Category 5 – Leading and Communicating
 
5C1 Leadership and Communication System
 
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:

  • Instruction includes faculty divisions, faculty committees and the Faculty Association, all
    of whom are in constant communication both with each other and with the Dean via
    meetings, e-mail, memos, etc. The same applies to the Career/Technical group and
    leaders.
  • Student Development includes, below the Dean level, managers, directors or supervisors
    of Admissions and Registration, Financial Aid, Counseling and Advisement, student
    activities, Library and Athletics.
  • Finance and Administration, below the Dean level, includes managers or supervisors
    of the Bookstore/Mail/Imaging Services, facilities and grounds, financial services, food
    services, human resources, information technology and purchasing.
  • Finally, ECC possesses the usual network of informal, grassroots leaders, as exemplified by
    committee chairs, club advisors, etc.

Communication between these individuals and entities is both hierarchical and collegial in
that orders and information travel up and down the chain of command, and laterally through
committee and interpersonal contact.

5C2 Aligning Leadership Practices

 
The Board of Trustees, according to Missouri state law, “…is the sole statutory legislative
governing body responsible for the control and operation of East Central College.” The Board
is comprised of six members, elected for six-year terms by the voters of the College’s district. The
Board’s statutory powers are broad and include:

  • Approving the appointment, retention and dismissal of employees of the College, defining
    and assigning their powers and duties, and fixing their compensation
  • Levying such taxes as are required for the operation of the College
  • Establishing student fees
  • Providing instructional programs, services, and facilities
  • Approving all contracts and expenditures over $15,000
  • Formulating and overseeing disciplinary policy regarding students
  • Complying with all federal, state and local mandates

The Board of Trustees selects and employs a President who serves as the institution’s chief
executive officer. The President has the authority to organize the administrative structure of the
College, subject to the Board’s approval. The Board of Trustees meets on a monthly basis.

The College has a written set of policies and procedures that serves as basic guidelines for
students, staff, administrators and faculty. These policies and procedures outlined in the Board
Policy Manual, spell out the duties, responsibilities, privileges, rights, etc., for all groups at the
institution, from Board to students. By following these written guidelines, leadership at all levels
will be automatically aligned with “the practices and views of the board and senior leaders,”
especially since the process of revising and amending these guidelines is a cooperative effort
between faculty and administration (see 5C1 above -- committees, faculty representation, etc.).
In effect, the practices of our leadership system are as much bottom-up as top-down. Given that
ECC’s Board is more representative of the community than of academia, this is doubly fortunate.

Second, leadership at all levels is involved in formal communication with the Board and senior
leadership, via Board meetings, various committees, etc. Reference to 5C1 will show that ECC is
a virtual web of interwoven and interlocking structures that ensures information flows not only from the top to the bottom, but also the reverse--and, laterally as well. ECC’s formal communication
structures have evolved over the life of the institution from the traditional authoritarian, hierarchical
model (especially endemic to immature institutions), toward the more collaborative, collegial
model which earmarks the maturing college.

Third, ECC’s relatively small size and resultant flexibility encourage informal communication.
Open door policies among the senior leadership, social interaction at all levels from Board to
custodial staff, technical modes of communication like ECC Announce, all contribute to an
informal network that keeps everyone on the same page with their leaders.

5C3 Institutional Values and Expectations
 
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
social responsibility.

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.

 

5P1 Leadership and Direction
 
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
examples.

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 Department
of Higher Education.


5P2 Seeking Opportunities That Sustain the Learning Environment
 
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
center.

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
project.


5P3 Team Decisions

As 5C1 indicates, ECC’s decision-making processes involve a mix of the hierarchical and
collegial.

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:

  • Teams - the AQIP teams charged with responding to these portfolio categories and action
    projects are among the latest examples.
  • Task forces - our recent successful building levy campaign is the classic example. It
    combined members from literally every stakeholder in the institution, was led and
    coordinated by senior ECC leaders, and ultimately involved almost every staff and faculty
    member.
  • Groups - many examples of this sort of ad hoc, informal device come to mind, but perhaps
    the best examples are the salary-negotiating groups that come together each year, with
    members from the staff, faculty and administration, to arrive cooperatively at the new
    salary levels for the next fiscal year.
  • Committees - the faculty has standing committees in several areas, charged with making
    recommendations to leaders of the College. Ad hoc committees also abound - hiring
    committees, for instance, whose recommendations have the force of actual decision.

5P4 Information and Results Usage
 
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.


