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Quality Initiative Identification and Approval Process

Washburn University entered the new Open Pathways Reaccreditation Model established by the Higher Learning Commission in Year 4 of the phased approach and began the process of identifying a Quality Improvement initiative in 2012 for implementation in the 2013-2014 academic year.

Initial Steps

Discussion among HLC conference participants for the past few years, previous HLC site visit co-chairs, VPAA to determine best approach for choosing and implementing Quality Initiative

Identification of Quality Initiative Coordinator to manage the process as well as a committee to assist with the review process (Spring/Summer 2012)

  • Assistant Dean of Academic Outreach identified as Quality Initiative (QI) Coordinator. Provided temporary supplemental stipend for assuming this responsibility.
  • Potential Time/Task list developed.
  • QI Committee formed. Comprised of representatives from both academic and administrative units on campus (well respected, well known among their colleagues).

Identification of Theme and Funding

  • Meetings with President, Executive Staff and Academic Deans to identify relevant themes and budget source (Summer 2012)
  • Identified Theme – Excellence in Education, could write to one of three sub themes (see QI web page for more details)
    • Student Transitions – Prepare and support students to effectively deal with obstacles to effective learning
    • Faculty Transitions – Develop and sustain effective classroom teaching habits/pedagogies
    • Technology Competence – Delivery of educational components, access to technology to prepare entrance into work environments, information literacy for students
  • President committed $100,000 annually to the quality initiative. Vice President for Academic Affairs reallocated $30,000 annually from existing budget to quality initiative.

Communication Plan

  • QI web page created (Summer 2012)
  • QI initiative presented to Academic Deans/Directors at summer retreat (Summer 2012)
  • All faculty/staff e-mail sent by Vice President for Academic Affairs informing faculty of the Quality Assurance and QI initiatives being undertaken (September 24, 2012)
  • Two open meetings for faculty and staff held to introduce both the Quality Assurance and Quality Initiative processes (October, 2012)
  • All faculty/staff e-mail sent by QI Coordinator introducing QI and encouraging employees to submit brief initial proposals via online form on QI web page (October 4, 2012)
  • E-mail reminders sent by QI Coordinator (October 25, 2012 and November 1, 2012)
  • Two faculty and two staff discussion sessions held to solicit input to help inform creation of comprehensive proposals. (October 2012)
  • QI web page continuously updated to provide information regarding the initiative and the process plan for project selection (Fall 2012)

Two-Phased Approach

  • Phase 1 – Initial Proposals – Due November 1, 2012
    • Brief proposal identifying problem or opportunity as related to one of the themes
      • Title
      • Problem/Opportunity Statement
      • Proposal Theme
      • Benefits
      • Scope/Impact on Institution
      • Stakeholders
      • Team Members
    • Initial proposals available for open viewing due to posting on web page and were available for non-restricted viewing
    • 21 initial proposals submitted and reviewed by QI Committee members using rubric
      • 5 themes or sub-areas identified:
        • Professional Development/Teaching Excellence
        • Technology for Learning Enhancement
        • Student Support
        • Community Engagement
        • Scholarly Support
    • Proposals listed by area and posted on QI web page along with results of discussions held with faculty and staff (small group discussions/large group report out). Intended to inform applicants and encourage collaboration in development of high quality comprehensive proposals.


  • Phase 2 – Comprehensive Proposals – Due March 15, 2013
    • Guidelines posted on QI web page
      • Narrative
        • Overview
        • Scope and Significance (25 points)
        • Goals and Objectives (25 points)
        • Evidence of Commitment/Capacity (25 points)
      • Project Timeline (10 points)
      • Budget (15 points)
        • Detailed Worksheet
        • Worksheet Narrative
      • 3 comprehensive proposals submitted by deadline

Quality Initiative Decision

  • Comprehensive proposals reviewed by QI Committee                  
    • Independently reviewed and scored
    • Proposals and review scores discussed in meeting April 11, 2013
    • Reviewers given final opportunity to revise scores
  • Final report and recommendations sent to Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Vice President determined proposal to receive funding and met with all three submitters before announcing quality initiative to be submitted for approval to HLC
  • Official HLC QI proposal completed and submitted to HLC (October 7, 2013)
  • Notification of HLC Approval (November 15, 2013)
  • Creation and Implementation of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning (C-TEL) effective January 15, 2014                               

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Washburn University prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national origin, ancestry, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, veteran status, or marital or parental status. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Dr. Pamela Foster, Equal Opportunity Director/Title IX Coordinator, Washburn University, 1700 SW College Ave, Topeka, Kansas 66621, 785.670.1509,

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