Educational Master Plan (2019-2020)
August 2019 - August 2020

Sponsor: Student Success Council

Project Background and Need (Why is the project necessary?)

American River College is actively working towards the four major goals specified in its most recent strategic plan and intends to make substantial progress by 2021. However, the college does not currently have an articulated long-range planning document to chart the course for the next decade or more. In order to serve its mission and fulfill its commitment to social justice and equity, it is necessary to develop an educational master plan that can envision the future of the institution and anchor a variety of integrated planning processes. Once completed, the content would serve as a navigational tool to ensure all other plans are headed in the same general direction.

Project Purpose and Scope (What is the project expected to encompass? What are the boundaries?)

As the most long-range and comprehensive of American River College’s planning processes, the ARC Educational Master Plan is expected to assess the current state of the institution, project its likely future, and propose how it should develop in order to serve its mission effectively. During the planning cycle, the project team will intentionally examine the college’s context, environment, and effectiveness. Based on analysis of the data, the team will identify key priorities/themes and develop a long-term vision for the future which can then provide direction for all other planning processes.

Plans of this type typically explore topics such as:

  • Reflection on the college mission
  • Context of post-secondary education (national, state, regional, and local)
  • External and internal environmental scans
  • Enrollment and program growth forecasts
  • Stakeholder perceptions and interests
  • Institutional strengths, opportunities, and challenges
  • Key priorities or themes to address
  • Vision of the future
  • Assumptions and implications for other planning processes
  • Alignment of instruction and support services with future needs of students/community
  • Infrastructure and institutional support necessary to provide anticipated instruction and services
  • Suggested approaches for realizing the vision

The charge of the project team is limited to the planning process including steps such as assessment, analysis, envisioning the long-range future, and developing a written planning document. Actual implementation of the educational master plan is beyond the scope of work. 

Project Objectives (What is the project expected to achieve?)

Successful completion of this project is intended to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Assess the current state and projected future of ARC
  2. Review existing various data sources to inform the educational master planning process; data sources are likely to include the LRCCD Environmental Scan conducted in 2016
  3. Gather input from stakeholders and new data as needed to supplement existing data
  4. Explore the national, state, and local educational and labor market context to better understand the changing landscape as well as the likely future of learning and work
  5. Conduct analysis such as enrollment forecasts, SWOT/SOAR, etc.
  6. Consider the data and research in light of the institution’s mission and its commitment to social justice and equity
  7. Based on the assessment, identify the key trends that require vigilance.
  8. Respond to the key trends by creatively envisioning and defining an agile long-range vision for the college that will serve as a navigational compass for the college as a whole (i.e., relevant to instruction, student services, and all other areas). One possible way of presenting this information would be to arrange the vision around strategic priorities or themes.
  9. Develop a draft educational master plan that covers the period of 2020-2031*

*Integrated planning calendar indicates timeline of 2019-2031; start year has been adjusted to 2020 due to delayed start 

Project Deliverables (What items will be produced during the project?)

By November 1, 2019, a final draft of the ARC Educational Master Plan (2020-2031*) which includes, but is not limited to:

  • Executive summary
  • Key trends that require vigilance
  • Agile, long-range vision for ARC

*Integrated planning calendar indicates timeline of 2019-2031; start year has been adjusted to 2020 due to delayed start

Success Indicators (How will success be measured or determined?)

The project will be considered successful when:

  1. An assessment of current state and projected future of American River College has been completed that considers internal and external factors
  2. The college has creatively envisioned the future.
  3. A draft educational master plan is proposed that is aligned with the Institutional Equity Plan (once adopted) and is considered through established governance channels
  4. The adopted plan is available to the college community as a navigational guide for integrated planning processes All of these indicators can be thoroughly accomplished through completion of the stated project objectives.

Project Assumptions (What conditions are believed to exist?)

