Chapter 7 - Synthesis and Overview

The Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS), the only publicly funded graduate program in library and information studies within the New York Metropolitan area, serves the needs of a diverse population of students, employers and community members. This Program Presentation (PP) has documented how the Mission, Goals and Objectives of the GSLIS are implemented in its policies and actions, and of those of its parent institution, Queens College of the City University of New York, and how these policies and actions in turn satisfy the ALA's Standards for Accreditation of its Masters in Library and Information Science (MLS) program. This chapter presents a summary overview of the Program Presentation, with special emphasis on the nature of the School's planning process, and its influence and effects on all of the School's Goals and Objectives, and thereby compliance with all six of the COA standards.

Since 2012, in response to the decision of the COA to award only Conditional Accreditation to the MLS program of the GSLIS, due to lack of compliance to COA Standard I.1, the GSLIS has engaged in a concerted effort to formalize, enhance, and further develop its overall planning process. Chapter 1 of the PP describes the development and implementation of our overall planning framework, grounded in our revised Mission, Goals and (measurable) Objectives (MGOs). The GSLIS MGOs were developed by the full faculty, with input from core constituencies, and are firmly aligned to the new Queens College Strategic Plan and Goals. The planning framework specifies target achievement indicators, responsible units, and outcomes to date, with reference to all of the School's Goals and Objectives. We refer to these Goals and Objectives throughout the PP and we present this planning framework as evidence of our compliance with Standard I.

The GSLIS Goals and related Objectives are of two kinds: Program Goals and Organizational Goals. The former refer to what the school wants to achieve with respect to the education of its students, and the Objectives are largely couched in terms of Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) The latter refer to how the GSLIS, as an institution, ensures that the Program Goals will be met, and the Objectives  are couched in terms of policies and activities associated with faculty and student body composition, and administration, finance and physical resources of the GSLIS. Although each of the GSLIS Goals and Objectives is relevant to various of the COA Standards for Accreditation, the Program Goals and Objectives influence Standard 2, Curriculum, most directly, while the Organizational Goals and Objectives are most relevant to Standards 3-6, Faculty, Students, Administration and Finance, and Physical Resources. The PP is required to be organized according to discussion of each of the Standards; therefore, discussion of the application of the GSLIS Goals and Objectives is incorporated in the description of how the GSLIS meets each Standard.

The GSLIS planning framework for the Goals and Objectives related to its Curriculum has led to several new, perhaps novel processes for both curriculum development and evaluation. The regular, scheduled use of the Syllabi Matrices has led to: the modification of existing courses and development of new courses to enhance coverage of the SLOs identified through the Program Goals and Objectives; and, the identification of new SLOs that the curriculum should meet. The assessment of the extent to which the Program Objectives have been met has been enhanced well beyond the use of grades for this purpose, through the use of the Syllabi Matrices, ePortfolios, and regular evaluation by students, alumni and employers. Furthermore, the GSLIS is moving forward enhancing delivery of its Curriculum, in particular through online teaching, through in house online course development and through our participation in the WISE Consortium. The result of this overall planning process is a Curriculum which is strong, dynamic, and which fully supports GSLIS Program Goals and SLOs, and the elements of COA Standard 2.

Status, planning and outcome assessment of the GSLIS Goals and Objectives related to Faculty are described in Chapter 3 of the PP. There, it is demonstrated that the faculty of the GSLIS meets all of the elements of COA Standard 3, in that the nature, number and accomplishments of the faculty are sufficient to meet both Organizational and Program Goals and Objectives. Of particular note is the recent increase in educational background of the faculty. However, the planning and evaluation process has also identified aspects of this area that need to be addressed in the near future. These include impending faculty retirements and the need for new hires, for instance the need to hire a new faculty member to oversee the Archives Certificate area of study. In order to encourage greater research productivity and professional activity among tenured faculty, competing pressures from heavy teaching loads and service commitments must be addressed. GSLIS has made a good start in this direction, by securing course reductions and increased hiring of non-teaching adjuncts to provide support services to faculty, but this support must be sustained. Travel support for faculty to participate in professional venues needs to be increased in order to give GSLIS faculty greater visibility.

Chapter 4 of the PP describes how the GSLIS Program and Organizational Goals and Objectives, and assessment of their accomplishment, lead to the GSLIS's meeting the elements of COA Standard 4: Students. In particular, the admissions policies and procedures ensure a student body of high academic accomplishment; the nature of the population from which the GSLIS recruits its students ensures diversity among the student body on several dimensions; and the support services offered by the GSLIS ensure an effective and welcoming learning environment.  The decline in student applications and enrollments in recent years is an area of some concern. The GSLIS, through its planning process, is making steps to address this issue in several ways. These include: increasing the number of courses offered at locations other than Queens College; adding online and hybrid course delivery options; and, expanding the nature of course offerings through such initiatives as the joint MLS/MA in History, and participation in the Queens College-wide data science program.

Chapters 5 and 6 of the PP deal with COA Standard 5: Administration and Finance; and COA Standard 6: Physical Resources. The elements of these Standards relate primarily to the GSLIS Organizational Goal 5 and its Objectives. These chapters demonstrate that the GSLIS, in meeting the relevant Objectives, thereby satisfies COA Standards 5 and 6. In particular, the development and implementation of the GSLIS planning process has had evident success with respect to improving communication with Queens College Administration about the unique needs of the GSLIS as both an academic department and a stand alone graduate school. Most notable, faculty have been able to advocate for increased financial support and institutional resources by having clearly identified target goals and objectives. Chapter 6 points out some pressing issues for the GSLIS related to the physical space it occupies. Space needs are a pressing problem for GSLIS. As discussed in Chapter 6, several options are on the table for GSLIS, including renovating its current location. These options have been under discussion with Administration for several years, and it is time to act.

In this summary overview we point to instances across all of the Standards for Accreditation where the GSLIS planning process has been instrumental in ensuring our compliance with elements of each Standard. We strongly believe that this is evidence of the success of our efforts in developing an effective broad based planning process.

In conclusion, we note several positive outcomes of conducting the self-study that led to the PP. First, the establishment of MGOs with measurable objectives, responsible parties and appropriate assessment techniques has given us a clear path to our future. Over the course of this self-study faculty have taken a deeper look inward to understand weaknesses in GSLIS and claim ownership over areas of responsibility for making the School as good as it can be. More importantly, faculty have a better appreciation for the accreditation process as something that is ongoing and not a once every seven year report.  This process has resulted in better communication between faculty and administration, especially higher administration. As a result of having clearly established goals and objectives, the GSIS is on stronger footing in advocating for support in achieving these ends, and for ensuring its success in the future.