Why Is It Critical
We began our self-analysis in 2020, with the restrictions of COVID-19 still in effect. We reassessed our progress toward our 2016-2021 Strategic Plan, entitled “Creating a Culture of Transformation,” and we gave ourselves a passing grade.
Delgado remained resilient and focused throughout major hurricanes and a global pandemic. We transformed the way we worked radically and quickly.
By all accounts, our faculty and staff kept Delgado moving forward in the spirit of the 2016-2021 plan.
We began to look critically at all aspects of the Delgado experience. The offices of Academic and Student Affairs, Human Resources, Business and Administrative Affairs, Information Technology, and Workforce Development and Continuing Education conducted environmental scans—collecting essential information related to direct and indirect competition for the College in enrollment trends, job markets, and admission standards.
Our research found new, dramatic wage increases for low-skill, no-barrier job opportunities.
Academic divisions and administrative units conducted SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analyses with their staff and faculty. Foundation Board members, alumni, program advisory boards, regional industry contacts, and governmental officials completed external stakeholder surveys. Faculty, staff, and students provided internal stakeholder feedback.
The internal stakeholder surveys were positive overall with some indications concerning communication, health, and well-being. For the most part our external stakeholders indicated a need for trained employees with polished interpersonal skills.
We gathered data on the driving forces and trends in education. Most of these trends were COVID-related. Our team analyzed the data with an eye toward current and future impacts on the College.
Online learning trends accelerated since the COVID-19 lockdowns. The College was successful in meeting the needs of online instruction, but the transition to online course delivery altered student expectations and performance. Students have come to expect that most courses will be available online, while internal analysis suggests that student performance in online courses sometimes suffers due to lack of engagement. Fewer students coming to campus diminishes the senses of community and belonging at the College.
Funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act enabled the College to provide students, staff, and faculty with laptops, internet hotspots, and tablets, significantly improving connectivity for completing coursework. This funding also provided the means to upgrade learning management systems, learning applications integrations, college-wide continuing education accounts, and online tutoring. We added electronic signature software and many other tools for internal process efficiencies.
The College expanded the professional development office position to address shifting
trends in instruction
and student needs. Faculty and staff were able to pivot and provide wraparound services to keep enrollment
and retention steady through the pandemic. These advancements were vital in the moment but had a
significant effect on the future of the brick-and-mortar college experience.
How do we navigate this situation? How do we create a sense of belonging in this new environment of remote work and distance learning? These thoughts were in the minds of the strategic planning teams as we crafted this new plan.