2007 Reaffirmation Teams
2.5 - 2007 Reaffirmation Teams
The institution engages in ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning and evaluation processes that (1) incorporate a systematic review of institutional mission, goals, and outcomes; (2) result in continuing improvement in institutional quality, and (3) demonstrate the institution is effectively accomplishing its mission.
The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) engages in an ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning and evaluation process that not only has improved and continues to improve the university but also demonstrates that the university is effectively accomplishing its mission. UT Dallas systematically reviews its programs and services; these reviews include but are not limited to annual reporting, annual budgeting, quarterly compliance reviews of high-risk areas, strategic planning and compact programming, ongoing program assessment, personnel evaluation, student services evaluation, and curriculum review. Many of these review processes engage people across departmental lines and often across divisional lines. Changes to existing strategic planning initiatives, compact agreements, and other plans occur as a result of these reviews; such changes are monitored to ensure effectiveness and process improvement.
UT Dallas is a relatively young institution. The university, authorized by Section 70.01 of the Texas Education Code (TEC) , began as a restructured Southwest Center for Advanced Studies (SCAS) and originally offered graduate degrees in disciplinary areas as they existed at the SCAS when the founders donated SCAS to The University of Texas System (UT System) in 1969. The enabling legislation provided a framework for the eventual offering of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The process by which the university currently offers new programs has remained virtually unchanged from the 1970s when the university added upper-division undergraduate students. Through long discussions with area legislators, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) staff, and UT System officials, Section 70.08 , which allowed the admission of freshman students, was added to the TEC in the 71st Legislature. As the university continued to offer annual reports of enrollment and student retention, legislators passed in 2005 Senate Bill 254 which lifted restrictions on the entering freshman class and removed restrictions on potential program offerings .
As UT Dallas has grown from its earliest days as a post-doctoral institution, the university community has continued to refine its mission. While the basic underpinning has been and remains to be an emphasis on technology, education, and research, the mission now includes elements that reflect the university’s place within the community and that emphasize student learning. For example, the previously adopted mission of UT Dallas read as follows: “The mission of The University of Texas at Dallas is to provide Texas and the nation with the benefits of educational and research programs of the highest quality. These programs address the multidimensional needs of a dynamic modern society driven by the development, diffusion, understanding, and management of advanced technology.” The recently adopted and approved mission statement  demonstrates how the university has matured as it has developed: “The University of Texas at Dallas serves the Metroplex and the state of Texas as a global leader in innovative, high quality science, engineering, and business education and research. The University is committed to (1) producing engaged graduates, prepared for life, work, and leadership in a constantly changing world, (2) advancing excellent educational and research programs in the natural and social sciences, in engineering and technology, in management, and in the liberal, creative, and practical arts, and (3) transforming ideas into actions that directly benefit the personal, economic, social, and cultural lives of the citizens of Texas.”
The more recent mission statement clearly relies on the previous statement for its basic philosophy, but the revised mission statement focuses more on specific elements of the university community and the contribution of each sector by addressing the benefits the university provides its students and the more targeted service area of the State of Texas rather than the nation as a whole. While acknowledging the university’s aspiration to be a global leader, UT Dallas also acknowledges its central role in serving the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and the state of Texas.Strategic Planning
The strategic planning process provides a foundation for institutional effectiveness at UT Dallas. The mission statement drives that planning and helps to delineate the priorities for the institution. Strategic planning at UT Dallas works from the top down and from the bottom up; that is to say, the strategic plan results from many discussions at the departmental as well as at the executive level.
The most recently adopted strategic plan , “Creating the Future,” underwent 28 versions, and the process by which it was developed was a collaborative effort involving similar strategic planning documents from each division and each academic school .
In spring 2005, President David Daniel charged Executive Vice President and Provost Hobson Wildenthal and Speaker of the Faculty Robert Nelsen with the development of the new strategic plan. Twenty-two different committees participated in the process, and each committee, save one, consisted of at least three students, three faculty members, and members of the staff. Discussions focused on mixed land use, budgeting, Greek life, technology transfer, campus beautification, intercollegiate and intramural athletics, infrastructure, curriculum, diversity, research, community outreach, graduate education, program development, and more; each committee created a three-page summary of its deliberations and conclusions. Concurrently, each school, business affairs unit, and student affairs unit developed their own strategic plans (sample plans are included     ). A writing committee  then took the resulting documents to create a unified strategic plan draft. Dr. Nelsen delivered version seven of the plan to the president on September 29, 2005. In the following February, version 27 was posted to the website for comment. After 3,600 visits and nearly 100 responses with suggestions , the final version, “Creating the Future,” was released at the president’s investiture on March 29, 2006. The plan is accessible via the Office of the President’s webpage .
