Category 5 – Leading and Communicating
ECC’s major leadership groups are the ones traditional to a community college: a Board of
Trustees, a President, two Executive Deans (CAO, CFO), two Deans (Student Development, Career
and Technical), and the faculty.
Within those groups, there are sub-groups and leaders:
Communication between these individuals and entities is both hierarchical and collegial in
The Board of Trustees selects and employs a President who serves as the institution’s chief
Second, leadership at all levels is involved in formal communication with the Board and senior
As with all community-based institutions, particularly community colleges, by definition ECC
would have strong ties to the community, especially amid the upper leadership echelon.
The Board of Trustees is elected from the community and therefore reflects the values and
expectations of that community. Board policy requires that individual Board members “…avoid
situations where their decisions or actions in their capacity as Board members conflict with the
mission of the College.” All College personnel are prohibited from soliciting or accepting gifts that
might influence professional judgment. Because the senior administrators have a close working
relationship with that Board, they too tend to reflect that community’s notion of ethics, equity and
However, since ECC’s senior administrators are also experienced academicians, familiar with
the long tradition of the academy, they encourage free discussion of such notions as ethics and
equity, and likewise encourage the fostering of social responsibility in teachers and students alike.
This naturally results in something of an ongoing tension, both at the individual and the collective
level, between the values of the community and the values associated with college life. Such
a tension between value systems is typical and even healthy in a community college, especially
one situated in a conservative and predominantly rural area. This phenomenon has, of course,
been manifested many times (most recently, to give just one instance, in a controversy over a
student production of The Vagina Monologues). Which means, in essence, that the leaders of East
Central have to perform something of a balancing act when it comes to balancing community
values with college expectations.
These tensions between value systems give the College a chance to enhance its educational
mission by teaching the community what a college is all about: faculty and staff adhering to the
highest standards of professionalism and competence and providing students with the College
experience they are paying for and expect.
The Board Policy Manual includes a strong statement in support of academic freedom. The
Manual also highlights the College’s support for faculty and staff development through generous
tuition reimbursement and sabbatical leave policies. Board policies and associated administration
procedures also protect students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors from racial discrimination,
gender discrimination, sexual harassment and discrimination based on disability.
Since East Central’s leaders are devoted to the needs and expectations of both students and
stakeholders, and since they demand a strong focus on students and learning they have embraced
a paradigm designed to encourage performance, development, initiative and innovation. This
paradigm encourages all cohorts of the institution, from custodians to Deans to faculty, to be
open to change, to go the extra mile for the students, to open lines of communication in an
omni-directional manner; to share ideas and value the exchange of information so as to foster
individual and collective growth. East Central College strives to embrace a dynamic, interactive
paradigm for both individual growth and organizational learning.
ECC’s embrace of AQIP is one concrete example of these directions. At other more mundane
levels, the institution’s support for faculty development, its encouragement of global education,
and its use of Title III funds to foster student retention and faculty/staff development are additional
Overall, its mission, vision and values guide ECC (see Overview). The College is aligned by
its policies and practices that have been adopted by the Board of Trustees and the Missouri
ECC’s leaders do their best to stay abreast of trends (distance learning, for instance) and
extrapolate from the present in an attempt to keep the institution in the vanguard by exploring
best practices and adopting promising educational innovations.
ECC’s embrace of distance learning is an excellent example of seeing a future opportunity, and
investing in it. Likewise, our Learning Center is another concrete example of a visionary approach,
backed up over the past few years with significant resources in order to evolve a cutting-edge
In developing plans for the new, soon to be completed, Health and Science building, campus
leaders visited many other institutions and attended seminars and workshops related to the
As 5C1 indicates, ECC’s decision-making processes involve a mix of the hierarchical and
The senior administrators and the Board of Trustees must ultimately make strategic and policy
decisions. Then they have to be followed by the rest of the institution. Likewise, tactical and
procedural issues have to be decided, ultimately, by the Deans, Division Chairs and various
supervisors in charge of other entities, with extensive study and input by all the interested parties.
Therefore, ECC uses all of the above-referenced entities in most decision-making processes:
ECC is rapidly becoming a data-driven decision-making institution. The Office of Institutional
Research, Assessment and Planning is primarily responsible for data collection and dissemination.
The President and Deans rely heavily on information derived from weekly enrollment reports, student
satisfaction surveys, course and instructor evaluations, retention studies (through Title III), AQIP
Project results, and a variety of external data sources. Specifically, Academic Affairs uses course
enrollment data to help make decisions regarding staff or program reductions or enhancements.
