Responses to June 1997 Visiting Team
Major Recommendation 1.1
The institutional Planning committee should expand its role to planning the formalization of the College's organization including roles and responsibilities, procedures, and lines of communication and decision making for a comprehensive college.
Major Recommendation 7.1
The College should develop and implement a formal process for documenting and validating the linkage between budgeting and institutional planning, to ensure the College's mission, goals and objectives are being funded through the budget development process.
Response to Major Recommendation 1.1 and Major Recommendation 7.1
Both of these recommendations have been implemented and were crucial to the development of the College as a comprehensive institution. Prior to the site visit, the District Office was seen as setting the priorities for the College via the Institutional Planning Committee's (IPC) strong focus on facilities planning. With the expansion of the IPC's responsibility and increased membership, it is no longer seen as a committee coordinated by the District Office with a limited focus on facilities planning, but rather as a focal, representative committee on campus through which all major organizational decisions are reviewed, evaluated, and studied. The overall charge of the IPC is to guide the planning and policy making processes for the College. Strong coordination between the IPC and the College Budget Committee has been established. Written processes for hiring, equipment replacement, and allocation of new funds have been developed by the IPC to ensure that the planning process is integral to the budget development process. Overlapping membership on these committees assists in solid communication links.
IPC members are appointed by the Senates (faculty and classified) with equal representation from each of the four College divisions. There is also student representation on the committee. Committee members are charged with communication to their respective divisions/constituencies to ensure ample input into discussions held by the IPC.
The expanded planning process focuses on both short-term and long-term goals that are defined, implemented, and continuously reviewed, assessed and updated to respond to the ever-changing needs of the students, faculty, staff and of the external community. Goals initially set by the Board of Trustees are used by the IPC to determine two-year overall College outcomes that complement the Board of Trustees goals. The four interdisciplinary divisions then establish appropriate activities and measurement criteria to meet college-wide goals.
Reflecting a commitment to a comprehensive strategic planning process, in 1999-2000 the IPC requested that the President assemble a team representative of the various constituencies throughout the College. This Strategic Planning Team would report to the IPC. In February of 2000, the team met formally for the first time and began the initial phase of the process, which placed heavy emphasis on understanding the values on which the institution was built, operates, and holds as crucial for the future. Between planning retreats, focus groups were held on campus at multiple times in various time slots to allow for broad discussion and creative input around critical issues. Ideas, debate, suggestions and feedback were sought throughout the process, through town meetings, division and departmental meetings and written feedback. This input to the Team constantly informed the planning process. After the language had been fully reviewed by all constituencies through the shared governance process, the Strategic Plan was approved by the IPC on December 6, 2001. The Strategic Plan is now used to inform all planning processes of the college, and major initiatives are publicized broadly, including a mailing to the entire community.
Major Recommendation 2.1
That the college examine the current organization structure within the instructional program to realign duties and clarify responsibilities both for the people who staff those positions as well as for other members of the college community.
Response to Major Recommendation 2.1
In 1990, upon the original organization of Las Positas College as a separate, independent college, the Office of Academic Services, then the Office of Instruction, was organized into four interdisciplinary areas headed by Area Chairs selected from the faculty for two-year terms. The Area Chairs were faculty positions (70% reassigned time and 30% teaching load) and followed the faculty contract for days of service with summer stipends for up to 120 hours of summer work for each Area Chair. The Area Chairs reported to Deans, who in turn were accountable to the Vice President of Academic Services.
As the College grew in enrollments, programs and facilities, particularly in the mid-nineties, it became apparent to all constituencies of the College that the organizational structure of Academic Services needed to be evaluated in terms of its appropriateness for future growth and development. Throughout the Institutional Self-Study for Reaffirmation of Accreditation conducted principally between March 1995-November 1996, the issues and concerns related to the organizational structure of Academic Services surfaced in several of the Standard plans, including recommendations for evaluating the role, lines of authority and duties of the Area Chairs; defining relationship of the Deans to the Area Chairs and to the Vice President of Academic Services; and clarifying the responsibilities of these three levels of "administrative" responsibility within Academic Services. The College in its Accreditation Self-Study identified that the organizational structure within Academic Services needed evaluation, and the Accreditation Team in its Evaluation Report confirmed this institutional responsibility as one of its eight major recommendations.
In response to this self-identified need to evaluate the organizational structure of Academic Services, the President of the College and the President of the Academic Senate formed a committee representative of all constituent groups for this task. A consultant from Technology Exchange Center was hired to serve as facilitator. The Reorganization Committee worked extensively from October 1996 to May 1997 when it presented its final recommendations to the President.
