Issuu on Google+

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES Mark D. Gearan, President

Middle States Commission on Higher Education Periodic Review Report June 1, 2009

Most recent decennial evaluation team visit: June 2004.


HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES Geneva, New York 14456 (315) 781-3000

www.hws.edu


Table of Contents Executive Summary Overview Approach to Preparation of the Periodic Review Report Summary of Institutional Changes and Developments Abstract of Highlights of the Periodic Review Report

Page 1 2 2 3 5

Required Middle States Documentation Certification Statement Middle States Institutional Profile (2008-2009)

Page 7 8 9

Chapter One: Summary of Responses to MSCHE Recommendations History of MSCHE Actions Response to Middle States Recommendations (see also Chapter 5) Standard 7: Institutional Assessment Standard 14: Assessment of Student Learning Assessment at the Course Level Vertical Integration Project Revision in Course Proposal Format Revision of Syllabi to include Course Objectives Course Objectives and Evaluation of Teaching Assessment of General Education Outcomes Assessment of Student Writing Assessment of Other General Education Goals

Page 23 24 25 25 27 27 27 27 28 29 29 29 29

Chapter Two: Planning for Momentum – Progress Since the 2004 Self Study Page 31 Progress Since 2004 Self Study 32 Planning for Momentum: From 2005 to 2010 33 HWS 2010 34 The Growth Initiative: A 2000 Student Campus 34 Beyond 2010 35 Major Accomplishments to Date 35 Academic and Student Life Engagement 35 Learning Communities Initiative 36 Center for Teaching and Learning 36 The Reorganization of Student Affairs 37 Geneva Partnership and the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning 38 The Finger Lakes Institute 38 The Salisbury Center for Career Services 39 The Centennial Center for Leadership 40 Physical and Financial Resources 40 Campaign for the Colleges 40 Technology 42 Enterprise Information System 42 The Rosensweig Learning Commons 43

(continued âž?)


Chapter Three: Major Challenges and Opportunities The Challenge Ahead: Sustaining the Momentum Enrolling a Student Body with the Characteristics We Prize Inclusive Excellence across the HWS Community Institutional Sustainability Improving Retention and Graduation Rates Completing Campaign for the Colleges Creating a Culture of Evidence-Based Improvement in Teaching and Learning Environmental Sustainability

Page 45 46 46 47 48 48 49 50 51

Chapter Four: Enrollment and Finance Trends and Projections “Sound Financial Performance� Enrollment Management Measures to Address the Current Economic Downturn

Page 53 54 56 57

Chapter Five: Assessment Processes and Plans Page 61 Assessment of Institutional Effectiveness: An Overview 62 Assessment of Student Learning in the Academic Program 62 Course Level 63 Department/Program Level 64 General Education Level: The Eight Goals 64 Assessment of Student Learning Outside the Curriculum 66 Assessment of Institutional Effectiveness in Areas Indirectly Supportive of Student Learning 66 Sharing and Using Assessment Results 67 Chapter Six: Evidence of Linked Institutional Planning and Budgeting Strategic Planning, Institutional Assessment, and Budgeting Case Studies Learning Communities Initiative Wellness Initiative Technology Infrastructure Campus Space Plan Global Education Budgeting Under Conditions of Uncertainty

Page 71 72 74 74 74 75 75 75 76

Conclusion

Page 77

Index to Supporting Documents on DVD Page 79 Current Financial Information Page 81


Executive Summary

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   1


Overview Since Hobart’s founding in 1822 and William Smith’s founding in 1908, Hobart and William Smith Colleges have stayed true to the mission of providing a student-centered, residential learning environment, globally focused, and grounded in the values of equity and service. Located on 188 acres on the shore of Seneca Lake in a setting of incompa­rable beauty, Hobart and William Smith Colleges enjoy a rich heritage based on a two-college coordinate system now unique in higher education. As an institution of higher education, we are dedicated to educating young men and women to lead lives of consequence. In all our work, the Colleges are bolstered by the dedication and philanthropy of loyal alumni, alumnae, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends.   Through a challenging interdisciplinary, liberal arts curriculum, the Colleges prepare students to think critically and make astute connections. In partnership with the Geneva and global communities and through robust programs in career development, study abroad, service, leadership and athletics, the Colleges foster an environment that values global citizenship, teamwork, ethics, inclusive excellence, social justice, and cultural competence.   The Colleges offer three degrees – Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Teaching. The Master of Arts is designed exclusively for HWS graduates enrolled in the Teacher Education Program. Our student body includes 2,025 undergraduate students and eight graduate students. We have 178 full-time faculty members and a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. The average class size is 17 students. Nearly 60 percent of HWS students study abroad on six continents and we rank in the top 15 nationally among liberal arts colleges for the percentage of students participating in off-campus study. With nearly every student taking part in community service projects, the Colleges have been named in Colleges with a Conscience: An Engaged Student’s Guide to College. In 2007, President Mark D. Gearan signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, making HWS a charter member of a national effort to reduce emissions of the gases responsible for global warming. The Colleges have nearly 20,000 alumni and alumnae with distinguished careers around the globe. Since 2004, our students have been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, Gates Cambridge Scholarship, eight Fulbrights and two Morris K. Udall Scholarships. Recent graduates are teaching English in Japan, working for NGOs, and have accepted assignments in the Peace Corps and Teach for America. Others are working on Wall Street, Capitol Hill, or attending prestigious graduate and professional schools. Through two strategic planning initiatives instituted by President Gearan, the Colleges have benefited from a clear road map to achieve academic excellence, intensify student engagement, advance financial stability and expand access. The HWS Board of Trustees is currently planning the third multiyear strategic plan.

Approach to Preparation of Periodic Review Report Since the 2009-2010 strategic planning effort will be broad, participatory and comprehensive, the Colleges made the determination that this report should be prepared by the President and Senior Staff as an analytical overview of progress to date, with primary responsibility located with Provost Teresa Amott. The Provost and her staff attended several workshops provided by the MSCHE in 2007 and 2008. In October 2008 Provost Amott presented Senior Staff with an annotated “Outline for the Periodic Review Report” for their feedback and approval, with a focus on challenges, opportunities and evidence of outcomes assessment that has resulted in institutional changes since the submission of the

2   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Progress Report in 2006. Through the fall and spring, members of the Senior Staff supplied information on their areas of responsibility. The month of May, after classes ended, became the intensive period for review by the President, the Senior Staff, and the chairs of the Board of Trustees.

Summary of Institutional Changes and Developments STANDARD 1

Mission and Goals Since the 2004 reaccreditation review, the Colleges have transitioned from one strategic plan to another, affirming our commitment to student engagement and academic excellence while also adding two enabling initiatives: growth in the faculty and the student body over five years and the successful completion of Campaign for the Colleges. During the 2009-2010 academic year, a comprehensive and inclusive planning process will ensure that the institution can continue to fulfill its mission in the years ahead, years that are likely to hold great promise but also great challenges.

STANDARD 2

Planning, Resource Allocation, and Institutional Renewal The transformation of the campus since 2004 can be traced to more effective planning and resource allocation and to a more rigorous use of data for the purposes of planning and evaluation in virtually all offices and departments of the institution.

STANDARD 3

Institutional Resources By all metrics, institutional resources have expanded dramatically during this period, including endowment, physical and technological facilities, size of the permanent faculty, expertise of the staff, and institutional financial strength. While the institution remains under-resourced compared to its peers, strategic initiatives across the campus are increasingly well- supported. These include the expansion of the permanent faculty, the Capital Campaign, the technology infrastructure, enhancements in student affairs, admissions, and facilities. More than $100 million in new and renovated facilities have been added across the campus, including residence halls, academic buildings, athletic fields and facilities, and a major expansion and renovation of the Scandling Campus Center to provide added space for campus activities.

STANDARD 4

Leadership and Governance Since the 2004 visit, the Board of Trustees undertook a study of how to maximize the effectiveness of the Board, surveying Board members and utilizing consultants and the resources of the Association of Governing Boards to identify the best practices for high performing boards. Subgroups were established for trustee orientation, Bylaw revisions, trustee responsibilities and assessment, and term limits.

STANDARD 5

Administration The most significant reorganization of administrative offices in the period took place in the area of Student Affairs, which were consolidated under one reportage, a new Vice President for Student Affairs. The office of Human Resources was also expanded and its director named as Equal Opportunity Officer and 504 coordinator for Title IX. In response to a comprehensive assessment of the adequacy of the administrative technological infrastructure, the Colleges undertook a highly inclusive process beginning in 2006 to select and implement its first enterprise-wide software system. Admissions, Registration and Grading, Human Resources, Payroll, Finance and Budget, and other offices are now live on the system. Each of the implementation teams will roll out new capabilities during the coming year. We continue to enhance our understanding of these new tools and processes.

STANDARD 6

Integrity The Colleges have adopted a number of new policies, including ones on Responsible and Acceptable

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   3


Use of Electronic Resources and a Sexual Misconduct Policy that apply campus-wide. In Spring 2008, the Faculty voted to affirm and place in the Faculty Handbook two statements of the American Association of University Professors: the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure and its more recent Statement on Professional Ethics. Starting in July of 2005, the Colleges began full implementation of annual performance reviews of administrative and staff employees, utilizing a process of discussion and goal-setting between employees and supervisors. Both parties complete written documents that are kept on file in the Human Resources Office. As part of the creation of a new Student Affairs Division, the Colleges have hired their first judicial affairs officer charged with administering a single and contemporary judicial system for both Hobart and William Smith students. STANDARD 7

Institutional Assessment A process for regular and rigorous reviews of academic programs has been established consisting of selfstudies and external reviews. The new Student Affairs Division has also begun periodic and rigorous external reviews of its constituent offices. A broader array of instruments to measure student learning has been identified and new mechanisms are in place for the sharing and utilization of that evidence for the support of teaching and learning. An Institutional Research Officer now reports to the Provost.

STANDARD 8

Student Admissions and Retention A Five-Year Admissions Plan has produced remarkable growth in applications, meeting goals for the size of the student body, diversity and academic quality. The Colleges offer need-based financial aid to the majority of students in support of its commitments to access and equity. Admissions and institutional advancement have benefited from substantial changes in institutional marketing and communications, expressed in print, video and web materials and utilize the most sophisticated Web 2.0 tools and graphic design. These efforts have earned national acclaim in the form of multiple national and regional CASE awards.

STANDARD 9

Student Support Services The new Division of Student Affairs reflects a contemporary understanding of the complex support services needed by today’s students, and has produced documented increases in student satisfaction. The offices of the Hobart and William Smith Deans solely focus on working with individual students to craft their HWS experience by integrating academic, social, and personal aspects of the student experience as women and men. A Wellness Initiative has resulted in expansions of staffing in counseling and health services, upgrades in fitness facilities across campus, and a growth in outreach from health professionals to students, faculty and staff. The new Vice President of Student Affairs has built an accomplished team of directors who have carried out initiatives in housing and residence life, including a Learning Communities program that combines academic and co-curricular initiatives.

STANDARD 10

Faculty The number of permanent faculty has continued the growth initiated in 2001, resulting in 45 new faculty lines while subsequently maintaining a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. Since 2005, nearly one-fifth of those hired have been members of domestic groups historically underrepresented in the academy, and another seventh were international. The talent and expertise of the senior faculty has thus been enhanced by the new faculty’s interdisciplinary graduate training, innovative pedagogical and technological skills, and interest in undergraduate research, service learning and other practices with great learning potential. During this period, the Faculty undertook the most substantive revision of tenure and promotion review policies in nearly 30 years.

STANDARD 11

Educational Offerings A vibrant Center for Teaching and Learning now provides programs in support of learning across the spectrum of student talents and also supports faculty development in effective pedagogies that enhance student learning. The Public Service Office was reinvented as the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, expanding the rigor and range of community-based learning opportunities across the campus through its Compass and Collaborative Research Internships programs.

4   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


STANDARD 12

General Education The First Year Learning Communities Initiative developed to help first year students achieve better integration of knowledge from multiple courses/disciplines, a more effective transition to collegiate academic life and greater engagement in learning was launched in 2005 and will be expanded for 2009, enrolling half of the entering class, enlisting twice as many faculty members, and experimenting with and expanding the existing “linked-course” model. Utilizing funding from the Teagle Foundation, more than 100 faculty members are engaged in a three-year project aimed at creating a community of practice around each of the Eight Goals that constitute the Colleges’ general education program and uniting the groups in a larger project of curricular and pedagogical transformation driven by evidence of student learning. We believe this project will help the Colleges develop a more robust, and thus sustainable, faculty culture of assessment.

STANDARD 13

Related Educational Activities The Finger Lakes Institute envisioned in HWS 2005 has become a research and education resource for the entire region, growing to six full-time staff, sustained by external funding from foundations and government agencies. The first floor of the Warren Hunting Smith Library now houses the Rosensweig Learning Commons, integrating reference services, instructional technology, the Help Desk, and the Center for Teaching and Learning in a unique integrated staffing model. Students and faculty now have a single site for research and collaboration, mediated by instructional technology, and designed to promote the skills of information fluency.

STANDARD 14

Assessment of Student Learning Two successive grants from the Teagle Foundation have helped faculty focus on student learning outcomes. Benchmarked survey results from the CIRP, NSSE, HEDS and COACHE have increasingly been used to chart new directions in student services, pedagogy, and faculty life.

Abstract of Highlights of the Periodic Review Report Chapter One highlights changes implemented in response to recommendations of the 2004 reaccreditation review. The implementation of a sustainable assessment process to evaluate student learning and the total range of programs and services offered by the institution is very clearly under way at Hobart and William Smith. Since the 2004 accreditation, the Colleges have a new Provost, have reorganized student affairs activities into a single division headed by a Vice President for Student Affairs, and appointed two new Deans of the Colleges from the faculty, a new Vice President of Institutional Advancement, as well as directors of admission, communication, residential education and counseling. These administrative changes have resulted in an accelerated pace of external and internal review to adopt changes that fall in line with recommendations from Middle States as well as HWS strategic initiatives. Starting last fall, more than 100 faculty members began participating in a Teagle Foundation funded project to examine, evaluate, and transform our understanding and practice in relation to the Eight Goals of our general education curriculum and to develop a sustainable faculty culture of assessment. New procedures are in place for regular and rigorous reviews of academic programs, decisions regarding new course approval are now made within the context of learning objectives, and the faculty has adopted a major reform in the tenure and promotion review process. In Chapter Two, we chronicle the extraordinary momentum at HWS. Much has stayed the same: President Gearan is in his tenth year at the helm of the institution, the faculty and staff remain singularly dedicated to our students, and the campus continues to focus its planning and efforts on achieving academic excellence, intensifying student engagement, advancing financial stability, and expanding access. But there have been major changes as well. It is not an exaggeration to observe

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   5


that every corner of the campus has undergone change during this five-year period: admissions and enrollment, faculty and administrative staffing and organization, academic life, student services, the built and the virtual environment, and the financial resources that undergird the life of the institution have all been transformed and improved. Chapter Three reflects on the major challenges facing the institution. These challenges are heightened by a transformed economic climate. We are fortunate to have in place a strengthened planning and assessment culture that helps us identify programs that should be discontinued or cut back and programs where expansion can achieve important institutional goals. Although the Colleges have made substantial progress on self-identified challenges including enrolling more students from historically underrepresented groups (about one quarter of the incoming first year classes are from this group), continuing the momentum and culture of philanthropy, and tackling sustainability goals, there is still much work to be accomplished. In Chapter Four we report on finance trends and projections. When work on this Report began, the Colleges were celebrating the remarkable enrollment and financial achievements of the past five years that allowed us to achieve a Standard and Poor’s A rating for our long-term debt, reflecting their assessment of a stable outlook for sound financial performance. However, like every institution of higher learning, the Colleges have recently been affected by the economic downturn. Endowment and philanthropy have both decreased, and we have had to be nimble to adjust to budget variances and the larger uncertainties surrounding this year’s admissions season. In Chapter Five, we provide an overview of the institution’s assessment processes and describe the levels and sites of assessment of student learning and institutional effectiveness. We are confident that our processes can be characterized as useful, cost-effective, accurate and truthful, carefully planned and organized. The challenge for us, as we observed in Chapter Three, is to align these decentralized activities, each of high effectiveness, into a systematic and sustained assessment plan. Chapter Six affirms the Colleges’ belief that the best planning models tie institutional and student learning goals derived from overarching strategic plans to resource allocation decisions on an annual basis, with a view toward transforming institutions over time. As practiced at HWS, this process ties strategic goals to budget requests from Senior Staff, and has performed well under the strains of the economic environment. We have accelerated the pace of re-examination so as to be responsive to uncertainty and change while still holding fast to unchanging commitments under our mission.

