Standard 10: Public Disclosure
With respect to public disclosure, Keene State College uses the centralized model for information dissemination. There are essentially two sources of public information about the campus, the College Relations Office and the Office of Institutional Research. The College Relations Office encompasses media relations, publications, advertising, sports information, and web management. Institutional Research specializes in developing information for the strategic planning, assessment, decision-making and reporting required by the KSC community. Institutional Research also handles requests for information for external surveys and government reports, such as college guides or CIRP freshmen surveys. This office also prepares an annual Factbook (available on the College's website) and data briefs on specific subjects, and provides information to on-campus constituencies, serving as a clearinghouse and consultant for internal research.
To help students make informed decisions about their education, the institution produces an annually updated Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog that includes the mission and values statement and describes the academic offerings and requirements for degrees. Advisement sheets with checklists of program requirements are also available in the Academic and Career Advisement Office. Information on academic programs is updated by the designee of the Office of Academic Affairs. The College academic program pages appearing on its website are consistent with the information in the catalog. Continuing Education course offerings are published three times a year in the Discovery magazine mailed to households and businesses in Cheshire County, New Hampshire; southeastern Vermont; and north central Massachusetts. The information published in Discovery is also available on the KSC website.
Policies related to admission, attendance, fees and refunds, transfer of credit, residency requirements, class and College withdrawal, leaves of absence, academic honesty, athletic eligibility, degree requirements, academic honors, and student records are published in the catalog. Information about course prerequisites, transfer of credit, matriculation, assessment of non-college learning is also included in Discovery, the course listing for the Continuing Education program. The Student Handbook, also updated and published annually, includes the rules and regulations for student conduct. A Rights and Responsibilities Committee, composed of students, faculty, and staff, meets regularly to address rights and responsibilities regarding student behavior and has printed and distributed a brochure to inform the campus of these issues. The Student Handbook and "Student Rights and Responsibilities" brochure are available on the KSC website.
The catalog lists the current faculty, by department and alphabetically, with their academic credentials and year of appointment. Adjunct faculty who have been at Keene State for five or more years are listed with their credentials, and a list of emeriti faculty is also included. Members of the Board of Trustees and their terms of service are found in the catalog appendix. The administrative officers, professional staff, and operating staff of the College are listed similarly to the faculty, with their academic credentials and years of appointment noted. For the first time in many years, the 1998-99 catalog has resumed the practice of noting when courses are available by indicating "fall," "spring," "alternate years," or other appropriate language with the course descriptions. We expect that this practice will continue in subsequent editions of the catalog. The catalog is updated every year, and we have a process in place to delete courses which have not been offered in the past three years. In special circumstances, however, faculty who teach one of these courses may petition the Senate Curriculum Committee to retain it.
Undergraduate students often get their first look at Keene State College through the Viewbook. The campus setting, size and characteristics of the student body are included in this publication. The large selection of academic support programs-Academic Advising, the Writing Center, the Math Center, among others-are defined in the catalog. Descriptions of campus resources, such as the Child Development Center, Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery, and Bodyworks Fitness Center, are also included in the catalog. In addition, offices, such as Residential Life and Student Financial Management, produce publications describing their roles on campus. These brochures are distributed to prospective students. Co-curricular opportunities are published in the Viewbook for prospective students and in the Student Programs handbook for those on campus. Most of these publications are available on the KSC website.
Programs such as teacher education, music, and, recently, athletic training are subject to periodic external evaluation to maintain accreditation. A list of the organizations that accredit the programs of Keene State College is published in the catalog. These include the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the New Hampshire Council for Teacher Education, the New Hampshire State Board of Education, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the National Association of Schools of Music, and, most recently, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Notice of the fall 2000 NEASC accreditation visit will be announced in the "Campus News," the student newspaper, the quarterly alumni magazine, and local newspapers.
