Proposal for Gainesville College's Self-Study
July 20, 1999
Gainesville College, with an enrollment of approximately 2900 students, is located just south of Gainesville, Georgia in Hall County. Founded in 1964 to serve Northeast Georgia, it is a two-year, commuter institution in the University System of Georgia. It enjoys strong support from the community which raised the money for land and the initial buildings. Many of its alumni are community leaders in Hall County and Northeast Georgia.
Serving the role of primarily providing the first two years toward a baccalaureate degree, Gainesville College has many cooperative degrees with its neighboring technical institutes governed by the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education. Gainesville College offers the general education of these AAS degrees while the technical institutes provide the applied education. Also the College serves as a host institution for North Georgia College & State University which offers several baccalaureate programs and one masters degree on the Gainesville campus.
The College has a strong student focus and received excellent ratings in a 1997 student satisfaction survey conducted by the University System. As the College developed its strategic goals to span the millennium, the members of the Strategic Planning Committee recognized that the goals reflected certain underlying values. The committee then suggested that the College community articulate those values.
As a result, during the 1998-99 academic year, the faculty and staff of Gainesville College developed and adopted a set of values that reflects the values we believe in and that we want to perpetuate.
With the institution's approach to its self-study and reaffirmation visit in 2002, the President presented the two types of self-study to the Strategic Planning Committee.After discussion at two meetings, the decision was made to propose the Strategic Self-Study and use the opportunity to measure how well we implement the values we adopted.
Four Core Values
Such a study would include all areas of the College and the committee identified four core values that we want to concentrate on:
our student oriented environment focused on student learning and growth
the growth and well-being of employees
the integration of technology into the fabric of the College
innovation and experimentation to facilitate progress and to advance knowledge.
Conduct the Self-Study
To conduct the self-study, first, we would identify activities which demonstrate these values. Then we would determine how to assess the effectiveness of these activities in promoting the values. Wherever possible, we would use benchmarks, state, regional and national.
Based on our findings, we would design or redesign programs and activities to more effectively reflect our core values.
The organization of this study would include a Steering Committee which would oversee the entire self-study. The chair of the Self-Study has already been appointed. A small committee consisting primarily of administrators would conduct a study of the must statements and document compliance. The chair of this committee has also been named. The documentation will include a template which includes each must statement, a brief explanation of compliance or non-compliance, and appropriate documents which support compliance. There will be an opportunity for the committee to make suggestions or recommendations. Once this study is completed, it will be presented to the Faculty Senate for approval. We believe that it is important for faculty to understand both the process and the final product.
There would be four other committees, each one focusing on one of the core values identified above. In each committee, there would be subcommittees focusing on how the four functional areas of the College (academic, student development, finance, and plant/grounds) demonstrate the specific value through their policies, procedures and practices. The four committees would represent all areas of the institution, with faculty representing a majority on each committee.
Research would be conducted to discover how other institutions seek to implement our core values. It will also involve finding benchmarks with which to measure our performance.
Result of Self-Study
The result of this self-study will be to identify those areas where we are best exemplifying our values and those areas where we need to make improvements. It is really an institutional effectiveness model based on the core values of the institution. It also answers the question, how well do we do what we say we are doing?
This process would continue after the self-study with the institution focusing on one additional value each year to determine our effectiveness. By the next self-study cycle, we will have completed the entire list of values.
We would want consultants (three (3) should be sufficient) who have experience in values education and who understand the process of measuring institutional effectiveness in a somewhat non-traditional manner. Our suggestion would be to have a chief academic officer, a chief student development officer and a president whose institution has demonstrated a strong student focus. We hope they will confirm our approach and/or make suggestions to make it a more effective process to determine how well we are measuring the outcomes of our goals.
We prefer having the audit team and consultants here at the same time.