Restructuring IECC

Restructuring IECC:
Why, How, and Looking Ahead

On July 1, 2024, IECC transitioned from our historical structure of four separate organizational charts at Frontier Community College, Lincoln Trail College, Olney Central College, and Wabash Valley College into a unified structure with four main divisions: Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Business Operations, and Institutional Outreach.

Organizational Structure and Roles

Academic Affairs: This division oversees all academic programs, business and industry training, advising, curriculum development, faculty support, and instructional quality. It will ensure that academic standards are maintained across all campuses and facilitate faculty collaboration and resource sharing.

Student Affairs: This division focuses on student life, including career services, learning commons, TRIO, mental health support, retention programs, international, and student life activities. By consolidating these services, we aim to enhance the overall student experience and support student success.

Business Operations: This division manages the business offices and auxiliary activities of each campus. It will ensure that our resources are used efficiently and that our financial practices support the sustainability of our institution.

Institutional Outreach: This division handles community engagement, foundations and fundraising, alumni relations, marketing, enrollment management, adult education, and dual credit and K-12 partnerships. It will work to strengthen our ties with local communities and stakeholders, and to promote IECC’s programs and services.


Why did IECC elect to pursue organizational restructuring?

In 2020, Illinois Eastern Community Colleges (IECC) embarked on a strategic planning initiative with one primary question at the forefront of our work:

How do we optimize our District to achieve our mission and vision to better serve students and our communities?

A confluence of external and internal factors, including Illinois’ underfunded community college system, our declining student enrollment, unmet student needs, and increasing labor cost strain, required administration and the Board of Trustees to reexamine our practices and consider ways to better serve our students and ensure students will continue to receive a quality education in each of our four primary locations.

The underfunding of community colleges in Illinois is anticipated to continue, and we know that demographic, social, and technological trends will make maintaining enrollment numbers difficult (e.g. the 2025 enrollment cliff). We had to find new and creative ways to achieve our mission in a cost-efficient manner and to adapt to the current, and future, climate of higher education. A strategic plan was needed that focused on the best ways to use increasingly scarce resources to meet the needs of our students and our communities and sustain the four IECC locations.

Thus, IECC began work on the strategic planning initiative. The resulting strategic plan – Forward Together – was developed with wide input from internal and external stakeholders. The plan addresses the many challenges and opportunities facing our District.

Forward Together is the framework we will use to keep students at the center of our decision-making. When complete, the restructuring efforts will preserve and enhance our programs and services while giving the District the flexibility it needs to respond to growth or continued contraction. It will give us the foundation to complete the important, and urgent, work outlined in the strategic plan.

What was wrong with the old organizational structure?

To summarize: Times have changed. What worked before isn’t working now.

To this point in our history, our four colleges have worked relatively independently of each other. The old organizational structure, authorized by the Board of Trustees upon the establishment of Lincoln Trail College and Wabash Valley College, served IECC well for over 60 years. It worked so well that the administration and the Board elected to add a fourth college (Frontier) in 1976.

Over the past 60 years, significant changes in the educational landscape, the unmet needs of our students, and the State’s inability to fully fund its community college system have created significant challenges for IECC’s existing structure. Throughout the strategic planning process, we spoke at length about our employees being stretched too thin, wearing too many “hats”, and gaps in our service delivery, which became “standard operating procedure” due to insufficient financial resources to sustain operations across the district. All four colleges shared a single common revenue stream making it impossible to make improvements at one campus without something being taken away at another. The model fueled competition among campuses and further siloed colleges and operations.

Also, during this time, the operating revenues of the District remained flat while operating expenses – including salaries and deferred maintenance needs – continued to rise. It became clear that each of our four colleges could not independently afford to be all things to all people, and they could not continue to support multiple administrative departments and services in four locations.