Regarding learning outcomes, a senior survey is taken before graduates leave campus in May and provides an indirect academic assessment of their perceptions of their enhancements in skill areas. Regarding success in placement or achievements of graduates, an alumni survey is distributed to graduates one year and five years following graduation. The survey yields a 20-30% response rate. Achievements of faculty are self-reported and published in the weekly "Campus News" Professional Activities column and in The Keene Sentinel.
The Office of College Relations handles requests for College publications. For inquiries about specific institutional information-retention rates, demographic information about the student body, numbers enrolled in each discipline, etc.-the source of accurate information is the Office of Institutional Research. For inquiries about campus safety and crime statistics, especially those updated and published annually in the Student Handbook, the source of accurate information is the Department of Campus Safety. Notice of the availability of the 1999 USNH Annual Financial Report, the institution's most recent audited financial statement, was put in the November 3, 1999 issue of "Campus News," the weekly newsletter for faculty and staff. The report itself is shared and discussed each year with the College Budget Committee by the USNH controller. It is available in Mason Library or from the office of the Vice President of Finance and Planning.
The most significant change in the areas covered by Standard Ten is the advent of the World Wide Web as a new information delivery system. All of the information described in our publications, and much more besides, is accessible to prospective students, current students, and the world at large through the Keene State presence on the web. From statistics that are currently maintained, it is clear that the use of the website doubled from 1997 to 1998 and continues to increase dramatically. Statistics show that the most frequently visited pages for the last complete year (1998) were site map, directories, academics, athletics, and admissions. The trend for 1999-2000 is similar.
The web also provides a new way of doing business on campus. At present, for example, continuing education students register on-line, jobs are posted on-line, and surplus property for sale is listed on-line. Staff can apply for Datatel accounts and computer system upgrades through forms on the web. The web informs our internal communications systems as well. We use a web alert box for urgent information such as inclement weather closings, and the potential exists to modify and personalize home pages to make campus-wide announcements. We are also experimenting now with conveying registration information to all students via mass e-mail.
The College established a Communications Management Team to evaluate the consistency and clarity of its message in campus communications. The team, with representatives from College Relations, Academic Advising, Residential Life, Continuing Education, Mail Services, Information Systems, and Alumni, works to promote effective communication, identify opportunities to consolidate communications, and use available information technology. Looking at electronic and print communications, the team has edited and consolidated mailings to students, encouraged the use of electronic media, and performed internal communications audits.
The College Relations Office reviews all institutional documents that are made public for clarity and style and annually revises and updates the Viewbook. Primary authors are responsible for reviewing other publications: Student Affairs revises the Student Handbook, Institutional Research the Factbook, Academic Affairs the faculty and adjunct faculty manuals and the catalog. The College webmaster has the authority to remove from our website pages which have not been revised in the past six months.
Keene State College has an effective and efficient process for disclosing accurate and clear information about its mission, its academic programs, and its policies. Publications that contain this information, such as the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog, Discovery, and faculty and student handbooks are updated, published, and distributed annually. With a single, central publications department in the College Relations Office (CRO), there is consistency of information and presentation. CRO also produces the marketing and advertising pieces for the institution and deals with media inquiries, providing for consistency of image and message.
In the 1990 self-study regarding Public Disclosure and in the NEASC evaluation, there was concern about the Athletics Department and the Arts Center on Brickyard Pond doing their own publications and advertising. That situation has changed in the past decade to reinforce the centralized model. The Sports Information Coordinator now reports to the Director of College Relations and all publications and advertising for the Athletics Department are produced by College Relations. The marketing assistant for the Arts Center reports to the Director of the Arts Center, but both staff people attend weekly planning meetings with the College Relations staff to coordinate publicity efforts, and all publications are produced by College Relations. What was cited in 1990 as a "rather fragmented situation" has been remedied.
In addition, there was concern in the Self-Study about an advertising plan and promotion of the College's image in the region. All advertising for the institution is funneled through the College Relations Office. Recent new endeavors include television and radio ad placements aimed at raising statewide and regional awareness of the strengths of Keene State College programs.
