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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