The silos had to be broken down. The focus needed to be moved from location as a priority to service as a priority. Reorganizing as service divisions – divisions that are essential to achieving our mission - will allow more opportunities for engagement and collaboration between faculty and staff. It will allow us to help those employees in the current “standard operating procedure” - stretched too thin, wearing too many “hats” – to collaborate, share efficiencies, learn new best practices, and grow themselves. Ultimately, this reorganization will allow us to do more for our students collectively than any one college could do on its own.


What are the specifics of the reorganization?

At its core, our restructuring efforts aim to reallocate our resources across the district to functions essential to the delivery of exceptional education. This is a dramatic departure from our historical practices of allocating resources to colleges. It will be the responsibility of the Presidents and Vice-Chancellors of our four new divisions, Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Business Operations, and Institutional Outreach, to ensure that high quality services are being provided in an equitable fashion to all IECC students – regardless of the campus where they attend. Over the next few years, we will work to standardize and streamline our processes to improve the working conditions for employees, expand the reach of our faculty, and better serve our students and our workforce.

Will the restructuring result in the elimination of academic programs?

A significant part of the strategic plan also involves our transition to become a Guided Pathways institution. Guided pathways was developed by researchers and educators from the Community College Research Center (CCRC) in 2015. The goal is to streamline the student journey by providing structured choice, enhanced support, and clear learning outcomes at the course, program of student, and institutional levels. The end goal is to improve enrollment, persistence, retention, and completion. 

The purpose of Guided Pathways is not to eliminate courses and programs. It is a structure that will allow us to ensure we are moving students through a pathway that meets their specific needs, aligns with their future education goals, and helps students see a clear and specific map of classes that they will take during their time at IECC. During our move to Guided Pathways, we are assessing all of our courses and programs, eliminating those from the catalogue that are no longer offered, highlighting courses that have low enrollment but potential for more students, and scheduling classes in a more strategic way with the student experience at the forefront.

As a part of this process, IECC will be adding and formalizing the curriculum of transfer programs of study. This process will help IECC build a reputation for excellence in transfer programs in the same way we have done in our Career and Technical Education Pathways. The formalization of our curriculum in these transfer pathways will also allow IECC to better understand and predict student academic needs and build more efficient academic schedules.

The student benefits of enrolling in a Guided Pathways institution are well documented. A part of our strategic plan points to the necessity to establish metrics to conduct better program review. IECC will continue and enhance our program review process to allow us to make data informed decisions about course development, curriculum changes, or addition or elimination of programs.

What does restructuring mean for the Colleges?

For students and members of the community the restructuring should change very little. Students will still apply and be admitted to one of our four campuses. Our goal is for each campus to be able to offer our full range of transfer (1.1) academic pathways. Career and technical (1.2) pathways will continue to be delivered at a "lead" campus, but may be offered at more than one campus where sufficient student demand exists. Our athletic programs and college branding will continue unchanged. We are all proud to be Bobcats, Statesmen, Blue Knights, and Warriors, and that will not change. Our end goal is to leverage District wide resources to provide a better student experience than we could afford to provide working separately.

What does restructuring mean for employees?

Regardless of the physical location from which they have worked, all employees have always been employees of IECC. We will continue to assign new employees to a campus that will serve as the home base from which they will perform the majority of their work duties. If you work from a particular campus right now, that assignment will not change in the restructuring process.

The biggest difference for employees will be a change in their reporting line. Instead of reporting lines based on location, each employee will be assigned to one of five divisions: Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Institutional Outreach, Business Operations, and District Office. Our Chancellor and Presidents/Vice-Chancellors will serve as the leads for these divisions.

Your immediate supervisor may not work out of the same physical location as you. Therefore, we encourage you to use the available communication technology such as instant messaging, video conferencing (TEAMS), e-mail and phone calls to connect with those at other locations. Additionally, each campus will retain senior leadership that will be available to assist *all* employees in urgent or emergency situations. There will be a learning curve, and there will be times when this reporting arrangement is less convenient than being able to walk down the hall to speak with your supervisor. There will be a period of adjustment, but our ability to work as a system and better serve our students is worth the inconvenience.

