Contributing to a Learning-Centered University

Prioritization and Recovery Plan



As announced by President Ortiz at Fall Conference 2004, the campus is placing a high emphasis this year on transforming Cal Poly Pomona into a learning-centered university.  As defined, a learning-centered university places learning and creating an optimal learning environment at the center of every program, course, function, office, and activity on campus.  At the same time, particularly in light of recent budget reductions, the President also discussed the need to develop a prioritization and recovery plan for the campus. 

With these goals in mind, each of the divisions began an assessment of services, products and/or programs, defining learning-centered outcomes for all operations and services, establishing a ranking of this “core work” and developing a prioritization and recovery plan for the campus.

In the Administrative Affairs Division, the Vice President launched a two-pronged approach for accomplishing this task:

  1. A Management Consultant, Sally Clevenger, was engaged to conduct a follow-up to a division assessment conducted in 1994 and the resulting “right work” analysis undertaken in each of the division’s units ("Taking the Pulse").  In addition, Ms. Clevenger was asked to facilitate the division task force effort to meet its charge.
  1. A division task force was convened and charged with recommending criteria against which each department’s operations and services would be evaluated.  The task force was also charged with recommending a process and tools for collecting and evaluating this information resulting in the development of a division prioritization and recovery plan ("Voice to the University").

"Taking the Pulse" (Division Assessment)

After conducting an organizational assessment of the Administrative Affairs Division in 1994, Sally Clevenger returned in the summer of 1995 and worked with the division to help us improve the way we did business and improve the service to and relationships with our customers (both internal and external). The project was a long, intense and comprehensive "Right Work" analysis involving every employee in the division. It took several months of very hard work on everyone's part. Many changes were made and initiatives begun.

Ms. Clevenger was engaged again in late 2004 to conduct a sampling of our customers (internal and external) to see how we compare to the results of our work 10 years ago. Specifically, she was asked to see where our customers feel we have stayed the course and where we have slipped a bit and need to tighten up our efforts.

The Division has now begun work on implementing an Action Plan developed to respond to the recommendations contained in Ms. Clevenger's report. The primary focus of the Action Plan is the Administrative Affairs Division's contributions to a Learning-Centered University. (Click here for information on 2005 organizational structure changes).


Task Force on Prioritization and Recovery

Two individuals (one management and one staff position) from each AVP area were selected to serve on the task force.  In addition, Pam Shedd, from the Vice President’s Office, was appointed to the task force (click here for a list of task force members).

The task force was convened on August 25, 2004 and has been working since on the following:

  1. Reviewing instructive materials, relevant documents and on-line information on a learning-centered university.
  2. Creating definition of ‘core work’ and identify services, products and/or programs that meet the definition. 
  3. Reviewing with each AVP and their Directors for refinement.
  4. Developing criteria for evaluation of core work in terms of a learning-centered university and categories for prioritization.
  5. Developing process and tools for collecting and evaluating the core work.
  6. Reviewing criteria and process with the Vice President, AVPs and their Directors.
  7. Gathering information.
  8. Evaluating core work against criteria.
  9. Recommending division priorities for development of a recovery plan.

Review Instructive Materials, Relevant Documents and On-line Information on a Learning-Centered University

To assist task force members in meeting their charge, the following information was reviewed and discussed:

In addition to reviewing the above information, task force members, along with almost 50 of their division colleagues, attended a presentation on “Transforming Cal Poly Pomona into a Learning-Centered University” presented by Dr. Gil Brum.  Dr. Brum shared with the group his philosophy of what is a learning-centered university and discussed with the group ways in which the Administrative Affairs Division contributed to a learning-centered university.    

Note: Although the Task Force did not review the links to Central Missouri State University, Drake University, University of South Carolina and the University of Nebraska System referenced by the Academic Affairs Division Prioritization Recovery Planning Committee, once these links were published they were reviewed by staff in Administrative Affairs. We found that the work of the Task Force parallels the process used at these universities for the review of non-academic programs. In particular, the process used by the Division Task Force was closely aligned to the work done at Drake University.

Define and Identify Core Work

One of the first things the task force discussed was core work, which was defined as follows:

A core service, product and/or program is defined as the most significant work in a unit that brings value to and promotes Cal Poly Pomona as a Learning-Centered University. (Core work is not an activity or process)

Using this definition, task force members reviewed the core work identified during the 1996 ‘right work’ analysis.  The task force chose to start with this information as a foundation because the ‘right work’ analysis was such a significant undertaking for the division and involved most division employees in examining what work was being accomplished in their particular unit, why that work was of value to the campus, whether their unit was the best qualified area to do the work, and how well the unit’s customers were being served. 

After this review, task force members were asked to share this information with their respective AVPs and Directors.  Each unit was then asked to review and refine this information and confirm the core work for each area. 

As a result of this process, fifty-two services, products and/or programs were identified as core work for the division, work that directly supports a learning-centered university.

Develop Criteria

Once core work was defined and identified, the task force began its work on developing criteria against which this core work could be evaluated and a process and tools for collecting and evaluating this information.

The task force spent a number of meetings on the development of possible criteria.  Once a list of criteria was agreed upon, the task force established what information we would need from the areas in order to evaluate core work based on our criteria and whether the departments would be able to gather that information.  Finally, we used one of the areas represented in the group as a pilot to test what we had developed.  The process to evaluate our core work per the criteria was then implemented division-wide.

