In 2001-2002 SWIC was selected as part of the beta group for a new AQIP process: Vital Focus. This collegial process required the participation of all stakeholders in a series of surveys, general assemblies, and topical discussion groups that were specifically designed to identify the top three or four areas where institutional improvement was critical to the college’s continued success.
Vital Focus involved four critical events. First, a major on-line survey, The Constellation Index, probed faculty and staff on issues of importance, strengths, weaknesses, and areas in which change was needed. Next, Higher Learning Commission (HLC) staff received the survey results directly, prepared analyses, and visited the college to deliver their findings. After campus reactions were collected, HLC staff then conducted a general assembly of all full-time and many part-time employees. This third event, the All College Discussion occurred on May 8, 2002 and resulted in extensive documentation of issues along with over 60 “provocative propositions” for improvement. All of these findings were published and widely distributed to faculty and staff. The final step was a series of faculty-staff discussion groups held at all three campuses in summer and fall of 2002 to further interpret and consolidate the May 8 results.
Vital Focus produced four high-priority needs that formed the basis for the AQIP Action Projects. The four draft action plans were presented to the College community for discussion during summer and fall of 2002, were reviewed with the Board of Trustees, and a final set of plans was submitted to the HLC.