The project team was authorized based on the following assumptions:

  • American River College does not currently have an articulated long-range planning document (i.e, educational master plan), so the planning process will not rely on updates to previously written materials. The content of the educational master plan is expected to address topics of institutional importance and be relevant to all areas of the college. Recommendations should be both aspirational and viable.
  • The college must strive for agility in order to quickly adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Considering this reality, ARC’s Educational Master Plan should serve as a compass providing a general direction rather than specifying exact steps along a prescriptive route. The educational master plan should be overarching and “big picture” in nature and is not intended to be used an implementation plan.
  • The plan, once adopted, will act as both a springboard and informational resource to other integrated planning processes. It should be relevant to and influence future integrated planning processes including program review and focused plans on the following topics: Distance education, Employee development and retention (human resources), Facilities (physical resources), Strategic Enrollment Management, Sustainability, Technology.
  • Any process used to develop an educational master plan will include opportunities for stakeholder input from beyond the project team.
  • The timeline for the educational master plan has been aligned to accreditation cycles and is specified in the draft integrated planning guide as 2019-2031. It is expected that insights gleaned from program review and other planning processes may necessitate updates to the educational master plan before it expires, so there is also a scheduled opportunity to review and update the plan in 2023-24.
  • A full environmental scan will not be conducted for this planning process since Los Rios CCD conducted a full environmental scan in 2016. The project team may supplement this scan with additional data as needed.
  • The planning process should consider system-wide priorities specified in the Vision for Success published by the Chancellor’s Office of the California Community Colleges.
  • The planning process will need to explore recent external pressures and trends such as the changing funding formula, the trajectory of the Online Education Initiative (OEI), and the creation of the California Online Community College as well as the future of work and learning.
  • The work of the team will range from concrete to abstract. While the planning process should be informed by known data, it is essential that forward-thinking innovation and creativity are components of envisioning a future that is unknown.
  • The content, style, and format of the plan should be concise and accessible to the average person (not written for an academic audience).

Project Risks, Constraints, or Dependencies (What factors might impact the project? How might the project intersect with the internal or external environment including other projects?)

The project team should be aware of the following known risks, constraints, and/or dependencies:

  • Any long-range plan will be aligned to the overarching framework of the Institutional Equity Plan which is currently in progress and is expected to be completed by the end of Spring 2019.
  • The educational master plan is expected to inform ARC’s focused plans which cover the topics of distance education; employee development and retention; facilities; strategic enrollment management; sustainability; and technology. It can also guide program review, annual unit planning, and subsequent strategic plans.
  • Strategic enrollment management planning is also expected to occur in Spring 2019-Spring 2020. Both planning processes should coordinate plan content related to enrollment management to ensure that the final drafts do not contain conflicting information.
  • The funding formula for California Community Colleges is changing, so there may be fluctuations in future revenue trends that cannot be predicted by historical data.
  • In general, Los Rios is experiencing growth in online course enrollments and decline in face-to-face enrollments.
  • The move to Guided Pathways may influence course-taking patterns. As a result, historical course enrollment trends may be less predictive of future course enrollment levels.
  • The higher education environment and the world of work are both changing extremely rapidly. Long-term planning in this environment requires output that provides flexible, adaptable guidance rather than a fully defined strategy. 

Other Considerations (What are the anticipated implications related to equity and inclusion; research and data; district policies and regulations; district and/or college-wide practices; college-wide cross-functional relationships; and resource needs such as staffing, workload, technology, and space/facilities?)

It is likely that this type of long-range planning could have implications for all of the areas listed above which will be better understood once the work involved in envisioning the future of the college is underway. Some considerations include:

  • Potential benefits of working with Los Rios sister colleges in a more coordinated way to leverage the strengths and resources of each college to serve the needs of students
  • Likelihood that there will be resource needs related to technology in order for ARC to keep up with and prepare students for the rapid technological advances in the world of work
  • Various implications related to equity and inclusion in response to alignment of the Educational Master Plan to the Institutional Equity Plan
  • Need for additional data and stakeholder input beyond what is currently available

Project Timeline/Key Milestones

Standard Description of Project Stages

Project Stages Description
Initiation Activities leading to the authorization and chartering of a project team
Preparation Activities which occur once a team is authorized and can be conducted independently to plan, schedule, and setup the project (project management steps)
Team-Based Work Activities which occur in a collaborative environment in which the project team works based on the scope of the charter
Formal Review Activities by which deliverables are submitted to the sponsoring council for formal approval; may involve a sequence of governance review including ELT and/or other entities; formal review may result in acceptance of the deliverables; request for the project team to revisit the design/refinement stages; or abandonment of the project
Closure Activities to celebrate the success of the project and archive the artifacts of the work completed

Planned Governance Flow of Deliverables

Project Stakeholders (Who has a vested interest in the project? Who will it impact?)