A concern from the NEASC evaluators about the "lack of a clear crisis communication plan" is no longer valid. A crisis communication plan (available in the workroom) is updated regularly, and has been enacted numerous times.
Internal campus communications are intentional in providing a context to help people understand what affects their lives on campus. The weekly faculty/staff newsletter, "Campus News," is accessible to all departments for sharing information; the president submits a regular column and a faculty/staff profile is a well-read feature. Official documents, such as updates to the strategic plan or a memo addressing student behavior, are produced as needed. In addition, the broadcast feature of the voice mail system is used to inform faculty, staff, and residential students of safety issues, such as power outages, and personal issues, such as updates on an injured student or ill staff member.
An analysis of Keene State's enrollment management practices by the consulting firm of USA Group Noel-Levitz of Iowa City, Iowa, in 1998 examined, among other things, the way recruitment publications describe the College. Suggestions for improvement-identifying five or six messages to prospective students, enabling students to picture themselves on campus-have been followed. Other suggestions from the consultants-pinpoint specific outcomes/benefits with documentation of outcomes that cause students to consider specific academic programs-have pointed out an area of deficiency in our disclosure of information. We currently lack a system to document learning outcomes, program excellence, success in placement, and achievements of graduates, as cited in Standard 10.7.
We have anecdotal information from individual academic departments regarding their graduates. We distribute a senior survey at commencement and a survey to alumni at one year and five years after graduation with a 20-30% response rate. But to highlight a program based on excellence or to determine what KSC students are learning or to report on placement of graduates will necessitate new patterns of data collection and management. Consequently, we do not disclose that information in our recruitment materials. This deficiency in outcomes assessment has been cited in Standards Two and Four.
New to Keene State College is a policy of disclosure to parents of the disciplinary actions taken against their students, as described in Standard Six. Consequently, about thirty notices of disciplinary action have been reported to parents, with the aim of inspiring dialogue between parents and students. In addition, a task force which studied the disclosure policy recommended that Keene State College release information to the public regarding crimes of violence and sex offenses. The institution continues to publish crime statistics annually in the Student Handbook.
The future of public disclosure lies dramatically with the World Wide Web. Already it is the third most important source of information to prospective students, after college visits and conversations with current students (Washington Post, March 28, 2000). It has the potential to replace many standard print publications such as catalog, viewbooks, and handbooks-if not in total, then at least by reducing the numbers printed. Because of the significance of the World Wide Web as a means of communication, we have made an investment in our web presence by redesigning and reorganizing the site. Management of the web comes under the purview of the Web Strategy Team and the College Relations Office to assure the same consistency of information and presentation that is true of publications, advertising, media relations, etc. But the web transcends other information delivery systems, with its 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week access, demand for constantly updated content, and need for trained personnel to maintain the more than 4,500 documents involved. Successfully integrating the web into the life of the College will be the challenge for the coming decade.
To ensure that information we present on the web is accurate and current, we will implement a new policy for the systematic review of web pages, and assess the effectiveness of this policy a year from now.
In the future, we can anticipate on-line applications from prospective students, and on-line receipt of gifts from donors. On-line sale of tickets to Arts Center events will begin in fall 2000.
Apart from the web, our disclosure of information will change to conform to new and emerging federal regulations. Higher Education Amendments, effective July 1, 2000, request that we have the following information available to both enrolled and prospective students: financial assistance; institutional information such as costs, refund policies, accreditation; graduation rates and transfer-out rates; security reports including on and off-campus incidents and new crime categories; and athletic participation rates. At Keene State, much of this information is already made available. Any new reporting procedures required will be put in place in meetings with representatives of the Offices of Student Financial Services, Admissions, Registrar, Institutional Research, College Relations, Campus Safety, and Athletics.
We are committed to public disclosure of information on learning outcomes assessment and success in placement (10.7), as the institution makes progress on these issues.