6   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Required Middle States Documentation

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   7


8   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   9


10   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   11


12   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   13


14   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   15


16   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   17


18   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   19


20   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   21


22   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Chapter One Summary of Response to MSCHE Recommendations

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   23


Chapter One: Summary of Response to MSCHE Recommendations History of MSCHE Actions On June 23, 2004, the Commission reaffirmed the accreditation status of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and requested a progress letter: …documenting further development and implementation of a comprehensive outcomes assessment plan that addresses student learning outcomes as well as institutional effectiveness. The student learning outcomes plan and process should include consistent application of existing learning goals. Evidence should be provided that results of outcomes assessments are being used to improve teaching and learning. This letter was submitted in April 2006. (Appendix 1.1) On June 23, 2006, the Commission accepted the progress letter and requested that the Periodic Review Report document: (1) further progress in the implementation of a sustainable assessment process to evaluate student learning, and to evaluate the total range of programs and services offered by the institution, and (2) evidence that assessment results are being used to improve teaching and learning, as well as institutional effectiveness. (Appendix 1.2) In this chapter, we report briefly on specific responses to the two recommendations we received from the visiting team in its March 2004 site visit, focusing on changes since the April 2006 progress letter. We are pleased to report that the implementation of a sustainable assessment process to evaluate student learning and to evaluate the total range of programs and services offered by the institution is very clearly under way at Hobart and William Smith. The Colleges appreciate the value of assessing student learning and sought after June 2004 to harness the impetus provided by the MSCHE recommendation regarding Standards 7 and 14. At the time of the 2004 reaccreditation, the Colleges, like peer institutions, were still in the early stages of transforming long-time habits of review and accountability into the language and practice of the emerging assessment movement. The preparation of this PRR has given us a welcome opportunity to review the extent of our progress, which we would characterize as increasingly robust but still somewhat uneven. Since 2004, the impetus for assessment across higher education has accelerated, but also evolved, as has the Colleges’ understandings of assessment practices that are most appropriate for our institution. We have placed more extended analysis of the implementation of a sustainable assessment process at HWS in Chapter Five, along with supporting evidence that results are being used to improve teaching and learning. It should be noted that there have been significant changes in personnel since the 2004 visit, including the departure of the Provost serving in 2004, who was followed by a one-year interim, and the arrival of the current Provost in academic year 2005-2006; the creation of a new position of Vice President for Student Affairs; the appointment of two new Deans of the Colleges from the faculty; the appointment of a new Vice President for Institutional Advancement; and new directors in admissions, communications, residential education, and counseling, to name only a few offices. These changes have provided new opportunities for assessment that are reflected in the work since 2004. Upon arriving at the Colleges, new administrative officers have undertaken substantial reviews of their areas of responsibility, typically utilizing survey data, external reviewers and research into best practices. We believe we are a substantially more effective institution today as a result of the changes adopted in response to these reviews. Academic department and program reviews have been slower to take shape, but we can now report that faculty committees, departments and programs are fully invested in the review process, that the 24   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


schedule for reviews has been endorsed by faculty committees, and that four substantial reviews are under way in which learning outcomes assessment is taking place. It is true that faculty members still struggle to find the time and appropriate venues and rubrics for learning outcomes assessment. Even though there are a multitude of assessment moments taking place across the academic program, our practices at the level of course assessment and general education were, up until a year ago, best characterized as episodic rather than systematic. For this reason, Provost Amott, working with three members of the Assessment Committee, sought a new avenue for reshaping the faculty culture, and we report below and in Chapter Five on a project funded by the Teagle Foundation that we think holds notable promise for embedding assessment into the everyday practice of teaching and learning at the Colleges, thus ensuring that student learning assessment is truly sustainable.

Response to Middle States Recommendations STANDARD 7

In Standard 7, the team noted that “there is no formal calendar for the systematic review of divisions, academic departments, and programs,” and, therefore, recommended: “That HWS implement a regular, rotating system of division, department, and program review.” This recommendation has been implemented after discussion and review by three faculty committees – the Committee on the Faculty, the Committee on Academic Affairs, and the Assessment Committee. The process of implementing the recommendation began with a proposal from the Provost in 20052006 calling for three-part review: a period of self study in each department or program under review, followed by a visit from external reviewers, and then a period of monitored follow-through. As reported in the 2006 progress letter, this represented a departure from previous department reviews, which had been conducted on an ad hoc basis and consisted of a visit from an external review committee, with no consistent requirement for a self study. The Provost’s proposal was refined by the three faculty committees over the intervening years. In academic year 2008-09, final approval was granted by the committees for a process and schedule of reviews. The Provost’s Office prepared a Handbook for conducting the reviews (Appendix 1.3) that was made available on the Provost’s Web site and in the Chair’s Handbook (new in 2008, Appendix 1.4). The extended period of dialogue with elected faculty committees and department chairs has substantially eliminated any resistance, and we were able to launch our inaugural group of reviews with departments that volunteered to pilot the process in consultation with the Provost. Four departments are currently in the self study phase, with external reviewers arriving this fall, and four to six departments are scheduled in each subsequent year. Departments reviewed more recently under our prior ad hoc procedure were scheduled for the out years, while departments that had not been reviewed in recent years were advanced to the early years (Appendix 1.5). The new Handbook for Department and Program Review Procedures begins with the following statement: Periodic reviews at Hobart and William Smith Colleges are a principal means through which we assess and improve the quality of our academic program. They provide a regular mechanism for in-depth evaluation of the effectiveness, progress, and status of a department or program. They create an occasion for departments and programs to highlight their strengths and achievements, to identify areas in need of improvement, to develop long-range plans for meeting these needs, and to plan for emerging changes in the discipline or interdisciplinary field. The primary purpose of the review is to assist the department/program in meeting students’ educational needs, supporting faculty scholarship and service, and planning for the future. In addition, the review assists both the department or program and the Provost in determining resource needs. Regular department and program reviews candidly evaluate: • the ways in which mission and goals of the department/program contribute to the Colleges’ mission and goals;

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   25


• the curriculum through which the department/program implements its mission and goals; • the extent to which student learning fulfills the department/program’s aspirations for students; • the contributions of faculty and staff to the department/program and to the Colleges; • the resources and facilities available to or needed by the department/program. In addition to the self study, another aspect of the new process is the requirement that each department or program conduct outcomes assessment of student learning, drawing on departmental assessment documents prepared between 2004 and 2006 and also on data available from nationwide surveys such as the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the Senior Survey (SS) from the Higher Education Data-Sharing Consortium, the Cooperative Institutional Research Program First Year Student Survey (CIRP) and the Wabash National Study of Liberal Education. The Associate Provost has been assigned responsibility for working closely with each department/program as it undergoes the review to provide assistance in developing appropriate outcome measures. Faculty will bring to this task experiences of outcomes assessment in a variety of other venues, including participation in the Teagle project for review of general education learning outcomes, requirements from government and private grant-making agencies for outcomes assessment, requirements from the New York State Department of Education for assessment in teacher education, programs and workshops by the Center for Teaching and Learning, and measures developed through research into the efficacy of First Year Learning Communities. Taken together, these experiences are sufficiently broad-ranging and mutually reinforcing as to point toward an increasingly robust environment of assessment, described and documented more precisely in Chapter Five of this PRR. Support for the review process now includes funding for department/program retreats, analysis by the Institutional Research Officer of existing institutional data, analysis from the Library of holdings related to the field of inquiry, and a series of reports on enrollment and majors specially developed by the Registrar’s Office for each department/program under review. Completed reviews, including the self study, the external reviewers’ report, and the department/ program’s response to the report, will be presented to the Committee on Academic Affairs and the Committee on the Faculty at the end of each semester. In addition, each year, the Provost will share executive summaries of the previous year’s reviews with the Board of Trustees’ Committee on Academic Affairs in response to a desire by the Board to increase its familiarity with and strategic oversight of the academic program. Reviews will be included in the requests for positions that are required whenever a position is vacated by a retirement or when a department or program requests a new position. (These proposals are reviewed and ranked by the Committee on the Faculty and the Committee on Academic Affairs, acting as advisory to the Provost.) Evidence that the new process has been accepted by the faculty committees came in January 2008, when both committees deferred action on a position request by the English Department until the Department had undergone a review. The visiting team also recommended that the rotating system of review be instituted along divisional lines. We have chosen to begin with department and program reviews, deferring for the moment whether divisional reviews are appropriate. Divisional identity is not well-established at HWS, partly because of the long-standing interdisciplinary commitments of both faculty and students. The one exception is the Sciences, where there has been a significant cross-department sense of mutual concerns. In 2004, then-Provost Patricia Stranahan initiated a review of the Science Division that led to important recommendations after the visit of the MSCHE team, including the allocation of additional funding for equipment under the President’s Science Initiative. When Provost Amott arrived in July 2005, she initiated a number of reforms aimed at addressing those recommendations, including: • Enhanced startup packages for scientists, with special attention to research laboratories and equipment

26   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


• Enhanced coordination with the Grants Office to ensure funding success • More matching grants and institutional support • Mentoring of faculty grants • Recognition of faculty members applying for and receiving grants • Increased institutional funding for the Summer Undergraduate Research Program • Planning for equipment renewal • Increased admissions marketing of student outcomes in the sciences, including national fellowships However, it is the Provost’s judgment that in matters of curriculum and student learning outcomes, divisional reviews are not as effective as reviews focused primarily on the academic departments/ programs that deliver a major course of study. For this reason, departments/program reviews as recommended in Standard 7 are organized by individual department/program. We will, of course, monitor the progress of the reviews carefully, and should it appear that divisional reviews could achieve institutional goals, we will institute them alongside the department/program reviews. In addition to academic department and program review, most major institutional offices have also undergone some form of external review since 2004, including the Public Service Office (now the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning), the Warren Hunting Smith Library, the Deans’ Offices, Judicial Affairs, and Campus Safety. Athletics is currently undergoing a Title IX review. To ensure sustainability, the Vice President for Student Affairs has initiated a plan for two offices in the division to undergo external review each year. Evidence of selected reviews is provided in Appendix 1.6. STANDARD 14

In Standard 14, the team noted “the lack of comprehensive assessment of student learning outcomes and the failure to use the assessment data that already exist,” and therefore, recommended: “That, after an inventory of possible sources for student learning evaluation is complete, the Assessment Committee work with departments, programs and individual professors to create an assessment plan that includes specificity at the course level. It is further recommended that all HWS syllabi be written to include clear course objectives linked explicitly to general education, department and program goals.” The progress letter outlined our response to this recommendation as of spring 2006, so we summarize here progress after that date. As noted in the progress letter, we have organized our assessment of student learning at three levels, all outlined in greater detail in Chapter Five: assessment at the course level (also summarized below in response to this specific recommendation), assessment of department and program goals (summarized above with regard to Standard 7), and assessment of general education (also summarized below).

Assessment at the Course Level Vertical Integration Project, funded by the Teagle Foundation The April 2006 progress letter detailed the work of the Assessment Committee to date, including the inventory of sources and our participation in the “vertical integration” project funded by the Teagle Foundation. As noted, this work culminated in department/program level assessment plans and a retreat attended by more than 120 faculty members. Further information is provided in Chapter 5. Revision in Course Proposal Format Also in response to the recommendation in Standard 14, the Committee on Academic Affairs (CoAA) changed the New Course Proposal form to include specific questions on student learning objectives

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   27


(Appendix 1.7). Faculty members proposing new courses must now respond to the following questions related to Standard 14: • What key questions will you address in the course? • What student learning objectives do you have for the course? • What kind of evidence will show that you have achieved your learning objectives? • Describe how this course fits in with the existing departmental or program offerings (e.g., does it address a gap in a particular area; is it an elective or required for the major; why is this particular course a valuable addition to the existing curriculum?) • Which of the Eight General Education Goal(s) is/are partially addressed by this course? Describe why. • Which of the Eight General Education Goal(s) is/are substantially addressed by this course? Describe why. Since the adoption of the revised form in the fall of 2005, CoAA has reviewed and approved 408 new course proposals, and has engaged in notably more dialogue with faculty members proposing courses to ensure that course objectives are in compliance. (See Appendix 1.8 for two examples of courses whose initial responses to the student learning objectives were incomplete, but improved after dialogue with the Committee.) Under CoAA consideration for next fall is a proposal that all courses be reviewed on a cycle to ensure that courses of long duration in the curriculum also are in compliance with the requirement for explicit course objectives. Revision of Syllabi to Include Course Objectives Since there is no culture of widespread sharing of syllabi at the institution, implementation of the recommendation that all syllabi have course objectives is still incomplete. Nonetheless, an inventory of syllabi from pre-tenure, tenure and promotion reviews reveals that more than 80 percent contain explicit course objectives that serve as guideposts to students for their learning. In addition, there are a number of concerted initiatives underway to ensure that faculty members state clearly their objectives for student learning in courses. The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) supports faculty in their efforts to address and assess student learning outcomes by providing one-on-one consultation on aligning learning goals to assignment/syllabus design and outcomes assessment, as well as by providing print and online resources for effective course design and syllabus creation, especially in its expanding First Year Pedagogy program. To provide feedback on assignment and syllabus writing, the Center held an integrated design discussion group (Summer 2008) and continues to offer integrated design poster sessions in collaboration with Learning Commons partners (Spring 2008 and 2009). The Center held the first annual First Year Design Faculty Institute (May 2009) to address the particular learning and outcomes assessment issues involved in courses enrolling first-year students including presentations and discussion on meeting and assessing student learning needs, assignment sequencing for student success, effective use of writing-to-learn techniques, and methods for creating and assessing multi-tasking assignments. (Appendix 1.9) Since the fall of 2006, CTL has issued a competitive call for innovative teaching proposals to enhance pedagogy tied to student learning objectives each semester. These CTL teaching grants, approximately four each semester, are awarded to professors who clearly articulate both their pedagogical objectives and their methods of assessment for the innovative project. (Appendix 1.10) The Committee on Academic Affairs is considering bringing a proposal to the faculty that all syllabi be posted online, which would facilitate our assessment of the extent to which we have met this recommendation; if this recommendation is not adopted, we will need to identify another mechanism to ensure that all syllabi reflect this important change.

28   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Course Objectives and Evaluation of Teaching Greater clarity on course objectives should lead to better teaching and learning. In the 2007-2008 academic year, each department and program completed a rigorous examination of their standards and criteria (SAC) for reviewing faculty colleagues and awarding them tenure and promotion. (Appendix 1.11) Standards for assessing teaching, scholarship, and community service were evaluated and rearticulated. This process generated several noteworthy changes in faculty review policy related to teaching: the SAC document would frame the department/program’s definition of excellent teaching and specify how excellence in teaching would be identified and assessed; classroom observations by peers would be mandated by the Faculty Bylaws; and a common course evaluation was mandated. In the 2007-2008 academic year, a working group of the Committee on the Faculty developed 11 common course evaluation questions to be used by every instructor to evaluate every course and to be merged into departmental evaluation forms. These 11 questions work toward the development of shared pedagogical and professional values and toward the establishment of assessment methods that can be applied across disciplines. (Appendix 1.12) Two of the questions specifically elicit student self-assessment of learning and one question asks students to evaluate the extent to which instructor expectations were clear, including course objectives. Adoption of a common form is noteworthy, as the institution had never before required uniformity in course evaluations (although all instructors were required to use some form of course evaluation), and there was initially some resistance to this change. The resistance was overcome by folding the common course evaluation into the larger package of reforms in the faculty tenure and promotion review process.