The new organizational charts became effective July 1, 2024, and can be accessed and reviewed here.

How will the reorganization affect our daily operations?

Daily operations will largely remain the same, but there will be an increased emphasis on cross-campus, cross-functional collaboration. This means there will be more coordinated efforts, a stronger emphasis on sharing resources and talent to serve students at all four locations instead of one single college. It will be exceptionally important for everyone – from senior leadership to front line employees to embrace open and transparent communication.

The goal is that this new structure will empower employees to work with their counterparts at other locations, collaborate with other teams and divisions, and make improvements and changes based on the needs seen at the ground level. In our current structure, there are too many channels required to accomplish necessary tasks and changes. In the new reorganization, we are excited to allow divisions to take charge and handle work, with input and collaboration from others, in a more timely and efficient manner.

Could the new organizational structure result in layoffs?

At present, there are no plans in place to conduct layoffs. Down the line, there may be impacts to positions and a reduction to our District workforce as a result of restructuring. The scope of any such reductions would be largely dependent upon the needs of the divisions, the Illinois legislature’s commitment to the community college system, and IECC’s student enrollment.

However, there will be some positions that change or pivot during the restructure. It is apparent that there is a certain amount of duplication of effort and redundancy in our system as we move from four independent organizational structures into a single unified system. At the same time, we have significant gaps in many important areas. In areas where duplication or redundancies exist, the administration will first look for opportunities to engage in job retraining to fill known gaps in the organization. Our goal is to reframe positions as necessary to make jobs fit the needs of both the individual and the organization rather than eliminate positions.


When will these changes take place?

We are already starting to see the positive impact changes have had. Phase 1 began this past fall as we transitioned job duties and expectations of District leadership, began informally shifting into our new divisions, and conducting “look and listen” tours that allowed us to hear ideas, concerns, and opportunities from our people. Phase 2 began on July 1, 2024, when we formally shift into our new reporting structures. We will continue our campus tours as we know there will be unforeseen difficulties we will need to work through. Phase 3 will begin August of 2025 as we roll out our Guided Pathways model and new transfer programs and student support services.

IECC employees will be kept abreast of changes in our District Workshops, electronic communication, and division meetings. A website with copies of meeting minutes of the Board, the Strategic Engagement Planning Council (SEPC), and our four divisions is available here for those who are eager to learn more. Opportunities for input will actively be sought in our Division Town Hall Meetings held on each campus and via this Feedback link. The administration is identifying key policies and procedures that need to be adjusted and examining opportunities for new governance groups that will allow our faculty and staff to have more input into the decision-making process. Depending on progress, feedback received from stakeholders, and other emerging opportunities or challenges, this timeline may be adjusted backward or forward. As we learned from our Covey keynote speaker in 2022, organizational change is always frustrating and difficult. Our primary goal is to move forward, together, and make wise moves rather than hit artificial timelines.

How will we measure success?

To ensure the effectiveness of our new organizational structure and Guided Pathways model, we will implement robust measures to monitor and evaluate various aspects of our operations. Drawing on best practices from successful reorganization plans in other institutions, we will employ the following strategies:

1. Student Outcomes Assessment: Regular assessments of student outcomes will be conducted to track progress towards academic goals and career readiness. Key metrics such as graduation rates, transfer rates, and job placement outcomes will be monitored across different pathways and campuses. This data will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of our educational programs and guide improvements where needed.  IECC has recently adopted SENSE and CCSE surveys which allow take the pulse of our students and compare our results against peers nation-wide.

2. Institutional Efficiency Metrics: Efficiency measures within each of our four divisions will focus on foundational Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) aimed at optimizing student experience, efficient resource allocation, and improving administrative processes. These KPIs are essential for gauging institutional efficiency and enhancing overall organizational effectiveness.