The plan itself contains multiple initiatives, action items, and imperatives, as well as performance measures, quantitative targets, and benchmarking to provide assessment metrics and mechanism for use in the implementing the plan. The plan is clearly linked to and draws heavily upon the plans of the seven schools within the university and the programs and initiatives within those schools. The integration of the plans demonstrates how the university’s planning reflects the overall planning of campus constituents. For example, the 2005-2010 strategic plan  for the School of Arts and Humanities (A&H) had a clear influence on the university’s plan in the areas of Community Outreach (Action 6.4) and The Arts (Action 6.2). A&H proposed a Center for Values in Medicine and Technology, a center that highlights the transdisciplinary blend of philosophy with medical technology, and that center serves as a part of the university plan’s focus on Enhanced Quality of Life (Action 5.2). Additionally, A&H’s Center for Interactive and Animated Arts is an important element in Action 6.2: The Arts.
Similarly, the planned expansion of the Department of Science/Mathematics in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics’ (NSM) plan  contributes to Action 6.1: K-16 Education with its plan for the expansion of the Department of Science/Mathematics Education. Since the plan’s development, NSM has received funding to support the U-Teach initiative that will concentrate within the Department of Science/Mathematics Education and will provide extensive community outreach to the region. The programs within NSM also play a major role in Initiative Four: Securing the Safety of the Future and in Initiative One: Discovering Tomorrow’s Inventions Today. The School of General Studies’ (GS) Academic Bridge Program outlined in its strategic plan  plays an important role in Initiative Six: Making a Great City Greater by promoting diversity as well as improving K-16 education (Action 6.1). Similarly, the school’s Teacher Development Center also contributes to Action 6.1 in the university’s plan. The School of Management (SOM) also contributes significantly to the plan with its own plan for managing change which helped to generate Action 3.1: Dynamic Change Management.
The entire plan was deliberately written so that at least four, if not all seven, schools participate in each of the plan’s six strategic initiatives (with the accompanying action items) as well as many of the student services programs as possible. Initiative One: Discovering Tomorrow’s Inventions Today relies heavily on the Research Enterprise Initiative, a collaborative program joining the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) with NSM in shared research space as well as transdisciplinary projects that also involve Texas Instruments and UT System. The BioWorld action item crosses disciplines at the university with its partnership between NSM and the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) and The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern) in programs focused on bioinformatics, bio-imaging, biotechnology, biostatistics, and systems biology.
Initiative Two: Preparing Students for Tomorrow’s Challenges relies on the collaborative efforts across all academic disciplinary lines and joins the instructional programs with those of the Office of Student Affairs, including intramural sports, the Multicultural Center, the Student Government, the Student Union and Activities Advisory Board, and others. Within the teams developing Initiative Two, considerable focus was given to the enhancement of diversity and inclusion (Action 2.4); indeed, one of the committees developed a proposal that called for the development of an Office for Diversity headed by a vice president for diversity .
Initiative Three: Managing Change in a Constantly Changing Society prescriptively joins the efforts of ECS, SOM, the School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences (EPPS), and A&H to focus on program development and the implementation of a Consortium for Innovation to foster new research centers that bring together various disciplinary research efforts. This initiative also addresses a need to expand efforts in the area of innovative instructional delivery systems and other entrepreneurial programs.
Initiative Four: Securing the Safety of the Future addresses realistic needs for both national and global security, and energy and environment initiatives. Working across school lines in ECS, EPPS, and NSM, UT Dallas researchers and faculty will address issues ranging from cyber-security to risk management, from energy independence to environmental protections.
Initiative Five: Improving the Health and Quality of Life of Individuals and Society serves well as the exemplar of a truly transdisciplinary effort. Addressing individual and societal needs for health and quality of life necessitates the joining of efforts from A&H, BBS, NSM, EPPS, SOM, and ECS. Resulting programs will range from the expansion of both the Center for Values in Medicine and Technology and the Sickle Cell Disease Research Center to more external collaborations with UT Southwestern, UT Brownsville, and UT Arlington.