Assessment of General Education Learning Outcomes Assessment of Student Writing – an element of General Education Goal One (Effective Communication) In the progress letter, we reported on the vertical integration component of our first Teagle grant. That grant also called for direct assessment of student writing, and we report here on that assessment process, its findings, and the use to which we have put the assessment. In the spring of 2007, a group of readers from multiple institutions scored randomly sampled high school, first year, and senior papers from a group of participating institutions including Vassar, Hampshire, Hope, Bard and Wabash, using a rubric developed at Hampshire College. (Appendix 1.13) The assessment report found that there was considerable improvement in the quality of student writing from the first year to the senior year at Hobart and William Smith, but no significant improvement from high school to the end of the first year. This revealed that the First Year Seminar, the primary vehicle of support for students transitioning from high school to collegiate academic writing, was not fulfilling its goals. As a result, the Provost appointed a faculty member from the Writing and Rhetoric Department as the new Director of the First-Year Seminar program and charged her with faculty development and ongoing assessment/monitoring of student writing. As part of her scholarly research, the new Director has for some time worked to assess different pedagogies for teaching writing and is well-positioned to assist us in meeting the goal of measurable improvement in the quality of student writing from entry to the end of the first year. Assessment of Other General Education Goals The absence of direct outcomes measures for the Eight General Education Goals led the Provost, working with three members of the Assessment Committee, to seek a new method for reshaping the faculty culture toward assessment of student learning. In the spring of 2008, the Teagle Foundation issued an RFP for grants for the Systematic Improvement of Student Learning at Liberal Arts Colleges by the Teagle Foundation. We were pleased to be selected for a three-year project whose aim is to examine, evaluate, and transform our understanding and practice in relation to the Eight Goals of our

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   29


general education curriculum and to develop a more robust, and thus sustainable, faculty culture of assessment. The project began in Fall 2008 with the formation of Teagle Groups and launching of their discussion and study of the Eight Goals. (Appendix 1.14) The aim of this initiative is to create a community of practice around each of the Eight Goals and unite these eight groups in a larger project of curricular and pedagogical transformation driven by evidence of student learning. Under the direction of a Steering Committee consisting of the Provost, the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, and two faculty members representing Philosophy and Dance, faculty members work in teams engaging in a systematic and iterative process of assessment, each team focused on a particular Goal. Over three years, they will map the language of their target Goal to the learning outcomes they seek in courses that address that Goal, identify and analyze evidence that students are in fact achieving those learning outcomes (along with gaps in that evidence), share best practices for improving student learning, pilot and experiment with new practices, assess the success of those new practices, and make recommendations to others about how to achieve better student learning. In doing so, we believe they will complete the third tier of vertical integration envisioned in our first Teagle consortium, connecting courses to Goals. Over the three-year life of the Teagle Project, 2008-11, the groups will systematically widen their sphere of communication and influence, first collaborating with each other, and then sharing their findings with the full faculty at retreats, workshops, symposia and via “white papers” and other venues. In addition, they will be expected to make recommendations to faculty and administrative committees engaged in strategic planning for long-term improvement. These recommendations, rooted as they will be in evidence on student learning, will significantly help us allocate resources such as faculty positions, design faculty development programs, revise advising manuals and materials, and create student affairs initiatives, among other potential outcomes. Starting in year four, we will launch the continuing project of assessment of the Eight Goals by reproducing this process on a smaller scale, most likely by addressing two Goals per year rather than all eight. To date there have been some indicators of success, including the remarkable number of faculty (105) who volunteered to participate in one or more of the eight “T-groups.” The groups meet at least twice a month, and, while they are at different stages of work, have each designed a specific pilot project to identify evidence of student learning with respect to their Goal. Grant funds will be used to support the implementation of these pilots.

30   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Chapter Two Planning for Momentum: Progress Since the 2004 Self Study

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   31


Chapter Two: Planning for Momentum Progress Since the 2004 Self Study In the five years since the Self Study, Hobart and William Smith Colleges have made significant improvements to achieve academic excellence, increase student engagement, improve access and secure financial stability. These include: • The Campaign for the Colleges entered its public phase in the fall of 2006, and has raised more than $150 million in gifts and commitments for endowment, facilities and the annual fund. • More than $100 million in new and renovated facilities have been added across the campus, including residence halls, academic buildings, athletic fields and facilities, and a significant expansion and renovation in the Scandling Campus Center. • The student body has grown from 1,873 to 2,025. Applications for admission reached nearly 5,200 in 2009, growing more than 60 percent since 2004. The number of students winning nationally competitive fellowships such as Gates Cambridge Scholarships, Udalls, Fulbrights, and Goldwaters has grown. Our athletic teams continue to win conference championships and advance to postseason tournaments. • The growth of permanent faculty has continued since 2001, resulting in 45 new faculty lines and a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. Support for faculty scholarship and teaching by foundation and government grants has tripled, whether measured by dollars received or by proposals submitted or funded. • The Student Affairs offices of the campus have been reorganized for a more contemporary delivery of services, with measurable increases in student satisfaction, allowing the Hobart and William Smith Deans to focus on individualized attention and student success. • In 2008, the campus celebrated the William Smith Centennial, raising $8 million to support a Centennial Center that now houses HWS Leads, a new and innovative certificate program in leadership for students of both Colleges. • The Salisbury Center for Career Services launched Pathways, a program that serves students from their first days on campus in a guided exploration of career interests and experiences. • The Public Service Office was reinvented as the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, significantly expanding the rigor and range of community-based learning opportunities across the campus through its Compass program. • A vibrant Center for Teaching and Learning now provides programs in support of student learning across the spectrum of student talents and also supports faculty development in effective pedagogies that enhance student learning. • The first floor of the Warren Hunting Smith Library now houses the Rosensweig Learning Commons. This facility integrates reference and access services, instructional technology, technology support, and the Center for Teaching and Learning in a unique integrated staffing model. Students and faculty now have a single site for research and collaboration, mediated by instructional technology, and designed to promote the skills of information fluency. • Two successive grants from the Teagle Foundation have helped faculty focus on student learning outcomes. In addition, benchmarked survey results from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program Freshman Survey, the National Survey of Student Engagement, the Senior Survey from the Higher Education Data Consortium, and the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education have increasingly been used to chart new directions in student services, pedagogy, and faculty life. • The Finger Lakes Institute has become a research and education resource for the entire region, growing to six full-time staff, sustained by external funding from foundations (including a $1 million endowment grant from the Mellon Foundation) and government agencies. • A comprehensive review of technology has led to a significant expansion of resources, and the 32   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


institution is in the final stages of implementing the PeopleSoft enterprise information system. The campus core server and network infrastructure are now housed in a secure, state-of-theart facility under the Warren Hunting Smith Library. • Admissions and institutional advancement have benefited from a substantial change in institutional marketing and communications, expressed in print, video and web materials that have earned national acclaim in the form of multiple national and regional CASE awards and that utilize the most sophisticated Web 2.0 tools and graphic design. • Three important commitments announced by President Gearan in 2007 have animated campus life: the signing of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, the establishment of the Commission on Inclusive Excellence, and the development of a Geneva Partnership recognizing the Colleges’ productive relationship with the City of Geneva, NY. Each of these commitments has been launched on the basis of research that pointed to institutional need and identified specific desired outcomes against which institutional performance can be assessed.

Planning for Momentum: From 2005 to 2010 Writing in June of 2004, the Middle States visiting team, led by Goucher President Sanford Unger, concluded that it “anticipates a bright future for the Colleges.” The team was prescient: the intervening five years have indeed been a time of extraordinary momentum at HWS. Much has stayed the same: President Mark D. Gearan is in his tenth year at the helm of the institution, the faculty and staff remain singularly dedicated to our students, and the campus continues to focus its planning and efforts on achieving academic excellence, intensifying student engagement, advancing financial stability, and expanding access for students who have historically been underrepresented in U.S. higher education. But there have been significant changes as well. Every corner of the campus has undergone transformative change during this five-year period: admissions and enrollment, faculty and administrative staffing and organization, academic life, student services, the built and the virtual environment, and the financial and technological resources that undergird the life of the institution. A full accounting of these changes is not possible while respecting the purpose and constraints of the Periodic Review Report, so we have chosen to highlight broad-ranging changes that illustrate most clearly the links among assessment, planning, budgeting and implementation that characterize effective institutions. We begin with a description of the strategic plans that have guided the institution’s efforts. These changes can be traced to two strategic planning efforts: HWS 2005, in its penultimate year at the time of the MSCHE visit, and HWS 2010, which reaffirmed the commitments of the earlier plan and added two enabling initiatives: a commitment to modest but significant growth in the faculty and the student body over five years (the Growth Initiative) and the successful completion of Campaign for the Colleges. As noted in the 2004 Self Study, HWS 2005 was initiated by President Gearan at the end of his first year at the Colleges, and engaged the community in focused work on eight study groups during academic year 2001-2002. Its purpose was to achieve consensus on a new mission statement for the Colleges and provide recommendations for achieving that mission: HWS are a student-centered learning environment committed to excellence, globally focused, grounded in the values of equity and service and developing citizens who will lead in the twenty-first century. The recommendations of the HWS 2005 planning effort were grouped in three areas: Academic Engagement, Student Life Engagement, and Physical and Financial Resources, all under the overarching umbrella of increasing engagement of students with the faculty, the staff and one another. Each year the Senior Staff reported to the President on their achievements in these areas, identified

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   33


budget priorities and organized the work of their divisions for the following year according to those strategic initiatives. (Appendix 2.1) HWS 2010 In 2005, in consultation with the Board of Trustees, the Senior Staff, and on-campus constituencies, the President extended the priorities of HWS 2005 into the next five-year planning horizon, with a plan titled HWS 2010 (Appendix 2.2). This plan identifies strategic initiatives in four areas, each a subset of the HWS 2005 goals: • In the HWS 2005 categories of Academic and Student Life Engagement, HWS 2010 envisions a focus on initiatives to improve the quality of academic and student life through increasing engagement and initiatives to build a community characterized by involved, compassionate, and effective citizenship. • In the HWS 2005 category of Physical and Financial Resources, HWS 2010 envisions a focus on initiatives providing the resources needed to achieve our mission for a 21st century student body, including facilities, technology, and endowment. HWS 2010 is predicated on the assumption that improvements in the physical plant and endowment resources as a result of the successful Capital Campaign could now be leveraged into a Growth Initiative to bring HWS to a 2,000 student body campus. Enrollment growth would aid the institution in achieving two important outcomes: an infusion of net tuition revenue that would enable a number of new initiatives in areas from student services to faculty development; and an infusion of new faculty trained in emerging disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields and dedicated to active learning pedagogies such as undergraduate research. In that sense, then, HWS 2010 is propelled by Campaign for the Colleges and the Growth Initiative, which together provide the physical and financial resources necessary to achieve our overarching goals. HWS 2010 along with its enabling Campaign for the Colleges and Growth Initiative was discussed by the campus community in a series of open meetings and adopted by the Board of Trustees. The Growth Initiative has been achieved one year in advance of the five-year goal, and the growth in new faculty achieved two years in advance of the goal. We are now a 2000+ student campus, have maintained our 11:1 student to faculty ratio, net tuition revenue has grown at an increasing pace since 2004, and the new faculty energy has contributed to a vibrant and contemporary academic program. Additionally, Campaign for the Colleges has raised more than $150 million in support of this work. The economic downturn has, of course, introduced new elements of uncertainty and challenge into our projections for the future, but it is clear that the improvements of the past five years have laid a strong foundation on which we can build to achieve the Colleges’ mission in this changed economic environment. The Growth Initiative: A 2000 Student Campus In 2005, Vice President for Enrollment Management Don Emmons was tasked with developing a FiveYear Admissions Plan that would be evaluated according to five benchmarks. (Appendix 2.3) HWS 2010, with its Growth Initiative in student count, depended critically on the success of this plan. We are pleased to report that there have been significant achievements in all the benchmarked areas. (See Chapter Three for a discussion of challenges in sustaining these achievements.) Three factors have led to this success: the significant use of research and assessment, a transformation of marketing materials, and a harnessing of contemporary technological tools for the admissions staff. Each of these required strategic investments, which were made available in order to support the Growth Initiative and thus achieve the goals of HWS 2010. 34   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


One of the areas on which the 2004 visiting team commented was the need for “continued efforts to clarify the special nature of HWS for external audiences.” With the aid of external consultants, including a major research project by Arts and Sciences of Baltimore, MD, HWS undertook a significant overhaul of its brand, replacing the fox and hedgehog image with an enhanced focus on student experiences and student engagement, particularly in academic programs. We have coupled this with student outcomes data and stories that appear to have struck a significant chord with both parents and students. The thematic principle that has organized this new approach is “Worlds of Experience, Lives of Consequence.” (Appendix 2.4) Our new ‘Brand Book’ recently received a nationwide CASE Circle of Excellence Gold Award in the category of Student Recruitment Publications Packages. Most striking has been the increasing sophistication of our use of Web 2.0 tools for social networking. Two measures of our success that are of interest: in 2008-2009, the Colleges received nearly 5200 applications, up from 3200 in 2004-2005; and the Colleges’ newly redesigned Web site, launched in November 2007, received a nationwide 2008 Circle of Excellence Bronze Award in the complete Web site category. To increase academic program engagement, HWS 2010 envisioned greater student-faculty interaction, so over this same period, growth in the student body was accompanied by strategic investments in faculty positions in order to keep the student-faculty ratio at 11:1. In the 2001 Plan to Increase the Permanent Faculty, the Board authorized the addition of 25 permanent lines in recognition of the high ratio of temporary to tenurable faculty at HWS at the time. Working with the Committee on the Faculty and the Committee on Academic Affairs, the Provost projected growth in student enrollment and added positions accordingly in areas of current enrollment pressure as well as areas of projected student interest and curricular needs. Endowed funds restricted for faculty development provided resources for startup funds across the disciplines, and a strategic hiring initiative provided opportunistic positions to address critical diversity, retention and recruitment needs. When added to the deep scholarship and teaching commitments of established and tenured faculty members, the impact of these new positions has been remarkable. The curriculum has been enriched by the new faculty’s sophisticated interdisciplinary graduate training, by their scholarly work on areas of the world not previously covered in our courses, by their innovative pedagogical and technological skills, and by their interest in undergraduate research, service learning and other practices with great learning potential. Beyond 2010 The Board of Trustees and the senior leadership are currently planning the third multiyear strategic plan, designed to guide the institution’s priorities over the next strategic horizon. The planning process, intended to be comprehensive and inclusive, will take place in academic year 2009-10, and will be reported on fully at the time of the next Middle States reaccreditation. A pre-planning session was held at the Board of Trustees’ winter meeting, with a Visioning Exercise involving more than 75 faculty, students, staff, and members of the Board. (Appendix 2.5). Over the summer President Gearan and Chief Information Officer Fred Damiano will develop the planning process and parameters for consideration by the Senior Staff and relevant faculty and staff committees.

