In Progress
Start Term
Spring 2021
End Term
Project Leads
Project Purpose

Reassess the organization’s culture to identify key priorities that will be used to help inform future decisions to position the college for continued success.

  • Assess the college’s culture through formal facilitated conversations led by an external consultant.
  • Use employee input provided in listening sessions/focus groups led by the president and members of Cabinet to identify top themes and priorities.
  • Seek input from a broad range of leadership voices to identify positive characteristics of M State’s culture and elements that need to be eliminated or minimized because they may be holding the college back from success.
  • Form a College Culture Workgroup to analyze input and provide recommendations to the president on where to focus future priorities.
  • Use employee feedback to update the College Culture Card that was originally created in 2019 as a reminder that achieving our mission comes down to everyday interactions with stakeholders. 
Summary of Results
Spring/Summer 2021
  • A formal assessment of the college’s culture was facilitated by a Senior Consultant from Minnesota Management and Budget using focus group conversations with ASA leadership, Shared Governance Council, the Assessment Committee, Academic Affairs and Standards, CTLT, Council on Equity and Inclusion members, Division Chairs, Employee Resource Groups, the SESS team, MAPE/AFSCME leadership, Foundation directors and staff and DEI division staff.
  • During the 2021 strategic planning retreat, a broad range of leadership voices were invited to provide additional input on positive characteristics of M State’s culture and to identify elements that needed to be eliminated or minimized because they may be holding the college back from success. The outcome of the planning retreat discussions led to a redesign of M State's Culture Card.


Fall 2021

M State’s president and Cabinet members facilitated listening sessions/focus groups on all four campuses to ask staff and faculty for transparent feedback on the institution’s culture to help inform future decisions that would position the College for continued success. Employees that were not able to attend in-person were invited to email responses to the president. Nearly 150 employees participated in the input process and the key priorities identified by the attendees were:

  • More prominent focus on learning and more intentional academic support systems and model for students 
  • Campus engagement (formal and informal gatherings, information sharing, and connections) 
  • Accountability for goals, culture, behaviors and expectations for all employees 
  • Clearer and more consistent identity, brand, and marketing approach (when we market the Spartan, when we use the wave, etc.) 
  • Decision-making: clearer communication, more transparent rationale, and broader understanding of the data and facts considered 


Spring 2022

A College Culture Workgroup was formed to:

  • Review work already in progress/current status 
  • Create an action plan/framework for each priority including scope, champion(s), people involved, data needed and proposed timeline for final recommendation to Cabinet 
  • Deliver an action plan proposal to M State’s president on the five priorities 
  • Present action plans/frameworks to the college community during the college open forum, including how employees can get involved with action team(s)


Summer 2022

The workgroup provided recommendations and the president met with the group in May 2022, to communicate the following decisions based on those recommendations.


Student Onboarding/Orientation - Approved the recommendation to enhance student orientation and onboarding; enhancements may include drop-in sessions for students before the semester starts and well-made, branded video content. Student orientation is a part of Guided Learning Pathways and will require an assessment plan. The dean of students is leading the orientation initiative and will incorporate the recommendations in the plan.


Employee Onboarding - Approved the recommendation to build a stronger onboarding platform for staff and faculty and develop best practices for Supervisors. The vice president of human resources and vice president of institutional effectiveness and technology have been working on employee onboarding and will incorporate the recommendations in their work.


Academic Support - It was not agreed to return to the previous academic support model because we have data that suggests the previous tutoring model was not meeting students' needs in all subject areas and there has been an increase in usage of by students. The college does, however, believe in continuous improvement, so it was approved to take a deeper look into what students need for academic support and library services. 


Decision-Making - Approved hiring a facilitator to establish a clear decision-making model/framework/tree. The facilitators’ proposal will be reviewed, and initial exploratory meeting will be held this summer or early fall. The president will lead this effort and keep the college informed of progress/opportunities to provide input.


Campus Engagement - Approved campus engagement committees for each campus. Their focus will be formal and informal gatherings, information sharing and building connections. Each committee will be responsible for proposing a budget to Cabinet on an annual basis. The vice president of human resources will determine how to invite interested employees to get involved.


