Kirkwood Community College
Learner Success Agenda
June 2011


Our Vision

CREDENTIAL ATTAINMENT:  We will significantly increase the number of learners who achieve their postsecondary education or training goals, complete a degree or certificate, transfer to a university, and/or complete non-credit workforce education courses or programs.

  • Measure: By 2016, we will increase first-time, full-time degree seeking graduation and certificate completion rate (within the 150 percent time frame) from 29 to 38 percent.

COMMITMENT:  Every faculty and staff member shares the responsibility for achieving the Learner Success Agenda through their daily work.  Kirkwood’s credit and non-credit instructional programs play a central role in carrying out the agenda, but our success depends on the efforts of people in non-academic as well as academic services.  

  • Measure:  Individually and collectively, through their daily work, all employees will develop and implement improvement goals aligned with the Learner Success Agenda to reach annual academic year measures. (July 1, 2012)

Mission and Values

Kirkwood’s mission is to identify community needs; provide accessible, quality education and training; and promote opportunities for lifelong learning.

Our guiding principles and values are integrity, mutual respect, open communication, innovation, partnership, lifelong learning, servant leadership, and excellence.

Why This Agenda Is Important

Kirkwood Community College presents the Learner Success Agenda as a framework for improving the economic strength and quality of life for our region.  We believe: 1) education leads to greater economic prosperity for the region; 2) all citizens will benefit as more become educated; and 3) Iowa’s workforce will benefit from greater numbers of educated and skilled workers.

Greater educational attainment has significant individual and societal benefits.  The benefits to the individual are clear:  the more education a person attains, the more that person will earn over his or her lifetime.

The societal benefits are also striking. By increasing educational attainment, the state can expect to reduce unemployment and poverty rates, increase tax revenues, and meet growing workforce demands for skilled workers. These outcomes are essential to the future of our region.

For more information, go to: This chart demonstrates the higher earnings and lower unemployment rates nationally of college grads versus those with high school or less than high school education.

Planning Context

The Learner Success Agenda builds on the Kirkwood Futures Initiatives (KFI 1.0 and KFI 2.0), the college-wide planning process launched in the fall 2006. We developed the Learner Success Agenda by using an inclusive process that incorporated thousands of suggestions from an all-employee meeting day on October 28, 2010 (KFI 3.0), two faculty learning days in November 2010, and 10 months of planning involving the Board of Trustees, college administration, and volunteers from all departments of the college.  The planning process was grounded in analysis of employment needs, higher education trends, and data related to the college’s multiple learner segments and customer segments.

The Learner Success Agenda was developed as eastern Iowa continues to recover from a devastating flood in 2008 and the recession of 2008-2010.  The college suffered significant de-appropriations during the national and global economic crisis.  At the same time, the demands on Kirkwood to serve additional students and produce more graduates have increased, particularly the “middle skills” workers needed in Iowa.

This agenda centers upon Iowa’s 2008-2018 employment needs.  It is based on data from The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which indicates that between 2008 and 2018:

  • New jobs in Iowa requiring postsecondary education and training will grow by 101,000 jobs while jobs for high school graduates and dropouts will grow by 57,000.
  • Iowa will create 527,100 job vacancies both from new jobs and from job openings due to retirement.
  • 319,000 of these job vacancies will be for those with postsecondary credentials, 169,000 for high school graduates and 39,000 for high school dropouts.
  • 62 percent of all jobs in Iowa (1.1 million jobs) will require some postsecondary training beyond high school in 2018.

Understanding these employment needs, it is critical that all of the college’s programs respond with solutions, especially given that 90 percent of Kirkwood graduates stay in Iowa and 70 percent remain in its seven county service region.

Finally, to ensure that the College’s strategic direction is locally aligned and relevant to Iowa’s Creative Corridor’s Regional Workforce Development Plan and regional school district educational reform initiatives, future tactics will focus upon three additional objectives:  

  1. Increase communication and collaboration between education, employers, and economic development officials to focus on increasing alignment between education and workforce needs.
  2. Increase the number of K-12 and post-secondary students and employers participating in internships, job shadowing, and other career exploration opportunities.
  3. Expand coordinated marketing efforts to internal and external audiences promoting the Creative Corridor as a place to work and live.

Strategic Initiatives and Objectives

Kirkwood’s faculty and staff are talented and entrepreneurial.  The seven strategic initiatives below are areas in which this committed group will build on ongoing strengths, seize new opportunities and advance our core commitment to learner success.  The initiatives are interrelated and will require close collaboration and communication among college departments to be fully realized.   To see the full plan, click here.

Instructional Innovation (Bill Lamb)
To improve learner success through integrated services and collaborative instructional improvement.

Objective #1
Implement a more effective and comprehensive student advising, orientation, and placement system to support instructional innovation in the classroom.

Objective #2
Implement a team-based methodology within all departments for faculty (full-time and adjunct) professional development and instructional delivery support with a goal to improve department learner success by 2014.

Program Effectiveness (Al Rowe) 
Implement an improved evaluation process for aligning existing credit/non-credit programs to address workforce needs, new opportunities, and resource allocation.

Objective #1
Use program/course and pathway design, assessment, and evaluation standards to improve learner academic outcome performance and program efficiencies. 

Educational Delivery (Jon Neff)  
To strengthen strategic and flexible educational delivery capabilities.

Objective #1
Provide educational delivery when, where and how our learner segments need it.

Objective #2
 Assess and expand support services for distance learners.

Regional Leadership (Kim Johnson) 
To strengthen leadership in regional workforce development.

Objective #1
Strengthen and expand public/private partnerships to support learner success. 
Objective #2
Establish community liaison program to strengthen and expand regional relationships and involvement with other community entities.

Market Intelligence (Kristie Fisher)
To improve market planning and competitive intelligence.

Objective #1
Increase understanding of Kirkwood student/learner and organizational customer through a formal study process.

Objective #2
Increase use of market and competitor trend reports to improve departments and service area planning.

Operational Excellence (Jim Choate) 
To create transparent sustainable organizational systems and structures to support strategic initiatives.

Objective #1 
Develop and implement a recruitment, talent development, and succession model to proactively manage the College’s human capital that is strategically aligned with and supporting the initiatives.

Objective #2
Utilize forecasting, planning, decision making and prioritization process to identify what we do well or can do better, what we should do and what we should not do with a focus on for long term sustainability.

Information Excellence (Mick Starcevich)
Increase access, understanding and use of timely and relevant information, reports and research.

Objective #1
Develop an integrated information services solution to improve access and use of data and information.