While the college is still accredited and still conferring degrees, it does have two years to clear up some things the Higher Learning Commission has questions about.
Chief among those - faculty and staff.
For example, the commission says the college doesn't provide enough support for student learning.
Specifically, it says in August of last year there were 3,000 more advisor appointments scheduled than were actually available.
We talked to a rep from the college who called that a mischaracterization, and says that the commission questioned how the college sets up those appointments, not that the students were getting the help they needed.
Issues also include not having the faculty and staff needed for effective programs and services, and graduation rates lagging behind growing enrollment.
This probation is in effect for two years.
Eastern Gateway officials provided us with a progress report; it details where the college is right now in response to the probation letter and items it has addressed since the HLC visited the school last November.
    • President Geoghegan created the Office of Institutional Effectiveness in March 2021, and promoted Vanessa Birney, a six-year veteran of the College, to run the office. Vice President Birney hired an Assessment Coordinator, who began in August 2021, to coordinate institutional assessment and manage data in the College’s assessment data software (Nuventive). The assessment coordinator has extensive experience as an HLC peer reviewer and has worked with other 2- and 4-year institutions to address assessment and accreditation compliance.
    • The Office of Institutional Effectiveness has created the Institutional Effectiveness Task Force to help all at Eastern Gateway create, practice, and document a culture of inquiry, evidence, and assessment, about ways to better achieve our own mission, vision, values, and strategic plan imperatives. 
    • Vice President Birney identified three full-time faculty to begin piloting assessment practices throughout Summer 2021. The Institutional Effectiveness Task Force and an Academic Assessment Task Force will continue this work, by incorporating lessons learned from the Summer as it finalizes the intuition’s comprehensive assessment plan.
    • While the Institutional Effectiveness Task Force looks broadly across the entire operations of all aspects of Eastern Gateway looking to improve policy process, procedure, and practices, the Academic Assessment Task Force is more focused. The Academic Assessment Task Forcelooks to foster excellence and best practice implementation in course-level assessment, program-level assessment, and general education assessment. 
    • Eastern Gateway Community College has an academic program review that is conducted by every program, every year, to assess program outcomes, student success metrics and the viability of the program. This process has resulted in improvements to programs such as Accounting, Professional Office Management and Radiological Technology. 
    • Five of the 8 positions for this fiscal year (July 2021-June 2022) have been hired. The College is budgeting for 10 full-time faculty positions in the next fiscal year. 
    • This ratio has already improved, here is the most recent data:
      • As of 15th Day Fall 2021: 
      • Full Time Faculty: 75
      • Part Time (Adjunct) Faculty: 1,697
      • Total Faculty: 1,772
      • Total Administration and Full/Part Time Staff: 237
      • Student to Faculty Ratio: 34.29
    • Eastern Gateway requires every staff and faculty member to produce transcripts that confirm their academic qualifications for their positions. These documents have been uploaded into Eastern Gateway’s new cloud-based HR system, designed by Oracle, that not only stores the information electronically, but enable routine audits by the HR department. Additionally, Eastern Gateway established a rubric for the qualifications, including minimum qualifications and possible exemptions, to teach every course offered at Eastern Gateway.
    • An Academic Advising Handbook has been developed and will roll out electronically December 1, 2021, the handbook will be used for training and reference purposes for online and in seat advisors. The handbook can be accessed through the SharePoint site under Enrollment Services via our employee portal.
    • The Student Government Association President, an AFSCME-affiliated (Local 3090) student from California, has already attended cabinet meetings and will be present at the November Board of Trustees meeting. Senators have been appointed to college committees, and Eastern Gateway will ensure that better documentation of their participation in the operations of the college is available to HLC moving forward.
    • The Senior Vice President of Marketing, Communication, and Strategic Initiatives and the Chief Student Affairs Officer have met with 4 consultants to develop a strategic enrollment management plan. Only one of those consultants shares the College’s vision of an “app to cap” approach to the enrollment plan that also ensures we are following best retention and completion best practices. The Eastern Gateway strategic enrollment plan will include those factors, as well as environmental studies to ensure new programs meet economic and market demands.
    • IPEDS are only used by Eastern Gateway to meet state and federal regulatory requirements. As previously stated, those do not reflect the actual population of our student population. Our students, on average, attend part-time, are in their early 30s and female. We look at true demographic data when reviewing student success KPIs (retention, completion, persistence). This is demonstrated by the Insights Dashboard that makes enrollment data available in real time to anyone with an @egcc.edu email account.
    • From an HR perspective, we have finalized the transition to digital records and audit those files to ensure all information is up-to-date.

