2.5 Institutional Effectiveness

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.


Southwest Texas Junior College engages in an ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning and evaluation process that incorporates a systematic review of programs and services that (a) results in continuous improvement in institutional quality, and (b) demonstrates that it effectively accomplishes its mission.  The College’s vision, mission, and institutional goals provide the framework that guides development and implementation of the essential, integrated elements of institutional effectiveness.


Southwest Texas Junior College’s vision statement offers a “philosophical framework” of how we want to be perceived and what we want the college to become over time.

The Vision for Southwest Texas Junior College is to: Create and nurture a learning-centered environment in which students, faculty, staff, and the community at-large can achieve their greatest potential.


The Institutional Mission is the mechanism by which our Vision is realized.  Southwest Texas Junior College’s mission statement explains in succinct and accurate terms who we are, what we do, and for whom we do it.

Mission Statement: Southwest Texas Junior College is a comprehensive, public college serving eleven counties in Southwest Texas. The College provides accessible, affordable, high-quality education that prepares students to successfully transfer to senior colleges and universities; enter the job market; pursue their professional and personal goals; and contribute to the economic growth of the region.


Throughout the college year faculty and staff are engaged in activities that focus on the real-time collection of information and data to advance the college’s strategic goals and objectives.  These include

  • Assessment:
    • All instructional programs have clearly defined student learning outcomes  (SLO’s) at both the program and course level.  Academic program outcomes are assessed on a two-year, rotating basis. Technical program outcomes are assessed annually.  The results and their use are documented and provide guidance in unit and strategic planning for subsequent years. 
    • College services have a clearly defined list of key functions that generally number from five to twenty-five.  Two to four are chosen for assessment each year.  The results and their use are documented and provide guidance in unit and strategic planning for subsequent years.
  • Review of Instructional Programs and College Services:
    • Instructional programs are reviewed on a five-year, rotating cycle by faculty and staff under the supervision of the Curriculum Committee and the President’s Cabinet.  Review results including recommendations are documented and provide guidance in unit and strategic planning for subsequent years. 
    • All college services are reviewed on a five-year, rotating cycle by faculty and staff under the supervision of the Service Operations Committee and the President’s Cabinet. Review results including recommendations are documented and provide guidance in unit and strategic planning for subsequent years.
  • Evaluation of faculty and staff:
    • All faculty and staff are evaluated according to policy DLA (LEGAL) and DLA (LOCAL).  Within this process employees work with their supervisors and set goals for performance, improvement, and career development. 
    • Evaluation results are documented and provide guidance in unit and strategic planning activities for subsequent years.
  • Benchmark Institutions:
    • The College is a member of several philanthropic, educational advancement organizations (Achieving the Dream, Aspen, and Si se Puede!).  These organizations provide helpful guidance and structure to SWTJC’s planning and assessment structure. 


A fundamental principle of SWTJC’s planning process is that Strategic Objectives must be assessable in measurable terms.  Both quantitative and qualitative data is collected regularly and made available through the college’s Institutional Research website.  At a minimum, data is analyzed annually and summarized in a report that is provided to the SWTJC Board of Trustees.  Summarized data and reports are also used by college units and the President’s Cabinet to guide planning activities.

The two major planning activities at Southwest Texas Junior College include:

  1. Strategic Planning is future focused and includes a five-year planning cycle.
  2. Unit Action/Operational Planning is present focused and includes an annual (one-year) planning cycle.

The following diagram illustrates the hierarchy of the Southwest Texas Junior College’s Planning Process:


Southwest Texas Junior College’s planning process focuses on specific action items.  These items are identified through a comprehensive review process as areas targeted for institutional improvement over a multi-year time frame and in a cross-functional systematic manner. The Strategic Plan the Unit Action Plans and the Operational Plans take the form of clearly defined and measurable action items and associated implementation activities. Administrators, faculty, staff, students and community representatives engage in a framework of ongoing assessment, review, evaluation and environmental scanning processes.  These processes are designed to produce continuous improvement in institutional quality and demonstrate that the College is accomplishing its mission.  As indicated by the downward facing arrows, each level of planning process includes a feedback (review) component that allows for assessment and adjustment of the planning process.


The President’s Cabinet bears primary responsibility for overseeing the Strategic Planning Cycle.  However, college divisions, departments and units, students and community representatives are engaged in activities directed at helping the college achieve its Strategic Objectives.