Initiative Six: Making a Great City Even Greater recognizes the role a university can and should play in the life of its neighbors. Focusing on a continued enhancement of public education initiatives and a growing role for the university in the artistic community, UT Dallas strives to place greater emphasis on being a participant in the community across all disciplinary lines.
Strategic planning and strategic plans are necessarily living processes and living documents. In May 2007, President Daniel released to the Academic Senate and the university as a whole an implementation plan for the “Creating the Future” strategic plan and asked for further feedback  (he had shared an earlier draft with his executive staff and the academic deans). Within the document, the president identifies a responsible university official for each of the major initiatives and action items as well as the expected cost for each initiative and action item. Based upon data collected regarding student growth, student achievements, research growth, new program initiation, etc. since the plan was first written, the metrics for the plan have been adjusted, and the timeline has been refined. This iterative, data-driven process, as well as the assignment of responsibility to individuals ranging from deans to various vice presidents and other academic administrators, demonstrates the university’s commitment to campus-wide involvement and to continuous improvement, not only in the planning but also in the required actions to make each of the plan’s goals a reality.Past Strategic Planning Improvements
While it is too early to demonstrate substantial continuous improvement based on the new strategic plan, “Creating the Future,” the previous UT Dallas strategic plans have clearly led to major improvements in teaching, research, and service. A cursory review of the 1999 and the 2001-2005 strategic plans reveals that many of the plans’ components have been addressed successfully. The following items do not comprise the complete list of accomplishments but rather some of the highlights.
In the 1999 strategic plan, President Franklyn Jenifer identified critical issues , many of which have been addressed, some to completion. For example, I.A.—the continuation of merit-based scholarships for freshmen and transfer students—continues into the present. In the intervening years, the director of financial aid drafted a strategy to maximize financial assistance to students with unmet need ; that strategy addresses need-based rather than merit-based aid because of a growing need for need-based aid. While the strategy remains in place basically much as originally drafted, the enrollment management team also began awarding the STARS scholarship in 2002 to attract transfer students. In its original form, the award was offered to anyone meeting a given threshold. In 2006, the Office of Enrollment Services reconfigured the program slightly to provide a sliding scale of scholarships to transfer students, based on their community college grade point average at the time of application . Addressing the purely merit-based aid proposal from the 1999 plan, the Academic Excellence Scholarship (AES) program has grown dramatically, offering scholarships to a projected 2,053 recipients for FY 2008 at a cost exceeding $16M .
The 1999 strategic plan also addressed the issue of freshman persistence to graduation. The AES program report  indicates that the freshman cohort of 2000 had an overall six-year graduation rate of 54.64%, slightly below the projected 56%. AES recipients, however, had an overall persistence rate of 65.2%, with varying degrees of success for different scholarship levels. [Please note: these data do not match the official six-year persistence rate because the AES program includes transfer freshmen in its enrollment and retention data.]
The 1999 plan also delineated needed facility improvements. Striking examples of the completion of this plan element include the development and completion of the South Building in the Engineering and Computer Science Complex, the School of Management Building, and the Callier North Center.
Instructional effectiveness improvement also received attention in the 1999 plan’s references to teaching assistant (TA) training. The Office of Graduate Studies has conducted TA orientation sessions for a number of years. While the basic structure has not changed dramatically, some of the information has changed based on a shift in the active role TA’s take in the classroom. The 1995 agenda  displays an ongoing seminar across the academic year. Topics included research ethics, teaching technology, “the uses of videotaping,” cultural diversity, and professional development. The 1997 agenda  compressed the training into a 2-day seminar, with many of the same topics. However, the inclusion of a discussion about engaging students in their own learning clearly demonstrates a slight shift in approach. The spring 2005 agenda  provides evidence the training has become more focused on the TA as an individual, with only one session about research and teaching resources, one session on e-learning tools, and the rest of the day on topics related to the TA or compliance issues. The use of the TA videotaping for international students provides students an opportunity to identify specific personal traits and language patterns that may interfere with a student’s effectiveness in the classroom. The 2006 agenda  similarly focuses considerable attention on the TA but also includes sessions focused on the student population and its characteristics, the ethics of teaching, and assessment matters. In sum, the TA orientation program has changed across the years to focus not only on recurring matters regarding the TA’s contracted service but also on the student and the role the student plays in the TA’s service.
The 1999 plan recognized the need to “increase the status and rewards for best-practice teaching.” The university now includes equivalent awards for both tenure-system and nontenure-system faculty. The recipients receive a cash prize in addition to the recognition of their achievements  .