Click here to view a copy of the Task Force Ranking Sheet that shows the criteria and subsets that the task force used in assessing core work.

Develop Questionnaire for Gathering Information

After identifying core work and establishing criteria, the task force developed a questionnaire that would elicit the information needed to apply the criteria to the core work.  After developing a list of possible questions, once again the task force used a pilot area to determine (1) if the task force was asking the right questions to obtain the information needed to evaluate the core work; and (2) if the information needed to answer the questions was readily available to the units.  At this point, task force members shared this information with their respective AVP and Directors and requested their input.  After incorporating information from the feedback we obtained from these meetings, the questionnaire was finalized (click here to see a copy of the questionnaire).

This information was shared with the Vice President and a timeline was set for distributing, collecting and reviewing questionnaires.

Information Gathering

The two task force team members from each AVP area and Pam Shedd met with their respective AVP, Directors and Unit Managers to review:

  1. Purpose and process
  2. Core work of the units within the AVP area
  3. Definition of a learning-centered university
  4. The criteria against which analysis of core work would be accomplished
  5. The questionnaire to be used to gather information
  6. The approach to analysis
  7. The continuing role of the task force in evaluating completed questionnaires

During the months of November and December, task force members worked within their respective AVP areas by answering questions and assisting in the completion of questionnaires on core work.  The task force feels it is extremely important to convey to the vice president and the campus the number of people involved as well as the amount of time that went into this step of the process.  A questionnaire was completed for each core service.  Questionnaires were reviewed for clarity and completeness; however, areas were asked to refrain from consolidating and/or prioritizing questionnaires before submission to the task force.

Reviewing and Rating Core Work

Task Force members met on ten separate occasions during the months of January and February to analyze each unit’s answers to the questionnaires.  The task force reviewed the core work discussed in each questionnaire.  During the review, task force members from the unit were asked to clarify information on the questionnaires and, in some instances, unit representatives were asked to attend a task force meeting to provide clarification.  Each task force member then completed an assessment sheet rating the core service against each criterion on a scale of 1 to 4.

Each task force member individually rated the core work.  Ratings were collectively recorded and any significant discrepancy in individual ratings was discussed.  The task force found that, in most cases, wide variances in rankings were narrowed after further clarification and discussion of the core work.  In a few instances, it was necessary to call in the unit director and/or administrator with the most knowledge regarding the subject to make certain we were interpreting the information accurately.

After completing this analysis of the core work, task force members were asked to evaluate and place into one of four categories areas that were in need of an infusion of resources in order to improve the delivery of their core work.  This information will be used in later discussions as a part of the recovery process and development of a Division Recovery Plan.

In reviewing funding needs, task force members focused on the “outcomes” articulated in the questionnaire as well as the contribution to a learning-centered university.  The four categories used to identify funding needs were:

  1. Highest priority for funding
  2. Next priority for funding
  3. Retain at current funding
  4. Further analysis required*

*All items in category 4 include comments as to the additional information the task force felt it needed in order to categorize the funding request. 

After completing this work, the Task Force provided their report to the Division's Learning-Centered Task Force for discussions on Division Core Contributions to a Learning-Centered University. (Click here for a list of Administrative Affairs Division Core Contributions to a Learning-Centered University.)

Learning-Centered Initiative ("Voice to the University") - Work in Progress

Following-up on the work of the Division Task Force on Prioritization, a new task force was convened on July 19, 2005 to spearhead discussions on learning-centeredness within the division.  The Division's Learning-Centered Task Force is currently reviewing the Division’s core services and will be categorizing and consolidating the core services into “core contributions to a learning-centered university.”  As a part of this work, the task force will be working with individual departments to identify the “value added” of these services in supporting CPP as a Learning-Centered University and the development of an action plan for implementation of recommendations (click here for a list of task force members).

Several members of the Division's Learning-Centered Task Force participated in both the April 22 and April 29 Learning-Centered Retreats. In addition, 38 employees (over 10% of division employees) including task force members, attended the Fall Conference symposium, "Millennial, Gen-X, or Net Students: Enhancing Success for Today's Cal Poly Pomona Students." At this point, several opportunities became evident. After discussion, the division is immediately focusing on two learning-centered actions:

The division is already at work expanding our intern program into “Learning Labs” within the division.  The division is in a unique position to provide “real work experiences” to students right on campus.  We are building a more formal relationship with the Academic Affairs Division by creating opportunities for student interns to use the division as a “learning lab” where they can earn classroom credits for actively participating in the work of the division.

Another activity in process is the appointment of a Student Advisory Group that will work with the Division and have direct input into decision-making within Administrative Affairs.  

The timeline for expanding the student intern program and convening a Student Advisory Group is Fall 2006.

Five of the individuals on the Division Learning-Centered Task Force have been appointed to the University Learning-Centered Task Force.  Work in the Division on prioritizing our core contributions will be coordinated with the work of the University Task Force.

The outcome of the work of the Division Task Force on “Administrative Affairs in a Learning-Centered University” will inform the final element of our “Recovery Plan”.

Recovery Plan

Under development





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Date Updated: January 12, 2006
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