Criterion 1. The institution’s mission is clear and articulated publicly; it guides the institution’s operations. 

Report Highlights

  • The College’s student enrollment profile demonstrates its stated mission to make college more accessible and flexible for more students to successfully complete degree programs with learning outcomes that will make them competitive in the modern workforce.
  • EGCC students are considered non-traditional. The average age of the student population is 34.3 years (median age is 33 years) and they are predominantly female. Nearly 38% of the College’s students are Pell eligible, and according to FAFSA data, 21% are considered low income. 
  • More than half, 55%, are first generation. For Fall 2020, 72% of students were enrolled part time and the remaining 28% are enrolled full time. Full-time enrollment is up 27% from Fall 2019, driven by two additional sessions EGCC added to the schedule starting in Spring 2020.
  • Over the last 10 years, the College increased minority graduates by 132%, a traditionally underserved population. EGCC has more students considered low-income or economically disadvantaged than any time in its 53-year history.
  • The College’s mission statement is reflected in its priority in programs that offer free college to its students and to participate in innovative programs that reduce barriers non-traditional students face in associate degree programs. EGCC offers 52 degree programs, both transferable or terminal depending on a student’s academic goal, and 15 certificate programs that feed regional workforce development needs.

·         As a result of faculty buy-in, more than 200 of EGCC’s courses use open educational resources (OER), and students have saved $22.6 million in textbook costs since implemented in 2017. 

  • The College’s enrollment profile demonstrates its educational role to serve the public in its 56.1% growth in enrollment, 17.2% of the population being Ohio students and 8.2% of the students being in the four-county service district. 
  • EGCC’s Ohio enrollment grew 19.0% and service district enrollment grew by 7.5% from Fall 2019 to Fall 2020. The core values also address the current needs in the business and manufacturing sectors.
  • Historical trends for successful completion, retention, and persistence broken out by business unit (locations) at EGCC show that online has shown the most improvement over 3-year and 5-year time periods and is currently outperforming the other business units and leading EGCC for these metrics. Online spring 2021 successful completion was 83.4%, retention was 58.3%, and fall to spring persistence was 77.1% which is higher than the campuses in Steubenville and Youngstown.
  • EGCC’s goal is to eliminate placement testing for physical campus students starting late Spring 2022 (beginning January 10, 2022) to mirror the current method for enrolling online students. This issue is also under review at the state level, led by the OACC, as the Chief Academics Officers review data and best practices. EGCC’s SVPAA is part of those discussions.

Criterion 2. The institution acts with integrity; its conduct is ethical and responsible.

Criterion 2 Report Highlights

  • The College’s commitment to integrity, ethical, and responsible conduct is further demonstrated in the requirement that all staff members, including adjunct faculty, complete annual ethics training in compliance with the State of Ohio Ethics Commission. All employees have signed an acknowledgment form indicating their understanding of the Ohio Ethics Law as it applies to employee conduct while employed by the College.  
  • The College enters into Collective Bargaining Agreements with the Eastern Gateway Community College Education Association Professional Staff and the Eastern Gateway Community College Education Association Support Staff.
  • EGCC Career Development and Alumni Engagement Survey found that 6-12 months after graduation:
    • 89% were employed or had lined up employment upon graduation
    • Median salary was $50,000-$60,000
    • 88% of students described their experience with EGCC as “somewhat rewarding” or “rewarding.”
    • 93% of students would recommend EGCC to a friend, family member, or work associate.
  • For students pursing a baccalaureate degree, EGCC has institutional agreements with 31 colleges and universities, with over 125 articulation agreements. Since 2019, EGCC graduates have transferred to more than 1,500 schools, 120 of which are considered R1, R2 or Doctorate/Professional Universities.

