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2011-12 Beloit Initiatives (A Progress Report)

The fall and spring are always busy on campus, but this has been especially true this year for a large number of faculty, staff and students who have been engaged in community wide and campus-enhancing projects. Below is a list of some of some of those projects along with details about the work underway, the team goals, and progress to date. Have a look.

And if you're one of the brave and hardy souls engaged in this work? Take a bow. Just an impressed by-stander? Slap a back or two. This is big, people.

The Beloit Curriculum and the Liberal Arts in Practice

Beloit's faculty members teach. And mentor. And advise. And teach some more.

But that's not all. The faculty also stays busy shaping the college's curriculum. Last spring, the Academic Senate approved some pretty robust changes to that curriculum. But that was, in many ways, just the beginning. Faculty committees have been fleshing out these new requirements ever since-- and looking at programmatic ways to enhance them. That work continues. Among other things, the work ongoing is aimed at making real the ideas that shaped the Liberal Arts in Practice requirements, as well as the capstone experiences. Stay tuned.

Read more about the college's new, distinctive curriculum here.

Progress:  The work continues, and is ongoing, but already Senate has passed language that better defines what constitutes a capstone (hint: you’ve got options), a liberal arts in practice experience (and options) and internships (more options still).

Read more:  You can read more about the faculty’s work around Advising Practicum, the Liberal Arts in Practice, college fundraising modules, course development and so on by visiting the Dean’s and Provost’s page. There you’ll find links pointing you to resources detailing the work of the Academic Strategic Planning Committee, COA (the Curriculum Oversight and Administration Committee), FS&P (Faculty Status and Performance Committee), Academic Senate, and both the Faculty Deliberation Groups and Faculty Development Groups.


Jenzabar implementation

In February 2011, the college decided to change the college’s data management and planning software. With the promise of enhanced data collection and management capabilities (not to mention a suite of soon-to-come online services such as timecard processing), a cross-campus team of staff have been working daily to get ready for a July rollover. The goal:  Start by replicating the functionality of Datatel Colleague and WebAdvisor (our current software) and then start rolling out new features in short order.

Important to note:  This implementation is almost twice the normal speed (and they say turtles are slow!).

Who's involved:  Led by Kelly Scott in IT with John Plachta serving as database conversion coordinator and Sarah Meadus in the roles of conversion support, training, reporting, and JICS coordinator, the implementation also involves module managers from across the college, including : Caryn Zimmerman (accounts payable and purchasing), Jody Nichols (accounts payable, purchasing and accounts receivable) , Sharon Denu (accounts receivable), Tom Kreiser and Gail Hartje (admissions), Peggy Weisensel-Chavey (alumni relations and development), Jane Hessian and Susan Chadwick (financial aid), Rick Lemke (general ledger and fixed assets),  Scott Murphy (fixed assets), John Nicholas (general ledger), Gail Pateros (HR payroll), Heather McLean and Lori Rhead (HR personnel), Mary Boros-Kazai and Maria Katsoulidis (registration and advising), Linda Lauterbach and John Winkelmann (residential life). Megan Fitch, CIO, is supporting the team as sponsor.

Progress:  At this point, the team is three-quarters of the way home. July 16, here they come!

[Jenza update 522] 

The project timeline, as of early May 2012, sat at 75 percent.

Read more about this project, and see the smiling faces of the module managers, at http://www.beloit.edu/isr/it/erp/jenzabar_implementation/archive/.


Raiser's Edge rollout

The switch from our current data management system (Datatel) to Jenzabar inspired another switch on campus--this time in the External Affairs wing ( which serves to inform external constituents of the College’s mission and goals; to involve them as volunteers; and to inspire them to invest their resources in the College ). External Affairs, which includes alumni affairs, is moving its data collection and management services to a new system called The Raiser's Edge. This tool will allow the college to stay in better touch with its alumni and supporters, as well as track the generosity that supports the college, its students, and faculty.

This new system, now implemented (the External Affairs office is already training on the software and making use of its capabilities) will make it easier for supporters to give or register for campus events, while also enhancing the external affairs team’s ability to track and recognize gifts. In that way, this new system will make it easier to say “thank you” to those donors.

Who's involved:  Beth Monteiro and Peggy Weisensel-Chavey are the site administrators, while the rest of the external affairs division will put the system to good use (along with some campus partners). 

Why this is important:  Nearly 85 percent of Beloit College students get scholarship aid from supporters of the college (alumni, local residents, parents, and foundations). That’s a big deal. Also big:  Donors endow faculty chairs, are helping renew the campus’s historic buildings (including last summer’s work on the Chapin exterior), and recently updated the Strong Stadium field and track. Being able to acknowledge and track that generosity is important. Raiser’s Edge is the leading tool in higher ed for doing that work.

Progress: On target, with a mid March rollout complete.


Food Service Task Force (See charge)

One of the more visible initiatives on campus this academic year has been the work of the food service task force, which has been polling campus about its needs and desires related to food. The team spent the fall and spring engaging with students, faculty and staff about Beloit’s food and how the college can better invest in it. There were meetings, surveys, and open forums. Then—a  bidder’s conference and vendor presentations. After nearly four months work, a decision to transition management to Bon Appetit was announced on April 11.

