College of Saint Mary formally adopted continuous quality improvement methodology when it was accepted into the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) in 2004. The HLC can be reached at 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, Illinois 60604-1413 Phone: 800.621.7440 firstname.lastname@example.org. Efforts to improve quality are not new to CSM. Participating in the AQIP program of the Higher Learning Commission provided a structure as well as a means to share our quality improvement efforts with other likeminded colleges and universities. Quality improvement organizations are characterized by:
- Continuous improvement through AQIP action projects
- Empowerment of employees to improve processes by working together united by common intention and shared values in the CSM mission
- Focus on key processes that add value to those CSM serves
- Decisions based on systematic collection and analysis of data that informs us about stakeholders’ needs and effectiveness of current processes in meeting those needs
- Systems thinking by seeing the whole as the greater sum of its parts
- Consideration of the needs of all constituencies including students and their families, faculty, staff, and the communities served by the university and our graduates
Quality improvement methodology encourages us to ask: “How can we improve what we are already doing?” or “What else should we be doing or doing in a different way?”
Generally quality improvement occurs at three levels within the organization. The most basic level is the individual level where simple changes improve one’s work. For example, reducing the number of wastebaskets in a small office from two to one reduces the custodian’s work. The second level is ongoing improvements such as annual assessment of effectiveness of academic programs and financial audits. AQIP action projects form the third level. AQIP action projects focus on key processes; generally involve a multidisciplinary team stretching CSM in new ways. See more information about AQIP action projects by clicking on the link in the left hand column.
Quality improvement is under the guidance of the Council on Institutional Effectiveness. Please click here to see more about Academic Quality Improvement Program at CSM and the AQIP Web site.