Strategic Plan 2011-2015
Strategic Plan 2014-2019

The college’s institutional goals provide the overall framework for advancing our mission.  The following further refines each goal:

  1. “Foundation Objectives” which are unending by nature, but subject to continuous improvement.  They further define and elucidate the college’s mission.  An example would be “Provide quality academic programs.”
  2. Strategic Objectives” which target specific areas needing improvement and are expected to have a beginning, middle and ending.  An example would be “Construct a classroom facility in Crystal City.”

Based on the concept that data based decision-making is foundational to the establishment of a “culture of evidence,” data related to strategic goals and objectives is collected and complied on an on-going basis. Upon a comprehensive analysis of data, the Cabinet spearheads the development of a five-year Strategic Plan.  Additionally, the SWTJC Board of Trustees is apprised of the Strategic Plan as it is being developed and their input/direction is included in its creation.  Once a final draft of the Strategic Plan is completed, it is presented to the board for their formal approval.

On an annual basis, the President’s Cabinet reviews the Foundation and Strategic Objectives outlined in the Strategic Plan and makes recommendations regarding:

  1. Addition of new Strategic Objectives to the appropriate institutional goals along with suggested target measures and activities. 
  2. Review of existing Strategic Objectives with recommended changes including updates of target measures and activities.  Review of related Foundation Objectives with recommended changes.

Any recommended additions and changes to Foundation and/or Strategic Objectives are then presented to the SWTJC Board of Trustees for their approval.


A unit is defined as an operational area that reports to an individual who has the primary personnel and budgeting responsibility for that unit. All employees belong to a unit.  College activities whether business as usual, strategic initiatives, or departmental initiatives are developed and implemented within the context of the College’s financial, personnel, and operational resources.  These processes are carried out annually and produce results that are used by the President’s Cabinet, instructional units, and service units to drive unit action (annual) planning.

For SWTJC, the annual Unit Action Planning process:

  • Is driven by a “culture of evidence” produced from the analysis of data found in assessments, reviews, evaluations, and environmental scanning.
  • Involves the entire college community in planning activities that are focused on the advancement of its vision, mission, goals and objectives.

During Unit Action Planning, each unit administrator defines its statement of purpose in the context of the institutional mission as identified in the Institutional Goals, Foundation and Strategic Objectives. From this statement of purpose are derived the ongoing activities of the unit, which are those activities fundamental to fulfilling its purpose. For each ongoing activity, the unit defines measures of effectiveness, expected outcomes, and targets for achievement. Based upon these measures, outcomes, and targets, the unit assesses its effectiveness. If gaps are identified, the unit defines initiatives that are intended for improvement. Upon completion, those initiatives are assessed to identify the extent to which each initiative has met its expected outcome. 

Units use quantitative and qualitative data from the previous year’s action plan to create a new Unit Action Plan (UAP).  UAPs are created on an annual basis and come into effect at the beginning of each college year.  Activities continue throughout the college year.  As activities draw to a close, units analyze results and record them along with actions taken and/or changes made.  By the end of May, units prepare a draft UAP for the next college year.  The draft UAP is submitted to the appropriate supervisor for approval and inclusion in the coming year’s budget process.

As the Southwest Texas Junior College preliminary budget is developed between March and May, all new planned activities and all costs of strategic action items are then considered along with all regular operational budget items. As the budget process is finalized, units are kept informed of the status of their requests and can adjust their unit plans accordingly. Although a final budget is not officially approved until mid to late summer, operational units typically have sufficient information about their budget allocation to develop plans well in advance of the new academic year.


Southwest Texas Junior College operational plans describe how each operational unit conducts its business in fulfilling the College’s mission, values, and priority goals, as well as how each unit can improve the institution through division, department and unit- level actions. The operational plan also provides the framework for appropriate budgeting and hiring decisions in the context of the mission. The operational planning includes an analysis and review of annual unit plans (see above). The monthly President’s Report to the board provides an operational overview that tracks the planning, prioritizing, and budgeting process as it unfolds from the unit level through final approval of the budget by the Board of Trustees.  Operational Planning includes the following:

Facilities Master Planning  -- SWTJC’s facilities plan directs capital investment toward the projects that are most effective at fulfilling the College’s mission and facilitating its strategic objectives. Facilities planning take the form of the Facilities Master Plan.

Budget Planning  -- Budget plans at SWTJC are integrated with strategic, operational, and facilities planning. Annual budget development is informed by the SWTJC mission, the strategic planning institutional goals, and the initiatives identified through operational unit plans. The mission and goals as well as the overarching priority of maintaining financial strength and good fiscal stewardship also inform long-term budget planning.

