Criterion Two. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct

2.A – Core Component 2.A

The institution operates with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel, and auxiliary functions; it establishes and follows policies and processes for fair and ethical behavior on the part of its governing board, administration, faculty, and staff.

Argument

Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City establishes and follows policies and processes for fair and ethical behavior.  Its use of shared governance in policy development helps ensure a focus on fulfillment of mission and fair treatment of students and employees. In 2012, the college leadership reorganized the policy development process to emphasize communication among all constituents and links to planning processes.The Chancellor’s Policy Review Committee (CPRC) was formed to manage the creation and review of policies with representation from the three governance groups. (210020DP, MCC Policy Development-Process).  This process is still evolving as the college searches for better ways to effectively move policies forward and improve communication.  One of these improvements is the creation of a blog that allows everyone to view policies in progress and those that have been recently completed (About CPRC).

The CPRC is replacing existing district regulations with procedures to simplify the structure of policy and process.  In addition to the procedures shown on the District Policies (PRPs) webpage, other departments maintain written procedures or guidelines on the InfoExchange website. As detailed below, changes to uniform grant guidance prompted a careful review and update of multiple policies and procedures.

Financial Functions

MCC operates in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). The policy on audits (4.20010 BP) requires external audits of district, foundation, and grant finances, as well as internal audits of student body accounts.  The accounting firm, CliftonLarsonAllen, conducts an annual financial audit (Audit Letter 2013 and Audit Letter 2014). The results of external audits are presented to the Board of Trustees annually, and the college’s financials are presented monthly for board approval. The Vice Chancellor of Financial and Administrative Services oversees budgets, financial planning, purchasing, grants, and accounting. Administrator job descriptions establish budgetary responsibilities (MCC Administrator Position Description).  Division chairs are responsible for managing budgets (Division Chair Position Description).

The regulation on budget preparation and adoption (4.05010 DR) ensures that officers of the district administer the budget and, in conjunction with other employee groups, handle any problems that arise due to enrollment or revenue deficits.  An example of how MCC has managed a systemwide budget reduction is evident with both the Budget Response Team and Zero Based Budget plan.   Two emails from the chancellor and a document containing budget recommendations are included as evidence. A zero-based budgeting task force of officers, administrators, faculty, and staff produced a set of recommendations that were accepted by the chancellor and his cabinet and acted upon, in response to projected budget problems. (Chancellor Message ZBB, ZBB Timeline, ZBB Academic Program Recommendations – cabinet, ZBB administrative program recommendations – cabinet, ZBB Determinations and Thank You)

The college complies with external regulations. For example, MCC – Longview was selected for a student financial aid audit, and procedures for the entire college are being updated as a result. The college manages multiple grants including a TAACCCT grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and a Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education, necessitating financial compliance with OMB guidelines. Recent changes to these uniform grant guidelines prompted a careful review of existing procedures resulting in, for example, new cash management procedures. (Cash Management)

MCC carefully stewards its resources and makes every effort to ensure it is acting in the interest of its mission. In addition to the detailed Zero Base Budgeting review, individual programs are frequently checked for alignment with institutional priorities. For example, an athletic study was conducted to determine the feasibility of maintaining athletics programs (District Athletic Analysis, District Athletic Recommendations).  Additional financial matters will be discussed in Criterion 5.

Academic Functions

The Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs oversees academic matters, but most functions are collaborative among officers, administrators and faculty. MCC has multiple policies and processes in place to ensure quality and integrity in academic functions. These include program and discipline review, faculty evaluation and student experience surveys, instructor credentials and qualifications, the District Instructional Coordinating Committee, the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee, campus curriculum committees, program accreditation, policy development and approval process.   Examples of academic policies include the following: Articulation 625040BP, Curriculum Process 610020BP, Grading Policy 6.05015DP. Regular assessment of learning outcomes and, in some cases, CTE program advisory board input and external program accreditations help to maintain integrity of curriculum.

