiences are using what and how they are using it. Make recommendations as to how communication can be quickly and effectively targeted to local as well as statewide faculty, staff, administrators, and interest/affiliate groups. Answer this question: What modes, tools, channels, and processes are most effective, and how should they be used? NOTE: This is not a product-testing project; it is an attempt to identify what is currently in use and to get opinions and ratings from current users

Executive Sponsors:
Lynda Milne, System Director for Faculty Development
Ross Berndt, Director, Twin Cities and Northern Regional Computer Centers

Team Advisors:
Zala Fashant, Center for Teaching & Learning, Office of the Chancellor
Martin Springborg, Center for Teaching & Learning, Office of the Chancellor
Matt Heldstab, Network Specialist, Office of the Chancellor
Bill McMahon, Career OneStop
Mark Peterson, Technology Services, Inver Hills Community College

Team Members:
Tim Borchers, Minnesota State University Moorhead
Beth Buse, Office of the Chancellor
Matthew Dempsey, Normandale Community College
Tom Dubbels, Minnesota State Community & Technical College
Shelly McCauley-Jugovich, Mesabi Range Community & Technical College
Kay Okey, Normandale Community College

Final Report

Project #10: Improving Early Student Success Initiatives and Development Educator Processes: Key to Improving Student Success at Century College

Problem: Students at Century are not achieving success at expected rates relative to retention, transfer and completion of degrees, certificates and diplomas. Processes for new entering students and for developmental students need to be examined for their impact on student success.

Team Charge: Develop and conduct a research proposal which focuses on the following questions:

  1. Do other MnSCU two-year colleges have a "floor" on Accuplacer scores?
  2. Do other MnSCU two-year institutions have Adult Basic Education offerings where low-scoring Accuplacer students are referred for developmental coursework?
  3. Do other MnSCU two-year institutions have more than two developmental courses in a sequence in reading, writing, mathematics and ESL/ESOL?
  4. Do other MnSCU two-year institutions offer "fast-track" (e.g. 6 week, 8 week) developmental courses?
  5. Are there two-year colleges with high success rates in developmental reading? developmental mathematics? developmental ESL/ESOL? Which colleges are these?
  6. Identify the three colleges among MnSCU's two-year institutions exemplifying best practices in developmental education.
  7. Other questions, issues which emerge.

Executive Sponsor:
Larry Litecky, President, Century College

Team Advisors: Jo Matson and College Institutional Research Team, Century College

Team Members:
Cynthia Annable, Lake Superior College
Wanda Kanswischer, Normandale Community College
Kerry Keenan, Century College
Heather Kidd, Office of the Chancellor
Sherrise Truesdale-Moore, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Final Report
Final Survey Report
Survey Responses
Data Grid