Auburn University Strategic Plan

Priority 5: Committing to Continuous Improvement
The Auburn University System will make an across-the-board commitment to continuous improvement in strengthening our management approaches and increasing our efficiency.


Initiative 1: Strengthen Auburn's management approaches and processes.

Strategic Priority 46: Policies and Procedures Review | COMPLETED

Auburn University continues to work on establishing a policy for Board of Trustees review that sets priorities for campus master plan implementation.

"All universities have multiple sets of policies and procedures that have originated in various manners and at various times in the life of the institution. We will perform a comprehensive review of such existing policies and procedures at Auburn. Those policies that are necessary for compliance with federal or state laws as well as Board of Trustees policies and directives will be retained.

However, those that originated internally will be reviewed carefully for relevance. The goal is to ensure that our policies are current and add value to future operations."

Summary of Progress Achieved:

  • The institution's university-wide policies and procedures are current, consistent and available on a Central Policy website maintained by the Office of the General Counsel.  A complete review of internal policies and procedures continues, with phase one of the Faculty Handbook revision completed and approved by the Board of Trustees in June 2011.
  • Board of Trustee policies have been reviewed and were revisions approved by the Board in March 2009.
  • Central administration functional area policies are under review as well as current "Policy on Policies."

Strategic Priority 47: Organizational Review | COMPLETED

Auburn University initiated an annual review of its organizational structure in 2010 and has implemented necessary changes.

"The president will examine the organizational structure of the University with the objective of increasing effectiveness and efficiency."

Summary of Progress Achieved:

  • Organizational Structure is reviewed on a continuous basis to increase efficiency among Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Business Affairs. The Office of Undergraduate Studies was reorganized in 2011.
  • In 2010, the Provost convened the Efficiency Task Force to identify ways of improving the general efficiency and effectiveness of the institution's operations.
    • Specifically, the task force identified ways of (1) improving policies, procedures, processes and/or practices that could be revised, simplified, eliminated or established to improve efficiencies/effectiveness and better meet the needs of the Auburn University faculty, staff, and students; (2) improving the communications and marketing of new policies, initiatives, and procedures among the university community; and (3) improving coordination among Auburn University's administration and the various academic and operating units, organizations, and affiliates.
    • The Task Force solicited suggestions and comments from the campus community regarding ways to improve the general efficiency and effectiveness of the institution, along with suggestions for reducing costs and saving time in areas throughout campus.
    • The members identified five major sub-committees and, following the requests for suggestions from the campus community, compiled approximately 82 efficiency recommendations.
  • In 2011, an Efficiency Task Force Implementation Committee was charged with (1) identifying the feasibility of each recommendation, and (2) determining cost savings.
  • The following efficiency recommendations were implemented during 2011-2012:
    • Identified those academic processes that need to be transitioned to workflow (about 12). The processes that are most used are being adapted to Workflow first.
    • Established guidelines on the utilization of search firms. This ensures units receive enough services for the costs, and ensures that our processes comply with both University policies and federal/state regulations.
    • Automated workflow processes for vendor voucher and travel reimbursement.
    • Developed reporting tools for the academic and non-academic units to identify how much they are spending on instruction, research, and outreach, sponsored programs, personnel, etc. This helps these units in making budget and financial decisions.
    • Improving the transient registration process by automating it. In the past, this has been a very cumbersome process for our students, advisors, and Registrar's Office staff.
  • Examples of recommendations that remain in progress:
    • Implementing SARS for academic units to improve academic advising by better scheduling appointments, resulting in a greater efficiency in both the students' and advisors' time (40% complete, SARS is available in CLA, Education, Honors, and Interdisciplinary Studies are done. Academic Support is in progress, and the College of Human Sciences is next. We anticipate completing the process later this year).
    • Developing a mechanism for the PPS and OGCA offices to solicit feedback from business and HR staff to improve communication. There is a great opportunity to enhance the communication between not only PPS and the HR/Budget staff, but the individual faculty members who are PIs on grants. The team is looking at identifying the right venues, whether they are focus groups or meetings with individual colleges, to get the right people engaged in the discussions.
    • Providing virtual training to faculty and staff regarding how to negotiate and manage consulting relationships. This recommendation enables units to better negotiate writing contracts for consultants, resulting in long-term cost savings. The goal would be to have some kind of web-based training available.
    • Requiring mandatory training in high risk legal compliance areas, such as sexual harassment, EEOC/AA, and non-discrimination employment. Progress is being made on this, but we are looking at ways to do this online, which may make it more palatable.
    • Establishing a taxonomy and subsequent policy for building types that will enable facilities to schedule these for unoccupied mode, which may also enable us to implement greater energy savings, particularly during the summer months.
  • Examples of recommendations where currently no progress has been made, yet they carry moderate to high chances of success:
    • The possibility of block scheduling freshmen students to enhance classroom utilization (and ultimately increase our retention rates).
    • Identifying enrollment targets and retention goals for each college.
    • Obtaining benchmarking for appropriate staffing and looking at where Auburn has discrepancies. The Business Action Team is looking at possibly bringing in a consultant to look at the FTE data and identify opportunities where we can possibly consolidate some of the business functions within different areas. Most of the savings would be in the colleges and individual units.
    • Transitioning our document archiving system to digitize all student records (this remains a long-term institutional goal).

Strategic Priority 48: Priority Framework for Campus Facilities | COMPLETED

Auburn University continues to work on establishing a policy for Board of Trustees review that sets priorities for campus master plan implementation.

"As we move forward, we need to develop a priority framework that is open and transparent for new facilities, renovation, and infrastructure. The campus master plan for both campuses will be fully discussed with constituents on an annual basis, and these constituents will be afforded the opportunity for input. This discussion is important to determine the placement of specific projects in the appropriate categories listed below:

  • Top-level priorities:  Top-level priority projects are those that simply must be done. If no private funding is available, then Auburn must be willing to fully fund the amount. Some discussion on deviation from our standard 50 percent private investment for naming opportunities will be addressed.
  • Second-level priorities:  Second-level priorities are those projects that are clearly needed, but ones in which we would expect 50 percent private investment.
  • Third-level priorities:  Third-level priorities are those projects where an opportunity exists with the expectation that they be fully funded from external sources."

Summary of Progress Achieved:

  • Auburn University has developed and implemented a set of Campus Objectives and Capital Project Program priorities provide a road map for what Capital Projects Auburn University seeks to execute in the 2010-2020 timeframe.  These Objectives were developed in an open and collaborative manner with the Provost's Office and numerous other campus groups deeply involved.   These objectives and the Capital Project Program will be updated annually using a similar process in terms of openness and collaboration.  The Capital Projects Plan was approved by the Executive Facilities Committee and the Board of Trustees in June 2011.
  • Auburn University has implemented a Project Prioritization System for Deferred Maintenance funded projects.  It involves a call for projects from all Colleges, Schools, and Administrative units.  These projects are prioritized for funding with preliminary and final results published to the University community to ensure openness and transparency. This process will occur annually.
  • Auburn University has commenced the Master Plan 2012 update process.  The process is currently in the data gathering phase--to date over 70 planning sessions involving over 400 faculty, staff, administrators, and students have been conducted. Overall, the Master Plan 2012 update process is 25% complete.

Strategic Priority 49: Standards for Athletics| COMPLETED

Auburn has established a strong tradition for athletics. On the Auburn campus, we will formally adopt the following standards:

  • Full compliance with NCAA rules.
  • Graduation success rates for student-athletes in the top 20 of land-grant colleges that participate in Division I athletics for each sport.
  • Financial self-sufficiency for the athletic department.
  • Well planned and high quality athletic events relative to ticketing, parking, traffic control, concessions, and safety.
  • Finish in the top 10 percent of Division I institutions in the annual NACDA (National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics) Directors' Cup standings, which measure athletic success in all sports.

On the Montgomery campus, we will pursue the following:

  • Assess the desirability of moving from NAIA to NCAA Division II
  • Increase graduation rates for student athletes by 5 percent
  • Increase development efforts to reduce support of athletics from general University revenues."

Strategic Priority 50: Accountability Guidelines | COMPLETED

Auburn University has established accountability guidelines for the appropriate accrediting bodies and constituent groups.

"Auburn will define the metrics of accountability for each important constituent group. These groups include regional and specialized accreditation bodies; various state and federal bodies with responsibility for higher education; auditing bodies; and the Auburn Family."

Summary of Progress Achieved:

  • Since 2010, Auburn University began preparing for the reaffirmation of our SACS accreditation reaffirmation in 2013, including developing the QEP concept in 2011—enhancing student learning with e-portfolios—into a full working plan that meets SACS requirements and improves the learning environment.
  • Auburn submitted its Compliance Certification document on September 10, 2012. Off-site review of the document by peer evaluators will occur in November. Following approval by the President, the QEP document will be submitted in early January 2013. The QEP will be a major focus of the on-site peer review of Auburn's accreditation, which will occur March 25-28, 2013.
  • Many of our programs have professional accrediting bodies that are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Accreditation ensures external validation and assessment of our academic programs and are a widely accepted measure of accountability. Programs whose specialized accreditation was reaffirmed in 2010 or 2011 include:
    • Landscape Architecture (2010, until 2015)
    • Community Counseling, Counselor Education, School Counseling (2010, until 2018)
    • Counseling Psychology (2010, until 2017)
    • Harris Early Learning Center (Birmingham) (2010, until 2015)
    • Auburn University | 2012 Strategic Plan Update 42
    • Nutrition and Food Science (Dietetic Option) (2010, until 2014)
    • Marriage and Family Therapy (2011, until 2017)
    • Social Work (2010, until 2016)
    • Theatre (2011, until 2012)
    • Pharmacy (2010, until 2012)
  • Programs re-accredited in 2011-2012, include:
    • Community Planning (Collegiate Schools of Planning , Planning Accreditation Board)
    • Journalism/Public Relations (Accrediting Council on Education for Journalism and Mass Communication)
    • Health Administration (Association of University Programs in Health Administration
    • Marriage & Family Therapy (American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy)
    • Music (National Association of Schools of Music)
    • Veterinary Medicine (American Veterinary Medical Association, Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care)
  • Auburn conducts program review annually, following a set of quality and performance standards defined by the University itself. Each year 4-6 departments receive full reviews involving both local and external peer evaluators. In 2010-11, successful program reviews were conducted in Economics, Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures, History and Physics.
  • Annually, each of Auburn's four divisions develops and submits to the Alabama Department of Finance a set of SMART planning and operations reports, with key goals, objectives and quarterly targets. All SMART documents for Auburn, along with all state agencies, are posted at www.smart.alabama.gov.
  • To help prospective students plan for college and to comply with federal law, Auburn has developed a net price calculator that provides applicants with an estimate of what they would likely pay to study at Auburn after taking into account basic information about their academic preparation, residency, and family finances.
  • Auburn has participated in the Voluntary System of Accountability since its inception. This joint project of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) was designed to provide students and parents with a convenient, trustworthy source of basic, comparable information about public colleges presented in a common, user-friendly format. Auburn's "college portrait" for the VSA is posted at www.collegeportraits.org and contains information about student characteristics, costs of attendance, campus life, undergraduate experiences, degrees and future plans, and student learning outcomes.

Strategic Priority 51: Campus Security | COMPLETED

Auburn University and Auburn University Montgomery have successfully enhanced the safety plans of both institutions and continue to identify new security measures for both campuses.

"To enhance the security of campus and the safety of Auburn students, employees and resources, we will further develop our safety plans for the Auburn and Montgomery campuses and update security measures."

Summary of Progress Achieved:

  • In 2010, the Auburn University System was awarded a $708,000.00 Emergency Management for Higher Education Grant by the United States Department of Education. This funding is currently being used to help evaluate and update safety and emergency operations plans on the main campus of Auburn University as well as the Auburn Montgomery campus. This grant process concluded in September 2012.
  • The planning and implementation portions of the grant process will continue to directly address the goals of enhancing the security of campus and the safety of Auburn students, employees and resources. Both the Auburn University Department of Public Safety & Security (AUDPSS) and Public Safety at Auburn Montgomery continue to address hazards and vulnerabilities found during the initial assessment and ongoing planning efforts.
  • New procedures, emergency guidelines for employees (emergency folders) and students (emergency guidelines - zcards) and new comprehensive emergency operations plans have been created to increase awareness and preparedness for all. Building/Facility specific emergency plans are also being created which includes a suggested plan orientation for building employees.
  • AU Risk Management & Safety has just implemented a chemical inventory program which will help maintain a current inventory of chemicals in buildings and labs on campus which will aid in maintaining safety on campus.
  • Also on main campus as well as Auburn Montgomery, new policies have been established for camera systems installation and monitoring. AUDPSS is responsible for the camera policy on main campus and any issues that arise.
  • AUDPSS continues to train university employees in emergency preparedness through a program called Campus C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team). Campus C.E.R.T. members consist of university employees that are trained in emergency preparedness and become very familiar with facility emergency plans and safety systems. These employees are designated as key members to aid others should an emergency occur on the Auburn University campus. We will also be training employees in workplace violence prevention as well as what they should do should someone come onto campus and try to do other harm.
  • The AU-ALERT system has been enhanced to include indoor and outdoor warning and public address systems as well as new technology such as digital displays and the ability to communicate alerts and critical information through social networking sites.
  • An emergency operations center has also been established and equipped to aid in the response to and coordination of emergency incidents and events on campus.
  • Other deliverables required by the current grant include enhancing the ability of the first responders (police, fire, etc.) to gain campus and building layout/surveillance information from their vehicles during times of an emergency or disaster. AUDPSS and Auburn University will continue to update safety measures and complete the plans that are currently being created.

Last Updated: Feb. 22, 2013

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