Also as part of the 1999 plan, six degree program proposals had already begun the approval process with the UT System and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; subsequently, three additional programs received approval within the 1999-2003 period: B.A. in Gender Studies (offered for credit beginning in fall 1999), M.S. in Computer Engineering (offered for credit beginning in fall 1999), and the Doctorate in Audiology (offered for credit beginning in fall 2002).
The following list of other targeted achievement levels from the 1999 plan demonstrates how UT Dallas is using research-based strategic planning to accomplish its mission and to continue to improve:
- Retention of first-time, full-time freshmen to sophomore year:
- targeted level: 75%—achieved level (fall 2002 - fall 2003): 83.46% 
- Six-year graduation rate for entering freshman cohort:
- targeted level: 56%—achieved level (fall 1999 - 2005): 55.98% 
- Undergraduate Degrees Awarded:
- targeted level: 1,250—achieved level (2002-2003): 1,605 
- Number of minority graduating students:
- targeted level: 155—achieved level (2002-2003): 228 African-Americans & Hispanic: 228 and 689 all non- Anglo 
- Number of minority students enrolled (fall 2002):
- targeted level: 1,298—achieved level: 1,778 (885 African-American; 893 Hispanic; 2,366 Asian; 73 Native American, and 2,218 International )
- Headcount Enrollment (fall 2002):
- targeted level: 10,300—achieved level: 13,229 
- Number of Student Credit Hours (fall 2002):
- targeted level: 97,210—achieved level: 127,833 
Similar improvements can be charted as a result of the 2001-2005 strategic plan, which began as a response to a required update to the 1999 plan and drew heavily from planning being done by the various schools (as can be seen in the full development of a series of strategic plans for the School of Management   ). For example, in 2001, the plan projected an enrollment of “14,000 plus students” by 2005. The fall 2005 headcount enrollment was 14,480 .
With regard to UT Dallas’ commitment to its service mission, the 2001-2005 plan established a goal to “Provide Public Service: The University of Texas at Dallas seeks to serve the general public through selected programs directed toward participants in the K-12 education sector .” Since the plan’s development, the AP Summer Institute has continued to grow, serving over 600 teachers in the summer 2006 and 700 teachers in the 2007 institute and providing instruction across 20 different pre-AP and AP course programs . The 2001 plan also addressed serving traditionally under-represented populations with programs such as the Academic Bridge Program . This program began in 2000, with 30 students in the inaugural class, and has continued to grow (60 students are expected to participate in 2007-2008). It targets high school students in the top 15% of their graduating classes from Dallas, DeSoto, Duncanville, Wilmer-Hutchins, and Lancaster areas. . The program provides a transitional summer experience, including a specialized RHET 1101 (freshman orientation) class, for participants. The program has been carefully monitored and has produced a higher graduation rate than comparable entering freshman cohorts .Ongoing Improvements—“Creating the Future” Strategic Plan
Given a track record of accomplishing elements of previous strategic plans, UT Dallas anticipates fairly rapid completion of some elements within the new plan, while others will take longer by design. For example, Action 1.2 focuses on biological and medical discoveries and new programs resulting from such advances. The School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics has already developed its biotechnology program but anticipates considerable input in the completion of the bioengineering program in concert with the Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Sciences. Additionally, UT Southwestern will play a large role in the development of joint programs across institutional lines. Similarly, the response to Initiative Two: Preparing Students for Tomorrow’s Future has begun but will take time to fully accomplish. Item 2.4 (Diversity and Inclusion) calls for a vice president for diversity; Dr. Magaly Spector  has joined the university for a part-time association prior to a full appointment in January 2008 and will assume responsibility for existing programs and the development of new programs to attract and retain a more diverse population of students, staff, and faculty. She will also reach beyond the campus into the community at large to forge a stronger working relationship with different constituencies across the Metroplex. Similarly, the focus on Living-Learning Communities (Item 2.2), which has its roots in experimental programs already in place, will advance as the planned residence hall comes online in 2009. Other activities are also underway; for example in the area of business leadership (Item 6.3), the School of Management has recently formed an Institute for Innovation and has begun offering day-long seminars to interested parties .
