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2. Core requirements

Core Requirement:

2.5 The institution engages in ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning and evaluation processes that (1) incorporate a systematic review of institutional mission, goals, and outcomes; (2) result in continuing improvement in institutional quality; and (3) demonstrate the institution is effectively accomplishing its mission. (Institutional Effectiveness)

Statement of Compliance:   In Compliance.

Narrative:

University of West Georgia Mission Statement: “The University of West Georgia seeks to achieve preeminence in providing educational excellence in a personal environment through an intellectually stimulating and supportive community for its students, faculty, and staff.” In addition to this mission statement, the Institution outlines the purpose, essential activities, and values [1].

The University of West Georgia engages in a process of ongoing review of all university activities. For rigor and relevance, these ongoing reviews use a wide range of systematic, integrated, and research-based instruments and techniques that result in the continuous improvement of institutional quality and effectiveness. At the institutional level, primary responsibility for collection and reporting of data on university-wide endeavors is held by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning (IRP). The importance of these functions was recognized at the University of West Georgia with the formal establishment of the Office of Institutional Research and Planning in 1967.  Accordingly, the Office of Institutional Research and Planning “has, as its primary mission, the collection of data (from both internal and external sources), and the timely analysis, distribution, and presentation of this information for use in planning, decision-making, and policy formulation at the University” [2].  

The Office of Institutional Research and Planning routinely collects and monitors data on institutional activities and goals. These data are disseminated in a variety of forms with many reports available in real time through the Office of Institutional Research and Planning website. (E.g. Annual Reports of Institutional Progress, 1995-2011 [3], IRP Fact Books, 1991 to present [4], IRP Fact Book, 2012-2013 [5].

A key element in the Institution’s efforts to assess progress toward established goals and to support ongoing improvement is the Annual Report of Institutional Progress, prepared by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning. The most recent report  - University of West Georgia 2010-2011 Annual Report of Institutional Progress - indicates the "notable accomplishments" of both the academic and administrative support units of the University of West Georgia, contains the Progress Report on the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan [6], and reports on student progress as reflected in Retention, Progression, and Graduation. The structure of the report speaks to the progress made toward the strategic planning goals and offers empirical evidence in support thereof. For example, the report documents progress toward Guiding Principle I as reflected in faculty productivity:

The reports for principles 3.3.1.2 and 3.3.1.3 provide details on the assessment of academic, administrative, and student support services.  The report for principle 3.5.1 identifies and discusses college-level general education competencies and to which extent UWG students have attained them.   

The Office of Institutional Research and Planning  also collects and reports data on institutional progress in the UWG Fact Book on an annual basis. The Fact Book is a summary of reports that illustrates institutional data for a fiscal year. It  provides the history of the university, mission and vision statements, strategic plan, guiding principles, accreditations and evaluations, student programs and services, etc. [5]. These data are supplemented with projects or studies to assess institutional climate, student progress, or other measures of institutional performance from various perspectives. The results are used for continuous improvement of programs and services. Examples of these projects are described in the Institutional Research and Planning Fact Book (p. 112, [5]). 

In addition to the broad activities of the Office of Institutional Research and Planning,  the University of West Georgia has also established systems that collect data through regular Comprehensive Program Reviews [8] and the Assessment of Programs (which addresses Student Learning Outcomes).

Comprehensive Program Review (CPR) is the key, long-term review of the quality, productivity, and viability of academic programs at the University of West Georgia. CPR serves as the catalyst for systematic and thoughtful evaluation of academic programs (as opposed to the more specific assessment of student outcomes). CPR evaluates the long-term history and sets the long-term plans for each academic program. This review focuses on three characteristics of an academic program: quality, viability, and productivity. Each academic program is reviewed at least once every seven years. Programs that do not measure well against the review characteristics (as determined by the Program Faculty, Department Chair, Dean, Senate, Provost, or President) are subject to review at least every 3 years.  All programs are included in the review cycle including certificates, minors in areas where there is no major, and coherent, identifiable areas of focus such as the core curriculum (link to Comprehensive Program Reviews below).The more specific but related purpose of the Assessment of Programs (Student Learning Outcomes) is to improve student learning, and to maintain compliance with SACS Accreditation Standards and Board of Regents Policy. Student learning outcomes in each academic program is assessed regularly, normally once per year in the SACS Assessment System.

It should be noted that the same principles and requirements apply to all programs whether they are offered on-site or off-site and whether the delivery method is face-to-face or online (e.g. see (paragraph 3) of the Criminology Program example in the narrative for Core Requirement 2.7.1).  Therefore, the learning outcomes for online and off-campus courses and programs are the same as the ones for face-to-face programs, and the easements of these learning outcomes are entered in the SACS Assessment System as well. More information regarding student learning outcomes assessment is provided in the report for principle 3.3.1.1. Additionally, student achievement is discussed in the report for principle 4.1. 

In addition to and drawing from these ongoing efforts, the University of West Georgia regularly reviews progress and revises its mission and strategic plan as appropriate. The current Strategic Plan was written for the period 2010 to 2015. As part of the annual reporting process, each year, departments list the accomplishments within their area relative to the strategic plan.  Using the results of the multiple measures of institutional and programmatic progress, and to comply with evolving priorities of the University System of Georgia, the Institution also revises the Strategic Plan to reflect new areas of need or to better meet existing needs.  The Minutes of the April 20, 2012 Faculty Senate meeting provide evidence of such adaptation [9].  Unanimously approved at this meeting were modifications to Strategic Goals 2, 3, 7, and 8 to “update strategic goals and bring them in line with direction and operations of the institution.”

A new Strategic Planning Committee [10] was formed during the 2011-2012 academic year.  One of the committee’s assignments is to systematically revise the mission and vision of the institution and its strategy to accomplish them. It is anticipated that the new plan will be adopted and implemented in late 2014 with an intended sunset of 2020.    

The University System of Georgia adopted a new classification for institutions in August 2013. The University of West Georgia is now a Comprehensive University. Alignment with this new classification will begin in the Fall of 2013 [11]. Early drafts of updated mission and vision statements have been adopted by the Faculty Senate. Final versions and an accompanying strategic plan are in process with an anticipated implementation date of January 2014. These statements will also be impacted by the Board of Regents recent decision to classify UWG as a Comprehensive University within its organizational schema.

Supporting Documentation: