Higher Learning Commission

CIA Pathway to Collegiality

Cleveland Institute of Art

Overview of the Quality Initiative

1. Provide a brief description of the Quality Initiative. Explain whether the initiative will begin and be completed during the Quality Initiative period or if it is part of work already in progress or will achieve a key milestone in the work of a longer initiative.

Our project at the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) is dedicated to vastly improving the collegiality, mutual support and understanding, and level(s) of collaboration within the CIA community itself, toward solidifying and rendering more robust the communication flows at the college between and across all faculty and staff.

In order to investigate collegiality, one must first adequately define the term. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary (2015), collegiality is defined as the cooperative relationship between colleagues. In any workplace environment, these cooperative relationships have the tendency to remain within individual departments, creating unconnected silos across an organization. Within higher education, these silos result in a narrowed view of the overall educational experiences of students, interrupt organizational communication, decrease the way community is created, and detract from an overall positive work environment. These factors contribute negatively to the way we interact with and respect the roles each of us play in the larger organization.

The Higher Learning Commission’s Quality Initiative steering committee at CIA believes that initiatives centered on how our professional community supports, collaborates, and communicates with each other will not only satisfy a requirement of the HLC, but will create a truly transformative experience that connects, if not eliminates, the silos that interfere with our pursuit of a holistic educational experience for our students and preferred working environment.

The work of this initiative will begin in earnest following the approval of this proposal from the Higher Learning Commission. Initial work will include identifying projects as priorities and approaching appropriate people in our community to assist in carrying out the work. The steering committee is dedicated to seeing the end goal of improving the overall collegiality through specific programmatic endeavors as attainable by the end of the allotted time.

Sufficiency of the Initiative's Scope and Significance

2. Explain why the proposed initiative is relevant and significant for the institution.

In 2008, the Cleveland Institute of Art embarked on a strategic planning process. The timing of the plan aligned with changes that would have profound impacts on the school going forward. These included a major building project planned to update and consolidate the physical plant, a fundamental reshaping of the academic curriculum, and preparation for the hiring of a new CEO.

The strategic planning process identified three major goals that continue to drive the Institute toward long-term health and sustainability, including curricular development, workplace enhancements, and capital improvements.

First, the strategic plan identified interaction with partner institutions and outreach as a major theme for CIA’s future and solidified CIA’s commitment to becoming a 21st century educational institution. Subsequently, in 2012 CIA formalized Cores + Connections, our academic mission with an emphasis on preparing students to be active members of the creative economy and responsible members of the community.

Core values of faculty mentorship, studio and academic rigor, state-of-the-art facilities, and cutting edge curriculum all fuel extensive connections for student engagement in field-based learning, real-world professional projects, and social practices in art and design. As a result, students graduate prepared to enter their professional practices and to forge their own futures.

Second, a major goal for ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of the Institute included our campus unification. For nearly 30 years, the Cleveland Institute of Art operated in two aging facilities that were located seven blocks apart. By 2015, CIA completed a capital project that unified our facilities on a single, distinctive campus. Among many benefits to enrollment and curricular development, the unified campus was designed to solidify our identity and dramatically enhance the strong sense of community that is so important, but was so difficult to attain with a split campus.

Third, CIA’s strategic plan acknowledged the importance of making the Cleveland Institute of Art a work place of choice for faculty and staff. It is here, at this intersection of curricular development and completion of our capital project that CIA finds itself at a unique milestone in its history. Within our new facility, all CIA faculty and staff departments coexist, working together on a single site, providing an environment for innovation and collaboration. The integration of our departments under one roof necessitates taking advantage of this opportunity to fully examine how CIA operates, identify gaps and areas of overlap, and determine a course of action to cultivate a preferred working environment.

3. Explain the intended impact of the initiative on the institution and its academic quality.

As an institution of higher learning, we will support the diverse needs of our community by providing holistic approaches to collegial engagement. In his book, Community: The Structure of Belonging, Peter Block (2008) proposes concepts such as invitation, ownership, and commitment as key elements to building effective communities. Through college sponsored activities that focus on opportunities to engage in each of these elements, the steering committee hopes to increase occurrences of a mutually supportive and collaborative organization, resulting in improved academic quality and experiences.

Clarity of the Initiative's Purpose

4. Describe the purposes and goals for the initiative.

The purpose of this initiative is to improve the collegiality, mutual support and understanding, and level(s) of collaboration within the CIA community itself, toward solidifying and rendering more robust the communication flows at the college between and across all faculty and staff.

To carry out this initiative, the following goals have been established:

The 5-year process for the Quality Initiative will in itself be generative and evolving, institutionalizing a continuous improvement model that extends far beyond the life of the project, and includes ongoing pathways of ownership of collegiality for all faculty and all staff.

To CIA, it is not a matter of completing projects that satisfy a requirement; we need to found collegiality as an established and long-lasting cultural expectation between different groups of employees at the college.

Expected outcome: improved collegiality

The institution as an employer will continue to develop policies, structures and a culture that assures each employee is and feels equitably valued.

Expected outcome: improved collaboration and collegiality

The concept of shared governance at CIA will ensure that faculty and staff have opportunities for their voices to be heard and given appropriate weight in decisions that affect the school’s mission and operation.

Expected outcome: improved collaboration and collegiality

Pathways for personal and professional growth will be offered for all faculty and all staff.

This begins with embracing our role as a community of learners and identifying opportunities for professional growth in and between professional constituencies. Learning, as a holistic endeavor, includes an individual’s intellectual, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual development. As such, these opportunities should not only include how we become better in our respective areas and professions, but also how we become better colleagues to each other, and better role-models of positive collegial behavior to students.

Integral steps of building this collegial environment begins with on-boarding and includes professional mentoring and respect for the work that each of us do at the college.

Expected outcome: improved collaboration and collegiality

Communication pathways and equal access to information will be robust, progressive, and allow for multiple access points.

The committee also aspires to implement opportunities that make colleagues more visible to one another and the greater community through media and print. According to Kolowich (2010), colleges typically facilitate this type of collegial activity virtually. Our ability to use tools like the college’s website and intranet enables us to increase not only interdepartmental collaboration and communication of college policy, organizational structures, and other valuable community information but also professional community members’ biographies and accolades.

Expected outcome: improved communication and collegiality

5. Describe how the institution will evaluate progress, make adjustments, and determine what has been accomplished.

The steering committee investigated several assessment strategies that assisted in developing our own assessment questions. Pre-, mid- and post- the five-year project cycle, community members will be given the opportunity to answer several questions assessing their opionions of collegiality on campus. During the course of the 5 years, after each activitiy, participants will also be given an evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the activity. These evaluative measure will not only serve to assess effectiveness during the project, but will serve as a foundation for continued assessment of opportunities that promote collegiality on campus for the future.

Evidence of Commitment to and Capacity for Accomplishing the Initiative

6. Describe the level of support for the initiative by internal or external stakeholders.

The Dean of Student Affairs and the Academic Affairs Project Manager attended a recent conference regarding the HLC Quality Initiative. Upon their return, they met with the Senior Vice President of Faculty Affairs/Chief Academic Officer (SVPFA/CAO) and his designees. A focus for the project was jointly determined, and was subsequently presented to the President's Cabinet, who resoundingly approved it.

To launch the HLC Quality Initiative process, the SVPFA/CAO, with the support of the President of CIA, established the Quality Initiative Steering Committee at CIA. This committee is comprised of talented and creative employees from a variety of areas in the college. More so, the individuals on the committee care about the institution and understand the value of working together to achieve shared goals.

The SVPFA/CAO gave this committee a clear mission statement: to improve the collegiality, mutual support and understanding, and level(s) of collaboration within the CIA community itself, toward solidifying and rendering more robust the communication flows at the college between and across all faculty and staff.

After the first meeting, committee members were asked to describe to their respective departments the initiative's premise and discuss the relevance and need of this project to each of their area's work. By the next meeting, the committee reported supportive feedback and recognized a need to establish and sustain a positive work environment.

7. Identify the groups and individuals that will lead or be directly involved in implementing the initiative.

The groups that will be involved include staff, faculty and students at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

This includes the QI steering committee which consists of:

  • Matthew Smith, Director, Student Life and Housing, Chair of the QI Committee
  • Michael Anderson, Associate Director of Administrative Systems, Office of Support Service
  • Colleen Sweeney, Project Manager, Academic Affairs
  • Barbara Chira, Academic Director, Cores + Connections, Adjunct Professor
  • Jennifer Grasso, Director of Grants and Special Projects, Institutional Advancement
  • Jessica Moore, Assistant Director of Web + Digital Marketing, Marketing and Communications
  • Sally Palmer, Controller, Business Affairs
  • Laura M. Ponikvar, Director, Library
  • Eric Reitz, Associate Director, Enrollment and Financial Aid
  • Lisa Schumann, Assistant Director, Human Resources
  • Barry Underwood, Associate Professor

As the initiative is implemented, sub-committees of the HLC steering committee will evaluate programmatic priorities and distribute tasks to specific departments or CIA community members interested in helping move specific programs forward.

Many of the listed programmatic efforts involve specific work from the Marketing, IT, Student Life, Academic Affairs, and Human Resources areas.

8. List the human, financial, technological and other resources that the institution has committed to this initiative.

Resources the project will need include CIA faculty and staff assistance, existing technological platforms, and institutional funding. This includes the time and effort invested by the steering committee and administration to see this initiative move forward, as well as the work of numerous sub-committees determined to implement programs and initiatives.

Sub-committees will work to determine where monies allocated for initiatives are spent and whether or not additional budgetary allocations are needed to accomplish the overall goals of the QI project.

Appropriateness of the Timeline for the Initiative

9. Describe the primary activities of the initiative and timeline for implementing them.

In order to accomplish the five goals of this project (see question 4: Describe the purposes and goal for the initiative), the Institute will carry out multiple projects. Several of the projects fulfill more than one of the five goals. They are as follows:

Initiative 1: Development of the Internal Quad

Timeline: 2016-19
Office Responsible: Academic Affairs and Facilities Department
Committee: 10-20 students, faculty and staff
Goals: 1 and 5

As a part of our unified campus project, the Institute developed an atrium area to serve as an internal "collegiate quad" where community members pass through, congregate, and hold community related activities. As a new space, CIA community members have begun to show interest in designing this space with the intent to render it more organic and calming, which the QI committee feels would be a holistic community exercise. To begin this project, members of the QI sub-committee will meet with academic departments to solicit ideas about how the artistic community could work together in developing the space.

Initiative 2: Community Connections

Timeline: 2016-2019
Office Responsible: CIA Sub-Committee of interested parties
Committee: 4-5
Goals: 1, 2 and 4

Often the work that we do as employees at the college lends itself to eating at one’s desk or in the classroom. As an institution, we need to take better care of ourselves and each other. We plan to offer opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to leave their offices, take a break, and do something together to relieve stress. Ideas for community connections include yoga, meditation, institutional art projects, and other engaging activities. To start, these will be scheduled for the first two Wednesdays of each month of the academic year, focusing on one theme each month. A project coordinator will oversee the annual calendar while each monthly series will be implemented by a volunteer.

Initiative 3: CIA "Start of School" Retreat

Timeline: 2016-17
Office Responsible: President's Office
Committee: 6-10
Goals: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Each year it is important for the CIA community to come together to build community and comradery amongst employees, and to explore opportunities to make the organization better, together. On a planned day, prior to the beginning of the academic year, the institute will close the school and allow for all employees to participate in a retreat. A committee of individuals from the administrative, faculty, and staff areas will plan and implement the retreat.

Initiative 4: Town Hall Meetings

Timeline: Implementation Fall 2016, assessment of effectiveness Spring 2018
Office Responsible: President's Office
Committee: President's Cabinet
Goals: 1, 2, 3 and 5

Throughout the building process, CIA administration held periodic town hall meetings for students, faculty and staff. The Institute used this communication method to not only give information about the progress of the building project, but obtain feedback from the community about the construction process. Now that construction is complete, it is important to keep the lines of communication open. The QI committee requests that the President's Cabinet hold two town hall meetings a year (one per semester) about Institute issues. In much the same way the construction town halls served as a vehicle for two-way communication, this will help employees to be better informed of the issues that surround our college and the students who attend.

Initiative 5: Faculty/Staff On-boarding

Timeline: 2017-18
Office Responsible: Human Resources + Senior Vice President of Faculty Affairs (SVPFA) /CAO
Committee: 4-5
Goals: 1, 2, 4, and 5

The Institute will perform an internal SWOT analysis regarding how new employees are welcomed at the Institute, informed of its traditions, and trained in internalized processes. The results of the analysis will be used to enhance the on-boarding process for both new faculty and staff. A process and schedule for all-employee re-orientation will also be developed, to support institutional changes over time.

Initiative 6: CIA Professional Mentors

Timeline: 2017-18
Office Responsible: Human Resources, Faculty Senate and Staff Senate
Committee: 4-5
Goals: 1, 2 and 4

The Institute will begin a mentoring program for new employees. CIA is comprised of many talented full-time professors and staff. With new employees starting at CIA, and many of them being new professionals, it is important to have mentors to assist them in the transition to CIA. Mentors will be asked to volunteer for their service and be expected to assist new employees for at least the first year of employment. Position descriptions will be determined through Spring/Summer of 2016 with an anticipated start date of Fall 2016.

Initiative 7: Staff Council

Timeline: Initial planning Spring 2016, implementation by Fall 2016
Office Responsible: Senior Vice President of Faculty Affairs (SVPFA)/CAO
Committee: 1 elected representative per administrative department
Goals: 1, 2, 3 and 4

Several years ago, CIA faculty implemented a faculty senate to serve as a voice of shared governance on academic issues at the Institute. In much the same way, CIA staff would also like to have this unified voice to discuss and help solve issues surrounding staff. Initially, a staff group would be convened to begin to research other university staff council structures. This would lead to discussion about overall purpose and implementation of one on our own campus.

Initiative 8: The CIA Partnership: Understanding and helping students through the issues they face

Timeline: Initial planning Fall 2016, implementation by Spring 2017
Office Responsibility: Division of Student Affairs and Division of Academic Affairs
Committee: 10 employees
Goals: 1, 4 and 5

As students arrive on campus with more complex issues, faculty and staff commit to understanding the challenges facing our students. Topic areas will be generated from employee suggestions based on the issues they see students struggling with. These programs include lectures/speakers, forum, and interactive trainings.

Initiative 9: Professional development money allocation structure

Timeline: Implementation by Spring 2017, assessment Spring 2019
Office Responsible: The President's Cabinet and an independent committee; Faculty Senate and Staff Senate
Goals: 1, 2 and 4

As an institution, CIA will support the building of a comprehensive professional development plan for staff and broaden the access for the existing faculty development plan to include all faculty, including adjunct faculty. While resources may restrict the amount of professional development money received per department, allowing for departments/individuals to apply for funds is a way for CIA employees who are seeking travel/accommodation/registration monies to participate in these important development opportunities. These engagements not only make employees better professionals, but they allow employees to bring back ideas shared to better the organization as a whole. The Institute’s focus on the professional development of its employees is not apparent and the current distribution of professional development monies seems unequitable.

Initiative 10: Internal Communication Inventory

Timeline: Initial inventory Spring 2017, assessment Spring 2019
Office Responsible: Marketing and Communications and Information Technology
Goal: 5

It could be helpful, as an activity, to collect baseline information on how/when each department currently communicates within their own departments. Just as one example, Marketing + Communications has a full staff meeting every Monday morning. This would help one another to see what the current systems and frequency are within departments, so that we can build from there, both within and across departments.

Initiative 11: Video Messaging Boards

Timeline: Monitors are already installed. Software and policy to be determined. Full implementation scheduled by Fall 2018.
Offices Responsible: Office of Information Technology and Marketing and Communications
Goals: 1 and 5

In our new unified campus, we have installed video monitors in many high traffic areas. These video boards should be used to display information about upcoming events, daily meetings, and other important information.

Initiative 12: Meet the Maker

Timeline: Spring 2017
Office Responsible: Marketing and Communications
Goals: 1, 2, 4 and 5

A new part of CIA Weekly newsletter, CIA will highlight 1 student, 1 faculty member and 1 staff member each issue. “Maker” could refer to a hobby/interest, personal project (art, music, writing, etc.), participation in community activity (community garden, volunteer, fundraiser), creating and sharing food/beverage recipes, etc.

Initiative 13: Communication Pillars

Timeline: Planning Fall 2016, implementation Fall 2017
Office Responsible: Division of Student Affairs, Office of Marketing and Communication, Department of Facilities.
Goals: 1, 2 and 5

Throughout the school, there are large pillars that are perfect for using as communication hubs. As with most colleges, walls are often times used to hang flyers to communicate activities, shows, classes, internships, and scholarships. Using these pillars in a creative way allows us to have a central place for communication, while saving the walls of the school for art.

Initiative 14: Departmental MyCIA pages

Timeline: Planning Spring 2017, implementation Fall 2018
Office Responsible: Information Technology, Marketing, and individual offices responsible for maintaining pages
Goals: 1, 2 and 5

Using our intranet system (myCIA), every department will maintain a page with a list of individuals and their responsibilities and resources. Each department would need to have a designated person responsible for maintaining this page. For example, the Marketing department has discussed adding information on the roles and responsibly within the department, branding/style guidelines, website training materials, how to request a project, timelines, etc.


Institution Contact

Matthew J. Smith, Director of Student Life and Housing

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