John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Lincoln Land Community College

Institutional Profile

Foundations of Excellence® Cohort:
2009-2010 National Select
Carnegie Classification:
Associate’s /Public Rural-serving Large
Enrollment:
7,677
Regional Accreditation:
Higher Learning Commission
Contact Information:

Lesley Frederick, Vice President of Student Services
Lesley.Frederick@llcc.edu

Eileen G. Tepatti, Ed.D., Vice President of Academic Services
Eileen.Tepatti@llcc.edu

www.llcc.edu


Lincoln Land Community College’s Involvement in Foundations of Excellence®: From Inception to Action

Lesley Frederick, Vice President of Student Services and
Eileen G. Tepatti, Vice President of Academic Services

In spring 2008, a cross-divisional committee, including two representatives from feeder high schools, was assembled at Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) to review student retention issues and to develop ideas to increase student retention.  This committee began with an inventory of programs and services already offered at LLCC.  It found that the college offered a variety of beneficial but disparate programs.  So the retention committee began addressing the challenge of identifying gaps and joining services into a coherent, intentional system.

In spring 2008, a cross-divisional committee, including two representatives from feeder high schools, was assembled at Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) to review student retention issues and to develop ideas to increase student retention.  This committee began with an inventory of programs and services already offered at LLCC.  It found that the college offered a variety of beneficial but disparate programs.  So the retention committee began addressing the challenge of identifying gaps and joining services into a coherent, intentional system.

After some circular discussions, the committee was introduced to the Foundations of Excellence® (FoE) process by some staff members who had seen presentations by FoE schools at national conferences.  The committee gathered information about FoE. Feedback from previous participants was overwhelmingly positive.  Being convinced that FoE could be an appropriate process for LLCC, the committee proposed that LLCC apply to be a FoE participating institution. The LLCC Foundation immediately stepped forward, agreeing to underwrite the participation fee. LLCC applied and was accepted as a FoE participant for the period 2009-2011.

"In total, 119 proposals for action arose from the nine dimension committees. As recommendations were reviewed, broad themes emerged:"


Three LLCC staff members attended the FoE launch meeting in Asheville, NC, in August 2009 and then assembled a steering committee which included leaders for each of the nine dimension committees.  The two FoE liaisons (the Vice Presidents of Academic Services and Student Services) introduced FoE to the college community at LLCC’s annual start-of-the-year convocation on August 21, 2009.  Over 100 employees volunteered to serve on the various committees, and over 80% of the volunteers persisted to the completion of the dimension committee assignments.

Throughout the fall of 2009 and early spring of 2010, committees rated Lincoln Land’s status on the FoE performance indicators.  Using their results, each Dimension Committee developed proposals for action for the institution.  The final reports from each committee along with their action proposals then went to the FoE Steering Committee for synthesis early March 2010.

Themes Arising from Dimension Committees

In total, 119 proposals for action arose from the nine dimension committees.  As recommendations were reviewed, broad themes emerged:

  • Need for a clearly stated, widely vetted, and publicized institutional philosophy that guides development of the learning environment for students in the first year, including aspirational goal statements emergent from the philosophy;
  • Faculty and staff preparation and development to enhance our ability to work with new students;
  • Curricular issues (e.g., delivery, course prerequisites, course placements);
  • New student matriculation and orientation to LLCC;
  • Intervention and preventative processes to avert student failure;
  • Process of academic advisement;
  • Communication with students and with those who are significant to their education (e.g., parents, high school officials);
  • Communication among faculty and staff, particularly with regard to sharing information about students;
  • Co-curricular experiences to support student academic success; and
  • Trend monitoring/data analysis to gather and use information available to us.

