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Thus, the college has not only developed values, but has put them into practice using the preceding methods.
What are the greatest challenges facing the institution?
As previously mentioned, the challenges facing the institution are similar to those facing other institutions, including client services, problem technology, professionalism, and environmental vulnerability (Baldridge et al., 2000, p.128-130). In the area of client services, Readers State College has difficulty meeting the needs of all clients, whose diverse demands are often too great for the college to handle. While "the clients demand and often obtain significant input into the institutional decision-making processes" (Baldridge et al., 2000, p.129), that input is not necessary the same for all clients, as the college has not yet found a good balance regarding how to handle the demands from all clients. In the area of problem technology, the college's problems are much the same, as clients demanding different actions and resources make it difficult for the college to know how they can handle them (Baldridge et al., 2000, p.129). Regarding professionalism, the organization has responded well by hiring professionals to perform use their "broad repertoire of skills to deal with the complex and often unpredictable problems of clients" (Baldridge et al., 2000, p.129). Still, environmental characteristics make this rather difficult. The main environmental issue with which the college is dealing is financial. The financial outlook for the College remains cautious. There are a number of challenges facing the institution, including real estate tax cap legislation and continued decline in the level of state funding. The College is meeting these challenges through continuous improvement projects to meet their strategic plan, differing market programs, through expansion of 'distance education' course offering, and through the exploration of partnership opportunities. A final challenge facing the college is the attempt to govern in a collegial style. Attempting to maintain the "community of scholars" atmosphere, the college attempts to solicited "full participation of the academic community," including faculty, students, and administrators (Baldridge, 2000, p.134). With this attempt comes several complications, such as the rapid growth or Readers State College, which is beginning to make it difficult for the campus to come together as a whole in decision-making (Birnbaum, DATE, p. 93). Thus, the problems facing this college can be defined as those associated with the college as organization and governing structure.
How are these challenges being addressed?
The College is taking a proactive approach in order to deal with the challenges that it faces. This can clearly be seen in the definition of its values to include preemptive strikes against the challenges that most colleges face. Acknowledging that many of its problems come from the challenges that academic organizations typically face, as well as its problems with its governance system, several goals have been aligned to help address the challenges. These objectives include: increasing the College's external funding through educating the community and public about the goals of the college, continuing to uphold the college's values in order to address common college values, and instituting subgroups to increase collegial decision-making (Birnbaum, DATE, p.93). In the first area, the college will push to increase contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations, and community organizations. This will be done by implementing a consistent and continuous solicitation process with a focus on annual giving programs targeted at alumni, community members and corporations. Developing a plan for faculty and staff growth that aligns the College with its peers and with the requirements of external accrediting agencies, the goal here is to commit adequate resources to faculty and staff development in order to increase the area of learning resources, course delivery, customer service, technologies, and advisement staff. Supporting growth by enhancing recruitment, access, and retention efforts across the College can be done by developing new marketing and recruitment plans. For instance increased high school visits, college fairs, transfer fairs, open house, and graduate recruitment events can be hosted. Having and maintaining students is a vital element to being successful, as well as improving access to funding sources for students. This will be accomplished by increasing need-based financial aid to comply with the State Financial Aid Task Force policies. By expanding scholarship funds through private sources to increase funds that are available for academic, departmental, and athletic scholarships, an increase in funds set aside for gifted, talented, and honor program students will occur, along with expanded financial aid in the areas of need-based and merit-based funds to assist with students being able to continue their education at the college. Enhancing retention rates at the college will be best accomplished by developing and implementing an Academic Advisement Center that would provide a central place for students to receive additional information about their educational program and career choices; there would also be training opportunities provided for best practices in retention practices for faculty and staff.
In the second area, increasing a new type of communication within the college is necessary. Professionals will be brought in to assess the situation, while determining how subgroups can be formed that will best allow the collegial atmosphere and method of governance to remain while improving communication. Professionals will pay visits to each academic meeting in addition to observing key decision-making processes. The professionals will be given the following tasks: to develop a method of communication consistent with the college's growth and pattern of growth, to remain true to the fundamentals of collegial governance, and to devise adequate subgroups that can function as communication hubs within the college.
Thus, the problems within the college have been adequately prepared for by the college, and are in…[continue]
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