Academic Affairs:

  • Section Fill-Rate: This KPI will measure the percentage of available course sections that are filled with enrolled students. It helps assess the efficiency of course scheduling and resource allocation within Academic Affairs.
  • Persistence, Retention, Completion, and Graduation Rates: Tracking these metrics will provide a comprehensive assessment of student progress and success from enrollment to graduation. Persistence rate measures the percentage of students who continue their studies semester to semester, indicating the effectiveness of support services in keeping students engaged. Retention rate measures the percentage of students who remain enrolled at IECC over time, reflecting the overall satisfaction and support they receive. Completion rate measures the percentage of students who successfully finish their academic programs, showing the effectiveness of academic advising and student support. Graduation rate tracks the percentage of students who complete their programs within expected timelines, indicating the alignment of curriculum and support services with student needs and goals.

Student Affairs:

  • Sense of Belonging: Measuring students' perception of belonging to the college community, which is crucial for their overall engagement and persistence.
  • Active Learning: Assessing the extent to which students are involved in activities that promote active learning, such as collaborative projects, service-learning opportunities, and co-curricular activities.
  • Supportive Environment: Evaluating students' perceptions of the support services available to them, including counseling, advising, career services, and accessibility services.
  • Career Placement Rate: Tracking the percentage of graduates who secure employment in their field of study within a specified period after graduation will assess the impact of career services and internship programs.

Business Operations:

  • Accounts Receivable Turnover: Monitoring the turnover rate of accounts receivable related to student billing to ensure timely collection and cash flow management.
  • Bookstore Sales Performance: Tracking bookstore sales metrics including revenue, profit margins, and inventory turnover to optimize stock levels and profitability.
  • Cafeteria/Food Service Utilization: Measuring the utilization rates of cafeteria and food service facilities to ensure efficient operation and resource allocation.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Implementing feedback mechanisms to assess student satisfaction with billing processes, bookstore services, and cafeteria/food options, aiming to improve service quality and customer experience.

Institutional Outreach:

  • Community Engagement Metrics: Tracking metrics such as participation rates in community events, partnerships established, and outreach activities conducted will gauge the effectiveness of outreach efforts.
  • Marketing Campaign Effectiveness: Assessing the impact of marketing campaigns on student enrollment and community engagement through metrics such as inquiry-to-application conversion rates and website traffic analytics.

By focusing on these foundational KPIs, we will systematically evaluate the performance of each division and identify areas for improvement. This data-driven approach will enable IECC to streamline workflows, allocate resources effectively, and enhance services to better support our students and community.

4. Feedback Mechanisms: We are committed to gathering feedback from students, faculty, and staff through structured surveys, forums, and town hall meetings. These feedback mechanisms will provide stakeholders with opportunities to voice their opinions, share insights, and express concerns about the reorganization and its impact on their experiences. Feedback collected will be analyzed systematically to identify trends, address issues promptly, and make informed decisions for continuous improvement.

5. Continuous Improvement Initiatives: Based on data analysis and stakeholder feedback, we will implement continuous improvement initiatives aimed at refining our educational programs, enhancing support services, and strengthening campus operations. These initiatives may include curriculum enhancements, professional development opportunities for staff, technology upgrades, and adjustments to organizational structures to better meet the evolving needs of our students and community.

6. Benchmarking and Best Practices: We will engage in benchmarking activities to compare our performance against peer institutions and industry standards. By benchmarking, we can identify best practices, adopt innovative strategies, and leverage successful approaches implemented by other institutions undergoing similar reorganization efforts. This collaborative approach to learning from others will help us stay agile, adaptive, and responsive to changing educational landscapes.

Our commitment to monitoring success through comprehensive assessment measures, stakeholder feedback, and continuous improvement initiatives will ensure that the new organizational structure and Guided Pathways model at IECC are effective in achieving our goals of student success, institutional excellence, and community engagement.