 Criterion 3: The institution provides quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered 

  • EGCC ensures the currency of its curricula through its faculty-driven Curriculum Committee. The Curriculum Committee of EGCC discusses and recommends proposals affecting all aspects of the academic programs of the College, including but not limited to course proposals, program changes, addition and deletion of programs, degree requirements, and general policies with impact on instruction and learning.
    • Voting membership consists of full-time faculty. 
  • In 2020, EGCC began using Quality Matters (QM), a national standard for course review that makes course navigation easier, reduces barriers to student achievements, and instills a culture of quality throughout the organization. The QM Quality Assurance System relies on core principles (continuous, centered, collegial and collaborative) to create a culture of continuous improvement so that Colleges “deliver on their promise day-after-day, semester-after-semester.” QM keeps learners engaged in different online courses.
  • The College has set, as a foundation in academics, the development and continued enhancement of college-wide learning outcomes embedded in the programs and curriculum. At the time of graduation, students are expected to demonstrate the following general education learning outcomes: Communication, informational literacy, critical-thinking skills, and cultural and social literacy. 
  • Faculty at EGCC include both full-time and adjunct (part-time) faculty. Both categories of faculty have the opportunity to support the mission, vision and goals of the institution through committee service. 
  • As part of its Collective Bargaining Agreement, EGCC determined and established parameters for student-to-instructor ratios. Program leaders and lead faculty, using college data and best practices, faculty input and administrative input, determine, by consensus, appropriate class size for in-seat and online classes. 
  • EGCC employs competent faculty members qualified to accomplish the mission, vision, and goals of the college and who embrace and demonstrate the values expected of all employees. When determining acceptable qualifications, the institution gives primary consideration to the highest earned degree in the discipline in accordance with the guidelines noted. 
  • The institution also considers competence in the field, professional licensure and certificates, honors and awards, continuous documented excellence in teaching, or other demonstrated competencies and achievements that contribute to effective teaching and the achievement of student learning outcomes.
  • EGCC assures that its current teaching cadre meets the qualifications expected by its Board of Trustees, the Ohio Department of Higher Education, the Higher Education and any relevant outside accreditors.  Eastern Gateway Community College has established the minimum qualifications for each of its courses through dialogue among teaching faculty and EGCC’s academic leadership.
  • Per Eastern Gateway Policy 7-14, all employees, including faculty, must be evaluated annually by their supervisor, and communicated to the employee in a face-to-face meeting.
  • The primary goal of faculty evaluation is to improve faculty development for the teaching and learning of the students. A comprehensive performance evaluation provides formative guidance and direction to facilitate the achievement of the individual goals. Each Academic Dean is responsible for setting annual goals and objectives for their schools and communicating the goals to the division in a manner that will assist faculty in their efforts to attain these goals. Evaluations determine advancements and for appropriate corrective actions, such as targeted professional development.

Criterion 4. The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement. 

EGCC is in the process of developing and operationalizing a comprehensive assessment plan, and it is committed to a change-management process that ensures it is done correctly, incorporates shared governance, and aligns with HLC Assumed Practices and leading best practices. The Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness is committed to a faculty-inclusive process that ensures that EGCC establishes its more robust assessment programming with the strongest, most inclusive foundation possible.

