COMMUNICATING QUALITY ACTION PROJECT
A. Project title
The goal of this project is to enhance effective communication of Western's quality initiatives to stakeholders, such as community leaders, parents, counselors/teachers, prospective students, alumni, faculty/staff and students. Communicating quality will focus on sharing the achievements of Western's faculty/staff, alumni, students and programs, especially in the areas of student engagement and applied learning. Western will communicate its quality message through a variety of ways including public relations, special events, advertising, and publications. By telling Western's story, focusing on quality, Western can better attract targeted student cohorts, build stronger connections with alumni, and build pride of the greater community.
C. AQIP criteria and principles of high-performing organizations
Primary AQIP criteria
Secondary AQIP criteria
- Accomplishing other distinctive
- Understanding students’ and other stakeholders’ needs
- Supporting institutional operations
- Building collaborative relationships
AQIP principles of high-performing organizations
D. Rationale for addressing this primary concern, the origin of the project, and why this primary concern and the goals of this project should be emphasized now
- A mission and vision that focus on serving students and other stakeholders
- Collaboration and a shared institutional focus
- Agility, flexibility, and responsiveness to changing needs and conditions
- Planning for innovation and improvement
This project is derived from Western’s five-year strategic plan. Through this strategic vision, it has identified a focus on quality outcomes, applied learning, and student engagement as differentiators that set Western apart from others. Communicating all of these quality initiatives in an effective manner is critical to Western's future. As the college moves forward with our strategic vision, it is essential to communicate this message to stakeholders so they can support and understand our mission. For example, communicating about the quality of Western's student engagement initiatives will help attract the targeted student cohorts and retain both students and faculty.
E. List of organization areas (or institutional departments and divisions) most affected
Institutional Advancement; Admissions; Western Institute; Academic and Student Affairs; Executive Administration; and Governing Boards
F. List and describe the critical processes most affected
Public Relations and Marketing; Recruitment; Partnership Creation; Alumni Relations; Donor Relations; Scanning and Assessing the External Environment; Scanning and Assessing the Internal Environment; Evaluation; and Governing Board Relations
G. List the process measures that you plan to track as you work on this action project
For the process measures, the committee plans to track information to determine the effectiveness of communication strategies as well as campus involvement with them. Specific examples of process measures that will be used include: tracking media relations placements and stories attempted; tracking event attendance/impact; tracking advertising budget/placements; audit of internal publications including tracking frequency of quality messages in publications, communications, etc.; and measuring involvement by faculty/staff students, alumni in the project.
H. List the outcome measure that you plan to track as you work on this action project
To determine the effectiveness of communication, the college plans to track internal, quantitative and qualitative measures. Internal measures include tracking all types of recruitment inquiries from the primary service area, and alumni involvement and giving rates. The college is in the process of completing baseline quantitative studies regarding student, faculty/staff, prospective student, and community perceptions of Western's quality initiatives. This information is also supported by qualitative studies such as interviews and focus groups of students, alumni and community members. These quantitative studies will be completed again in year three to measure the effectiveness of the communication to targeted stakeholders. The qualitative studies will be completed in year two and three to determine effectiveness.
I. Describe your annual stretch targets
Year One: Complete remaining baseline surveys with prospective students and community members. Determine baseline alumni giving and recruiting numbers. Create specific levels of increase for year three stretch goals. Finalize the mix of tactics to communicate Western's commitment to quality. Use broad-based support of the campus community to communicate Western's quality initiatives. Identify key faculty, staff, alumni, and students to communicate the impact of this focus on quality.
Year Two: Expand communication, including focused quality messages in existing publications and communications. Review process measures and adjust communication strategy. Complete all qualitative focus groups to review changes in opinions based on communication. The goal is to see an incremental increase in identifying quality themes associated with Western and recognition of communication activities.
Year 3: Expand and adjust communication tactics to share Western's focus on quality. Review recruitment inquiries and alumni giving rates to see a sense of increase. Measure sense of involvement of alumni through qualitative focus groups. Meet stretch goals in increasing alumni giving and recruitment inquiries. Complete quantitative studies, comparing the results to baseline studies. Look for increased recognition of Western's quality-focused messages and perceptions about Western.
J. Briefly describe how you will keep the institution’s energies focused on this project and its goals
The institution has identified the need to communicate Western's strategic focus. To work to achieve this goal the campus has identified an Image and Advancement Implementation Team as well as a Public Relations and Marketing Committee. These groups represent faculty, staff and student involvement across campus. Over the past year a consultant worked with the campus community to identify ways to communicate Western's message of quality. This process was embraced by campus and recognized as a need. This project will build on that momentum. As we are using alumni, faculty, staff and students to share the impact of Western's quality initiatives, it will create an ongoing sense of interest and excitement. In addition, the PR and Marketing Committee will continue to involve the campus in this initiative and create a sense of collaboration and excitement.