Capital Planning – The President and his Cabinet use a capital management forecasting process to identify and respond to potential capital needs.

Educational Program Planning  -- All instructional programs have clearly defined student learning outcomes (SLO’s) at both the program and course level.  Academic program outcomes are reviewed and assessed on a regular, rotating basis.  Technical program outcomes are reviewed and assessed annually. Analysis of the review and assessment process are utilized to make recommendations and provide guidance in unit action and strategic planning for subsequent years. The review process ensures that all programs regularly review and evaluate the extent to which program outcomes (including student learning outcomes) have been achieved using findings from multiple measures of assessment. All instructional programs at Southwest Texas Junior College participate in this process.

The Educational Program Planning process ensures that all programs regularly review and evaluate the extent to which program outcomes (including student learning outcomes) have been achieved using findings from all measures of assessment (see C.S. All instructional programs at Southwest Texas Junior College participate in this process.

An analysis of annual program outcome data is completed by faculty. Then, Unit Action Plans (UAP) are developed which include Improvement plans for outcomes and the activities that will be necessary to accomplish those improvements. The plans detail a review of the program mission, goals, and outcomes and student levels of achievement of the outcomes.

Educational Program Unit Action Plans are then presented to the Deans for review to provide an external  evaluation of program performance and student learning to enhance the quality of the program.  This review is based on the concept that a larger and more diverse group of people will usually find gaps in performance areas when reviewing a program and will be able to make a more impartial evaluation of it than the person or group responsible for creating the work or performance.

The Curriculum Committee completes a comprehensive review of all assessment data and program management plans. The committee, reflecting the extent to which program outcomes are achieved along with recommendations for unit action plans, prepares an annual comprehensive evaluation report. This report is distributed to the President’s Cabinet and made available to faculty and other institutional groups, such as the Student Services and Operations Committee and the Institutional Assessment Team, for systematic use in institutional planning. It is also posted in the SWTJC portal. Faculty, administrators, and staff, work individually and collectively to analyze and evaluate student performance and program effectiveness.

General Education Planning -- General education planning is facilitated by the Curriculum Committee, the Assessment Coordinator and the Offices of Institutional Effectiveness and Curriculum and Instruction. General education competencies are embedded into humanities/fine arts, social/behavioral sciences, and natural science/mathematics general education courses and included in every degree program offered. Direct and indirect assessment is used to determine the extent to which SWTJC students demonstrate attainment of the competencies.

Services and Operations Planning -- Student Services and Operations Planning is facilitated by the Services and Operations Committee, the Vice President of Student Services, the Vice President of Finance and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.  Direct and indirect assessment of student services is analyzed to determine effectiveness in improving student success.
Technology Planning  The Technology Committee reviews the proposed annual technology budget, assesses the effectiveness of technology resources, plans for future technology needs, and defines standards for the acquisition and use of equipment and software.

Distance Education Planning  The Distance Education Committee is responsible for the development and on-going maintenance (revision/updating) of SWTJC’s Distance Education Plan.  The purpose of the plan is to ensure quality distance education courses. The Distance Education Plan provides a blueprint of the services that are evaluated and reviewed annually to address the plan’s stated goals and objectives.


As outlined above, Southwest Texas Junior College strategically and operationally plans and evaluates on an ongoing and systematic basis and is supported by an ongoing integrated budgeting process. In February and March the college units propose new plans/budget requests with rationale based on a review of previous assessments, operational needs, and institutional strategic planning needs.

The Strategic Plan goals and objectives provide guidance for the allocation of resources at SWTJC. The administration, faculty and staff consider the mission, goals, and expected outcomes when making decisions regarding budgeting, hiring, and facilities. The President’s Cabinet then completes and submits an operational summary with prioritized planning and budget requests to the President of the College. These requests are prioritized by the President and submitted to the Southwest Texas Junior College Board of Trustees for consideration during the annual Board of Trustees budget workshop(s).  A final budget  is approved by the Southwest Texas Junior College Board of Trustees before September 1.

A History of Strategic and Operational Planning

In 2010 the college developed its Strategic Plan for 2011-2015, which was subsequently reviewed and approved by the Board. Upon his installation in 2013, after the 13-year tenure of the retiring president, the new President, Dr. Hector Gonzales, initiated the most recent strategic planning cycle.  President Gonzales requested that a comprehensive review of the 2011-2015 plan be conducted with the view of creating a revised strategic plan reflecting the goals of his new administration.