Marketing - A consultant has been hired to perform a digital communications and marketing audit. The consultant will conduct a social media manager needs assessment, audit of social media/digital communication accounts and digital benchmark in relation to our peer institutions. The consultant will provide a report of recommendations for future strategy and a strategy toolkit. The dean of integrated communication, dean of students and dean of equity and inclusion will have monthly meetings with the consultant; the president will keep the college updated on progress.


Accountability - This recommendation will continue to be discussed in Cabinet. At this time, we believe it’s important that a project charter be completed for every initiative that is approved from the strategic plan and that we continue to keep the college community updated on decisions made, topics discussed, and action items being taken. A website will host all project charters so all employees can stay up to date.


Spring 2023

Student Onboarding/Orientation

  • A new student orientation was created and has launched for incoming students. The purpose for the orientation is to build excitement for incoming students and to reassure them that they’ve made the right decision to attend M State. It provides a high-level introduction to the college and services.
  • Value stream mapping events occurred to map the process from prospect to applicant and applicant to accepted. The sessions were led by the vice president of institutional effectiveness and the executive director of workforce development solutions. Improvements to the process were identified and ongoing progress is being tracked.


Employee Onboarding

  • The human resources team is working on an onboarding softwaremapping the onboarding workflow, updating the Resource Request Form, exploring recommendations for updating the onboarding checklists and expanding new employee resources for the new SharePoint Employee Portal.
  • Human resources staff continue to reach out via phone to notify new employees the ‘welcome email’ will be sent and to start the onboarding process. This results in timely submission of new employee information so necessary resources are in place for an employee’s first day with M State.
  • Human resources staff meet with new employees for human resources onboarding, typically twice, due to the timing of the interface and when the employees State of MN ID number becomes available. The Human Resources Onboarding Checklist is reviewed with employees.
  • New employee virtual gatherings began fall 2021 and are offered every two months. The president, vice president of human resources, vice president of finance and facilities, dean of equity and inclusion, and vice president of student affairs typically attend for administration. The gathering includes introductions, a history of M State, a review of our vision, pillars and values, commitment to students and how that commitment is reflected in our daily work, employee wellness, M State tips, including Pride Awards and using the employee portal, open time for feedback from new employees and questions and answers.
  • All supervisors met in early February to discuss employee onboarding best practices, gaps in the process and to clarify responsibilities of human resources and supervisors. It was determined that a Value Stream Mapping activity is needed for the onboarding process.



  • Three facilitators provided proposals to work with M State to develop a decision-making model/framework (under review). To continue making improvements on communication related to decision making, the administrative team completed Strengths Finder Training.


Campus Engagement

  • Campus culture/social committees have begun on each campus and held various activities.
    • Detroit Lakes: Surveyed employees to determine interest in various activities, the best times to offer them, etc.; had a soup event and invited students; end of the semester potluck; holiday door decorating and ugly holiday/winter sweater day; Worksite Wellness fall picnic.
    • Fergus Falls: Haunt the Halls Halloween activity; end of semester morning refreshments and cookie exchange; secret Santa exchange and potluck; Worksite Wellness fall picnic.
    • Moorhead: Chili cook-off; winter gear closet exchange for students; holiday lights parade participation; end of semester get together; Worksite Wellness fall picnic.
    • Wadena: Surveyed employees to determine interest in various activities, the best times to offer them, etc.; end of semester potluck; Worksite Wellness fall picnic.



  • In March of 2022, M State contracted with a consultant for a full year of services in order to evaluate and elevate M State’s social media. They conducted a digital communications and marketing audit, social media manager needs assessment and digital benchmark of how we compare to our peer institutions. 
  • In the spring of 2023, the college contracted with a marketing company that focuses on brand differentiation, marketing analysis, research, public relations, and content development. M State is currently working on a strategy of authentic messages that speak to multiple personas and approach various markets tactically. 



  • All managers will be required to have metrics in place by July 1, 2023. These metrics will be reported to Cabinet on a monthly basis.