Guiding principles adopted by the Reorganization Committee in restructuring Academic Services into three divisions and Student Services into one division were the following:
- Maintain the interdisciplinary mix of the three instructional divisions;
- Maintain a reporting structure which is as flat as possible;
- Keep the divisions as equal as possible in terms of the number of full-time faculty;
- Include within the divisions disciplines that have some shared relationships;
- Maintain flexibility in the reorganization for the long-term vision;
- Create a new discipline of Communications separate from Language Arts.
The recommendations from the Reorganization Committee submitted to the President in May 1997 and adopted, effective 1997-98 with Board of Trustees' approval, include the following four major outcomes:
- Elimination of the four Area Chair (2.8 FTEF equivalent) positions and dividing the four academic areas into three divisions reporting to three Deans of Academic Services. Student Services would become a separate division;
- Replacing the 2.8 FTEF Area Chair position with three classified positions: an additional staff assistant in order that each of the three divisions would have two classified secretarial support; a new position to handle scheduling and curriculum; and a new position to handle personnel matters. Additional classified support to the Divisions was given a very high priority by the Reorganization Committee, as well as by the Institutional Self-Study;
- Strengthening the role of the Academic Senate by increasing the release time of the Academic Senate President from .33 to .50. In this way, the strong voice of the faculty in academic issues would be preserved without Area Chairs through a more involved and active Academic Senate leadership. Also, the faculty were given time during the beginning of each academic year to meet as a whole to make all appointments to all committees;
- The format for monthly Division meetings was changed. The Division Dean would conduct the first hour of the meeting to discuss various "administrative" issues. The second hour of the division meeting would be chaired by the lead senator to discuss "faculty" issues. It was deemed important that faculty have time to meet separately from the Administration, as had been the case under the Area Chair model.
The current organization of Academic Services was evaluated in May 1998 by the staff after operating less than a year. There was general consensus that the new structure improved communications and information dissemination, that there was greater stability and clearer identity, that decision making was streamlined, and that the culture was strengthened. Areas identified for further improvement included easing the Deans' workloads, "tweaking" the discipline alignment, strengthening coverage for all instructional hours, clarifying some staff job descriptions and identifying and clarifying institutional versus divisional tasks.
Major Recommendation 3.1
That Las Positas College establish adequate storage space to house all student records maintained within the Student Service areas of Admissions and Records and Financial Aid. The use of fire-proof files is required to ensure the safety and security of student records.
Response to Major Recommendation 3.1
To respond to the need for adequate, safe storage for student records, the College purchased an Image Scanning System in 1998. The image scanning system provides a secure back-up file system that ensures a safe and secure storage environment. Security to access those records has been established and is limited to specific departments within Student Services.
Upon implementation of the system, immediate priority was given to scanning the records located within the Admissions & Records Office where space is at a minimum. In order to provide counselors with computer access to student records, priority was also given to scanning documents (i.e. transcripts) essential in assisting students with program planning. In 2001, an employee was hired to oversee the ongoing technical and functional operation of the scanning system. A percentage of the employee's responsibilities is designated solely for this purpose. During the summer of 2002, the College upgraded the system to maintain currency and security at optimal levels. In addition, the College has contracted with an outside agency to index and scan the documents currently located in an outside storage area. The issue of secure, adequate storage is successfully being addressed.
The Financial Aid Office has implemented the scanning of all prior student records for electronic storage. All financial aid student records through 2000-2001 have now been scanned beginning with the 1996-1997 school year, and we are currently in the process of scanning records for 2001-2002. Procedurally, records are scanned at the end of each year so that only the current year's active records need to be retained as hard copy in the files. For the financial aid office this has essentially eliminated the record space security/storage problem originally indcated in the last accreditation.
Major Recommendation 5.1
The College should develop a technology plan which includes the relationship of all of the computer labs, integrating the functions and staffing to ensure optimum use of equipment and personnel and attention to potential health and safety issues.
Response to Major Recommendation 5.1
A formal technology plan was developed in a two-year process, culminating in the adoption of the Las Positas College Technology Plan in January 1999. During Spring Semester of 1997, each discipline and area of the College assessed the need for technology to support their program and submitted this information to the Technology Committee. This assessment included classroom space, technology needed for instruction in the classroom, computer laboratory space, and non-scheduled use of technology by students among other factors. During the Fall of 1997, this information was used to shape requests for instructional resources and for staffing as well as to shape the planning for some remodeled facilities.
During the Spring and Fall of 1998, the Technology Committee developed the Technology Plan in its current form. The Technology Committee has more than thirty members representing all constituencies of the College. The Committee formed sub-committees to write plans for seven principles as follows: College Commitment, Instructional Efficiency and Effectiveness; Student Services Efficiency and Effectiveness; Internal Resources; External Resources; Technology Standards; and Connectivity. Each Principle is further developed with Goals, Objectives and a work plan for implementation. Each sub-committee contributed a draft version of an assigned portion of the plan, then the entire Committee reviewed the drafts and made revisions. The final step for adoption was submitting the draft to the entire College community for comment and incorporation of the comments. The Technology Plan was then presented to the Board of Trustees for their information.
The Committee as a whole accepted responsibility for implementing portions of the plan identified as being the most urgent. This resulted in standards for purchase of certain technologies as well as a plan for providing technical support based on number of computers deployed on campus. During the Spring of 1999, an additional support position was added for computer support and several instructional assistants were added to provide support to particular disciplines with heavy usage by students of technology. During the Spring and Summer of 1999, a Library Technology Plan was also developed as required by state initiatives for funding. This will be presented to the Technology Committee for incorporation in the overall Technology Plan.
In November of 2001 Las Positas College hired a Dean of Technology. One of the tasks assigned to the Dean was to review, revise and update the Technology Plan. The Dean is currently working on this task and anticipates the revised plan being available in Spring, 2003.
Major Recommendation 5.2
The College evaluate the staffing patterns and tasks for staff and the assignment of space to ensure that there is sufficient support for acquisition and cataloging of materials, the circulation desk, and media support for the evening faculty in the classrooms.
Response to Major Recommendation 5.2
The staffing for Learning Resources has been evaluated within the context of requests for allocations of new staffing as well as allocations of special funding. A new full time Librarian was hired in Fall, 2000, and this person also serves as Library Coordinator. With Partnership for Excellence funding, the library in January 2002 added a new full-time position of Learning Resources Assistant III, which has duties and responsibilities in both processing and circulation. In addition, one of the two circulation assistants worked on processing 15 hours per week. The cataloging is supervised and assisted by an hourly librarian who works about eight hours per week on this task. The staff continues to order materials pre-catalogued and preprocessed whenever possible, so that processing and cataloging at the local level are minimized. Space for these tasks continues to be an issue since they were not designed into the building. With the reorganization of Division I in 2000-2001, a small area within the library was reassigned so that it could serve as the receiving area, doubling as a workstation for acquisition paperwork as well. Processing is done in a shared office with Instructional Support Services technicians, creating a very tight situation. Additional processing is done at the circulation area using carts instead of shelves.
Through the addition of the Learning Resources Assistant in January 2002, a permanent, full-time staff is able to provide service on Saturdays when the library is open, rather than relying on student assistants and hourly staff. The addition of this assistance enabled the library to develop more flexible staffing so that service in both processing and public service are increased.
One significant change has been in the support of the instructional services. An hourly position was added during 1998-99 to support the evening and Saturday programs in the classrooms. The position is now a fully funded permanent position supporting instructional services from Tuesday through Saturday during the afternoons and evenings. Workspace for the technicians has been consolidated and upgraded in Summer, 2002, when the technicians moved from three separate locations on campus to one location in building 2000.
Major Recommendation 6.1
That the college develop a campus based equipment inventory system to ensure proper identification and appropriate maintenance schedules.
Response to Major Recommendation 6.1
The development of a complete inventory of all College fixed assets was completed in July 1998, utilizing the latest in bar code hardware and systems. Equipment is identified as to location, manufacturer, model, serial number, and acquisition date.
Major Recommendation 7.1
That the college develop and implement a formal process for documenting and validating the linkage between budgeting and institutional planning to ensure the college's mission, goals and objectives are being funded through the budget development process.
Response to Major Recommendation 7.1
Major Recommendation 8.1
That the college develop a more formal, systematic review process for policies and procedures.
Response to Major Recommendation 8.1
This recommendation has been implemented and has been critical to ensuring that all policies and procedures for the College are fully understood. The College has determined that, via the Institutional Planning Committee, all policies and procedures are reviewed to ensure that any modifications made are reviewed by all representative groups and receive widespread dissemination. This is an ongoing process addressing the varying processes affecting many college units. An example that was implemented in 1995 regarding procedures for Title V compliance has now been updated and streamlined by an ad hoc task force of the Curriculum Committee. It is approved for the 2002-2003 year as a pilot with evaluation at the end. The hiring procedures for full time faculty developed by the Academic Senate and Academic Services have been implemented and have been in use for three years. Another example is that the new Business Office is reviewing our forms to eliminate any levels of scrutiny that are not essential in an effort to make the process more timely. The goal is to get all the forms, with clear explanations for use, on the INTRANET and available instantly to anyone needing them.