In October 2013, the President’s Cabinet initiated the review.  The Strategic Planning process, which was developed as a result of the review, includes the following:

  • Division/Department/Unit Input:  Each member of the President’s Cabinet meets regularly with their respective departments and divisions (units) to ensure the consistent and appropriate collection of data relative to each area of responsibility.  Data analysis is then utilized to make recommendations to be included in the Cabinet planning process.

  • Student Input:  President Gonzales conducts an on-going series of “Conversations with the President” that he hosts for students.  These informal yet very informative sessions are held each long semester at the Uvalde, Del Rio and Eagle Pass sites. Qualitative data consisting of student insight, concerns and recommendations are then included in the Cabinet planning process.

    Additionally, student surveys (including students at a distance) are conducted on a number of fronts including:  Instructor Evaluations, Student Services, Counseling, Orientation, Graduation, and Financial Aid. Data from all student surveys are included in the planning process.

  • Community Input:  The College is intertwined with its constituent communities.  SWTJC administration receives and gives input and suggestions for planning from and to:

      • School Districts
      • Chambers of Commerce
      • Middle Rio Grande Development Council
      • Uvalde Area Development Foundation
      • City and County Governments
      • Emergency Operations Committee
      • Elected Officials and Legislators

The review process resulted in the development of a new Strategic Plan.   The SWTJC Board of Trustees adopted the 2014-2019 Strategic plan in June 2014.

Strategic Planning and Distance Learning

In addition to division, department, unit, student and community recommendations, the Cabinet made the following general recommendations for the new plan:

    • References to student learning and success should encompass all modes of instructions (face-to-face, interactive video, online, etc.) and student types (regular college, dual-credit, developmental).
    • All measures that involve student learning and success should show results for overall performance and for all aggregate groups (combinations of modes of instruction and student types).
    • No gap should exist between face-to-face regular college students and other aggregate groups.      

These recommendations make clear that student learning must not be dependent on where, when, and how teaching is delivered.

Integrated and Institution-Wide

The Southwest Texas Junior College institutional effectiveness process is integrated and institution-wide. The Office of Institutional Effectiveness (which includes planning, research, and assessment) provides data and training for faculty and staff to assess and evaluate College effectiveness, functions, goals, and accountability.   Additionally, this office supports the development and implementation of a comprehensive program to enhance the institutional effectiveness of Southwest Texas Junior College.

Examples of institution planning, assessment, and evaluation committees include the President’s Cabinet, Curriculum Committee, Service Operations Committee, Program Review Committees, Distance Education Committee, and the Technology Committee . Committee members regularly engage in ongoing review of institution-wide data and evaluation and develop recommendations for improvement plans/activities. All strategic and operational activities are tied to one of the three Institutional Goals identified in the SWTJC Strategic Plan:

  1. Identify and service the learning needs of the community (Learning).
  2. Cultivate excellence in teaching, instructional delivery, student services, and administrative support (Quality).
  3. Provide reliable and sustainable resources and funding for the College (Efficiency).

The institutional effectiveness process is an integral part of budgeting, hiring, and planning activities.  Development and implementation of the strategic plan involves all constituencies of the College and all College functions. Institution-wide data are examined during the development of unit action plans.

All administrative levels (vice presidents, associate vice presidents, deans, and directors) are responsible for the development and oversight of unit action plans that are tied to the strategic plan and strategic goals and objectives. Each unit uses its unit action plan (see C.S., C.S., and C.S. to define annual initiatives, expected outcomes, assessment measures, and activities designed to further progress toward the institutional goals.  At the end of the cycle, each unit analyzes the extent to which expected outcomes have been attained and what future actions are to be taken.

Educational programs evaluate program performance in relationship to institutional goals and the mission of the College and develop responsive unit action plans (see C.S.

Research Based

During the initial development of the 2014-2019 Strategic Plan, the President’s Cabinet conducted an extensive review of the 2011-2015 Strategic Plan. The review included an analysis of each strategic objective within that plan. Both quantitative and qualitative data specific to each objective were included in the analysis.

