The community will have a “town hall opportunity” to view East Central College’s strategic plan before it is presented to the board of trustees.

An open house will be held at the college Wednesday, Aug. 14, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in Buescher Hall, Room 238.

“The highlights of the plan will be on display,” said President Dr. Jon Bauer.

College trustees will officially vote to adopt the strategic plan at its meeting Monday, Aug. 26.

“We may need to make adjustments,” said Dr. Michelle Smith, executive director of institutional effectiveness.

If strategic planning committee members receive some feedback they feel would be valuable to add or change, they will discuss that before presenting it to the trustees, said Bauer.

“We will take account of that before the final plan is presented to the board,” he said. “This is a valuable part of the process.”

Bauer noted the feedback and dialogue received from the community, faculty and staff thus far has been important.

And the public town hall meeting will be no different.

It’s been important for the committee to be responsive and receptive to the feedback they’re receiving from faculty, staff and community, Bauer said.

Part of the strategic plan is designed for the long haul, such as the mission and vision statements, but the action statements are the plans for the immediate year.

Bauer said officials will revisit these statements in the future, noting the plan is a “dynamic living document,” not just a checklist. 

Survey

In addition to the open house, the college recently sent out a survey to those who attended the Future Summit held in January. The survey link also was posted on ECC’s Facebook page.

The survey will close by the end of this week.

Bauer said both opportunities serve the same purpose, but the open house is more face-to-face. He’s hopeful survey takers will provide comments and feedback so the committee can determine whether it hits the mark and reaches the community’s expectations.

Once the survey period has concluded the committee will examine the results.

“We’re optimistic and hopeful that we’ve hit our key points,” said Dr. Smith, regarding the feedback received to date.

This isn’t the first survey that has been sent out about the strategic plan. Last fall, a SWOT survey was sent to faculty, staff and board members to identify the college’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

In February, a values survey was sent out to ECC employees to determine what kind of culture they’d like to work in.

By the end of April, employees were again sent a survey to gather feedback on the proposed mission and vision statements.

After that survey, the mission statement was drafted as: Empowering students and enriching communities through education.

The draft vision statement is: East Central College will be a leader in higher education, inspiring academic excellence and driving community development.

Both statements are on the survey and survey takers can comment below each. Also on the survey are five strategies, or action statements, for people to leave feedback.

The strategies are as follows:

• Develop clear academic and career pathways with personalized support to increase enrollment and promote student success.

• Strengthen partnerships with local high schools, higher education institutions and employers to drive intellectual and economic development in the region.

• Create a culture of collaboration and learning to attract, retain, and develop diverse and talented employees.

• Expand our presence and offerings in Rolla to enhance the college’s impact throughout our region.

• Secure financial strength to sustain institutional viability.  

Accreditation 

The college was visited by the Higher Learning Commission team in 2017 for a routine review of the college’s accreditation. The team recommended that the college be placed on probation for failure to meet HLC standards.

By April 2018, the recommendation was lessened to “on notice” status.

Since then, the college has been working with CampusWorks, Bradenton, Fla., to develop the SOAR to 2024 strategic plan.

CampusWorks has been evaluating the internal environment at ECC and comparing it to other higher education schools.

Through working with the company, the college hosted the Future Summit, an event to address the college’s challenges and search for future opportunities.

The summit featured speakers Donn Sorenson, Mercy Health Systems executive vice president; Steve Weinhold, Union R-XI School District superintendent; Christina King, Sullivan High School math and pre-engineering teacher; and Gregory Stotler, ECC education instructor.

Afterward, community members separated into small group discussions.

The college also has held three workshops to develop new mission and vision statements.

The committee has been working on the plan since April.

The college’s HLC action team met several times last semester, occasionally being joined by the institution’s HLC liasion, Tom Bordenkircher.

Through the action team, it was decided the institution would join a four-year commitment called the HLC Assessment Academy. The academy helps promote ongoing professional learning and growth centered on student learning.

It acts as a network for the school, providing a mentor and scholar to guide its work.

The college will receive an accreditation visit from the HLC Nov. 18-19.