Communication Plan (How will information be shared with the stakeholders?)

Based on the previously stated stakeholder list, the general plan for sharing project information is as follows:

Conflict Resolution

Any matter of significance which cannot be resolved by the project leads may be referred to the appropriate administrator (typically the chair of the sponsoring council) or to the President's Executive Staff (PES). Any significant change in charter scope will require approval of a revised charter by the Executive Leadership Team (ELT).

Project Membership

Project Organization, Roles, and Responsibilities

Role Responsibilities
Project Leads
  • Prepares, leads, and follows up on meetings (see details of the Role of the Chair in the ARC Governance Framework)
  • Communicates the project to various stakeholders, and when appropriate, solicits feedback on dradt deliverables through informal review processes
  • Submits the final deliverables to the sponsoring council for approval
Project Steward
(may be one of the leads or a separate individual)
  • Manages the project on behalf of the sponsoring council
  • Drafts the charter in consultation with the sponsoring council's chairs
  • Conducts preliminary research to gather information on promising practices, product options, or other relevant materials to inform the project
  • Develops a work plan based on the charter to organize, sequence, and schedule the work of the project team within the available time frame
  • Reports progress to the sponsoring council
  • Maintains and archives project documentation at the conclusion of the project
  • Assists the project leads as needed
Team Members
  • Participates in all project meetings and activities
  • Supplies valuable knowledge and perspective (often based on the individual's responsibilities or role at ARC)
  • May be assigned specific project tasks to complete outside of project meetings
  • Assists with the "heavy lifting" that is required to accomplish the project deliverables
External Consultant
  • Provides expertise and assistance from an external (non-ARC) perspective
Executive Sponsor
Large, high-impact projects only:
  • Champions the project from the executive level to secure buy-in and ensure viability
  • Communicates project purpose and vision
  • Allocates appropriate resources to support effective development, execution, and institutionalization
  • Maintains awareness of project status and helps mitigate risk
  • Mediates conflicts and facilitates dialogue to resolve project issues
  • Assumes other responsibilities as appropriate based on the project scope

Student Participation

The student voice contributes a diverse perspective to ARC project teams and is highly valued. As project teams have widely varied meeting schedules which can require a substantial time commitment, a flexible set of options have been defined to ensure that project dialogue and deliverables are influenced by the student perspective.
Please check one or more boxes below that indicate the methods the project lead/co-lead intend to use to facilitate student participation during this project.
Method Description Compensated?
ASB Appointment Associated Student Body (ASB) appoints two students to serve on the project team and attend all meetings. This option is considered the standard method of representation. Yes
Student Resource Panel In consultation with ASB, create a student resource panel that is called upon by the project lead/co-lead to provide student input at key points during the project. The resource panel may be an existing group of students (e.g., Sages) or a temporarily formed group assigned to the project. Yes
ASB Direct Involvement Lead/co-leads work directly with ASB to be placed on an ASB agenda, present the project concept, and solicit input from students during a regularly scheduled ASB meeting. No
Student Survey or Focus Group Project conducts a student survey or focus group through the Institutional Research Office and uses the results to inform the work of the project team. No, but incentives may be provided on a case-by-case basis.
Student Forum or Gallery Walk Project holds a student forum or gallery walk during which large groups of students can provide input in response to narrative or visual prompts. ASB would be asked to assist in publicizing the date/time of the event to the student constituency. No
Other (please specify intended methods) TBD – methods for collecting input from the college as a whole (including students) are yet to be determined