Personnel Functions

The Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources oversees personnel issues. To ensure personnel are treated fairly, MCC has numerous policies in place including Schedule of Salary and Conditions, Vacation and HolidaysEmployee Grievance, Purchase of Food and Meals, Employee Discrimination BP and District,  and Performance Evaluations. The Human Resources department conducts regular training on Title IX and FERPA. See Criterion 5 for more on personnel policies.

Auxiliary Functions

Auxiliary functions at MCC include: bookstores, food service, recreation centers, parking lots, and building leasing. Each area maintains policies and procedures necessary to administer its functions and ensure fair and ethical practices. The Board-approved policies, procedures, and by-laws can be found on the InfoExchange website, along with recent changes and notes on any ongoing revisions. In addition to the board by-laws, there are categories for administration, business and finance, curriculum and instruction, personnel, physical facilities, and student personnel. Additional information on MCC processes for specific areas and departments (e.g. student records, athletics, purchasing, and salvage equipment) can be found at InfoEx.

 

2.B – Core Component 2.B

The institution presents itself clearly and completely to its students and to the public with regard to its programs, requirements, faculty and staff, costs to students, control, and accreditation relationships.

Argument

MCC maintains a wide array of resources to present a clear picture of its operations and activities to students and other constituencies, both internal and external. The website is a major source of current and detailed information. The front page includes a search engine, employee and office directory, A-Z indexes for academic programs and services, an overall A-Z list, and access to an internal web portal (myMCCKC), which in turn links students to library resources, email, and the learning management system (Blackboard). The Explore MCC tab offers extensive resources including campus-specific information, mission, history, leadership, strategic plan, student code of conduct, and student demographics.

Each academic program has a webpage detailing its courses, curriculum, requirements, and other relevant information such as faculty contacts (Associate in Arts ). Career program pages also list job outlook data and show gainful-employment disclosure information (including total program cost, placement rates, and on-time completion rates). Examples of how this information is disseminated include the business program and  the course catalog.

The home page also includes links that offer easy access to sections on admissions, enrollment, financial aid and other services. Tuition information can be found at http://mcckc.edu/tuition. All programs with program accreditation display their accreditation status on the program webpage, and there is also a page at http://mcckc.edu/progs/info/facts/list.asp listing all such programs and their accrediting agencies along with the college’s HLC accreditation status. An accreditation spreadsheet showing status of each accreditation is also included as evidence. Academic programs are subject to state regulations administered by the Missouri Department of Higher Education, and also, in the case of career programs, by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. A few career programs – police, nursing, fire, and EMS – are also subject to the oversight of a state board.

The MCC print shop maintains electronic files of numerous brochures that are available for mailing to current and prospective students as needed. MCC News ( http://mcckc.edu/publicrelations) is another means of communication with students, employees, and the general public. The college maintains an active presence on social media, including a Twitter feed https://twitter.com/MCCKansasCIty, a Youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/MCCKansasCity, and Facebook pages (for example, https://www.facebook.com/mcckansascity) for the college as well as for some of its programs. The Longview campus publishes a student newspaper both in print and online.  Current issues can be found at longviewcurrent.org.

2.C – Core Component 2.C

The governing board of the institution is sufficiently autonomous to make decisions in the best interest of the institution and to assure its integrity.

  1. The governing board’s deliberations reflect priorities to preserve and enhance the institution.
  2. The governing board reviews and considers the reasonable and relevant interests of the institution’s internal and external constituencies during its decision-making deliberations.
  3. The governing board preserves its independence from undue influence on the part of donors, elected officials, ownership interests or other external parties when such influence would not be in the best interest of the institution.
  4. The governing board delegates day-to-day management of the institution to the administration and expects the faculty to oversee academic matters.

Argument

Metropolitan Community College – Kansas City is governed by an elected Board of Trustees. The board is an agency of the state and derives its authority from the General Assembly of the State of Missouri. The by-laws of the board establish its responsibilities and processes.