Figure 5.1 identifies the key pieces of information, results and data used by various committees
and leadership groups in decision making.
Data about a vast array of matters are published in the ECC Factbook, which is currently
distributed electronically on the ECC website. Data is used to analyze trends and target areas for
improvement. The ECC Factbook can be found at www.eastcentral.edu/ir.
In the future, the revised Strategic Plan will evaluate each goal annually using both quantitative
and qualitative data. A progress report will be distributed to administrative leaders to help guide
their decision-making process.
East Central College’s participation in the National Community College Benchmark Project
(NCCBP) will assist the institution in setting realistic goals and provide additional perspective to
5C1 and 5P3 address this question rather thoroughly, as communication occurs between
leadership and communication systems, with department meetings and e-mail, etc.
ECC’s leaders lead by example, allowing all employees to feel a shared mission, vision and
ECC is discovering how to effectively integrate AQIP principles into its operations.
Leadership in all of its manifestations is encouraged at ECC in multiple ways, both formally and
informally, collectively and individually. At the Board level, members are encouraged to attend
conferences and seminars at the state and national level in order to make them leaders who are
more effective. Deans and senior administrators are likewise encouraged to travel and attend
such conferences, in addition to joining professional organizations and furthering their education.
Faculty and staff are similarly encouraged to develop leadership skills—for instance, faculty
development is heavily encouraged, both by the committee structure, and by the availability of
funds for travel and professional development.
Perhaps more importantly than policy and structure, leadership practices and skills are also
communicated on a daily basis by direct observation and interaction between leaders and the
led, and leaders with each other. Various suggestion box and open door policies encourage
bottom to top and lateral communication to improve leadership abilities at all levels. The University
of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) Leadership Institute—supported by ECC administration and attended
by many staff and faculty—is one prominent example of such a structure.
ECC does not have a stated succession policy, at least not a policy that could react quickly to
a sudden change in leadership. We follow the traditional model for succession: Board members
get themselves elected, presidents are chosen by Board vote from candidates recommended by
an ad hoc committee representing the stakeholders in the College, and senior administrators are
picked and replaced at the pleasure of the President, with the advice and informal consent of the
Effective leadership and communication at ECC has developed partly due a variety of measures collected annually.
Under ECC’s current Board and administration, results for leading and communicating range
from good to excellent. Leadership effectiveness has been much improved by these factors: a
Board that now includes not just community members, but also an ex-faculty member and an ex-
student, an experienced President with a truly collegial and people-oriented style of management
and an experienced leadership team that includes both ex-students and ex-faculty willing to listen
and learn, and bringing their unique perspectives to leadership positions.
Residents from the College district communicated their overwhelming appreciation of the
College and their probable support of a bond issue to help fund the construction of a new health
and science facility. Results from the Community Opinion Survey indicated:
Based on these, and other results, and a thorough analysis of the potential for a new building,
The classification and compensation study included a comparison of salary and benefits of
other institutions, businesses and industries in the area. Results from the study allowed the College
to significantly reward and retain current faculty and staff and enabled the institution to be
competitive in recruiting new faculty and staff.
In order to guide the institution’s efforts in leading and communicating, the College joined
the NCCBP (5P4). Results from this study were compiled, along with comparative data obtained
from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and the East Central College
Comparison Study was created. While the document is fairly new to the College, it will become a
valuable tool in assisting the institution in setting realistic goals and improved data analysis.
ECC improves its current processes and systems for leading and communicating through
the normal evaluation instruments: student, faculty, administrative and Board. Projects such as
AIM, a Title III retention initiative, have improved communication between faculty, students and
Learning Center staff. AQIP Projects have also helped improve communication and leadership.
For example, a new Action Project devoted to improving student services has led to the creation
of a Quality Services Group, which meets regularly to improve communication and processes in
At the top of the list for both setting targets and priorities, and for communicating same to the
students, faculty, staff, etc., would have to be AQIP itself. In fact, 5I2 is the primary reason we got
involved with AQIP in the first place, and it remains our primary instrument for improvement.
The usual informal and formal instruments for targeting and prioritizing improvements and
results are in place and utilized in an on-going fashion, such as committees and task forces, and
solicitation of student and stakeholder input in a constant feedback loop.
All the usual institutional and individual impedimenta are available to create the sort of dynamic,
interactive paradigm of leadership and communication mentioned above, which will ensure the
continuous improvement of the institution.
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