Major Accomplishments to Date In this section, we have selected some of the major initiatives developed and realized in fulfillment of the goals of the two strategic plans under which the Colleges have operated since 2004. These are offered as illustrative and in response to the invitation in the instructions for a Periodic Review Report to “record briefly and analyze its chief accomplishments.” In the area of Academic and Student Life Engagement, we report here on: • The Learning Communities Initiative • The Center for Teaching and Learning • The Reorganization of Student Affairs

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   35


• The Finger Lakes Institute • The Geneva Partnership and the Center for Teaching and Learning • The Salisbury Center for Career Services • The Centennial Center for Leadership and HWS Leads In the area of Physical and Financial Resources, we report here on: • Campaign for the Colleges • The Enterprise Information System Implementation • The Rosensweig Learning Commons Learning Communities Initiative Just prior to the fall of 2005, the First Year Learning Communities Initiative was developed as a means to explicitly address the concepts of engagement, intentionality, and coherence within the first year at the Colleges, as prioritized in HWS 2005 and reaffirmed in HWS 2010. The primary learning objectives were integration of knowledge from multiple courses/disciplines, experience of connections between the curriculum and the co-curriculum, greater student engagement in learning, and higher retention. After a successful initial implementation, the program continued to develop between 2006 and 2008 into a major component of the First-Year Program and the Colleges’ retention strategy. The Learning Community program currently spans all academic divisions, enrolls almost 150 students and organizes the work of 20 faculty members in the first year program. The benefits to students of Learning Communities are numerous. Quantitative and qualitative data collected from past cohorts of HWS Learning Community participants by Assistant Hobart Dean David Mapstone as part of his doctoral research at Syracuse University demonstrate that Learning Community students 1) developed a close support network of peers and faculty that helped ease the transition into college; 2) engaged in learning opportunities that required them to integrate content across courses and disciplines; and 3) achieved academically and persisted at higher levels than their non-LC peers. These HWS specific outcomes are consistent with the national research literature on the effects of Learning Communities, which demonstrates higher levels of academic achievement and persistence and more positive interactions with peers and faculty. (Appendix 2.6) After dissemination and discussion of these preliminary findings in the fall of 2008, faculty and administrative leadership committed to expanding the program in 2009-2010 by enrolling half of the entering class, enlisting twice as many faculty members, and experimenting with and expanding the existing “linked-course” model, in which students are co-enrolled in a first-year seminar that is linked to another academic course. Funds to support the expansion were made available to this strategic initiative for FY2010. Center for Teaching and Learning HWS 2005 envisioned a number of initiatives to increase academic program engagement, including a Center for the Teacher-Scholar. This concept was refined by the new Provost as a single Center for Teaching and Learning serving both faculty and students as teachers and learners with initiatives to invigorate pedagogy and embed student learning assessment in faculty practice. With this new vision, the Provost hired Dr. Susan Pliner from Mount Holyoke College to serve as the CTL Director in fall 2006. Dr. Pliner initiated a thorough assessment of the services that had been offered in the past. Charged by the Provost with becoming a site of improving learning and teaching across the campus, the new CTL now serves both students and faculty in intensive programming, engaging faculty and students campus-wide and collaborating with the Associate Dean of Faculty on faculty mentoring and development. The CTL is also playing a significant role in helping to establish a culture of assessment, as described below.

36   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


For students, a new disability services specialist was hired with a commitment to an empowerment model and customized accommodations; as a result of his work, the Center has moved away from its previous one-size-fits-all model of scanning, note taking and tutoring. The Center now also works with student-athletes and others on time management, and with students writing Honors theses, preparing for nationally competitive fellowship competitions, or producing poster presentations for undergraduate research and scholarly presentations. The CTL has also initiated a model of student engagement as peer mentors that has been presented at national conferences. With a focus on pedagogical analysis, improved course design, assessment of learning outcomes, and a developmental model of the teacher-scholar and the undergraduate student, CTL offers the following services and programs, all new to the Colleges: Faculty Institutes, an array of workshops on theory and practice, including innovative use of technology, first-year course design, communicating inclusively, oral communications, and teaching practices, with average attendance of 30 faculty members at each institute. On Pedagogical Innovation: A Faculty/Student Showcase, illustrating outcomes of the Teaching and Learning Grants awarded competitively to faculty each semester (5-6 grants awarded each semester). Teaching Fellow Program, designed to engage faculty within departments to determine student learning goals within their curriculum and articulate goals to students selected and trained as Teaching Fellows, who then mentor students in associated courses. Currently 40 Teaching Fellows support faculty and students in nine departments. Passion into Practice, late afternoon gatherings with faculty presentations, such as Fall/Spring 2008: “Making the Grade: Reflections on Assessing Student Learning” and “Evaluating Student Learning.” Mid-semester Course Evaluations, to assess teaching effectiveness and student satisfaction in specific courses; to date, 55 courses have been assessed. As part of the process, faculty members articulate their course objectives and students focus on the extent to which their learning tracks those objectives. Faculty Reading Groups, bi-weekly discussions of books on pedagogy, course design, teaching theory, and learning theory, involving an average of 22 faculty members per semester. Senior Symposium, the Colleges’ first comprehensive showcase of student research as a senior capstone experience and venue for graduate student MAT theses. In Spring 2009, 80 students presented and were advised by 40 faculty sponsors. Thirteen faculty members collaborated with CTL staff to conduct preparatory workshops for abstract writing and presentation skills. (Appendix 2.7) The Reorganization of Student Affairs Prior to 2006, responsibility for traditional student services (residence life, student activities, counseling services, health services, alcohol and other drug education, intercultural affairs, disability services, athletics, student discipline) was shared by the Dean of Hobart College and the Dean of William Smith College. The result was a student services function which, while well intended and able to serve individual students in crisis, was not well organized and failed to use a systematic approach to apply best practices in the delivery of education and services. As observed by the visiting team in 2004, this structure at times resulted in different educational experiences for Hobart students and William Smith students. As part of the effort to achieve the goals of HWS 2010 for student engagement, President Gearan charged a working group to undertake a complete review of student life at the Colleges during the

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   37


2006-2007 academic year. The group recommended a substantive reorganization of student affairs, with a new position of Vice President for Student Affairs created to oversee a number of integrated offices. The offices of the Hobart Dean and William Smith Dean were retained, but refocused on working with individual students to craft their HWS experience by integrating academic, social, and personal aspects of the student experience as women and men. (Appendix 2.8) The new Vice President of Student Affairs, Robert Flowers, has built an accomplished team of directors, including the Colleges’ first judicial affairs officer responsible for administering an integrated judicial system, and directors in residential education responsible for significant initiatives in housing and residence life. To monitor the success of these initiatives, the Colleges adopted a number of new assessment mechanisms, chief among them a Quality of Life student satisfaction survey of all residential students. These annual assessments measure student satisfaction with the roommate experience, the physical room, the staffing in the residence halls, the quality of residential programming, and the housing experience. The surveys have revealed significant satisfaction with new and renovated buildings and have been used to guide residential program development and staff evaluation. Geneva Partnership and the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning In 2007, Hobart and William Smith kicked off the Geneva Partnership, an initiative uniting the greater Geneva community and HWS. The Geneva Partnership enhances community life for the benefit of all who live, work and study in the region, deepening Hobart and William Smith’s engagement with the community and developing students who will be agents for change in their own communities. The Geneva Partnership focuses on three broad strategic themes: access, engagement and development. The effort concentrates its work in seven key areas: education, economic development, vitality of cultural life, civic engagement, wellbeing of children and families, the environment, and public safety and community building. While the Partnership engages faculty and staff across the campus, a central locus for organizing the Partnership is provided by the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL). Following a rigorous external review in 2006, the Center reinvented itself on a developmental model of student engagement called Compass, which guides and supports students as they move from isolated community service experiences through progressively more challenging forms of civic engagement, culminating in leadership positions on campus and in the community. (Appendix 2.9) These experiences are meant to help students develop citizenship skills such as leadership, self-awareness, and recognizing societal needs while making a material change that will help meet identified community needs. Another significant focus of the reinvention was a tighter set of ties with the academic program. A faculty Advisory Committee now works to oversee this area of CCESL’s work, aided by the Associate Provost. We are especially proud of the number of students who have undertaken Collaborative Research Internships with community agencies, resulting in academically rigorous and socially useful projects such as energy audits of public buildings, a survey of literacy habits of Head Start families, and identification of bike paths throughout the city of Geneva. In response to growing faculty interest, CCESL has sponsored faculty workshops bringing nationally-recognized practitioners of community-based learning to the campus. The Finger Lakes Institute HWS 2005 set as a goal “to explore the creation of an institute dedicated to research on the Finger Lakes” as a way of increasing the Colleges’ engagement with the region through faculty and staff research and community outreach. In just six short years, the FLI has grown to a major presence in the region, dedicated to the promotion of environmental research and education about the Finger Lakes and surrounding environments. In collaboration with regional environmental partners and state and local government offices, the Institute fosters environmentally-sound development practices throughout the region, and disseminates the accumulated knowledge to the general public.

38   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


The impact on the campus has exceeded all expectations, with substantial growth in the number of faculty members whose research is focused on the region and the number of student undergraduate researchers. In addition to ongoing institutional support from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, including targeted faculty positions in aquatic biology and environmental studies, more than $7.3 million in external funding has been secured over the past six years to support the FLI and related faculty research. The Institute now has six grant-supported staff members, including an experienced executive director, a GIS specialist, experts in community and environmental education, and a research scientist with a specialty in invasive species. The Colleges recently received a $1 million endowment grant from the Mellon Foundation for the Institute, and is engaged in securing the requisite matching funds. The goals of the Finger Lakes Institute are to: • Advance, coordinate, and disseminate scientific understanding about the Finger Lakes environment • Provide interdisciplinary training for the next generation of environmental researchers, educators, and policy makers • Serve as a clearinghouse for environmental information about the region • Enhance understanding of environmental issues by regional policy makers and the general public • Construct models that integrate the economic and environmental impacts of specific economic development strategies • Create and disseminate educational resources and opportunities at all levels. In six years, the Institute has accomplished a great deal: Research projects provide critical scientific data on the health of the 11 Finger Lakes of central and western New York State, providing faculty and undergraduate student research opportunities in environmental studies, chemistry, geoscience, economics and other disciplines. Research includes long-term profiling of water chemistry, sediment core analysis, invasive species, stream segment analyses, paleontological analysis, forecasting climate change impacts on lake dynamics, and soil biogeochemistry. Students are engaged through internships, independent study projects, senior integrative experiences for environmental studies majors, and summer research. The Institute offers a variety of educational resources and opportunities at the K-12 level that build on and sustain a focus on the Finger Lakes environment and serve regional educators and school children. These programs include the EPA award-winning Science on Seneca, the GIT Ahead Project supported by an NSF award of more than $1 million, Teacher Professional Development and STEM Teaching Institutes, and the nationally-known Environmental Science Summer Youth Institute (ESSYI). The Institute hosts a number of outreach and public service programs, including public lectures, workshops, conferences, web-based resources (http://fli.hws.edu), programs in support of energy conservation, recycling, and the President’s Climate Initiative, and community service projects such as lakeshore cleanups and water monitoring days. The FLI also has a focus on regional planning that integrates low-impact or sustainable development with economic viability and coordinates a well-attended annual conference on “Unifying Economic Development and the Environment and Land Use in the Finger Lakes.” (Appendix 2.10) The Salisbury Center for Career Services In 2004, the Colleges hired retired PepsiCo executive Bob Murphy and charged him with the complete re-imagining of the career services office. Since then, student participation in career services has grown

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   39


at double-digit rates annually, judging by all possible metrics. The office now meets more than 4000 student appointments each year (more than half of them with first year and sophomore students) at which experienced counselors guide students through assessments, internships, job shadowing and networking, all intended to help students fully articulate, explore and realize their professional goals. The program is unique in its length and breadth, featuring a remarkable support network of counselors, alumni/ae, faculty, and parents. We consider this program a signature accomplishment, and have supported it with strategic investments of staff and funding. The program also enjoys generous support from alumni/ae and parents, who serve as mentors and advisors to students as they move through the program, and who have provided endowed funds to support student internships. Each semester more than ten alumni, alumnae and parent Professionals-in-Residence come to campus for a public presentation followed by one-on-one counseling appointments with students. Most competitive of the endowed internships is the Charles H. Salisbury’62 Summer International Internship Stipend, a grant of $15,000 per student that enables awardees to gain a practical understanding of the demands and rewards of future careers through an international work experience. Three students have received funding each year for the past four years; two of the former recipients of the Salisbury award have gone on to win Fulbright fellowships, others have gone on to prestigious graduate schools across the country, and all have returned to campus to share their extraordinarily interesting projects. (Appendix 2.11) The Centennial Center for Leadership With a generous gift from a William Smith alumna in celebration of the William Smith Centennial, an historic building on campus was renovated and staff were charged with creating a leadership program that would complement other programming on campus while offering new opportunities for students to develop as leaders. After a year of research into undergraduate leadership programs across the United States, HWS Leads was launched, and graduated its inaugural class this spring. To earn certification, students participating in HWS Leads complete a rigorous year of requirements, including ten leadership seminars, 15 hours of community service, six development workshops, one off-campus excursion, the completion of a Community-Based Research project and two full semesters serving as a leader in an oncampus organization. (Appendix 2.12)

Physical and Financial Resources Campaign for the Colleges In September 2006, Hobart and William Smith Colleges embarked on the most ambitious capital campaign of our history. At the national kick-off celebration for Campaign for the Colleges at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, President Gearan announced, “With both gratitude and inspiration from the past, we have set an ambitious agenda for the future.” He stated the Campaign charge: “To move these Colleges so that future generations will have the benefit of a world class education; this is our moment.”   Long in the planning, Campaign for the Colleges now serves as one of the two enabling initiatives for the Colleges’ strategic plan HWS 2010 (working in concert with the Growth Initiative to increase the student body to 2,000). The Campaign originally sought to raise a total of $160 million. (Appendix 2.13) Included in the total were extensive on-campus improvements, including a Performing Arts Initiative, the renovation of the Scandling Center and athletics facilities, preserving campus legacy buildings, and providing cutting-edge information technology services. The remaining half of the total is allocated to the Colleges’ endowment funds to expand scholarships and internships for students and endowed professorships for faculty members, and to secure the future of programs like global education. The Campaign also recognized the first 100 years of William Smith College, 19082008, with a Centennial celebration in November 2008 that was accompanied by an extraordinarily successful Campaign effort by William Smith alumnae and friends. In addition, increasing annual fund participation and amounts were counted among the Campaign’s goals.   40   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Thus far, the Campaign for the Colleges has raised more than $150 million in gifts and commitments, despite the major economic challenges of the last year. Of the total, approximately $50 million has been designated for endowment, $35 million for facilities, $35 million for the annual fund, and another $32 million designated for other purposes or undesignated. We are also proud that the Campaign has earned the acclaim of institutional advancement peers. CASE awarded a Gold Medal to the “Campaign for the Colleges” video and a Silver Medal to the Centennial Web site.   The portion of the Campaign devoted to campus buildings has transformed the face of the campus (Appendix 2.14). Institutional resources have also been expanded by judicious use of the Colleges’ borrowing capacity, following an A rating from Standard and Poor’s in 2007, reaffirmed in November 2008. This rating is discussed in more detail in Chapter Four. In their evaluation, Standard and Poor’s noted the Colleges’ long history of positive operating performance and modest debt levels. The most recent borrowing was in December of 2007 when the Colleges issued $31,250,000 in bonds. The bonds were issued for the purpose of providing funds for the construction of additions to and the renovation and improvement of various campus facilities. Through the combined bond and Campaign resources, the following facilities have been added or substantially renovated: Bozzuto Boathouse and lakefront enhancements (2003) Stern Hall (academic building) (2003) McCooey Field (2003)

The Finger Lakes Institute (2004) The Salisbury Center for Career Services in the renovated Trinity Hall (2004)

de Cordova Residence Hall (2005) Caird Residence Hall (2005) Geneva Residence Hall (2005)

The Admissions Center (2006) The Goldstein Family Carriage House (studio arts) (2006) The Katherine D. Elliott Studio Arts Center (2006) Comstock House (residence hall) (2006)

The Abbe Center for Jewish Life (2007) The Carr McGuire House (residence hall) (2007) Jackson, Rees and Potter Residence Halls (2007)