One of the identified top priorities for the upcoming three years is the “[A]pproval and funding of new buildings.” To that end, UT Dallas has recently sought and received approval for a new Math/Science Education building; a local team has hired the contractor to pursue approved project 302-280, funded for $27M. Similarly, a new Student Services Building has been approved by the legislature and will be officially approved at the August 2007 meeting of the Board of Regents . Other projects include the ongoing renovation of Berkner and Founders buildings and the recent completion of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Laboratory building in 2004-2005.University Compacts
The annual university compact process is an important element in strategic planning at UT Dallas, and the compacts play an important role in assuring that the strategic plan will be fully realized. The compact process was initiated in 2003 to “provide a common, systematic, and integrated planning framework for the System” at the directive of UT System Chancellor Mark G. Yudof . According to Chancellor Yudof, the purpose of the compact process is to “summarize the institutions major goals and priorities, strategic directions and critical issues, relating to but not replacing budget or longer-term planning materials.” With the addition of this planning process, UT Dallas has fully integrated both short- and long-term planning. The process focuses on a shorter timeframe than the strategic planning process, and, as such, the final documents can rely on more time-sensitive measures such as year-to-year enrollment gains, faculty hires, and/or finite improvements in business processes.
The first round of compact development began in earnest with each major area within the university engaged in the process. The UT Dallas compact for 2004-2005  includes specific references to research in focused initiatives, such as Arts and Technology (page 4); the Arts and Technology initiatives emanate from the School of Arts and Humanities’compact , as do the plans to offer a Ph.D. in the Arts and Technology academic program. Similar contributions to the compact come from plans for collaborative programs with other institutions from the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics , the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences , and the School of Management . Suggested enrollment increases and strategies for such recruitment plans are also included in the compact and can be traced to a section of the student affairs compact .
One theme running across multiple versions of compact documents is the need for targeted hiring of faculty. Individual school compacts consistently address the need (and the desire) for additional faculty. Because the compact process is based on actual, available resources, the consolidated university compact generally reflects decreased numbers from school compact documents. Despite the decrease, as can be seen both in the 2006-2007 University Compact  and in the 2008-2009 University Compact , UT Dallas consistently addresses the need for faculty, particularly faculty with strong and relevant research backgrounds, to continue movement toward “Tier One Status.”
A major intersection between UT Dallas’ long-term strategic planning and the compact process, as well as with the annual report to the THECB regarding “Closing the Gaps,” occurs in the 2007-2008 University Compact, on page six, where progress measures include increases in freshman diversity . Closing the Gaps targets have been included annually in reports to the THECB since the implementation of the Uniform Recruitment and Retention Strategy program in Texas in 2003 .Reviews of Programs and Services
The University of Texas at Dallas engages in an ongoing review of its policies and procedures across the campus. In so doing, UT Dallas integrates both UT System and THECB management requirements into its own effectiveness and compliance requirements. While specific processes vary across divisional lines, each division engages in this ongoing and systematic review as well as annual assessments. Across the campus as a whole, periodic evaluations, annual reporting, budgeting processes, and compliance monitoring ensure regular and ongoing review of plans, measures, and achievements.Research Planning and Evaluation—the Washington Advisory Group
A full discussion of the evaluation of research efforts at UT Dallas can be found in the response to Principle 18.104.22.168 , but with regard to planning, special attention needs to be paid here to the Washington Advisory Group, LLC report (WAG report) and to UT Dallas’ response to the report. In 2004, the UT System engaged the Washington Advisory Group, LLC, to examine the potential for research expansion at a number of UT System institutions, among them UT Dallas. At the simplest level, people speak of the study as providing a road map to “Tier One Status” for UT Dallas. One of the critical elements highlighted in the WAG report is the “significance of collaboration.” This key phrase became one of the touchstones for the development of the current strategic plan, “Creating the Future.”
