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When making operational changes, care should be taken to ensure that the resource allocation aligns with the institution’s mission and goals. Alignment analysis will evaluate how the results obtained from these changes relate to the approved mission, articulated purpose, one-year and multiyear goals, and how well these goals are aligned with strategies and plans, resource allocations and the reward structure.
For example, sometimes institutions express a commitment to student satisfaction and success by assuring the availability of full-time faculty. However, that commitment must be aligned with the fact that one of the most common forms of reward for faculty, beyond compensation, is released time from teaching to pursue individual research interests. Released time from teaching is also used as compensation for faculty members who take on administrative duties such as department head or program director.
On the downside, the full-time faculty member is at times replaced by a part-timer who often lacks private office space and the time for advising students and campus clubs. This is not to say that released time for research is a bad thing — but it should be related to the institutional mission and goals. Far too many institutions engage in what is called “mission creep.” Some leaders think that increasing faculty publications, research grants and doctoral programs will add to prestige and public visibility, when in reality, strategies that might gain positive public relations may in fact be more form over substance and a less-than-optimal use of resources.
In some cases, it might make more sense to pay a stipend and keep a full-time faculty member in the classroom.
Alignment analysis helps explore the degree of coordination in strategic and integrated planning, e.g., enrollment, academics, facilities, student life and diversity. The analysis prompts questioning assumptions, ensuring that funding is aligned with mission and priorities, and engaging in strategic thinking as well as planning. It helps in modeling different futures based on differing assumptions.
A review of the cost structure can be organized around five Ps — Purpose (Mission), People, Programs (and Services), Processes and Place (or Plant). While the analysis differs between a single-campus private college and a multicampus public university system, the variables to be examined are the same.