Preserving and Enhancing the Institution

The board is “charged by the state with the responsibility of providing community college instruction for residents within the district who are qualified for admission, according to the standards prescribed by the district; establishment and operation of the campus(es) within the district; and the custody of and responsibility for the property of the district and the management and control of said district.” (By-laws 1.10020)

Samples of board minutes are attached to demonstrate that the board’s deliberations reflect a priority of preserving and enhancing the institution. (Board Minutes)

Considering All Constituencies

MCC Board of Trustees meetings are open to the public, and frequently include presentations from employees and external entities on topics relevant to the mission of the college and responsibilities of the board. As shown in the sample minutes, business considered by the board is responsive to the needs of both internal and external constituencies. Items may be introduced by a board member or officer, or may be submitted to the board secretary prior to the board meeting (Board Minutes).

Action items that are placed before the board by the chancellor are typically first presented to the Chancellor’s Cabinet, which includes representatives of the three governance groups (Faculty Association, Staff Association, and Administrative Association), as well as student representatives. The cabinet assures that each item has been sufficiently considered and properly vetted in both substance and procedure.

Preserving Independence

According to its by-laws, the board consists of six trustees elected by voters of the district to six- year terms. The by-laws require all trustees to take an oath of impartiality prescribed by Missouri Statute. Additionally, board members must follow MCC policy on code of ethics and conflict of interest (2.25010 BP and Proposed Revision) which derive from the state code of ethics. (RSMO 105.454 and Conflict of Interest FAQ).

The trustees are not compensated for their service, but are reimbursed for certain expenses incurred while serving, including out-of-district travel to represent the college. Trustees and district employees must comply with section RSMO 105.454 of the Missouri Revised Statutes and Missouri Ethics Commission guidelines (Conflict of Interest FAQs) on conflicts of interest, as well as any other state law governing official conduct. Board policy on code of ethics spells out specific responsibilities relating to potential conflicts of interest. In particular, trustees must disclose situations in which there are conflicts of interest, and file annual financial disclosure reports with the board and the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Any trustee who has a substantial, personal or private interest in any measure, contract, order, policy, or regulation proposed or pending before the board must disclose that interest to the board secretary,  and the disclosure must be recorded in the minutes. At the top of Page 4 in the attached board minutes from August 14, 2014 appears an example of a trustee abstaining to avoid a conflict of interest. Trustee Trent Skaggs abstained because he is also on the Mid-Continent Public Library Board (board minutes page 4).

Delegating Day-to-Day Management

The board by-laws provide that day-to-day management of the institution is delegated to the administration. “The formulation and adoption of written policies shall constitute the basic method by which the board exercises this leadership in the operation of the district. The board shall appoint a chancellor as its chief executive officer with full authority and responsibility for the operation of the district, in compliance with the bylaws and policies of the board.” The chancellor oversees the administrative structure, which includes the financial, academic, personnel, and auxiliary functions (MCC Organizational Structure, Organizational Structure Policy).

MCC employs a shared governance model by which responsibility for academic matters rests with the faculty, exercised through the Faculty Senate (elected by the Faculty Association), ( MCC Committees 2014-2015 ) with the support of academic administrators. Committees that decide academic matters include the District Instructional Coordinating Committee, the District Assessment Coordinating Committee, and the District Academic Technology Committee, all of which have majority-faculty membership. The Faculty Senate also has standing sub-committees to address curriculum, instructional technology, and academic policy. (Shared Governance Documentsspirit of shared governance)

Recent events have indicated a shift in perception of shared governance effectiveness by the faculty.  In fall 2014, full-time faculty voted to join the MNEA (Missouri National Education Association) union.  They administered an AAUP survey to track changes in faculty attitudes between 2009 and 2014.

