Thursday, May 5, 2022

The University of Iowa College of Education was recently recognized as a role model organization for its commitment to continuous improvement and performance excellence.

The UI College of Education was honored at the Tier 4  Trail Guide – Bronze Level Achievement as part of the Iowa Recognition for Performance Excellence Program.

“I am proud of our college’s commitment to continuous improvement,” College of Education Dean Daniel Clay says. “We achieve this by utilizing data to create a working environment that supports our staff, faculty, and students to achieve our greatest potential.”

Clay adds this commitment is one of many reasons the college is the No. 1 Graduate College of Education in the state of Iowa and among the best in the nation.

“However, we strive to constantly improve overall productivity and effectiveness, using cycles of continuous improvement based on data so we can continue to be the very best we can be,” Clay says.

The Iowa Recognition for Performance Excellence (IRPE) judges and the Iowa Quality Center Board of Directors made the announcement of this year’s award recipients.

“The purpose of the IRPE is to recognize organizations that are on the journey of excellence and the rigorous organizational assessment based on the Baldrige criteria,” said Iowa Quality Center Executive Director Deb Oliver. “For these organizations to be on the journey for excellence and receive feedback from volunteer examiners willing to spend over 150 hours of assessment time is a testament to their commitment to build great Iowa-based organizations.”

Malcolm Baldrige was U.S. Secretary of Commerce (1981-1987) and a leader in quality management. He helped create the U.S. Quality Improvement Act of 1987. The Baldrige performance excellence process, named in his honor, involves a framework that any organization can use to improve overall performance.

Jeremy Penn, who joined the college in spring of 2018 as the college’s first assessment coordinator, is spearheading efforts to systematically collect data and use it strategically to drive decisions that are helping the college continuously improve and excel.

"The faculty and staff in the college care deeply about providing the best experiences for our students, about producing high-quality research, and about effectively engaging with our communities” says Penn. “As an expression of that passion, our participation in IRPE helps us improve our performance in all of these areas by providing a framework we can use to examine our performance and by giving us feedback from trained examiners who know what it takes to be the best.”

Penn also leads a College of Education Continuous Improvement Committee, whose members contribute to the application process and who serve as advocates for continuous improvement implementation. He thanks and credits the following faculty and staff on the committee: 

  • Chris Annicella
  • Emily Campbell
  • Brian Douglas
  • Lois Gray
  • Erica Kaldenberg
  • Bill Loyd
  • Mark McDermott
  • Pam Wesely

“Another component of our participation in IRPE is to provide volunteer examiners who provide feedback for other organizations in Iowa” says Penn. “The IRPE is a wonderful opportunity for the College to learn from others and share our expertise with others” he added.  

Penn holds a Ph.D. in Qualitative, Quantitative, and Psychometric Methods and a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction (Mathematics) both from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Prior to joining the college, Jeremy was the director of assessment and director of student affairs assessment at North Dakota State University.

In his role, Penn is helping to develop and maintain an assessment system that supports the college’s mission and strategic initiatives. This includes working with faculty to implement and assess student learning, providing guidance for continuous improvement initiatives as well as state and national accreditation requirements, and designing and delivering faculty and staff professional development relevant to the college’s continuous improvement efforts.

Clay says he is especially pleased with the progress made in connecting continuous improvement to the college’s new strategic plan and performance excellence.

“Systematic data collection will help us ensure that we continue to be a top-notch, research I institution that innovates and excels,” Clay says.