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Instructor talks to students in business class

College takes steps to advance strategic plan

Now at approximately the mid-point of Yakima Valley College’s five-year strategic plan, the campus community continues to make progress toward putting that plan into action.

Earlier this fall, a meeting of faculty, staff, administrators and students involved in strategic planning workgroups met to review more than a dozen Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) being used to monitor how the college is doing in relation to the priorities in the plan.

This fall’s review was the first chance for workgroups to look at changes from the baseline year for KPIs. Overall, the college saw some promising improvements from the baseline year said Jennifer Ernst, vice president of instruction and student services. Among those improvements were a higher percentage of students completing their degree or certificate within 3 years and an increase in the mean student evaluation of teaching score.

“It’s gratifying to see improvements related to YVC’s commitment to student learning and achievement and our efforts to foster a culture of teaching, learning and innovation,” Ernst said.

While the college didn’t achieve a higher score in every KPI, Ernst noted that COVID impacted some measurements, such as a lower percentage of students transferring to 4-year institutions in the middle of the pandemic.

The next step is using the data that’s been collected to take action.

“We are looking at the college’s data in a very systematic way and tying that to our priorities in the strategic plan so we can develop action plans for improvement,” said Teresa Rich, vice president of administrative services. “Already, we’re taking steps to better serve our students and the Yakima Valley community that we serve.”

That includes setting aside funding to foster student engagement and community and revamping the processes for welcoming and orienting new students.

The college also is in the process of hiring a new director for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). That individual will help ensure the college’s strategic planning and DEI efforts are integrated.

“YVC has been dedicated to opening access to higher education throughout its history,” Ernst said. “Strengthening our communities and providing pathways to socioeconomic mobility are cornerstones of our mission and our strategic planning work. Bringing in a DEI director will be a significant step in moving forward the college’s efforts.”

Moving forward the priorities of the strategic plan is an ongoing process, and throughout it, Rich noted the college will continue to evaluate and analyze what’s going well and what can be improved.

“We have so many faculty and staff who are bringing tremendous knowledge and care for our students to our strategic planning work,” Rich said. “It’s already making a difference for YVC students and I know their efforts will help us continually improve our students’ experiences here.”