The staff has administered a similar survey (Staff Fall 2014 Survey Results, Staff 2014 Fall Survey – Results – Graphs).  These surveys were presented to both the chancellor and the Board of Trustees. Strategic Planning Steering Committee discussed survey results and indicated a need to address in the upcoming planning process. Human Resources and the District Staff Council conducted focus groups and developed next steps. The Administrative Association gathered feedback from its membership and discussed with the chancellor. Climate and shared governance have become a key element of the new Strategic Plan. As a first step toward climate change, a facilitator from the Association of Governing Boards led a workshop on including representatives from all the governing bodies: Board of Trustees, Officers, and college and campus leadership from Administrative, Staff, and Faculty Associations. A survey was conducted in advance of the workshop.

Additional information will be provided in Criterion 3.

 

2.D – Core Component 2.D

The institution is committed to freedom of expression and the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning.

Argument

MCC is committed to freedom of expression and the pursuit of truth. The college follows its policies on Free Speech (3.25091 BP) and Academic Freedom (6.15010 BP), and its regulation on Freedom in Student Affairs (7.30040 DR).  Students are required to follow a code of conduct (7.35010 DP).

In the classroom setting, instructors and students regularly address topics that might be considered controversial by elements of the general public.  Science courses may include discussion of evolution, origin of the universe, and the age of the Earth (Sample Astronomy Discussion). Social science courses could include debate on free will versus determinism, the existence of God and breastfeeding versus bottle feeding (Psychology Faculty Email). These topics often generate spirited classroom conversations.  Courses such as Biology 125 (Biology of Human Sexuality) and Sociology 101 (Sex Roles and Sexuality) deal with topics that make some people uncomfortable.  The college’s instructors strive to promote open and respectful dialogue.

2.E – Core Component 2.E

The institution’s policies and procedures call for responsible acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge by its faculty, students and staff.

  1. The institution provides effective oversight and support services to ensure the integrity of research and scholarly practice conducted by its faculty, staff, and students.
  2. Students are offered guidance in the ethical use of information resources.
  3. The institution has and enforces policies on academic honesty and integrity.

Argument

The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment provides oversight for all research requests involving MCC students or employees (IRB Guidelines for Research Projects). Integrity of research and scholarly practice by employees and students is further addressed by the policy on academic freedom. Employees also receive FERPA, Data Security and Data 101 training (MCC Ferpa Training, Data Security ClassData 101 Training).

Much of the guidance our students receive in the ethical use of information resources comes from their coursework, including mandatory composition, computer science, and college orientation courses. The library offers resources and training in use of information. The Student Handbook is an additional resource. The English discipline conducts assessment to ensure students are learning proper techniques for citation. To help provide a safe and high quality learning and working environment employees and students are expected to follow both board and campus lab policies on appropriate use of technology.

The Student Handbook provides the details of the Code of Student Conduct, which is established by district regulations. This code ensures implementation of the academic honesty policies and details the interventions, appeals process, and available disciplinary options. (7.35010 DP). Testing centers monitor proctored examinations carefully to ensure integrity of testing and to duplicate the security of the classroom setting. (Test Center Procedures)  Additional protocols and agreements are in place to extend secure testing for distance students who cannot reasonably travel to an MCC testing center. (Proctor Instructions, Proctor FAQ, Proctor Notice) Copyrighted materials are addressed by board policy (2.25040 BP).

 

2.S – Criterion 2 – Summary

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

Summary

MCC makes extensive use of board-approved policies and other written procedures to provide clear guidance on proper and ethical behavior by employees and students.  The college recognizes that policies and procedures require diligent and frequent review, and strives for continuous improvement in efficacy and transparency of the policy process as well as in the policies themselves.  MCC recognizes the importance of maintaining a climate of integrity, acknowledges a recent shift in employee perceptions of the effectiveness of the current shared governance model, and resolves to keep working toward greater cooperation among employee groups as it pursues a common goal of preparing students, serving communities, and creating opportunities.