 Criterion 4 Report Highlights

  • EGCC’s retention, persistence, completion, and successful course completion metrics have improved significantly over the last three years. 
  • The college has seen a 16% improvement in retention over the last three years in total going from 49% to 57%. This is primarily driven by EGCC’s online student population which has shown significant improvement since its inception in 2015.
  • EGCC has seen an 8% improvement in fall to spring persistence over the last three years going from 71% to 77%. 
  • For Spring to Fall persistence the college has seen a 12% improvement over the last three years going from 59% to 66%. The last three years of mature data for 5yr completion rates show a 41% improvement going from 17% to 24%. 
  • The college has seen on average an 11% improvement in successful course completion over the last 3 years for each of the terms and is currently around 83% successful course completion for each term and this is very important as it correlates to driving improvement in retention, persistence, and completion.
  • The APR committee member’s roles and responsibilities were clarified, processes for sun setting were outlined, and details how assessment is embedded in the APR process.
  • The College created the Office of Institutional Effectiveness to ensure the work of assessment is operatized throughout the institution. A Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness (VPIE) was promoted from within the College and an Assessment Coordinator position was included in the FY2022 budget.
  • The VPIE created a shared governance model committee with the charge to draft a comprehensive intuitional assessment plan and work through a shared governance model to finalize the plan.
  • The VPIE established a timeline to finalize and operatize the Assessment Plan.
  • The VPIE created a Blooms Taxonomy Verb Chart to establish a learning-outcomes foundation to guide the College’s assessment planning. 
  • The College more clearly articulated its use of data to measure persistence, retention and completion that is reflective of its actual student population, not depended on IPEDS, in compliance with HLC Assumed Practice C.7.
  • The student success initiatives outlined in the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan are more clearly defined and aligned with the teaching and learning outcomes.

Criterion 5. The institution’s resources, structures, processes and planning are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.

Criterion 5 was, overall, a source of contention between the Peer Review Team and the Institution. Repeatedly, the College, and its Board of Trustees who met with the On-Site Peer Reviewer, had to correct assertions that the College was operating at a deficit. The On-Site Reviewer came to this conclusion by misinterpreting the annual financial statements. The Reviewer did not include State Share of Instruction (SSI) and Pell Grants in the net operating income. The financial presentation is prescribed by the State of Ohio, but the Reviewer’s mistaken conclusion that the College was operating at a deficit would then also apply to all 23 community colleges in Ohio. Using the On-Site Reviewer’s methodology for determining a deficit, it would mean one of the largest community Colleges in Ohio, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) would be operating at a $230 million deficit, and Sinclair Community College would be facing a $111 million deficit.  

As 38% of the College’s online students and 51% of in-seat students receive Pell grants, or are eligible to do so, to not include that revenue as “real operating dollars” is not fair or accurate. For example, the Team report stated, “EGCC continues to make great strides in developing the infrastructure necessary to be a global online institution, but EGCC doesn’t have the assets (cash of $2.5 million) necessary to make those expenditures before the semester in which the growth in enrollment occurs.” However, the draft Audit report shared with the Team stated, “For FY20 the total assets for EGCC are $156.6 million with $14.3 million, in cash.”

Much of the College’s report to the IAC on Criterion 5 clarified its position on its shared governance structure and to alleviate misunderstandings about the College’s financial position. 

Criterion 5 Summary

The Peer Review Team determined that Core Components 5.A., 5.B, and 5.C were “Met with Concerns,” and focused on the College’s financial stability and its ability to scale and sustain its operations to ensure the College maintains its mission and priorities quality teaching and learning. Responsive actions taken by the College include:

·         A FY2022 budget that clearly demonstrates fiscal stability and invests in teaching and learning with the addition of full-time faculty and provides additional staffing to support student success.

·         Upgrades in Nuventive software to ensure the College links its processes for assessment of student learning, evaluation of operations, planning and budgeting.

·         The development and launch of an institutional data dashboard to increase accessibility to data for better informed, data-driven decision-making.

·         Articulation of an annual evaluation phase in the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan that ensures the College can adapt to environmental changes.

·         The stabilization of the administrative organizational chart that reflects the new President’s functional approach to day-to-day management of the College and elevates the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

·         Creating an Assessment Coordinator position to ensure the College leverages it investment in Nuventive to drive assessment across department of the college. 

·         The new Student Government Association ensures a student voice in college governance.