The report focused on building research capabilities within the various UT System universities, among them UT Dallas . The report also highlighted a need for strategic hiring of faculty, a larger enrollment, a more targeted graduate student population, and significant expansion of research awards. The UT Dallas response  includes specific references to collaborative efforts with other universities and the continuation of the major Engineering and Computer Science Research Enhancement Initiative, both of which figure prominently in the current strategic plan.THECB Accountability System
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board established an accountability system in accordance with the governor’s 2004 executive order that institutions must provide “the information necessary to determine the effectiveness and quality of the education students receive at individual institutions” and to provide “… the basis to evaluate the institutions’ use of state resources .” The Office of Strategic Planning and Analysis  annually reports data regarding 10 key accountability measures, including graduation rates, headcount, employment records, faculty/student ratios, class size, operating expenses, etc. This information is used in UT Dallas’ budget and planning processes as discussed below, as well as the university’s efforts to increase (for example) graduation and retention rates (Imperative 7 of “Creating the Future”) and to use resources effectively (Imperative 8 of “Creating the Future”) . UT Dallas’ THECB Accountability reports are available on the THECB website.UT System Accountability Report
The governor’s Executive Order RP 31 also resulted in the establishment of the UT System Higher Accountability Report  and website . Annual reports for UT Dallas are available for 2003-2007. The reports include the values, goals, and priorities of UT Dallas involving student access and success, teaching and research, service and collaboration, and organizational efficiency and productivity. The reports also contain an institutional profile and specific benchmarking comparisons. UT Dallas uses this information to mark its progress toward achieving its goals and aspirations as stated in its strategic plan: “The University of Texas at Dallas aspires to be:
- A first-rank public research university with focused centers of excellence, prepared to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing, technology-driven global society
- A global force in innovative, transdisciplinary research and education in emerging areas of technology, science, and learning
- A ground-breaking leader in both framing and answering the questions faced by business, policy makers, healthcare, and the public
- A synergistic partner with local industry, government, and cultural organizations as well as local K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities
- One of the most creative, innovative universities in the nation and world.
The information is also used in the creation of the annual university compact as discussed above.Periodic Academic Program Reviews
As more fully discussed in the responses to Principles 2.7.2  and 22.214.171.124 , UT Dallas’ Policy Memorandum 94-III.24-63, Academic Program Review , outlines the requirements for the periodic review of all academic programs. The program review provides feedback for needed improvements and involves a broad spectrum of participants, including at least two faculty members not affiliated with the program being reviewed and three faculty members from other institutions. The results of such reviews provide strategic initiatives that become a part of a school’s compact, strategic plan, and budget presentations.
A program review begins with a self-study, such as the 2006 self study for the Department of Physics . Within the self-study, the program under review reviews its program mission and academic and research focus, as well as other important program components. The self-study then serves as the basis of a review by primarily external reviewers who receive a specific charge for their review .
All academic programs undergo a regular program review on a set schedule. Programs with external accrediting agencies use the accreditation reaffirmation process instead of the prescribed program review process. The School of Management (SOM), for example, underwent the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation in 2002. Reaccreditation will take place in 2011 and 2012. SOM’s programs will undergo local program reviews in fall 2007 . Other accrediting agencies recognizing programs at UT Dallas include the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the Project Management Institute Global Accreditation Center (PMI), the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA), and the American Chemical Society (ACS). Reports and more information regarding these accreditation efforts are available in the response to Principle 126.96.36.199 . The schedule of recent and future reviews is included .Budget Process
The annual budget process at UT Dallas has long relied on campus-wide input. Academic and departmental units present a 30-minute to one-hour summary of both their recent accomplishments, particularly in relation to their stated goals from the previous year, and their identified goals and needs for the coming year. The budget presentation can be completed in connection with or separate from the annual report required by many areas. Instructions for the FY 2008 budget cycle were distributed in February 2007 by Interim Vice President for Business Affairs Jody Nelsen .
The accomplishments portion of the presentation generally focuses on identified priorities and needs from the previous year, but unanticipated issues and accomplishments can also become a part of the presentation. In each case, however, the accomplishments highlight contributions to the university as a whole as well as to any targeted population within the university. For example, the Career Center Annual Report specifically delineates its programs, its accomplishments, and its goals without reference to the budget; this provides a clear, unfettered summary of the center’s programs, thus providing a clear argument about the effectiveness of the operation. In the Career Center’s Annual Report for FY 2005-2006 , the center presents information, including student satisfaction survey data, activity summaries, and composition of its client base. This report provides a clear overview of the program’s goals and activities for a given year and includes some historical context for the discussion. The Career Center’s budget presentation for FY 2006  covers the same basic information but does so in abbreviated form to facilitate a dialogue with the hearing official (which in the case of the Career Center was the president and his cabinet).
Within the Division of Student Affairs, the budget process more directly involves student participation than it does in other areas of the university because student fees fund many of the division’s operations. As such, students review budget presentations and requests and vote on the allocation of funds for the upcoming year. The vice president for student affairs prepares a notebook of budget material for student committee members. The notebook includes a memorandum describing the committee’s charge and minutes from previous meetings with actions taken . Students then review budget documents and hear presentations from the various directors. The actions taken by the students on the committee determine the actual operating budgets for the upcoming year. Areas reviewed by the committee include the student union , medical services , athletics , recreational sports , and student services .