Steering Committee Findings and Recommendations

After dimension committee recommendations were sorted into the themes listed above, the Steering Committee participated in a retreat at the end of March 2010 and identified those recommendations that were very similar and clustered these into single, revised proposals where possible.  Next, examining the more streamlined field of proposals, the Steering Committee identified those proposals that are highest priority for college action.  Six projects in particular rose to the top:

Top Six Recommended Projects

  1. New Student Experience:  Acclimatization—To identify and charge a cross-divisional task force to design a systematic way to acclimate new students to Lincoln Land, starting from “ground level” and not simply tweaking existing processes or creating a one-size-fits-all experience.  The FoE process has already conducted significant research and made recommendations; however, this group will also gather additional information, both internally and externally, regarding student needs and best practices at other institutions.  This task force will be charged with identifying and designing program components and delivery and with establishing measures of program effectiveness.  Components should include, but not be limited to, a) the purpose of general education, b) diversity awareness and competency to interact productively with all varieties of diversity, and c) a survey of individual characteristics that support or challenge academic success.  (This project was selected as one of the college’s first three AQIP Action Projects beginning with Academic Year 2010-11.)
  2. Web Page Refinement—To report to the Web Team the research and recommendations from the FoE process, asking that team to incorporate identified refinements to specifically address the needs of first year students and their support systems.  (This reporting occurred in time to allow Web Team consideration during Academic Year 2010-11.)
  3. Professional Development/CELT Focus on New Student—To incorporate the topic of first year student success into professional development opportunities offered by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching and on Professional Development Days.  This topic should also be embedded in new employee and new faculty orientations.  Additionally, professional development experiences should include a more explicit focus on the impact of new students’ diversity in its broadest sense.(This proposal was forwarded immediately to those responsible for professional development and incorporated into professional development opportunities starting in Academic Year 2010-11.)
  4. Systematic Assessment—To build upon the benchmarks created by the FoE process to create a systematic assessment of each of the recommended improvements.  The FoE Steering Committee was charged to create an on-going structure whereby the performance indicators just evaluated for this process (e.g., the DFWI rates for high-first-year-enrollment courses) will be revisited regularly to identify whether the college is improving on each.  The structure will include a feedback loop to report trends back to the appropriate college departments and committees.  (This structure will be defined during Academic Year 2010-11.  The FoE Steering Committee will also develop a recommendation as to whether it should—in some format—continue as an ongoing institutional team to support this and other initiatives.)
  5. Systematic Early Intervention—To identify and charge a cross-divisional task force to design an effective, systematic early intervention program for students who meet certain high risk criteria and/or who display signs of academic trouble early in the term.  This task forces’ charge includes identification of new intervention strategies as well as incorporating existing strategies into a more coherent and effective program.  The group will also identify measures of program effectiveness.  (This project is proposed for Academic Year 2011-12)
  6. Advisement of Majors—To identify and charge a cross-divisional task force to explore feasible and effective alternatives a) for enhanced advisement of students who have declared majors or fields of concentration and b) to support those degree-seeking students who are undecided. Any such exploration must take into account existing contractual agreements and the support level of proposed participants.  This task force will be charged with developing a proposal for consideration by administrative and faculty leadership.  (This project is proposed for Academic Year 2011-12, pending review in Spring 2011 by the FoE Steering Committee to confirm that it has not somehow been addressed as a collateral impact of the first proposal.)

Next Steps
One important theme that emerged from the FoE process that did not become one of the top six recommended projects was a clearly stated, widely vetted, and publicized institutional philosophy that guides development of the learning environment for students in the first year.  The Steering Committee believed that such a philosophy was a prerequisite before embarking on any of the top six recommended projects and would provide guidance to all institutional activities—identifying and prioritizing new initiatives, resource allocation and budgeting, etc.  Therefore, the Steering Committee adopted a philosophy statement and goal statements for the first-year student experience at LLCC.  These statements were simultaneously submitted to the Shared Governance Council and the President’s Cabinet for their endorsements, which were received.

As the college makes progress with the initial projects from the FoE process, it is expected that other proposed action items that did not yet rise to the top will begin to drop off the original list because they will be addressed as part of one of the initial projects or simply as a discrete departmental or inter-departmental activity.

In the course of Academic Year 2010-11 the FoE Steering Committee will continue to meet and monitor progress.  The Steering Committee will also work with the Shared Governance Council to determine whether the committee should continue as a standing college committee or whether its nascent functions should be handed off to another body at the college.  One thing is certain – the college does not want to lose the excellent work and momentum gained from the FoE process!