Committee/Group
Results Used in Decision Making
Board of Trustees
Enrollment reports
Local budget information
Staffing levels
Reports from employee governance groups, CFO, the President
Deans Meetings
Enrollment data
State and local budget data
Reports from deans targeting specific areas
Updates from state and other regulatory bodies
Instructional Staff
Enrollment and retention information
Developmental student data
Learning Center usage reports
Web course development and effectiveness data
Faculty evaluations and development efforts
Assessment dataSchedule development reports
Faculty evaluations, full time and adjunct
Administrative Staff
Budget updates
Facilities reports
IT data and information
Human Resources reports
Student Services Staff Meetings
Financial aid information and updates
Advisement visits and other data pertinent to student enrollment
Registration and admissions data
Library updates
Student AIM referrals and other retention data
AQIP Leadership Group
Action plan updates
Review of Portfolio information
Planning reports and updates
AQIP Action Plan Committees
Date and surveys related to action projects
Updates on action plan status
Quality Services Group
Trend data from local, regional and national reports
Survey information
Reports from various units
Specific data as requested
Instructional Technology Committee
Usage Reports
Training Information and Programs
Facilities data and updates
Budget reports
Foundation Seminar Committee
Retention data
Student survey results
Course evaluation results

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
data analysis.


5P5 Communication Networks
 
5C1 and 5P3 address this question rather thoroughly, as communication occurs between
leadership and communication systems, with department meetings and e-mail, etc.


5P6 Communicating Shared Values and Expectations

ECC’s leaders lead by example, allowing all employees to feel a shared mission, vision and
values, as well as high performance expectations.

These qualities, factors and expectations are officially communicated by both the written policies
of the institution, and by the various assessments of both individual and collective performance,
including but not limited to the following:

  • Performance reviews, both formal and informal, written and unwritten
  • Student, faculty and administrative evaluations
  • Oral and written contractual and policy obligations
  • Various assessment instruments at every level and corner of the institution including student
    awards banquets, induction to honor societies, and commencement

ECC is discovering how to effectively integrate AQIP principles into its operations.

5P7 Growing Leadership
 
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.

 
5P8 Succession Planning
 
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
governed.


5P9 Measures and Results for Leading and Communicating
 
Effective leadership and communication at ECC has developed partly due a variety of measures collected annually.   

  • Annual Performance Reviews – (addressed in 4P6) The President of the College is
    evaluated annually by the Board of Trustees. Their immediate supervisor evaluates each
    administrator, professional staff, and support staff annually. Each review addresses the
    employee’s communication, creativity, and leadership skills. The review also lists each
    employee’s major contributions, future goals, and addresses areas of improvement.
  • Classification and Compensation Study – (addressed in 4C2) In 2007 ECC conducted
    a classification and compensation study. The study evaluated each professional staff
    and support staff position at the College. The study reviewed and updated current job
    descriptions, developed a new classification system, and compared salary and benefits to
    similar positions in the area. The study allowed employees to update their job description
    and identify their primary responsibilities at the institution. Supervisors were also given the
    opportunity to give input on their employee’s position and responsibilities.
  • Student Satisfaction Studies – Each semester, graduating students are asked to assess
    satisfaction with their experience, quality of education, faculty, facilities and services at
    ECC through an internally developed survey instrument. Other regular satisfaction studies
    include course/instructor evaluations and the Career and Technical Graduate Follow-up
    study for all career and technical graduates. Periodically, students are asked to rate their
    satisfaction with student support service areas. Each of these survey instruments contain
    items pertaining to the institution’s ability to lead and communicate. Information gathered
    from these surveys is compiled, evaluated and used to identify areas of improvement.
  • Community Opinion Survey – In 2006, ECC conducted a community opinion survey in
    response to the possibility of asking voters to approve a no-tax-increase bond issue for the
    construction of a new health and science facility. The College had conducted similar
    surveys in 1992 and 1999. The survey asked the public their opinion on a variety of topics,
    in order to determine the nature of public support for the bond issue. It also addressed
    other issues associated with enrollment, programs and services offered tuition, and overall
    satisfaction with the College. Due to two prior failed tax levy issues, the results from the
    survey were crucial in the institution’s decision to move forward with the bond issue.
5R1 Results for Leading and Communicating Processes and Systems
 
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:

  • 97% of residents perceived the College as “very important” or “important” to the area
  • 94% stated they would approve a bond issue if there was no new tax increase

Based on these, and other results, and a thorough analysis of the potential for a new building,
under the leadership of the Board of Trustees, the College moved forward with the bond issue. The
issue passed and the new building is scheduled to open in spring 2009.

Other results for processes related to leading and communicating:

  • Improved employee classification and compensation (results detailed in 4R1 and 4R2)
  • Results from surveys have led to continuous improvement efforts at the College, specifically
    the creation and direction of some Action Projects

5R2 Comparing Results

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.


5I1 Improving Current Processes and Systems for Leading and Communicating
 
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
student services.

 
5I2 Improvement Targets
 
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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