2007 Reaffirmation Teams
220.127.116.11 - 2007 Reaffirmation Teams
The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses whether it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of the results in each of the following areas: community/public service, if appropriate to the mission of the institution
The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) identifies expected outcomes for its community and public service activities, assesses the results of those activities, and makes improvements based on those results. UT Dallas’ commitment to community and public service stems directly from the university’s mission to serve the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex by transforming ideas into actions that benefit the lives of the citizens of Texas . UT Dallas has historically taken an active role in community events and public service, and the recently released strategic plan, “Creating the Future ,” makes it clear that the university will continue to play an important role in the community with initiatives such as “Making a Great City Greater,” which is subdivided into specific action items regarding K-16 education, the arts, business leadership, and community outreach . As demonstrated in the response to Principle 3.4.2 [U326], Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and Administrative Support Services play active roles in realizing this initiative. The various units within these divisions assess their success by using UT Dallas’ web-based assessment tool, AT6, in order to make improvements   . Although AT6 is the official repository of assessment data for the university, assessment at UT Dallas is individualized in each unit, and each unit is encouraged to establish its own best practices.
Community service extends beyond the strategic plan and is embedded in many areas of the university. The recently-restructured Office of Public Affairs has taken on a significant leadership role in the community and public service arena ; the vice president currently heads the Service and Civic Participation Initiative  that encourages campus-wide tracking and reporting of all service activities . This new program brings together a group of university community members to assist in the development and tracking of public service activities among all university constituents, with a goal/objective of having over 200 participants by August 2007 . A progress report will be developed at the end of the reporting period, and the data will be entered into AT6.
Other particularly successful campaigns from the recent past that have shown remarkable improvements include the State Employee Charitable Contribution campaign, the Arts & Humanities events calendar, the Corporate Challenge program, and the Service Learning program of the Office of Student Affairs.
The State Employee Charitable Contribution campaign approached the fiscal year 2007 campaign with a goal of increasing participation rates among all university constituents. Based on a limited success rate in leadership gifts (contributions of $1,000 or more) in the past, the core team also decided to pursue a new approach and seek to increase the number of leadership gifts by 27%. Robert and Jody Nelsen (vice provost and then-interim vice president of business affairs, respectively) served as co-chairs and sent personalized letters to a number of campus constituents; the number of leadership gifts increased by 55%. A local website was developed for information and questions , and more campus volunteers who worked within the various departments provided feedback about successful strategies . The goal was to achieve more than 200 donors (up from 133 the previous year); 203 people contributed . The changes in strategy also resulted in a higher contribution total .
Within the School of Arts and Humanities, the events management team routinely schedules a number of public performances and activities, some of which are primarily focused toward the Richardson community. Associate Dean Kathryn Evans provides an annual plan and report in concert with Dean Dennis Kratz. Identified difficulties in staffing and infrastructure have resulted in some cutbacks, but Dean Kratz is working toward enhancing the available infrastructure to provide more flexibility in future event scheduling . Each year’s calendar of events provides information for the community and offers the public an avenue by which to stay abreast of activities via e-mail and mail campaigns . Long-standing events include the Sounds of Class and the Musica Nova performances.
UT Dallas participates in the City of Richardson’s Corporate Challenge each year. Local administration of the program has crossed a number of departmental lines, but as the 2005-06 AT6 assessment report shows, the recreational sports program  has taken the leadership role in planning the university’s participation . With more centralized planning, the campus has streamlined its call for participants and coordination of event planning.
The service learning program  of the Office of Student Affairs is aimed directly at getting students involved in civic projects. The program develops an assessment plan annually and has undergone two assessment cycles using AT6  . This program has long sponsored the alternative spring break and provides students an opportunity to engage in community service projects both locally and nationally. Within the last two years, the program has sought to attract a larger number of participants and was successful, bringing in over 300 students to the Project 200 campaign . Service learning also works with other student organizations to provide assistance in coordinating service projects.
Many programs across the campus plan and assess specific community-related activities, using AT6 to measure success and close loops. The Office of Financial Aid, for example, provides an annual workshop for Region X high school counselors to keep them abreast of changes in financial aid program . The Multicultural Center works with G-Force (a statewide college success initiative of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board) to promote college attendance among underrepresented populations in the Dallas Independent School District . The Academic Bridge Program provides specific opportunities for its students to participate in community-based activities, including service projects . The McDermott Scholars Program allows each new class of scholars to adopt an elementary school within the Dallas Independent School District where students can work as in-class tutors, teachers’ assistants, or office assistants; scholars participate in independent projects as well .
Examples of other community or public service activities include public lecture series, such as the Holocaust Lecture Series ; student organizations’ hosting of regional events, such as the recent Destination Imagination tournament ; faculty members’ serving as voluntary consultants on matters of local or national importance, such as Dr. Paul Tracy’s serving on the Texas Youth Commission review panel  or President David Daniel’s serving as a consultant on the Hurricane Katrina review panel ; and the open invitation to the local community to attend public forums regarding drugs  or to participate in a campus-wide viewing of major planetary events .
In fall 2006, UT Dallas created three freshman living-learning communities. The students in the Pre-Health community are focused on entering the health professions, such as medicine, dentistry, or pharmacy. Students in the Pre-Law community are interested in attending law school. Those students involved in the Service Learning community are focused on nonprofit professions, public service, and volunteerism . These communities seek to extend learning outside the classroom, build community, and foster connections among students, staff, faculty, and all three communities participate in service learning projects. Although these communities are relatively young and small, they have already begun assessing their activities by using AT6 in order to improve. According to the 2006 annual report, students volunteered independently and in groups for the following organizations: Bryan’s House, Northwest Legal Aid, UT Dallas student food drive, Habitat for Humanity, Collin County Homeland Service Medical Reserve Corps, Richardson Regional Memorial Hospital, and Alternative Spring Break .