Scandling Campus Center and Vandervort Room (2008) Centennial Center for Leadership (2008) Rosensweig Learning Commons (2008)

These campus improvements have all been undertaken in the context of a campus master plan that was updated with a housing plan and a campus space planning initiative aimed at academic and administrative buildings. (Appendix 2.15 and 2.16.) An important component of the academic plan was an external assessment of the quality and quantity of HWS classrooms that led to the formation of an

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   41


on-campus Classroom Committee with representatives from the faculty, the Provost’s and Registrar’s offices, and Building and Grounds. (More details of this project are found in Chapter Six, as a case study of linked institutional planning and budgeting.) This committee now monitors and allocates designated funding to ensure that the physical environment of HWS classrooms supports student learning through improvements in furnishings, technology and aesthetics.   During the remainder of the Campaign, the Colleges will move forward with other critical endowment initiatives and campus improvements. We are delighted to report a recent generous $4.4 million gift to create the Caird Center for Sports and Recreation, which will unite several keystone elements of the Colleges’ remaining athletics campaign priorities, including Boswell Field, the Froelich Gatehouse and the Elliott Varsity House expansion. The Caird Center will provide boundary definition for the western edge of campus and will directly benefit all students who participate in intramural, club sports, outdoor and other wellness programs, in addition to nearly two-thirds of our varsity athletes, including the lacrosse, squash, tennis and football teams. These enhancements will provide greater access to highquality athletic facilities for the William Smith athletic teams.   We can also report substantial progress on one of the remaining facilities priorities in the Campaign: a performing arts initiative to create modern spaces for Theatre, Dance and Music, all departments disadvantaged by cramped or outdated space. The Colleges have engaged the Gund Partnership to design these spaces, currently projected to include a new building for the Music and Dance departments and a separate renovated space for Theatre. The programming phase of the project is now complete, and we anticipate schematic designs will be available for the fall Board meeting.   The Board of Trustees and senior administrators are engaged in discussions on the Campaign’s next steps as we near the milestone achievement of the original goal, recognizing that remaining priorities require funding in excess of the goal if they are to be achieved at the level consistent with institutional aspirations. Technology HWS 2005 observed that among the physical and financial resources most important in this century was technology. Since then, two initiatives have come to fruition in this area: the implementation of the first HWS-wide enterprise information system and the development of an innovative learning commons model uniting the library, information technology and the Center for Teaching and Learning. Enterprise Information System In recognition of the campus-wide impact of an enterprise system, the decision to adopt the PeopleSoft suite of enterprise information tools was made through a campus-wide inclusive process in 2006, with broad participation at every phase of the selection process by faculty and staff. By 2007, members of the implementation teams had completed their initial training and were beginning the work of configuring and preparing PeopleSoft for HWS operational use. In Fall 2007, Admissions completed the first phase of the PeopleSoft implementation, which provided new tools and processes for managing prospects and applications. Also implemented in Admissions were new reporting capabilities that allow for real-time analysis of inquiry and application information and trends. The Office of Admissions is currently completing the second phase of their implementation which will allow for web-based, customized communication with prospects. The Office of the Registrar began their phased implementation with the publication of the Course Catalog in Spring 2008. In June, all new incoming students were registered into classes using PeopleSoft and by August 2008, all student records became available in PeopleSoft. In the November 2008 registration, all students used PeopleSoft to complete their online Spring registration. In June of 2008, Human Resources launched Human Resources Management for

42   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


employee information, benefits information, and payroll. At the same time, the Business Office went live with a suite of financial applications including general ledger, budgeting, ePurchasing, and accounts payable. During the summer, Residential Education began using PeopleSoft and Odyssey Housing Management for placement of incoming students in their residences. Each of the implementation teams will roll out new capabilities during the coming year. We continue to enhance our understanding of new tools and processes as we proceed on a path of continuous improvement made possible by the hard work and extra efforts of faculty and staff members involved in the implementation. (Appendix 2.17) The Rosensweig Learning Commons This state-of-the-art facility combines services and staff from the Library, Information Technology Services, and the Center for Teaching and Learning to create a cohesive environment that supports complex learning, deep exploration, and rigorous intellectual pursuit. The design team included faculty members as well as staff from the Center for Teaching and Learning, Information Technology Services and Buildings and Grounds. The team also worked closely with a student advisory board. The group’s intent was to create a warm and welcoming space that supports multiple modes of teaching and learning in a flexible and dynamic facility. Following a comprehensive analysis the spring of 2008, construction of the new Rosensweig Learning Commons, part of the renovation of the Warren Hunting Smith Library began. The first floor of the Library has been transformed into a space that uses technology to advance formal and informal instruction as well as individual and group research. The project reaffirms the Library as the heart of an academic community, where learning takes place in a complex environment of print and electronic resources that cultivates the research and technical skills for lifelong learning. The space has more than 130 computers with the availability of both Mac and Windows platforms, nine LCD screens, six copier/printer/scanner/fax capable machines, two Smart Boards and two computer projectors. Nearly every piece of furniture on the first floor is wired for power and connectivity so that students can flexibly move from space to space with laptops. We share the view of the visiting team who encouraged the Colleges to develop a more systematic approach to information literacy. By uniting reference and access services with IT Services and the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Rosensweig Learning Commons has substantially increased the ways and places in which faculty members and students come together to access, critically evaluate, transform and present information in its 21st century media.

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   43


44   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Chapter Three Major Challenges and Opportunities

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   45


Chapter Three: Major Challenges and Opportunities The Challenge Ahead: Sustaining the Momentum Before the economic downturn of the past year, we had identified as our major challenge the continued enrollment and retention of a student body with the characteristics that we prize. Now, of course, this challenge is heightened by a substantially changed economic climate. Maintaining institutional momentum in an environment in which new programs must be funded by reductions in others is significantly more difficult than one in which year-to-year revenue growth provides a dividend for strategic initiatives. But we are fortunate to be positioned now with a strengthened planning and assessment culture that helps us identify programs that should be discontinued or cut back and programs where expansion can achieve important institutional goals.

Enrolling a Student Body with the Characteristics We Prize STANDARD 8

STANDARD 11

Student Admissions and Retention The institution seeks to admit students whose interests, goals, and abilities are congruent with its mission and seeks to retain them through the pursuit of the students’ educational goals. Educational Offerings The institution’s educational offerings display academic content, rigor, and coherence appropriate to its higher education mission. The institution identifies student learning goals and objectives, including knowledge and skills, for its educational offerings. The challenges here are well-known to many of our peer institutions in the Northeast: slowing growth in the region that dominates our admissions profile, a discount rate that undermines net tuition revenue, a commitment to economic diversity but a price tag that is challenging to the vast majority of families, and a fiercely competitive environment in which the value proposition of a liberal arts education must be clearly articulated and proof points communicated to an increasingly skeptical public. As a tuition-dependent institution, we find ourselves ironically less affected by the financial market turmoil than some of our aspirational peers that have enjoyed significant endowment support in the past, but the admissions and enrollment challenges we face will only grow in the future. As we enter the planning phase for our next strategic plan, we believe we have a significantly improved admissions and enrollment operation, technologically sophisticated, and creative in its marketing messages, and an academic program whose quality is demonstrable. But we will need to be realistic and tough-minded about the competitive challenge we face from public institutions and from the better-endowed institutions whose endowments will rebound. In addition, as the institutional profile has improved, we now find ourselves competing with institutions enjoying resource and reputational advantages. This is, of course, both the good news and the bad news. Review of existing academic departments and programs will help us identify areas to prune and strategic areas to enhance, but we must also find ways to support entirely new initiatives, such as the MAT program introduced five years ago, that might increase the potential market for our education without undermining our core mission. Such initiatives might include summer utilization of the campus and certificate programs. Among our current offerings, it is evident that some programs are sufficiently

46   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


distinctive as to be attractive even in this fiercely competitive environment. Some programs enjoy locational advantages, such as Environmental Studies with its access to the Finger Lakes Institute; others are rare in the liberal arts environment, such as Architectural Studies or Media and Society. But singling out programs for their admissions value is an endeavor that is fraught with dangers and complexities. Full participation of the faculty in strategic planning is necessary to ensure academic rigor and integrity as we move forward.

Inclusive Excellence Across the HWS Community STANDARD 5

Administration The institution’s administrative structure and services facilitate learning and research/scholarship, foster quality improvement, and support the institution’s organization and governance.

STANDARD 8

Student Admissions and Retention The institution seeks to admit students whose interests, goals, and abilities are congruent with its mission and seeks to retain them through the pursuit of the students’ educational goals.

STANDARD 10

Faculty The institution’s instructional, research, and service programs are devised, developed, monitored, and supported by qualified professionals. The 2004 visiting team identified diversity in the faculty, staff and student body as a concern, one shared by the Colleges’ community. Because responsibility for diversity is shared so broadly across the campus, the President appointed the Commission for Inclusive Excellence, made up of students, faculty and staff, to identify strategies in this area. Its first report, on Admissions and Retention, was just presented to the campus (Appendix 3.1) and its key recommendations are being implemented. Among these recommendations is an enhancement in recruiting efforts in the immediate vicinity (Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo) to complement the successful recruiting already under way in metropolitan New York City. We are pleased to report that approximately one quarter of the incoming first year class will come from historically underrepresented groups, the highest in the Colleges’ history, and we are redoubling our efforts so that this beginning of a critical mass can serve as a foundation for the future. We recognize, however, that sustaining this critical mass will require improvement in the campus climate and retention, and the Commission’s Task Force on Retention has begun its work, with recommendations to follow in the fall (Appendix 3.2). The Commission will also turn to faculty and staff recruitment next year. The strategic hiring initiative begun in 2006 has provided flexibility for hiring that adds to the diversity of the faculty, and adoption of best practice standards for diversity hiring has also been successful. Since 2005, 18 percent of faculty hired into tenure track lines have been from domestic groups historically underrepresented in the academy, while 14 percent have been international faculty. But as faculty hiring slows with the completion of the Growth Initiative, it will be increasingly difficult to make the needed progress and new strategies must be adopted. The challenge arises with staff hiring, as fiscal conditions will restrain the hiring opportunities in the near future. These conditions, with their dampening impact on retirement portfolios, have slowed the pace of retirements that might normally be expected to open up positions, and we will need to invent creative solutions to address this slowdown.

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   47


Institutional Sustainability As we look ahead to a changed landscape for higher education, we also face major challenges in sustaining the momentum of the past in the growth of endowment and gift income. While Campaign for the Colleges envisioned a $200 million endowment, recent market declines have moved that goal further into the future. In the near term, then, we will need to achieve our aspirations with a significantly lower endowment base. In addition, the recessionary environment will constrain our ability to increase tuition and fees. These constraints throw into relief several strategic priorities: improving retention and graduation rates, completing Campaign for the Colleges, strengthening a culture of assessment for institutional effectiveness and student learning, and enhancing environmental sustainability that conserves scarce institutional (and global) resources.

Improving Retention and Graduation Rates STANDARD 8

Student Admissions and Retention The institution seeks to admit students whose interests, goals, and abilities are congruent with its mission and seeks to retain them through the pursuit of the students’ educational goals.

STANDARD 9

Student Support Services The institution provides student support services reasonably necessary to enable each student to achieve the institution’s goals for students. Despite significant efforts over the past ten years, retention and graduation rates, among the most vital student outcomes of higher education, have remained stubbornly low at the Colleges in comparison to most of our peer institutions. In addition to the obvious hardship this imposes on students and their families, low retention rates place an undue burden on the net tuition revenues that must be generated by the entering classes, and create an imbalance in campus student life. The most significant effort to create an institutional structure to address this issue has taken place in the past two years with a review of student life that led to the reorganization of the Deans’ Offices and the creation of a division of student affairs. This review, suggested by the visiting team, led to changes designed to incorporate a more contemporary understanding of student affairs and to strengthen the “common source of advocacy” for students suggested by the visiting team. As described in the previous chapter, the Vice President for Student Affairs was able to create a new team of staff members and the transfer of judicial affairs to one of those staff has freed the Deans to focus on programming for student success. In addition, the newly-appointed Dean of William Smith, a member of the Education Department, brings considerable expertise in multicultural education and retention (she is the author of a forthcoming book titled Black Women Undergraduates, Cultural Capital and College Success). In the past two years, a team consisting of the Provost, the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Deans has examined student outcomes data ranging from exit interviews with departing students to the NSSE in an effort to identify important retention initiatives. We believe that this new emphasis on student outcomes data may supplement the previous approaches that relied on case analysis and anecdotal information. On the Provost’s side, new initiatives have included careful selection and development of First Year Seminar faculty and the development and expansion of a Learning Communities program that has demonstrated effects on retention at HWS. On the Student Affairs side, programs in wellness and counseling have been substantially expanded in response to survey data indicating that substance abuse and mental health concerns create a retention risk and HEDS Senior Survey data indicating that students are less satisfied with student health services at HWS than at

48   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


our peer institutions. In the past year, new resources were moved into these two areas (the First Year Program and the Wellness Initiative). The enrollment management group, which meets monthly to identify students at risk of leaving the Colleges and to strategize plans to address each student’s individual needs, will closely monitor the success of these tactics over the coming years against the crucial retention metric. Nationally, findings from the Wabash Study point to the clarity and organization of first-year courses and the timeliness and frequency of faculty feedback as important determinants of persistence. In response, the Provost has asked the Center for Teaching and Learning to enhance the program already underway that ties these findings to best pedagogical practices. This summer, data from our own administration of the study instruments will enable more sophisticated analysis of the factors that are correlated with a failure to persist at HWS, and the retention team and enrollment management group will develop recommendations based on our findings. Other initiatives in this area that should bear fruit in coming years include significant changes in residential housing and student activities (anticipated by the visiting team’s suggestion that “review of data regarding satisfaction with housing and with leadership options be utilized to develop additional strategies for effectively engaging students”). We do note some preliminary success, as measures of student satisfaction and engagement all point to improvement in the past few years. Graduation rates for the classes now showing enhanced engagement and satisfaction will be available in the next two years, and we are hopeful that there will be improvement. In addition, retention rates for the Higher Education Opportunity Program are extremely high as recognized by the New York State Department of Education, and we believe that there are lessons to be learned there that can be applied campus-wide.

Completing Campaign for the Colleges STANDARD 3

Institutional Resources The human, financial, technical, physical facilities, and other resources necessary to achieve an institution’s mission and goals are available and accessible. In the context of the institution’s mission, the effective and efficient uses of the institution’s resources are analyzed as part of ongoing outcomes assessment. As noted in Chapter Two, the Campaign outcomes to date have been an impressive demonstration of the loyalty and generosity of the Colleges’ alumni, alumnae, parents and friends and the skill of the various offices that have contributed to the effort, most notably Institutional Advancement, Communications, and the Office of the President. More than $150 million has been raised in gifts and commitments, and the campus facilities and endowment have been significantly enhanced. These enhancements have been targeted to the Academic and Student Life Engagement priorities of HWS 2005 and the Growth Initiative of HWS 2010. The current downturn poses an obvious challenge, one shared by our sister institutions. As part of our response to the near-term financial turmoil, we, like so many institutions, have paused a number of building projects until funding is fully realized. As the funding becomes complete, we will advance those projects, and have every expectation that we will be able to put shovels in the ground in the next two years for athletics and other projects. As described earlier, we are currently in the schematic design phase of work on our Performing Arts Initiative with the Gund Partnership, and it is this project – critical to our aspirations for student engagement – to which we must now turn our focused efforts in advancement. Working with our faculty and the Provost, the Gund Partnership will provide renderings to assist in the fundraising at this difficult time; we are all dedicated to this effort, but are mindful of the difficulties ahead.