Who's involved:  The entire campus had been asked to weigh in, and four different vendors (including an in-house team) vied for the opportunity to operate the college’s food service. The organizing task force included Beloiters Christina Klawitter (chair), John Winkelmann (residence life, dean's office), Jody Nichols (accounting office), Marion Fass (biology), Phil Shields (religious studies and philosophy), Brian Vraney (athletics), Lynn Vollbrecht (communications and marketing), Clara Baker (’13), Diana Gutierrez-Meza (’13), and Tobin Walters (’14).

The inside scoop:  The taskforce spent an enormous amount of time investigating vendors, pricing, and best practices at other campuses and presented their recommendation on March 15 to President Bierman, who told Academic Senate on April 11 that the group had been unanimous in its recommendation. 

Progress:  The transition will occur in mid-June, and construction on Commons is planned for the summer. One thing that won't change: the people. Students, faculty and staff will see all familiar faces when they return in the fall (Bon Appetit is retaining all 27 employees and hiring seven more in the months ahead). For the full details visit the Terrarium story here: https://www.beloit.edu/campus/initiatives/#food_service.


Space-Use Planning Committee (See charge)

Like the Food Service Task Force, the Space-Use Planning Committee has made it a point to seek input from the campus community, culling feedback from a series of round tables and forums. During these events, community members were asked to consider potential space-use scenarios that reconceptualize the way the college inhabits its physical space.

In particular, the committee has explored the possibility of retrofitting historical buildings, recreational facilities, upgrading WAC and D.K.’s, the impact of relocating key administrative offices, and the idea of third spaces—places that could complement and integrate the academic and residential aspects of campus life. 

Charged with envisioning an intelligent and strategic use of the physical campus space in the present as well as moving forward, the committee has weighed all manner of possibilities for the college’s physical future.

Who’s involved:   Ann Davies (provost and dean), Bruce Hamilton (physical plant), Ari Jacobs(’11), Christina Klawitter (dean), Chuck Lewis (English), Scott Lyngaas (modern languages and literatures), and Ruth Vater (alumni and parent relations).

Progress:  The group’s draft recommendation was shared with President Bierman and the campus community in March. The group is now reviewing the campus feedback to the draft and preparing its final recommendations for next steps.


Activity and Recreation Center Programming Committee (See charge)

[Space Use Task Force] 

Inside the weekly ARC taskforce meeting. On Feb. 15, the results of more than 34 different stakeholder meetings (with everyone from BSC to the Buccaneer coaching staff) began to take shape on the wall of the Mead Room in Pearsons.

In January, President Bierman named a committee of faculty, students and staff and charged them with leading a programming exercise for an activity and recreation center on campus. As was reported in the Terrarium and the Round Table, the committee was asked to consider the decommissioned Alliant power plant (which sits a stone’s throw away from Flood Arena) as the site for this facility.

This spring, the group canvassed campus, met with individuals and groups, students and employees, to learn what kind of spaces might be needed on campus.

Now, the committee has presented its recommendations to the president, and to the board of Trustees.

Who’s involved:  Dean of Students Christina Klawitter (chair), Isaac Bamgbose (’13), Peggy Carl (athletics), Bill Flanagan (president’s office), Jennie Hartzheim (student life), Jason Hughes (communications and marketing) , Jenna Larsen (’14), Scott Lyngaas (modern languages), Britt Scharringhausen (physics), Tim Schmiechen (athletics), and local consultant Dan Schooff.

What you should know:  As President Bierman told Academic Senate in January, the college’s Marvin Fieldhouse is in need of replacement, and other wellness, exercise and “third” spaces are needed on campus. That said, the college can’t take out a loan and simply build new. The ARC (as it’s being called by some) or Powerhouse (as it’s been called by others) would have to be donor floated.

What’s next:  The committee will compile its findings and pass them along to a local architect who will work to see what the facility can accommodate. (Pool? Restaurant? Track?) This will help President Bierman and the college’s Board of Trustees make an informed decision in the fall about whether or not to pursue this project with supporters and the building’s owners, Alliant Energy (who have been kindly accommodating the college’s deliberations and viewing requests over the last few months).  

Progress:  Having presented its recommendations to the president and board of trustees, the board will officially weigh the merits of the project at their October meeting.


Diversity and Inclusion Task Force (See charge)

A few weeks into the Spring semester, President Bierman emailed faculty, staff and students with news of yet another taskforce—this time, one aimed at advancing and enlarging plans first hatched in 2008 that aimed at enabling “people of all backgrounds to flourish on campus.” 

As Bierman wrote in his email to campus, “While important parts of the 2008 Diversity Plan have been realized, we have been less successful in reaching a shared understanding about the profound questions that racial and ethnic diversity – and their intersections with gender, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, and other identities – pose for the production of knowledge and our responsibilities to one another.  As a result, determining how best to engage such questions through our curriculum remains incomplete.”