Each budget presentation is based upon appropriate data from the relevant area. For example, within Academic Affairs, the budget process includes the presentation of student credit hour generation as one measure of a unit’s progress   . Documents within this sub-process route through the appropriate administrative heads and eventually receive review and/or approval from the appropriate vice president before submission to the Budget Office for data entry. To the degree possible, based on projected revenues, budget requests beyond current baseline operations are funded based on requests’ contribution to the strategic plan. The annual program assessment process discussed below integrates the budget process, strategic planning, and assessment.
Apart from the budget presentations, unit directors also prepare various documents to indicate targeted needs and anticipated expenditures, including current personnel costs. The Annual Plan for Institutional Effectiveness and Budgeting document ties unit functions back to its program assessment and to strategic initiatives . Other documents provide opportunities to request specific budget amounts for each account and to allocate human resources within each unit  .Annual Program Assessment
As discussed in the responses to principles on the assessment of educational programs , administrative support services , educational support services , and research , UT Dallas has completed two cycles of program assessments. The university will initiate its third assessment cycle beginning fall 2007. This formal program assessment process has deliberately been constructed so that it coincides with budgeting and formal program reviews. Additionally, the program assessment process extends beyond the instructional realm and provides annual summaries of unit progress in targeted areas related to student achievement and satisfaction as well as program functioning. While annual reports for faculty and departmental units have long been a part of the review process, this addition provides an opportunity for departmental units to focus on items more closely aligned with the university’s mission and strategic plan.
In 2006-07, 143 academic programs and 87 support services programs were assessed using UT Dallas’ web-based assessment tool, AT6 . Each unit inputs into AT6 its mission statement, its goals/objectives, the measures that it will use to assess its objectives, the findings based on those measurements, the actions planned to improve its operations, and an analysis of the process . Based upon this analysis, each unit writes a detailed annual report that is reviewed by the unit and by the vice president and other supervisors responsible for the unit      .
Academic program assessment relies on input from departmental or academic program coordinators who, in consultation with local faculty, develop the assessment plan and gather the data to analyze the program’s efficacy in achieving the program’s objectives (to analyze students’ success at achieving the department or program’s student learning outcomes). The objectives that relate to the strategic plan or other institutional priorities are identified in the process . Each annual report includes a section for “closing the loop” so that the program can identify what, if any, changes are planned for future iterations of the plan and a section on additional resources needed so that the assessments can be aligned with the budgeting process.
Similarly, the assessment process for non-academic programs provides an analogous opportunity for a unit to identify operational objectives, measure their success, and identify strategies for improvement. The Financial Systems and Reporting 2005-06 report, with objectives focused on operational indicators, illustrates this process well .Examples of Improvements for Ongoing Assessments
A good example of a unit undergoing continuous assessment is the Office of Enrollment Services, which previously consisted of two offices (Admissions and Enrollment Services/Recruitment). The admission process at UT Dallas has undergone repeated and almost continuous evaluation based on students’ comments, analysis of processing time, and staff turnover. Since 1999, the Office of Admissions has had seven directors, interim directors, or acting directors, and the office has reported to the vice president for student affairs, the assistant vice president for enrollment management, and the executive vice president and provost at different times. In 2002, the vice president for student affairs opted to hire an enrollment management specialist who would oversee the Admissions Office along with other offices. By 2003, a different enrollment management person was hired with problems in admissions and recruitment identified as significant problem areas. With a focus on integrating strategic enrollment management functions across departmental lines, admissions personnel began to work more directly in the recruitment function with on-site assistance for Transfer Expo and other local recruiting events. In January 2005, an external consultant delivered a report with suggestions for further improving Admissions functions and integrating enhanced technology into the application process . Since then, an expanded scanning program has been purchased and implemented, and an enhanced electronic constituent relationship management program has also been implemented. Additionally, staff development activities have focused on customer service, international credential evaluation, and American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers Strategic Enrollment Management (AACRAO/SEM) workshops. Ongoing assessment now focuses on continuous monitoring of admission processes with specific staff assigned the tasks of monitoring, measuring, and reacting.
Another example of continuous improvement can be seen with the Scholarship Committee . In the most recent three years, the committee has revamped the process for processing scholarships. Based on the assessment work the committee did in 2004-2005 , the committee presented a revised set of committee bylaws to the Academic Senate in June 2004 that streamlines how the committee reviews scholarships and builds in accountability as well as simplifying the process for students .