Additionally, the Cabinet compares Southwest Texas Junior College data to national and state- level benchmarking data to determine the relevancy and efficacy of the objective.  The Cabinet also considered information that was available from SWTJC’s participation in the Lumina Foundation’s Achieving the Dream (ATD) initiative as well as the Aspen Foundation’s Top Ten Community College initiative and the National Community College Benchmarking Project.  As an original participant in ATD and Aspen, SWTJC has incorporated the research on best practices for student success that both of these national community college initiatives have produced.

Continued Improvement in Institutional Quality

By focusing on educational opportunities and services for SWTJC’s students and the communities it serves, the strategic plan reinforces the SWTJC mission and takes the College to new levels of excellence. Faculty and staff training and development are ongoing. Initiatives and improvement plans are developed across the institution and responsive to documented need. The following examples highlight initiatives and/or research designed to targeted improvements and achieve higher levels of performance.

Examples of Institutional Improvements Driven by the Planning and Effectiveness Process

Student Success Centers
Attendance Efforts 
Financial Aid Efforts 
Student Planning Efforts 

Demonstration of Effectively Accomplishing Its Mission

By focusing on student success, community needs, institutional excellence, and continuous improvement, SWTJC accomplishes its mission of providing accessible, affordable, high-quality education that prepares students to successfully transfer to senior colleges and universities; enter the job market; pursue their professional and personal goals; and contribute to the economic growth of the region.

Southwest Texas Junior College recognizes that its institutional effectiveness processes are essential to accomplishing its mission. The College engages in an ongoing cycle of identifying expected outcomes; conducting assessment of student learning, administrative, and educational support services; identifying areas needing improvement; implementing improvement plans; and looking for actual improvement in processes and outcomes. Processes are integrated, with all planning and evaluation activities related to the mission of the College. They are institution-wide, allowing for participation and input from appropriate faculty and staff at the course, department, division, program, and institution levels. The College systematically reviews its mission, goals, and objectives. Planning and evaluation is data-informed with institutional research being an active and essential element of the process. Through these ongoing, institution-wide planning and evaluation processes, Southwest Texas Junior College is actively engaged in improving its quality at all levels; and through these collective processes, the College demonstrates that it is effectively accomplishing its mission.

Selected examples of institutional effectiveness processes and assessment results that demonstrate SWTJC’s fulfillment of its mission are presented below. Please click on the item title to view the entire document.


SWTJC Student Learning Outcome
SWTJC Key Function Processes Student Success Center
SWTJC Program Outcomes Wildlife Management
SWTJC Unit Action Plan
SWTJC Policy DLA Legal Employee Performance Evaluation
SWTJC Policy DLA Local Employee Performance Evaluation
SWTJC President’s Evaluation of Vice-President
SWTJC Achieving the Dream Feedback Letter
SWTJC Achieving the Dream, Aspen President’s Symposium Agenda
SWTJC EPOCA Si se Puede Campaign Poster
SWTJC Performance Measures
SWTJC Strategic Plan 2011-2015
SWTJC Strategic Plan 2014-2019
SWTJC Strategic Plan 2011-2015 Review

SWTJC Technical Programs Dashboard
SWTJC Board of Trustees Minutes, June 19, 2014
SWTJC Cabinet Minutes, April 24, 2014
Strategic Plan 2011-2015 Review
SWTJC Business Office Unit Action Plan 2011-2012
SWTJC Administrative Information Technology Unit Action Plan 2011-2012
Southwest Texas Junior College Advising-Counseling Unit Action Plan 2013-2014
SWTJC Operating Budget 2015
SWTJC Physical Facilities Master Plan 2014-2024
SWTJC Operating Budget 2015
SWTJC Assessment of Capital Condition
SWTJC Technology Plan
SWTJC Distance Education Plan
SWTJC Budget Template
SWTJC Operating Budget 2015
SWTJC Board of Trustees Minutes, June 19, 2014
SWTJC Strategic Plan 2011-2015
SWTJC Strategic Plan Review 2011-2015
SWTJC Strategic Plan 2014-2019
SWTJC Board of Trustees Minutes, June 19, 2014
SWTJC Strategic Plan Review 2011-2015
SWTJC Committees
SWTJC Strategic Plan 2014-2019
SWTJC Student Success Centers Unit Action Plan 2012-2013
SWTJC Up Front News Letters
SWTJC Financial Aid Unit Action Plan 2013-2014
SWTJC Counseling Unit Action Plan 2012-2013
SWTJC Graduation vs. Enrollment Data
SWTJC Performance Measure History 2008-2013
SWTJC Fall to Spring Retention
SWTJC Continuing Education Course 2012-2013


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