Enter the 2012 Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. Though the college has exceeded the original plan’s enrollment goals (among other successes), there are still some goals yet to be attained along with new realities and new opportunities that have presented themselves and require attention.

Who’s involved:  Cecil Youngblood (co-chair), Georgia Durst-Lahti (co-chair), Emily Chamlee-Wright (economics), JingJing Lou (education), Amber Moreyra (residential life), Stephen Heinz (’13), and Tamanisha John (’15).

What you should know:   This taskforce has been asked to expand the scope of the 2008 work, tying it into the new curricular developments while also answering the new federal funding realities that are seemingly threatening the future of programs like TRiO.

Progress:  The taskforce was just convened on Feb. 15, 2012. They’ve just begun meeting and hatching plans. That said, they only have until the end of the academic year to answer three requests from President Bierman. Those are:

  1. to articulate more fully Beloit’s learning goals related to social identity and intercultural literacy;
  2. to evaluate curricular means – understood broadly to include learning within and beyond the classroom -- for successfully realizing those goals;
  3. to generate recommendations for the development and use of resources related to attracting and advancing a diverse student body with decreased dependence on federal funding sources.  

The Beloit Initiative on Student Employment

Though it was among the first projects launched in Staff Council, this has been a big project to tackle and work (and progress!) continues. Led by Nancy Benedict, vice president for enrollment, and Human Resources Director Lori Rhead, the group has worked diligently to set a uniform pay scale for student workers, build out job descriptions for all positions, and even launch a website that includes all of this information for both campus offices and departments and the students themselves.

At this point, says Benedict, the group is focusing in on making the work-finding process even smoother, educating campus employers about how best to work with HR and financial aid, and preparing for the day when employees and supervisors can handle time cards online (thanks, Jenzabar!).

Who’s involved:  Many members of the staff have contributed to this project. Those who have continued to review policy and process are Nancy Benedict (enrollment services), Gail Pateros, Heather McLean, and Lori Rhead (human resources), Lorrie Olszewski (financial aid), Joy de Leon (student services), Megan Fitch (ISR), and Jody Nichols (accounting).

What you should know:  At any given time, nearly three-quarters of the college’s student body is employed on campus.  Employing that many students in hundreds of different positions is quite a challenge. But beyond that, this group believes that the work itself should be helping fulfill the college’s mission. Thus the job descriptions, the meetings, and the ongoing work aimed at making these positions (and the process that fills them) more transparent and rewarding.

Progress:  Check! As noted above, this group has a lot to show for its efforts. But it’s not done yet, says Benedict: future plans include more intentionally building the liberal arts in practice into the student employment program (there are some great models already, like the Museum Assistants), and providing training to supervisors.


Restricted Accounts Mapping and Best Practices (a.k.a. "The 04 Taskforce")

While initiatives like the Food Taskforce may be better known to the campus community, the work by staff and faculty to track and develop best practices for the college’s restricted funding accounts is no less important or demanding.

More commonly referred to as the “04 Taskforce” because its work has focused on restricted accounts*(see bottom for explanation) that are coded with an 04 in the college databases, this group is aiming to help those who manage restricted accounts gain access to the information they need to make appropriate and best use decisions regarding these funds. This requires key decision makers to have easy access to critical summary information about each account they manage.  

“Our motivation,” writes Emily Chamlee-Wright in the group’s preliminary report to President Bierman and senior staff in December, “is to ensure that account owners and the relevant Budget Officer have the information they need to leverage resources toward the highest priorities possible, make informed decisions within the constraints of the gift use agreement and donor intent, and help to foster effective and responsive stewardship of the funds entrusted to the College.”

With Jenzabar and Razor’s Edge data management systems coming on line, this was the perfect time to design a set of standard summary reports that integrates information from accounting and external affairs to ensure that all the relevant information is available in one place and within a few keystrokes.  As there are thousands of restricted funds, a full accounting and designation will take many months, but many key pieces of information will be available once Jenzabar goes live. 

Who’s involved:  Associate Dean Emily Chamlee-Wright; Beth Monteiro, executive director of development; John Nicholas, vice president of administration; Denise LaMaster, director of donor relations and stewardship;  Jon Urish, senior associate director of admissions; Lisa Visbeke, director of the library and archives; and Assistant Athletic Director Tim Schmeichen have been at the fore of this work since it began last semester. Megan Fitch, CIO, and Kelly Scott, director of information technology, have played critical roles in ensuring the integration of external affairs and accounting data.  Most staff or faculty that oversee or have access to a restricted account have also had the opportunity to provide feedback on which pieces of information are most needed in the reports.

Progress:  With a July implementation of Jenzabar looming, the work needed to integrate the different sources of data is still underway but nearing completion. There is a great deal more work to be done to consolidate and summarize information about how funds can be used.  This piece of the project, which is led by Denise LaMaster, Director of Donor Relations and Stewardship, will be completed by the end of the summer.

*So, what is a restricted account? Restricted accounts are sources of funding supported by gifts that are intended for a specific purpose. Information about those gifts has, until now, lived in several different spots. This project team is helping pull all that information together. And because there are hundreds of those funds, the work is more laborious than you might think.