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   49


Creating a Culture of Evidence-Based Improvement in Teaching and Learning STANDARD 7

STANDARD 14

Institutional Assessment The institution has developed and implemented an assessment process that evaluates its overall effectiveness in achieving its mission and goals and its compliance with accreditation standards. Assessment of Student Learning Assessment of student learning demonstrates that, at graduation, or other appropriate points, the institution’s students have knowledge, skills, and competencies consistent with institutional and appropriate higher education goals. With the clear guidance from the Middle States visiting team, the Colleges have made significant strides in recent years in identifying relevant assessment results for decision making, in disseminating the results, and in linking programmatic renewal and action to the results, but it is evident that work remains to be done. The economic climate in which we find ourselves makes this work even more crucial so as to ensure that programs are producing desired outcomes and that institutional resources are targeted appropriately. The past few years have shifted conditions in favor of a sustainable culture of assessment: an updated enterprise information system that is starting to produce real-time reports for managerial action; a Senior Staff team dedicated to finding and sharing outcomes data; and two Teagle grants that support faculty development in the area of student outcomes assessment. However promising those new resources may be, this is a cultural shift of some magnitude and progress is slower at a highly decentralized institution than at one where initiatives can flow smoothly from top to bottom. This is less true for administrative units, where the pace of outcomes assessment has quickened significantly in the past two years. Many of these units are directly engaged with student learning, have identified student learning goals and undertaken assessment of success. Even there, though, there has not been an effort to identify common goals across the offices, although there are clear lines of synergy and overlap. This may be an area for growth by the time of the next reaccreditation review. This decentralized culture is of considerable power and, unfortunately, the Colleges did not have a formal Institutional Research Office at the time of the 2004 reaccreditation review. Instead, responsibility for institutional research has been spread across the various administrative offices with Dr. Wes Perkins, a faculty member in the Sociology Department, serving as a consultant when needed. This has served the Colleges well for some time. For instance, Dr. Perkins took responsibility for administering the CIRP and other measures of the student experience. His charge was to collect and analyze data, but the Colleges were not effective in translating that data into action. Starting in 2007, then, his efforts were supplemented with a half-time Institutional Research Officer, Dr. Ron Gerrard, reporting directly to the Provost so that information can be produced in formats and on timetables more conducive to action. For example, NSSE results were reformatted and shared with faculty teaching First Year Seminars, the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Commission on Inclusive Excellence, and new members of the Board of Trustees. (Appendix 3.3) In addition, NSSE results have been used to assess the extent to which the student engagement goals of HWS 2005 and HWS 2010 are being met. The President and the Provost now plan to increase the hours for the Institutional Research Officer, and serious consideration is being given to further expansion in this office in the coming years.

50   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Faculty assessment of student learning outcomes has been slower to take hold, at HWS as at other comparable institutions. So, for instance, while the Teagle initiative is currently engaging more than 100 faculty members in the identification of evidence that student learning meets our aspirations in the Eight Goal curriculum, that project will take three years, in recognition of the distance to be traveled in terms of identifying and collecting direct measures of student outcomes. As noted elsewhere, we have joined the Wabash National Study to aid us in direct observation of student learning, have received our first report from the fall administration of the study instruments, and had a highly successful implementation of the spring instruments, with more than 62 percent participation. We look forward to the reports from that study as we believe they will enable us to assess the extent to which our first-year programs are producing measurable changes in student learning, although we are sobered by findings from earlier waves of the study that students do not improve as much as one would hope during the first year. The Teagle groups have received NSSE, CIRP and HEDS data, and will be working with the Wabash data shortly. As noted earlier, while all new course proposals include student learning goals, and the newly-revised department/program reviews now mandate assessment of student learning, it will be some time before all departments and programs have undergone a significant review. In light of the increasing importance of retention, the Provost is considering ways of accelerating that process and will consult with faculty committees in the fall. The impetus of a restrained fiscal environment makes the case for evidence-based assessment as administrative offices and academic departments and programs seek the resources they need to support their work. The faculty has already shown heightened interest in how they can help retain students through to graduation, and to the extent that assessment instruments point to an effective faculty role, they can be relied upon to participate.

Environmental Sustainability In September 2007, President Gearan signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment making HWS a charter member of this effort and launching a campus-wide culture of sustainability that has ignited student enthusiasm and sparked creative solutions across the campus. The signatories of the Commitment pledge to fulfill a three-step constitution which includes initiating a comprehensive plan for climate neutrality, taking tangible action to reduce greenhouse gases, and publicizing the action plan, inventory and progress. Led by a Campus Climate Task Force, and a recent graduate hired as Sustainability Coordinator, the Colleges are pleased with the success to date (Appendix 3.4). Still, we still have a long way to go to achieve climate neutrality even though we are fortunate to be located in a region with hydroelectric power and natural gas and to serve a largely residential student body. An example of the challenge we face comes from our commitment to study abroad: more than half of our students study abroad, a central part of the student learning we seek to achieve, but in so doing, they travel by air. Next year, the Task Force will complete its Climate Action Plan, detailing how the Colleges are to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions, undertake a second Greenhouse Gas Inventory and focus on energy efficiency. The group will also develop a LEEDS building policy, starting with a commitment that the new Performing Arts Initiative achieve LEEDS Silver, or better. Finally, the Task Force will work with the relevant faculty bodies to make environmental sustainability a lasting part of the general education curriculum. Environmental sustainability is one of the areas targeted by the New York Six consortium, which will explore possible economies through joint recycling operations and purchases

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   51


of alternative energy. The New York Six is a group of six liberal arts colleges in upstate New York that is working collaboratively with the goals of controlling business costs and learning from each other’s experience in areas of student life and staff development. In addition to Hobart and William Smith, the New York Six consists of Colgate University, Hamilton College, St. Lawrence University, Skidmore College and Union College.

 

52   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Chapter Four Enrollment and Finance Trends and Projections

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   53


Chapter Four: Enrollment and Finance Trends and Projections “Sound Financial Performance” When work on this Report began, the Colleges were celebrating the remarkable enrollment and financial achievements of the past five years that allowed us to achieve a Standard and Poor’s A rating for our longterm debt, reflecting their assessment of a stable outlook for sound financial performance. However, like every institution of higher learning, the Colleges have recently been affected negatively by the economic downturn. Endowment and philanthropy have both decreased, and we have had to be nimble to adjust to budget variances and the larger uncertainties surrounding this year’s admissions season. We are fortunate, however, that the Colleges entered this recession from an enhanced position with several years of balanced budgets, a strong balance sheet and a 2008 S&P reaffirmation of our A rating.

In this chapter, we provide evidence of enrollment and finance trends and projections to support the conclusion that we address the current economic downturn from a position of strength: • Institutional financial plan (Appendix 4.1), including enrollment data • Audited financial statements (Appendix 4.2) • IPEDS financial information (Appendix 4.3) • Additional data, including the annual briefing prepared for the Board’s Finance and Audit Committees that provides a wealth of additional metrics, including ratios and other analytic tools. (Appendix 4.4) As noted above, external validation of our grounds for confidence was provided in 2007, when the Colleges received an A rating from Standard and Poor’s. The rating was reaffirmed in November 2008 (Appendix 4.5). In their rating, the agency made the following observations about the Colleges: • Strong demand and growing enrollment, with increasing demand trends • Long history of positive operating performance, with the exception of an operating loss in 2005 • Good growth in the endowment over the last decade, with successful fundraising • Adequate levels of unrestricted resources • Talented and well-focused management team, with detailed planning • Modest debt levels • Adequate liquidity levels • The stable outlook reflects Standard & Poor’s expectation of continued sound financial performance and steady enrollment and demand trends. • HWS has a seasoned administration headed by a president who arrived in 1999. An experienced Board of Trustees also plays an active role in governance, fund-raising, and setting the strategic directions of HWS. The following indicators of the institution’s financial condition improved over the last five years, the period between fiscal year 2003 and 2008: (see Figures 1-3) • Net assets increased from $209,382,358 to $309,431,817 • Endowment increased from $126,589,065 to $185,083,906 • Unrestricted reserves increased from $116,908,618 in 2003 to $164,777,955 in 2008. • Enrollment increased from 1,825 to 2,025 • SAT levels increased from an average of 1,160 to 1,213 • Percentage of students in the top third of their high school class increased from 74% to 80% • Net investments in land, building and equipment increased from $78 million to $132 million.

54   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Net Tuition Revenue

$000's 48,000 46,000 44,000 42,000 40,000 38,000 36,000 34,000 32,000 30,000 28,000 26,000 24,000 22,000 20,000

FIGURE 1

1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Net Assets Hobart and William Smith Colleges $350,000,000 $309,431,817

FIGURE 2

$294,947,250

$300,000,000

$250,000,000

$232,910,823 $222,180,673 $209,382,358

Value

$200,000,000

$150,000,000

$100,000,000

$50,000,000

$0 2003

2004

2005 Year

2006

2007

Endowment Value Hobart and William Smith Colleges $190,000,000

FIGURE 3

$180,000,000

$170,000,000

Value in Dollars

$160,000,000

$150,000,000

$140,000,000

$130,000,000

$120,000,000

$110,000,000

$100,000,000 2003

2004

2005

2006 Year

2007

2008

2009

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   55


We are also advantaged by the relatively conservative use of debt. As noted by S&P, “HWS use of debt has been quite modest over time with the bulk of buildings funded through donations or operations.” Long-term debt now stands at $65,498,127. As these metrics indicate, the Colleges have experienced improving financial conditions since the 2004 visit. At the time, the team observed some concerns about the future financial health of the Colleges. We believe we face the current economic uncertainties with strong and sophisticated leadership, both in the administration and in our Board of Trustees, which brings experience and expertise to financial management.

Enrollment Management Total Enrollment Hobart and William Smith Colleges

FIGURE 4

2,050

2,000

1,950

Enrollment

1,900

1,850

1,800

1,750

1,700

1,650 2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Year

Figure 4 illustrates the growth in enrollments over the past five years. As noted earlier, the Growth Initiative associated with HWS 2010 called for an expansion of the student body to a 2000-student campus while maintaining an 11:1 student to faculty ratio. The Vice President for Enrollment Management developed a Five Year Enrollment Plan designed to meet this goal. The Plan relied on seven foundational strategies: • Brand strategy and positioning platform • Web site upgrades, making it the “functional hub” for all communications • Improved admissions systems (achieved through the enterprise information system) • Re-engineered campus visits and events • Plan to maximize volunteers for recruitment • More transparent and clearly articulated transfer student plan • Improved marketing message of affordability and leveraging of institutional grant dollars With growing applications, this initiative was achieved before 2010, while simultaneously increasing the diversity and academic quality of the student body. Now the focus of the institution turns to retention and persistence, as described in Chapter Three.

56   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Measures to Address the Current Economic Downturn After every Board meeting, the President holds a “read-out” for the campus community. We include here three slides from the most recent read-out, at which the President summarized measures we have undertaken and will undertake to address both the current downturn and the projected deficits that occur in the out years as the full effect of the endowment decline has its impact on our budget (Figures 5, 6 and 7). We are currently fortunate that under nine percent of the operating budget comes from the endowment draw but we recognize the challenges ahead for all small residential liberal arts colleges.

FIGURE 5

Over the course of the past fiscal year, we have instituted a number of measures to help bring expenses in line with revenue. These include reviewing open positions to see if we can delay filling them, restricting administrative travel, and acting frugally to reduce expenses. We have stepped up efforts and initiatives in admissions, institutional advancement and retention to positively influence revenue. In addition, we have delayed two construction projects until fundraising goals are realized. To understand the implications of the economic downturn for the next year and the out-years, we have been modeling a series of budget scenarios that take into account possible changes in the major drivers of our budget, in effect “stress testing” the Colleges’ financial plan. Specifically these drivers include tuition, financial aid, annual giving, the endowment, salaries and the operating budget. We believe the economic downturn will continue to affect our endowment and our need for increased financial aid. In our work on the budget, we have been particularly sensitive to the impact our current decisions will have in two to three years. Recognizing the financial strain that families face at this time, next year’s budget assumes a 3.5% tuition increase, the lowest tuition increase at the Colleges in 44 years. We have also allocated an additional $2.6 million for financial aid in next year’s budget. Finally, the budget approved at the April Board meeting includes a freeze on operating expenses next year. Compensation and benefits, which comprise 50% of the budget, were considered at the April Board meeting resulting in a zero percent salary increase for the coming year for faculty and staff, with the exception of faculty promotions.

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   57


FIGURE 6

FIGURE 7

58   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


The President will work closely with the Senior Staff, the Committee on the Faculty, and the Administrative Advisory Council on budget matters. A new campus-wide task force will be appointed over the summer to consider how best to address projected deficits in the out years. (Appendix 4.6) The newly-formed New York Six consortium described in Chapter Three has among its goals the identification of savings through collaboration in three areas: • harnessing technology to allow for greater collaboration in all areas, with emphasis on shared human resources, high-end computing collaboration, and advanced computer infrastructure. • acquiring of goods and services, including benchmarking, joint purchasing, and risk management. • promoting sustainable institutional environments, including recycling operations and alternative energy supplies. While this initiative has only begun its work, we are confident that the good efforts of the six institutions, each facing similar economic stresses, will bear fruit in the coming years.

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   59


60   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Chapter Five Assessment Processes and Plans

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   61


Chapter Five: Assessment Processes and Plans Assessment of Institutional Effectiveness: An Overview At the time of the 2004 reaccreditation, the Colleges, like many peer institutions, were in the early stages of transforming its long-time processes of review and accountability into the language and best practices of the emerging assessment movement. The visiting team provided clear and precise recommendations that provided a framework for work between 2004 and 2006; that work, in turn, led the MSCHE to accept the Colleges’ progress letter while asking that this Periodic Review Report document: further progress in the implementation of a sustainable assessment process to evaluate student learning, and to evaluate the total range of programs and services offered by the institution, and evidence that assessment results are being used to improve teaching and learning, as well as institutional effectiveness. Since then, the impetus for robust assessment processes across higher education has accelerated but also evolved, as has the Colleges’ understandings of assessment practices that are most appropriate for our institution. In this chapter, we provide an overview of the institution’s assessment processes and describe the levels and sites of assessment of student learning and institutional effectiveness. The chapter is best read in conjunction with Chapter Six, which also describes the processes by which the Colleges move from goals to strategies to improvement of institutional programs, whether those programs are explicitly designed to improve student learning or designed to provide administrative support to student learning. We understand that the MSCHE seeks evidence that assessment processes are useful, cost-effective, reasonably accurate and truthful, carefully planned, and organized, systematic, and sustained. We are confident that our processes can be characterized as useful, cost-effective, accurate and truthful, carefully planned and organized. The challenge for us, as we observed in Chapter Three, is to align these decentralized activities, each of high effectiveness, into a systematic and sustained assessment plan. The Commission notes that assessment plans are typically fluid, living documents. Such is certainly true here, as the Teagle initiative described earlier is expected to transform the ways in which teaching and learning are conducted, by giving us fresh perspectives on what students are actually learning. The mission statement of Hobart and William Smith Colleges defines the Colleges as “a studentcentered learning environment, globally focused, grounded in the values of equity and service, developing citizens who will lead in the 21st century.” Thus, student learning is the most important element of institutional effectiveness and is addressed as such in this overview of assessment sites and practices for institutional effectiveness. Assessment of Student Learning in the Academic Program Expectations of student learning emphasize the development of knowledge, skills, and independence in inquiry that support these values through a goal-centered curriculum and a structure of majors and minors that calls for both focused, in-depth study in a single field of knowledge and interdisciplinary integration. Students fulfill the Colleges’ Eight Goals through coursework throughout their four years, seeking to develop the knowledge, skills, and capacities that the faculty has deemed essential for student learning in accordance with the Colleges’ mission statement. The Eight Goals include skills in communication, critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, scientific inquiry, artistic expression; and knowledge of differences of gender, race, and class; of world cultures, and of ethical judgment and action (Appendix 5.1). The major equips students with the tools for focused inquiry and the rewards of specialized competence, whereas the students’ general program of study introduces academic areas and

