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ISU’s Year 7 Self-Study Report-Understanding Mission Fulfillment

May 24, 2021

Over the past two years, data has been crunched, staff and faculty interviewed, reports written, and numerous buzz words thrown around.  All of these references revolve around demonstrating ISU’s level of institutional effectiveness.  This article provides readers an understanding of institutional effectiveness and how ISU is demonstrating its ability to meet that particular standard.

In 2020, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) received approval to update its standards and the self-evaluation process.   One of those changes requires higher education institutions to demonstrate institutional effectiveness by completing a self-study focusing on standard 1: Student Success and Institutional Mission and Effectiveness.

There are three parts to standard 1: Demonstrating institutional effectiveness, student achievement, and student learning.  Institutional effectiveness focuses on the University’s ability to accomplish the essential elements of its mission, also known as mission fulfillment. 

One of the critical factors of institutional effectiveness is measuring mission fulfillment.  Mission fulfillment centers on evaluating essential elements of the University’s mission statement using core theme indicators.  To achieve success, the University must:

  1. clearly define and focus its mission statement and core themes; 
  2. create indicators that are both measurable and meaningful;
  3. set goals that require the University to push itself while ensuring they are achievable; and
  4. use the data to establish plans to improve the University’s overall effectiveness.

In its Year 7 self-study, ISU has evaluated its efforts in all four requirements.  The Institution explains how it measures mission fulfillment, discusses the past and present forms of governance and the processes used to establish indicators and goals, and how leadership aligns planning efforts using the data collected and analyzed. The representation on the Core Theme Subcommittees and display of the mission fulfillment website demonstrates how ISU supports inclusive and transparent planning and decision making.

Additionally, to write the self-study, the accreditation team has collected evidence from throughout the University to demonstrate that systematic processes are being implemented and that the University assesses outcomes and closes the loop by modifying processes.  Whether it is measuring mission fulfillment or implementing project charters, it’s essential that the processes used be both inclusive and transparent to those they affect.  A great example is ISU’s new budget process.

Glen Nelson, Vice President for Finance and Business Affairs, gave specific instructions regarding the new budget process.

ISU Budget Philosophy 

  • University budgets are developed through a transparent, collaborative, iterative, and mission-driven process.
  • Resources are prioritized to support and enhance student success, including recruitment and access, retention, persistence, transfer ease, and timely degree completion.
  • The quality of academic programs, both at the graduate and undergraduate levels, is the highest priority.
  • Idaho State will maintain or enhance excellence in research, scholarship, and creative activity, which contributes to the state’s economy and enriches society. 
  • The University will preserve its statewide presence, reaching communities across Idaho through educational and cultural opportunities and clinical services.

Additionally, anyone can go to the ISU Budget webpage and view the process, guidelines, background information needed for decision making, timeline, and the final products submitted by each college and division.  Anyone wishing to provide feedback throughout the process may do so during multiple town halls or directly from a link on the website.   Compared to 2014, this process has dramatically improved.

ISU leadership has worked hard the last seven years to make positive changes that ensure processes are mature and the data being collected is used for decision-making.   These elements are critical to achieving institutional effectiveness. 

ISU will submit its self-study (August 4) and host its peer visit (October 6-8).  The faculty, staff, students and community members will have full access to read ISU’s self-study and there will be multiple opportunities to provide feedback during open sessions.  All of the information will be posted on the ISU website.