The Higher Learning Commission continues the accreditation process at Fort Lewis College, and the teams evaluating the school based on various outlined criteria are wrapping up their analysis of gaps in FLC’s policies.
Criterion five judges the school’s planning for resources, budget and effectiveness through a few core components.
“The criterion we are on really looks at the resources the college has and whether they are sufficient and allocated well to accomplish the mission,” said Erin McKenzie, the accounting manager and team leader.
The team evaluates resource management of the school to become more efficient. They will not only look at the school’s financial planning, but also evaluate its planning for students, faculty and staff, building infrastructure and IT infrastructure, McKenzie said.
The process is about being proactive, instead of reactive, in planning for the future, said Michele Peterson, budget director and team leader.
“From a budgeting perspective, we have been trying to look out five or ten years so that our budget is not just reflective of what we have money to do today, but whether we have money for the next five or ten years to support what we want to do today,” Peterson said.
FLC is seeking to grow as an institution, as was outlined in the Strategic Plan.
As it grows, the school has targeted certain areas in which it could expand and develop to better serve the needs of students on campus, McKenzie said.
“The college is growing, but it’s trying to do that in a very responsible and strategic way,” McKenzie said.
An example of that is the graduate program, which is one way the school is meeting the under-served needs and allow the institution to grow, McKenzie said.
Wrapping up gap analysis, the team has identified a couple particular ways they might change policy, Peterson said.
There will need to be a set Board of Trustees policy that requires representation for constituents affected by the issue, Peterson said.
The school’s leadership has already taken the initiative to make sure that the right constituents are represented when appropriate at, for instance, committee meetings, Peterson said.
Though this procedure is typically followed around the school, the policy would ensure that the leadership consistently includes appropriate constituents for important meetings, Peterson said.
Another issue is beefing up communication. As one of the most important aspects to the function of the school, proper communication is imperative, McKenzie said.
“There is still some dialogue about what are some areas that maybe are under-communicated across the community,” McKenzie said.
The team is looking to regulate the communication in an effort to ensure that all information is conveyed. If a plan is in place, then every year faculty and staff can follow that plan, Peterson said.