62   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


methods of inquiry beyond the major and emphasizes the interdependence and connectedness of all knowledge. The Colleges employ multiple qualitative and quantitative measures to determine whether and to what extent goals for student learning are being met. These include course-embedded assessments, programmatic assessments, disciplinary tests, student perception surveys, and quantitative and qualitative measures tied directly to graduation requirements (including Goals Certification forms and the Baccalaureate Plan). Many of these measures are not unique to the Colleges (for instance the SS, NSSE, and the Wabash Study of Liberal Arts Education, mentioned earlier, all of which afford comparison to peer institutions). As referenced earlier, the Colleges are also privileged to host a unique long-term postcollegiate survey of HWS graduates that tracks graduates’ perceptions of learning outcomes over the years as part of the research program of a faculty member, Dr. Wes Perkins of the Sociology Department. More detailed information on this survey is found under “Assessment of General Education” below. Students work with faculty advisers to monitor their progress in completing coursework that addresses the Eight Goals with First Year Seminar instructors serving as advisers until a student has declared the major, at which time the student chooses an adviser in that field. In order to earn the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science from HWS, students must successfully complete a First Year Seminar; pass 32 courses with a minimum GPA of 2.0; complete any faculty-mandated writing requirement; complete the academic requirements for a major and a minor or a second major (one of which must be disciplinary and the other interdisciplinary); and achieve certification by an adviser that a student has addressed Goals Three to Eight. Typically, during the spring of the junior year, students meet with their academic adviser to construct a Baccalaureate Plan for completion of the requirements of the major, minor, and goals, and identifying any additional work that is needed to complete degree requirements. Submission of this plan is required for students to continue into the senior year. The instruments used to monitor this process are a) Goal Certification forms, and b) the Baccalaureate Plan (which includes audits of the major and minor, as well as the goals). The guiding philosophy of assessment of student learning in the academic program is derived from our participation in a Teagle Foundation-funded consortium, as noted in Chapter One, and distributes this assessment across three levels of the curriculum: the course level, the department/program level, and the general education (Eight Goals) level. The Office of the Provost has responsibility for ensuring that assessment takes place at these three levels and that this assessment is moving toward being “useful, cost-effective, reasonably accurate and truthful, carefully planned, and organized, systematic, and sustained.” Starting in 2004, the Provost worked with an ad hoc Assessment Committee consisting of five faculty and five administrators, divided into three working groups, each responsible for one of the three levels. Beginning in 2008, the Assessment Committee has reassigned the bulk of its work as described below in the interests of moving from an ad hoc to a sustainable process that is tied to ongoing elements of faculty life and governance. However, all ten members of the committee remain engaged in the work of assessment and continue to be called together as needed, especially as participants in the Teagle Groups described in Chapter One and also below. Assessment Committee members and Teagle group facilitators also sit on the Committee on Academic Affairs (CoAA), which encourages a new unity of purpose for assessing and improving outcomes of student learning. Course Level The Colleges have in place multiple structures for the development of courses and programs to promote student learning objectives. The Committee on Academic Affairs (CoAA) oversees this process in consultation with the Provost and with the support of the Center for Teaching and Learning. • Every new course is approved by CoAA after careful consideration of the course objectives that have been a required component of the New Course Proposal Form since fall 2005 (see Appendix 1.7). Over the past two years, CoAA conducted transcript reviews and sought data

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   63


from departments and programs as part of a systematic effort to ensure that there is congruence among Goal Certification forms, course objectives as found on syllabi, and department and program data regarding goals content within their offerings. The Committee is in the process of analyzing and sharing those findings with the Teagle Groups. (Appendix 5.2). • Since the fall of 2006, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) has sent out a competitive call for innovative teaching proposals to enhance pedagogy tied to student learning objectives each semester. These CTL teaching grants are awarded to instructors who clearly articulate both their pedagogical objectives and their methods of assessment for the innovative project. (See Appendix 1.10.) • Since 2008, every department and program has articulated the standards and criteria for teaching excellence in its tenure and promotion materials. These documents and related evidence are used in the evaluation of faculty for early contract renewal, pre-tenure review, tenure review, and review for promotion to full professor. Classroom observations are included in the evidence that must be supplied for these reviews. • Starting in 2008, a campus-wide course evaluation form is used by every instructor to evaluate every course and to be merged into departmental evaluation forms. The questions seek student feedback on the clarity of course objectives and the extent to which student learning has achieved those objectives, and work toward the development of shared pedagogical and professional values and the establishment of assessment methods that can be applied across disciplines. (See Appendix 1.12.) • Each faculty member is responsible for assessing student learning through the careful analysis of student work, embedded in the course. Department/Program Level Departments and programs are responsible for ascertaining the extent to which student outcomes meet their aspirations, whether the students are taking their courses as non-majors or are majoring or minoring in the department/program. Every department/program under review has the responsibility of identifying direct and indirect measures of student learning, working in coordination with the Office of the Provost, which provides the resources necessary for collecting and analyzing the measures. As reported in the progress letter of April 2006, starting in 2006 all departments/programs were required to develop an Assessment Plan. These plans vary in completeness. Some departments have in place sophisticated plans for portfolio assessment, such as Art, Dance, and Education; some, such as Chemistry and Education, utilize standardized tests; others rely on senior seminars or capstone experiences but have no regular, inclusive rubric or process by which those experiences are assessed. Since there is currently no timetable by which departments are required to update and review their Assessment Plans, we will work to establish them. Fortunately, the new protocol for regular department and program review (described in Chapter One) creates an opportunity to regularize these updates and ensure that every department and program has a realistic and sustainable Plan. With this department/program review process established, it will serve as an important vehicle for the assessment of student learning at the department, program, and course level. The task now is to ensure that the department/program Assessment Plan is updated and implemented fully so that it can serve this crucial role in department and program review. The Provost’s Office will be working with the Committee on Academic Affairs in fall 2009 to develop a timetable so that departments and programs up for their own periodic reviews will have a body of evidence in place suitable for assessing whether the departments or programs are meeting their goals for student learning. General Education Level: The Eight Goals The visiting team noted the absence of assessment processes to identify and analyze direct evidence of student learning in the areas of the Goals. This led the Provost, working with three members of the Assessment Committee, to seek a new method for reshaping the campus culture toward assessment of student learning through the Teagle grant described in Chapter One. The intention is to set into

64   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


motion an effort sufficient in scale (more than100 faculty members) and in duration (a three-year period) to institutionalize a best practice of evidence-based improvement in teaching and learning. This project will complete the third tier of vertical integration envisioned in our Teagle consortium, connecting courses to Goals. (Appendix 1.14) Some of the groups are already eager to make recommendations to improve student learning, even in advance of systematic data on student learning. For instance, the group focusing on Goal One (“effective communication”) intends to explore a requirement that every department/program identify the courses and methods through which its students are trained in effective communication and the evidence it uses to determine whether these are effective. These early suggestions provide reason to be confident that by the time of the next reaccreditation, the Colleges will be reporting on a considerably more sustainable set of student learning assessment practices. It is our intention that the Teagle Project propose to the full faculty a plan for the ongoing mechanisms by which student learning in the areas of the Eight Goals is to be evaluated once the project ends in academic year 2010-2011. At present, we expect that the new plan might involve examining two Goals per year rather than all eight so that the entire curriculum can be assessed twice within every decennial accreditation process. (Appendix 5.3) Each group is led by two faculty facilitators who receive a stipend for their work and can draw upon a budget for expenses. In addition, the Provost and the Institutional Research Officer have provided information from the many surveys in which the Colleges participate. Of course, the results do not directly address how successfully Hobart and William Smith students meet our goals, but they do provide background information on student perceptions of the extent to which they believe they have developed in ways described by the goals, and they also provide important benchmarking data to our peer institutions. The groups also received information from the Colleges’ own Post-Collegiate Life Survey, an ongoing research project conducted by Dr. Perkins that documents the social and vocational life course experiences of our graduates through a comprehensive survey initiated in 1987 and conducted every three to four years, adding newer graduating classes to the cohorts under study as the research has progressed. By December 2008 a total of 1,897 HWS graduates in these classes had participated in the survey, representing a remarkable 53 percent response from respondents who are quite representative of HWS graduates overall in terms of such characteristics as gender, religion, social backgrounds, academic majors, and graduating class years. (Appendix 5.4) The survey regularly explores post-collegiate experiences and attitudes on a variety of topics including graduate school training, occupational activities, family and parenting experiences, health and well-being, personal values, and social relationships. For the purpose of the 2004 Middle States Self Study, the 2003 Post-Collegiate Life Survey was expanded by adding a special set of questions asking graduates to reflect on their undergraduate experience, assessing to what degree it may have enhanced their intellectual capacities and improved their professional and personal lives. In particular, most of these questions focused on fulfillment of the primary goals set out as the academic mission of HWS. Almost two-thirds of HWS graduates say their undergraduate education was a “critically important contribution” or the “most important experience” they have had enabling them to read, write, and think more clearly in their daily lives. We find it especially notable that a sharp rise to over 80 percent in this share occurs among 2005 and 2006 graduates. We believe that this finding, although it does not constitute direct evidence of student learning, nonetheless suggests that the HWS 2005 focus on programs and practices that more deeply engage students in their academic program— programs such as Learning Communities, community-based learning, and undergraduate research — is starting to show results.

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   65


Assessment of Student Learning Outside the Curriculum HWS recognizes the richness and transformative power of out-of-classroom learning, whether it be on the athletics field, in student clubs and activities, in community service, or in the many avenues for learning available in an intentional, residential community. Responsibility for assessment of this learning lies with the Vice for President for Student Affairs, the Deans of the Colleges, and the Provost, depending upon the administrative office responsible. The Division of Student Affairs has articulated the following strategic goals: • Create a campus community that celebrates and embraces difference, and that promotes the free exchange of thought and dialogue necessary to realize the value of a liberal arts education • Provide programs and services that foster civility, respect and an understanding of our shared civic responsibility at the local and global level • Promote the development of interpersonal skills, leadership ability, and communication skills which complement the academic program and prepare students to achieve their post-collegiate goals • Foster a safe environment which supports both the individual and community health, and enhances the physical, emotional and spiritual wellness of all students • Cultivate a vibrant and engaging living-learning environment that encourages academic success and actively involves students in the life of these Colleges. Each department within the Division of Student Affairs is now working on unit-level goals that support these broader goals. Vice President for Student Affairs Flowers has committed to external reviews of each department every four years, beginning with Residential Education and Health Services in 2009-2010. In addition, he has required that all department heads report on learning outcomes by September 2009. There are clear lines of synergy and overlap between the curricular goals and those identified by the division of Student Affairs. Thus, for instance, student learning goals of HWS Leads, the Colleges’ new certificate in leadership, overlap considerably with those of the Compass program at the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning and those of the Center for Global Education, which, in turn, overlap with the goals of the Student Affairs division. Every student organization or club at the Colleges must demonstrate how their purpose relates to one or more of the Eight Goals of the curriculum. This overlap could provide a rich and generative source of alignment to institutional mission, and could also lead to a more robust assessment process, with evidence in any one area providing validation of assessment evidence from others. This synergy will be explored as part of the strategic planning process to begin in 2009-2010. Assessment of Institutional Effectiveness in Areas Indirectly Supportive of Student Learning Responsibility for assessment of institutional effectiveness in areas including Finance, Institutional Advancement, Human Resources, the Registrar, Admissions and Enrollment Management, and Communications lies most directly with the Senior Staff member in charge of each of these areas, and, ultimately with the President who reports on these measures of effectiveness to the Board of Trustees. Each of these areas has its own methods and practices of assessment, many of them deriving from national professional bodies that provide metrics and benchmarks to the area. For instance, the Finance office regularly reports on a large number of outcomes measures and ratios to the Finance and Audit Committees of the Board of Trustees; many of these are found in the body of Chapter Four or its related appendices. These outcomes are used to adjust the Colleges’ investment portfolio, its accounting practices, and other processes. Similarly, examples of the outcomes measures from Admissions and Enrollment Management are included in Chapter Four, along with some of the

66   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


most recent assessment studies in that area. The Office of Institutional Advancement continuously undertakes assessments of its outcomes from the metrics widely in use in this field and shares these results with the Senior Staff, the Board of Trustees, and the Campaign Steering Committee. In addition, the office receives benchmarking results from its consultants that allow it to assess its performance relative to peer institutions. These comparisons point to areas of strong performance (e.g., growth in total private support over the past five years) and areas of continued challenge, where we are performing at the median or below (e.g., alumni/ae participation, parent support per student). In response to these challenges, the Vice President of Advancement has re-directed both staff and budget resources. Human Resources conducts evaluations of compensation and benefits that are shared with the appropriate bodies of the faculty and/or staff and the Board’s Compensation Committee, and serve to guide budget allocation decisions; since 2004, for instance, an external review of the Colleges’ health insurance benefits led to a substantial change in provider and composition of the plan. (Appendix 5.5) In September 2006, the Board of Trustees established an ad hoc committee to study how to maximize the effectiveness of the Board. The Trustees retained the consulting services of Michael Kumer, Director of the Duquesne University’s Nonprofit Leadership Institute. Mr. Kumer surveyed the Trustees and a full Board session was convened in the Winter 2008 Meeting to review findings. From this effort, several subgroups were formed to address specific governance topics including new trustee orientation, bylaw revisions, term limits, chair and vice-chair succession, trustee responsibilities and assessment. Kumer emphasized a strong and empowered Committee on Trustees as a key governance best practice. With this in mind, the Chair of the Board of Trustees invited E.B. Wilson, a consultant affiliated with the Association of Governing Boards, to attend the April 2009 meetings with the Trustees Committee and full Board. Mr. Wilson spoke to the full Board on “The Best Practices That Distinguish High Performing Boards.” E.B. Wilson is chair emeritus of the Board of Trustees of St. Lawrence University where he served 16 years as a trustee, six years as chair. The Board of Trustees plans to continue their governance efforts within the Committee on Trustees as well as the individual subgroups. Sharing and Using Assessment Results Assessment results are shared in settings and media most appropriate to the particular assessment and its purpose and both internally and externally through the Colleges’ website, departmental and institutional publications, admissions and marketing avenues, the governance structures of the faculty and staff, and formal and informal meetings with faculty, staff, and students. The Colleges do not have a single centralized website for the publication of student learning data, although the Senior Staff have access to a Blackboard site for the NSSE, HEDS, CIRP and Wabash data, as we find a more targeted and active sharing to be the most effective method of promoting meaningful utilization of assessment findings at HWS. An example may be illustrative of the targeted approach the Colleges currently take to the sharing of data. The Colleges have participated in the NSSE survey since 2003. However, we have not used these results in concerted or consistent ways; addressing this problem created an easy opportunity for assessment-based planning without having to invent new instruments. Beginning in 2006, the Provost’s Office began sharing the results of the survey broadly across the campus, working closely with the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Hobart and William Smith Deans, and the Vice President for Student Affairs. This collaboration is used to identify opportunities for improvement and to prioritize changes in programming that are suggested by the survey results. For instance, in 2008, the lowest performing areas for our first-year students have been in active and collaborative learning and enriching educational experiences. In response, we have diverted institutional resources from Common Ground, a first-semester orientation program that did not have the desired learning outcomes, to the first-year Learning Communities Program, increasing the number of students who can be accommodated in that program from 127 to 300.

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   67


We also noted that only 43 percent of our students reported that they had completed a culminating senior experience, in contrast to 63 percent at our selected peers. This was communicated to the Committee on Academic Affairs and to the faculty participating in the Teagle Project, who will be taking this finding up in a systematic way next fall. Similarly, the HEDS Senior Survey is circulated to specific student affairs and academic offices for use in assessment and planning. An example of the use of that survey can be found in Career Services, which has tracked rising student satisfaction as it has implemented innovative new programs over the past five years. We look forward to receiving more results over the next three years from our participation in the Wabash National Survey of Liberal Arts Education. As noted in Chapter Three, this survey will provide important information for a new focus on retention in 2009-2010 by helping us identify those characteristics that predict persistence. The NSSE data, considered over the time, indicates that the institution is making progress on achieving goals for student engagement and academic quality set forth in HWS 2005 and reaffirmed in HWS 2010. (see Figures 1-5.)

