Economic Development and Higher Education

GRCC receives passing marks for strategic planning

Three-year plan looked at all facets of the community college.

September 20, 2013
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Grand Rapids Community College has had its eye on the future for a while now.

And after more than three years of strategic planning, the school is beginning to enjoy some of the fruits of its labor.

Administrators and members of the school board started revising the school’s goals and strategic vision in fall 2009. A year later, documents were adopted and an 84-member Strategic Leadership Team began to guide development of a three-year strategic plan and provide a forum for a wide variety of GRCC’s constituency groups to offer input about where the college could and should go.

The team is measuring the plan’s success in six major categories: academic alignment, access, community outreach, “the GRCC experience,” student success and work-force development.

The college recently released a GRCC Dashboard marking its progress on the indicators — or what it calls “ends.”

Of the 28 indicators of success, 20 were marked as increasing, four were marked as decreasing, three stayed average and one was not applicable.

Academic alignment, which is how GRCC collaborates with other educational providers to provide seamless transitions across its educational sectors, showed improvement in the areas of increasing articulation agreements with four-year institutions, alumni or transfer satisfaction, and incidence of developmental education. However, it showed some decrease in the percent of students participating in transfer programs within three years.

Access, which is how GRCC minimizes barriers of time, place, cost and educational preparation levels for college, saw indicators of success stay level in the area of AFP students completing college level coursework, and improvement in percent of GRCC credits offered as non-traditional course offerings, the GRCC student body mirroring the KISD region in terms of minority representation, incidence of developmental education, and grant dollars for a full Pell Grant recipient.

Community Outreach, which is how GRCC enriches the community through educational and civic partnership, saw improvement in community satisfaction and an increase in symposiums, conferences, lectures and athletic events.

The GRCC experience, described as how the college provides students with co-curricular activities developing citizenship skills, also saw high marks, with an increase in the percent of GRCC credit students who participate in clubs, teams and other organizations, and a level indicator of success for percent of classes that offer co-curricular activities as part of the course.

Work-force development saw all positive increases, including the percentage of GRCC career graduates who continue or are employed in their field of study, student performance against state standards, and GRCC student performance on certification exams.

Student success, which is how GRCC students achieve individual goals, saw its ratings decrease in the areas of completion for first-time, full-time students, student persistence rate, and student engagement benchmarks. It stayed level in the area of retention rate and saw an increase in the areas of student goal achievement, successful completion or transfer, course success rates, entering student benchmarks of effective practice, faculty and staff mirroring student minority representation, full accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and student performance at transfer colleges.

The ends — and GRCC’s means of getting there — were presented recently at a strategic planning meeting for the community, where citizens were invited to offer feedback and grade GRCC’s performance.

Presentations on each “end” were given by Ric Underhile, associate dean of instructional support and interdisciplinary studies; Eric Mullen, associate dean of enrollment management and financial aid; Diane Patrick, associate dean of enrollment services/registrar; Fiona Hert, dean of the School of Workforce Development; and Mansfield Mathewson, director of purchasing.

“About 47 percent of our student population who come into GRCC are not ready for college level work, and we help prepare them to become ready,” Underhile said.

“The ends are achieved through strategically implementing various college action projects, the department action projects and through our daily work.”

Community members gave GRCC’s efforts good marks, rating the majority of its ends to be “highly effective” or “effective,” with only a few votes ranking GRCC’s programs in the category of “minimally effective.”

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