Academic support service programs often engage in assessment in relation to the larger, academic program. A clear example of an academic support program that engages in its own assessment program is the Office of Undergraduate Advising. Reporting to the Office of Undergraduate Education, the advising program has routinely administered a survey to undergraduate student samples for the past several years and has attempted to serve as a driving force in improving student retention and progression toward degree completion. Survey results have yielded significant changes to the advising program, including a more deliberate and ongoing advisor development program, annual conference participation for advisors, and realignment of the number of advisors in certain academic areas. For example, within FY 2007, the advisors within the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics were joined with the central undergraduate advising staff (the director and advisors for undeclared undergraduates) to enhance their performance. The results from the two most recent reports   illustrate the focus on student opinion as a major factor in the assessment of the program.
An academic example of continuous improvement can be seen from the core curriculum. Courses have been routinely assessed in order to improve student learning     . In 1999, THECB mandated a reorganization of the core curriculum. At that time, the core became more prescriptive, with specific “charts” identified and maximum numbers of hours available for assignment within each chart . The university reviewed the writing curriculum in 2002 and the math core curriculum in 2003  . The math review led to a recurring examination of “D-F-W” rates in mathematic courses . That review, coupled with an academic program review in mathematics, has given impetus to including some enhancement of mathematics programming as a part of the proposed Quality Enhancement Plan  for the reaffirmation cycle.
For the last two cycles, core courses have been added to AT6, and the resulting data have been scrutinized by the associate deans for undergraduate education with a locally developed analysis matrix. The associate deans used the summary data to determine better scheduling of courses, needed curricular enhancements, and faculty assignments for general education courses. The 2006-07 report on the core curriculum by the Core Curriculum Committee  will be presented to the Academic Senate at the Senate’s September 2007 meeting for consideration of the suggested improvements to the core curriculum .
Another component of local assessment includes the use of nationally normed datasets for comparison of local achievement. The university has used the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) data since 2000 to validate the results of local surveys regarding student perceptions of local services, including student support services, advising, student life, and instruction . Similarly, three years of data from the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) have been used to verify that local academic programs provide our native students with a solid foundation. Recent results indicate that our freshmen exceed national standards as do our seniors . The data from both of these sources was used by the Core Curriculum Committee in the evaluation of the core curriculum as they created their aforementioned report.
While CLA results speak of some level of academic excellence, other local data, such as that found in AT6, suggest a need to continue improving all instructional programming across the board. This need is particularly true given the large number of transfer students who comprise each graduating class.
Finally, UT Dallas uses internal auditing to monitor the operations of the university and to improve performance. Simply, annual internal audit reviews provide ongoing evidence of an effort to improve processes on a continuous basis. For example, the 2005 audit of registration made three recommendations to “enhance efficiencies and consistency related to the advising and grade change functions .” As can be seen by the 2003 audit of the Career Center, departmental audits are designed to accomplish the same basic goal: continuous improvement .Compliance Reviews and Training
In 1998, UT System implemented an ongoing compliance program to ensure that all employees were aware of their responsibilities and that processes were monitored on a continuous basis to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local regulations . This plan continues to require ongoing training for all employees, and at the local level the training modules include issues mandated by the state as well as by local needs. For example, UT Dallas added Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) training within the last three years to provide needed training in support of a UT System Business Policy Memorandum regarding the use of social security numbers . Compliance training remains a high priority and calls for annual training of all employees. Employees receive an e-mail detailing which training modules are to be completed each year  .
UT Dallas continues to host and monitor a compliance hot line for employees or other interested parties to report suspected violations of any current policy or procedure. The Office of Internal Audit and Compliance provides the framework for the work of the Compliance Committee and the Compliance Subcommittee. The subcommittee quarterly submits compliance reports regarding areas of identified high risk or areas with a potential for other significant damage. Minutes of the subcommittee from November 2006 outline the need for changes in monitoring plans for several areas and delineate those high-risk areas . A sample Travel and Risk-Related Activities Report is also available for review . Administrators receive a list of employees whose training has not been completed just prior to the deadline and again after the deadline has passed .
A separate compliance committee also meets quarterly to review endowment compliance. This process includes review of an annual report to UT System regarding the status of compliance with endowment requirements, proper expenditures and tracking, and changes in responsible university officials. An agenda is routinely posted . This committee also reviews the quarterly compliance report for submission to the Compliance Subcommittee .