We are now deep in the “capacity” report process. There are five taskforces working our themes and special topics requested by WSCUC. The special topics are really part of the new process that is being piloted with nine institutions, but we were asked to include them in ours. The taskforces are:
- our themes—
- student achievement and strategic assessment,
- resources and financial stability,
- aspects of diversity; and
- special topics—
- writing outcomes,
- critical thinking outcomes, and
- the meaning and rigor of degrees.
In addition we are responding to the WSCUC standards in two different groups, 1 & 3, and 2 &4 together. That makes for a total of 8 groups working intensively to evaluate our “capacity” in these areas. Each group has research questions posed in our study proposal they must answer to evaluate the capacity we have formed in policies, personnel, structures and processes in each of these areas.
Sounds dull? Not so. We are developing a detailed understanding of what we have done, perhaps not done, need to do, where we are shining and where we have work to do. Each of the committees will write a 5-7 page report, which combined will refer to hundreds of documents and exhibits. These then will be finessed into a single report that we will submit to WSCUC of no more than 35 pages, plus all of the exhibits. It is a mammoth undertaking, but our faculty, staff and administration have taken it up with energy and creativeness—more than 50 of us are working on it daily. We are evaluating the work we have put our lives into over the last ten years. The investment is high. So will be the reward.
One very helpful tool has developed as we have done our work. To describe how we are conceptualizing what we are doing, we have developed the image of three buckets that we need to fill. Dr. Cory Seibel, who teaches ministry and urban ministry in the Biblical Seminary, created this graphic for us.
When each task force has gathered data (graduation rates, financial reports, all the numbers and other “hard” data), policies, procedures and processes (handbooks, documents, etc.) and institutional memory (interviews, reports, narratives, etc.), they begin the hard work of deep understanding, synthesis, evaluation and recommendation.
There is much more that could be said here—the importance of the task force on meaning and rigor of degrees, of the use of data and evidence upon which to make judgments and recommendation, of transparency, of the focus on outcomes, of gaining a deep and full understanding of what we have accomplished, and the importance of we together as the staff, faculty, administration, students, board, and alumni who make up Fresno Pacific University engaging in this work together. This collaborative work will continue when peers from other institutions join us in March to review with us our study, and complete a report on our progress of their own.