New vision for college focuses on offering students quintessential Northwest Colorado experiences | CraigDailyPress.com

New vision for college focuses on offering students quintessential Northwest Colorado experiences

A new vision for Colorado Northwestern Community College will emphasis experiences for students only available in Northwest Colorado like working on dinosaur digs. Pictured: Under direction of CNCC Science Faculty Tyler Bridges, CNCC Ladies Basketball and Softball teams help drag fossils, protected by plaster ‘jackets,’ from a dig site for relocation to a fossil repository located on the Craig campus.

CRAIG — New mission and vision for Colorado Northwestern Community College will strive to give students a one-of-a-kind learning experience.

The new mission and vision statements, along with a four-point strategic plan, were completed in July and publicly announced by CNCC President Ron Granger in early November.

"The mission of Colorado Northwestern Community College is to enhance people's lives by providing an accessible, affordable, quality education. Our vision: Colorado Northwestern Community College will be the college of choice for students seeking a unique education grounded in the Colorado experience."

CNCC's mission is similar to the missions of the 13 Colorado Community Colleges System schools, but the vision is what sets CNCC apart from the rest.

"We are more centered on the experience our students get in rural Colorado, especially in rural Northwest Colorado," Granger said.

One point of difference is CNCC's ability to provide courses in paleontology, which have students work on dig sites and dinosaur fossils, a program run by science faculty member Liz Johnson.

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Johnson said faculty and staff also develop field trips and programming for students across both campuses, allowing for interaction with area museums, rivers, and "Northwest Colorado experiences."

The new mission, vision, and strategic plan were about 18 months in the making and involved condensing the old mission and vision — about nine paragraphs in length — to two sentences.

Implementation of the plan is underway, with the first review due to CNCC leadership Nov. 15.

"This plan shouldn't just sit on the shelf. It needs to be a living document that guides what we do on a day-to-day basis," said Director of Institutional Effectiveness Kelly Scott, who has developed some of the reporting tools that will be used

All full-time employees are in one of 12 groups focused on achieving one of five main goals: student support, communication, partnerships and sustainability with key performance indicators —measurable, actionable milestones for each. This plan is available at cncc.edu/home/cncc-strategic-plan.

"It's a grassroots-led effort at this point," Scott said. She explained this allows each group to choose its own passions.

Tools she developed and has trained faculty and staff to track document and show progress to prove when goals are met. She noted much of the plan is built around work that was already being done, but wasn't being measured.

"This will allow us to be more intentional," she said.

Progress reports to the college leadership council, the college's senior leadership team, and the cabinet will include information about actions being planned, timelines, resources available, and resources needed. The reports will also include updates on what has been done, and, once a goal is complete, the outcomes, all tied to the budget.

"The reports will drive decisions college leadership teams make about the budget," Scott said. "The plan should drive the budget, and the KPIs are our tool to do that."

This is the first time at CNCC has developed this type of strategic plan, and it will be under continuous evaluation.

"Each group will be reaching out to students and others to help define what progress is being done and what other things may need to be done in the future," Granger said.

Granger said that, while external consultation to this point has been minimal, he added: "We will be meeting with different outside groups on a continual basis to get input and to inform them what has been accomplished."

“The strategic plan will not be used directly to evaluate performance, however, if we don't reach the goals we have set, or if we reach our goals but a difference is not being seen, we will work as a college to adjust what we are doing," Granger said.

He also said tying the strategic plan and budget together will make it possible to determine when and where investments need to be made.

"This was a collaborative effort by every single individual on our campuses, and we believe that following this plan will help our college and our communities for years to come."

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.