FIGURE 1

FIGURE 2

68   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


FIGURE 3

FIGURE 4

FIGURE 5

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   69


70   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Chapter Six Evidence of Linked Institutional Planning and Budgeting

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   71


Chapter Six: Evidence of Linked Institutional Planning and Budgeting Strategic Planning, Institutional Assessment, and Budgeting The discussion in Chapter Two highlights some of the chief accomplishments flowing from the two strategic plans under which the Colleges have operated since the time of the last reaccreditation. Each of these accomplishments required allocation of institutional resources, both financial and staffing, and we see those successes as the best outcomes measure of our capacity to link institutional planning to budgeting, as mediated by assessment of institutional effectiveness. In this Chapter, we seek to shed light on the institutional processes and practices that made those outcomes possible. As noted in the 2004 Self Study, planning and budgeting are interrelated processes at Hobart and William Smith. The Colleges believe that the best planning models tie institutional and student learning goals derived from overarching strategic plans to resource allocation decisions on an annual basis, with a view toward transforming institutions over time. When done well, strategic planning is a process that is capable of responding to changing priorities and unanticipated consequences. As new information is brought into the planning process, budget and planning priorities evolve: some programs and activities may become less consequential; others may be targeted for improvement; still others may receive increased resources in recognition of the value of their contributions to student learning and the achievement of the Colleges’ mission. In essence, all planning benefits from re-examination and redefinition. The current economic environment has required the institution to accelerate the pace of re-examination and redefinition so as to be responsive to uncertainty and change while still holding fast to unchanging commitments under our mission. The “peak” moment of planning and budgeting at the institution is the adoption of a strategic plan, which under President Gearan, has been on a five-year cycle: HWS 2005, HWS 2010, and the development of our next plan, to begin in academic year 2009-2010. (See Chapter Two.) Once a plan is adopted, there are annual reviews of progress by the Senior Staff which culminate in a summary of goals and accomplishments that serve as the basis of performance reviews of the Senior Staff by the President. (Preceding these reviews of Senior Staff are administrative performance reviews at all levels within each division.) Senior Staff performance reviews take place in the early summer, and are occasions for the President and the Senior Staff to plan for the next two academic years and beyond. Next, the President seeks input from the Committee on the Faculty and the Administrative Advisory Council. This is their opportunity to provide feedback into the budget priorities they recommend. A member of the Committee on the Faculty sits with the Board of Trustees’ Finance and Audit Committee and Compensation Committee, and is thus well-positioned to serve as one of the conduits of information to the faculty; the Provost also sits with the Committee on the Faculty, ex officio, providing weekly updates to the committee as needed. The next stage is the annual budget guidance letter from the President to the Senior Staff in the late fall, informed by the fall Board of Trustees meeting. The President shapes his annual budget priorities to the plan and to current conditions. (Appendix 6.1) During the budgeting process that follows, members of the Senior Staff are asked to reflect on goals and accomplishments as they relate to the strategic plan in light of current conditions, and to link their budgets to meeting the full range of objectives associated with their areas of responsibility. Institutional

72   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


and student-learning assessment data are typically introduced at this stage to inform and make more competitive the budgetary proposals put forward by the members of the Senior Staff. In December, the President and the Vice President for Finance meet with each Senior Staff member to receive the projected budget requests. (Appendix 6.2). Decisions to approve these requests then serve as the basis for the blue print budget presented to the Board of Trustees. In January, the Board of Trustees meets to approve the blueprint budget and set tuition and room and board fees. Two students are voting members of the Board of Trustees and provide student perspective at that time. In the spring the faculty Subcommittee on Compensation, acting after receipt of faculty salary and compensation data from the AAUP, meets with the President, the Provost and the Vice President for Finance to assess the degree to which the institution has met the Board’s commitment to bring salaries up to the mean of our financial comparison group. With this input taken into account, the Board sets compensation increases at its April meeting, and approves the final budget, which is then disseminated to divisions and offices through the Senior Staff. Collectively, the Colleges’ five-year planning and annual budgeting process affords the President and the senior leadership many opportunities to be strategic in responding to new opportunities, changing priorities, and pressing needs. In addition to the operating budget, funding for strategic initiatives in the past five years has been made available through an accelerated and intensified pace of external funding from corporations, foundations, and government.  Since July 2004, the Colleges have received over $13 million from foundations and nearly $6 million from state and national government agencies.  Most of this support has been directed toward faculty scholarship and teaching and provides external validation of the quality of the HWS faculty.  Whether measured by dollars received or by proposals submitted or funded, faculty grant activity has tripled since 2004.  At present, the Grants Office submits approximately 80 proposals every year.  All proposals are vetted by the relevant Senior Staff member and the Grants Office, ensuring that institutional commitments and opportunities are aligned with strategic goals.   Major government and foundation funders include:   • National Science Foundation (13 active awards for faculty research, instrumentation, and Advanced Technological Education); • National Aeronautic and Space Administration  (two for faculty research); • National Institutes of Health (three for faculty research); • US Department of State for Fulbright Awards and Fulbright Language Teaching Assistants; • American Chemical Society, Research Corporation, and Dreyfus Foundation for faculty research; • Mellon Foundation for Environmental Studies and the Finger Lakes Institute; • Teagle Foundation (two grants for assessment); • Freeman Foundation for initiatives in Asian Studies; • Alden Foundation for introductory science laboratories; • US Department of Education for Fulbright Hays Group Projects Abroad (two), Social Norms (two), and International Research and Studies (Dynamic Russian Grammar); • Bonner Foundation for student leadership; • Corporation for National and Community Service for Campus Compact; • NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for faculty research and Finger Lakes Institute; • Sandia National Labs, on-going contract for faculty research into hydrogen modeling; • Open Society Institute for debate program; • Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation for Global Studies Planning • Emerson, Park and Triad Foundations for FLI. HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   73


Through the generosity of foundations and donors, the Colleges also draw upon restricted endowment funds when appropriate and in keeping with the donor intent. The largest of these funds are under the control of the President and in the Provost, who meet with the Vice President of Finance on an annual basis to determine how best to allocate the funds and meet strategic needs identified through the process described above. Case Studies There are countless examples of how this process has worked at the Colleges in the past five years, with strategic planning serving as the framework for overarching goals that are then re-interpreted annually in the President’s budget guidelines to the Senior Staff. The Senior Staff then prioritizes the resources under their control, decreasing funding to programs that are less strategic or less effective and requesting additional resources for programs that have shown clear effectiveness at meeting strategic goals. • The Learning Communities Initiative for 2009-2010 provides an especially clear example. (see Figure 6.1) As noted in Chapter Two, gains in persistence and student engagement indicate that funds placed in this initiative are wise investments of institutional dollars and advance strategic goals. Funding will support faculty development, community-building events in the residence halls and off-campus such as trips to museums or performing arts events, and visits by speakers. In addition, funds will support peer mentors in our Writing Colleague and Teaching Colleague programs, upper-class students who work alongside first-years inside and outside the classroom. Assessment data from the First Year Seminar indicate that these peer mentors assist the first-year transition to college.

FIGURE 6.1

• Funds were reallocated toward a Wellness Initiative as a result of careful use of data on student health outcomes and planning on how best to strengthen our programming in this area. (Appendix 6.3 This initiative was supported by data from the National Collegiate Health Survey which found that HWS entering students presented with significant challenges in areas

74   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


of mental health and wellness. Coupled with our own data on utilization of college health services, this information on student outcomes led the Vice President for Student Affairs to seek additional staffing in counseling that would enable us to provide more outreach and more effective therapeutic modalities. • Perhaps one of the largest strategic initiatives in terms of dollars has been the strengthening of the Colleges’ Technology Infrastructure, beginning with a comprehensive assessment of the adequacy of hardware and software. The visiting team observed that the technology infrastructure at the Colleges was inadequate, and this became a key strategic priority. In recognition that the task of remediation was too large for an annual budget, the Colleges’ Chief Information Officer prioritized the various needs with a multi-year plan that sought to modernize instructional and research technology, increase access to wireless computing access campus, and strengthen the security of the campus infrastructure. One of the first tasks was the construction of a state-of-the-art server and network facility with its own generator and fire suppressant technology. These hardware upgrades across the campus laid the foundation for the Colleges’ first enterprise information system. (see Appendix 2.17) • In 2001, the Colleges engaged the firm of Ayers St. Gross to formulate a Campus Master Plan, with an accompanying Campuswide Space Needs Analysis. Since that time, however, campus transformations and new goals expressed in HWS 2005 and HWS 2010 had created new needs and opportunities. To address this, the Colleges engaged the firm of Butler Rogers Baskett to update the Master Plan in light of new priorities for student engagement, the Growth Initiative, and recently-acquired properties. The primary focus of the new Campus Space Plan was to provide a vision consistent with the Strategic Plan and Campaign for the Colleges, to maximize interaction among academic departments and programs, to realize greater integration of and ease of access to student services, and to develop an implementation plan that sequences the growth-enabling projects early. The planning process spanned 16 months, was synergistic, absorbing and challenging, and included faculty, administrators, staff and trustees. A significant Classroom Study was included in the Initiative and identified opportunities to create classrooms that were designed for the types of active and collaborative learning that promote student engagement. Funds were then identified from a number of sources, including operating and capital budgets, along with opportunities for philanthropy. Since the completion of the plan in September 2007, the Colleges have translated recommendations into renovations, moves and new buildings. (See Appendix 2.16.) • Finally, funding was made available to Global Education, one of the Colleges’ signature programs, to offset declines in the value of the dollar, to expand the number of students able to study abroad and improve the quality of the programs on which they studied. Special funding was devoted to a new program offering summer study abroad for academic credit. Following an analysis of barriers to study abroad for two-season athletes and students whose family or financial obligations made semester-long study difficult, the Provost sought additional funding to provide financial aid to students with need. This summer, two faculty members from the Political Science Department will lead a group of 18 students to Egypt for a course titled ‘The Political Economy of Egypt,’ preceded by a half-credit preparatory course and Arabic study. (Other students will be receiving credit for courses in Siberia and China supported by the Fulbright-Hays program of the U.S. Department of Education and the Freeman Foundation.) Each of these examples involves an initiative undertaken in support of the strategic plan to which budget allocations were made, and for which metrics of success were developed and achieved.

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   75


Budgeting under Conditions of Uncertainty This year, the process has been made more complicated by the underlying economic conditions and uncertainty. In response, the President frequently convened subgroups of the Senior Staff to monitor conditions, consider different scenarios, and undertake contingency planning for those scenarios. Results of these meetings have been shared by the Provost with the Committee on the Faculty on a weekly basis. In addition, in order to communicate to the broader campus, a budget website was created that provides access to information for faculty and staff, and the President held two budget briefings for the entire community this spring. The President has met frequently with Senior Staff to monitor financial and enrollment matters, so this year, budget guidance was conveyed verbally rather than in the annual budget guidance letter. With those changes, the normal processes have served us well in these uncertain times, allowing for recalibration of the future as well as mid-course corrections in the current fiscal year. Owing to a slightly smaller class this year and the turmoil in the bond markets, the institution was facing an operating deficit of $1.2 million for FY2009. That deficit has been carefully managed, prioritizing the student experience while identifying more than $0.7 million in savings during the current year. As noted elsewhere in this report, savings were identified in areas that did not directly affect the student experience. The success in curtailing spending attests to the institutional capacity to adjust and reprioritize. As we look ahead, though, it is clear that the scope and scale of cost-savings will have to increase if we are to adhere to balanced budgets in the years to come. Savings at that level will require substantially more community input and planning, and this summer the President will appoint a task force involving faculty, staff and students to consider how best to address deficits projected for the out years. (See Appendix 4.6.)

76   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Conclusion

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   77


Conclusion It has been an extraordinary time in the history of the Colleges, clearly one of great momentum. The challenge ahead will be to maintain this momentum in an environment of significant economic uncertainty and restructuring. To quote President Gearan’s March letter to the community, “The Colleges move into the future on the assumption that the economic downturn will result in a long-term shift in the economic landscape, one that will impose significant fiscal constraints into the foreseeable future. To sustain the momentum we’ve achieved over the course of the last decade, we will need to make continued sacrifices. Fortunately, we have always been a community that can do extraordinary things with modest resources.” The timing of this Periodic Review Report is especially opportune. The Review has provided an opportunity to measure our progress as we approach the final year of the HWS 2010 plan, positioning us well for the planning process that lies ahead in academic year 2009-2010. With pride in the accomplishments of the past five years, we look forward to the work of the next strategic plan as it focuses the creative and analytical energies of our institution on the future.

78   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Supporting Documents on DVD Catalogue Index of Appendices Chapter One Appendix 1.1 – MSCHE Letter June 2004 Appendix 1.2 – MSCHE Letter June 2006 Appendix 1.3 – Handbook for Department and Program Review Procedures Appendix 1.4 – Chair’s Handbook Appendix 1.5 – Schedule for Department and Program Reviews Appendix 1.6 – Evidence of Selected Reviews Appendix 1.7 – New Course Proposal Form Appendix 1.8 – Evidence of Improvement in Course Objectives from Course Proposals Appendix 1.9 – First Year Design Faculty Institute Appendix 1.10 – Examples of CTL Teaching Grants Appendix 1.11 – Review of Faculty Bylaws on Tenure and Promotion Appendix 1.12 – Common Course Evaluation Appendix 1.13 – Value-Added Assessment of Student Writing Appendix 1.14 – Teagle Proposal Chapter Two Appendix 2.1 – HWS 2005 Appendix 2.2 – HWS 2010 Appendix 2.3 – Five-Year Admissions Plan Appendix 2.4 – Maguire and Arts and Sciences Reports Appendix 2.5 – Visioning Exercise Appendix 2.6 – Presentation of Learning Communities to the Board of Trustees 2008 Appendix 2.7 – Senior Symposium Appendix 2.8 – Reorganization Executive Summary Appendix 2.9 – CCESL Objectives Appendix 2.10 – Finger Lakes Institute Overview 2004-2007 Appendix 2.11 – Career Services Annual Report Appendix 2.12 – HWS Leads Appendix 2.13 – Campaign Case Statement and Recent Newsletters Appendix 2.14 – Campus Map Appendix 2.15 – Housing Plan Appendix 2.16 – Campus Space Planning Report Executive Summary Appendix 2.17 – IT Services at HWS Chapter Three Appendix 3.1 – Appendix 3.2 – Appendix 3.3 – Appendix 3.4 –

Admissions Task Force of the Commission on Inclusive Excellence Retention Task Force of the Commission on Inclusive Excellence Data for Teagle Groups Go Green Newsletters

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   79


Chapter Four Appendix 4.1 – Appendix 4.2 – Appendix 4.3 – Appendix 4.4 – Appendix 4.5 – Appendix 4.6 –

Institutional Financial Plans, including Enrollment Data Audited Financial Statements IPEDS Financial Data Additional Data Standard and Poor’s Credit Profile Current Budget Information

Chapter Five Appendix 5.1 – Appendix 5.2 – Appendix 5.3 – Appendix 5.4 – Appendix 5.5 –

Eight Goals of the General Education Curriculum Department and Program Inventory of Goals Content Teagle Project Year End Reports Post Collegiate Life Survey Health Benefits Review

Chapter Six Appendix 6.1 – President’s Budget Guidance Letters Appendix 6.2 – Budget Requests and Approvals Appendix 6.3 – Final Report of the Wellness Task Force

80   Middle States Commission Periodic Review Report, June 2009


Current Financial Information

HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES   81


HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES

www.hws.edu


Middle States Commission on Higher Education