Transform NC Update: Steering Committee meets its goal

After ten weeks of deliberations and hard work, the Transform NC Steering Committee – a group with representation from all corners of the College community – has met its goal of creating a framework that will guide the college’s integrated planning initiative.

The committee has been meeting regularly since late January to establish criteria, metrics and evaluation tools that will be used to sort college services and programs into the three Transform NC categories: enhance and invest; maintain; and revise/reallocate. The consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers continues to assist by facilitating steering committee discussions and by providing process improvement support, particularly on the services side.

Both service areas and academic programs will be evaluated using four main criteria: relevancy, capacity, satisfaction, and future opportunities and challenges. Services will be looked at in terms of how they support the college’s strategic priorities, demand, process, satisfaction among students and other service users, service quality, and opportunities to improve or grow. Programs will be looked at in terms of student and employer demand, student and graduate satisfaction, and opportunities or challenges for enrolment growth.

Before the metrics and evaluation framework are applied in Tier 1 of the process, the committee will look to all departments and programs for feedback via directors, deans and associate deans. In Tier 2, when programs and services are sorted into categories, a detailed review of the programs and services in the enhance/invest and revise/reallocate categories will be done. The recommendations from these areas will be reviewed by the Transform NC Steering Committee, and ultimately prioritized by the College Operating Group (COG). Teresa Quinlin, vice president of finance and strategic planning, is leading Transform NC, with the Office of Planning and Institutional Research (PaIR) serving as an important resource and support to this initiative. Quinlin has also reached out to groups in the College to provide a deeper understanding of the Transform NC process.

Quinlin emphasizes that Niagara College’s integrated planning process is unique in that it begins from a solid financial position, and is geared towards continuous improvement. Transform NC, she says, is an opportunity to look at all of NC’s programs and services at the same point in time, and determine where we are, where we need to be, and how to get there.

“Transform NC isn’t about a need to address a financial deficit,” said Quinlin. “It’s about recognizing that our landscape is changing and that the status quo isn’t an option if we are to continue to grow and realize our strategic goals.  We’ve experienced unprecedented growth, and post-secondary education in Ontario is moving towards a model where colleges and universities are more specialized. Transform NC is about keeping pace with these changes and identifying areas for improvement. Like anything we do at Niagara College, the ultimate goal is to support and enhance our students’ satisfaction and success.”

Quinlin and the Transform NC steering committee are also inviting questions and comments via the Transform NC website and town hall meetings will be held at both campuses on April 25 (for more details, see below).

“I encourage any member of the Niagara College community who has a question, idea or concern to share it with us so that we can make it part of our deliberations or respond with additional information,” said Quinlin. “Transform NC is a collaborative and transparent process – we’d like to hear from you.”

Have your say: Attend the Tranform NC Town Hall Meeting

April 25

NOTL Campus Yerich Auditorium (Rm E 101), 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Welland Campus, AHI Auditorium (Rm AH 141), 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Next Steps

The Transform NC Steering Committee will continue to meet weekly through April to finalize the criteria, metrics and evaluation tools. Other upcoming project milestones include:

·         Program and Services frameworks presented to the College Management Team (CMT) on April 16;

·         Program and Services frameworks posted on internal website for college community to review on April 21

·         Town Hall meetings, April 25;

·         Services to complete self-evaluations by June 30;

·         Programs to complete self-evaluations by July 30;

·         Steering committee reconvenes to review and finalize prioritizations – Aug. 15-31;

·         Tier 2 reviews, development of recommendations by Sept. 30;

·         Recommendations reviewed by Steering Committee and Executive Team by Oct. 22

·         Final report presented at Board of Governors – to be determined.

About Transform NC – A Recap

The Transform NC integrated planning process for Niagara College programs and services is driven by NC’s growing enrolment, an evolving economy, and the MTCU differentiation framework requiring post-secondary institutions to establish clear areas of specialization. The goal is to strengthen what we are doing well, focus on where to invest, and reinvent or improve areas facing challenges. Ultimately, this process is intended to support student success and our capacity to pursue the priorities set out in the College’s 2013-2016 Strategic Plan.

This planning initiative will be unique to Niagara College. It begins from a strong financial position, and is clearly focused on strategic and continuous improvement. While it may incorporate lessons and best practices identified by experts and similar organizations, it is driven by factors such as enrolment growth and a desire to ensure student satisfaction and success.

The project will include two tiers: Tier 1 will be a broad review that will take stock of all programs and services and sort them into three categories: enhance and invest; maintain; and revise and/or reallocate. Tier 2 will involve a detailed review of programs and services in category one (enhance and invest) and category three (revise and/or reallocate). The recommendations in Tier 2 will come from the areas in these categories, which will be reviewed by the Transform NC steering committee, and ultimately prioritized by the College Operating Group (COG). The Transform NC steering committee will participate in the development of criteria, metrics and a scoring system.

Transform NC is being led by Teresa Quinlin, vice president of finance and strategic planning, and the Office of Planning and Institutional Research (PaIR) is serving as an important resource and support to this initiative.

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