Marilyn Powell

Editor’s Note: Dr. Marilyn Powell is the Dean for the School of Psychology in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Walden University. She earned her PhD in Counseling Psychology at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and has nearly 15 years of academic administration experience after a clinical career working with homeless and other disadvantaged populations in the nonprofit and public mental health sectors. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with her spouse, also a Walden faculty member, and three kids, two dogs, and four cats. She serves as the Criterion Five subcommittee chair and the External Constituent Working Group co-chair.

Criterion Five —Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness

The institution’s resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities. The institution plans for the future.

Criterion Five is new to the HLC Standard Pathway; it combines topics from previous criteria to focus on the effectiveness of the institution’s planning processes and resources. So, this is where we concentrate on strategic planning, governance, budgeting, and resourcing for the university as a whole, and, to some degree, where we address staffing and personnel resources.

This criterion focuses on staffing and resourcing of Walden student services, including but not limited to advising, enrollment, library services, the Writing Center, and research support. Resources for faculty who are housed within the Center for Faculty Excellence are also addressed by Criterion Five.

In this criterion, there are, of course, important references to academic and other faculty concerns, particularly by including the Academic Program Review process, as it informs resourcing and budgeting for academic improvements, enhancements, and other resources to support the recommendations of the Academic Program Review.

The crux of this criterion is the overall planning process at the university as well as its effectiveness in terms of resourcing the programs at the university and informing future planning processes. Strategic planning at Walden is robust and sets the tone for planning at all levels and in all departments of the university; it also informs the budgeting process.

In addition, another particular area of interest for us in Criterion Five is the review of Walden’s external constituents—communities, organizations, and persons outside of the university who benefit from and/or have input into how the university achieves its mission, how the university identifies and serves them, and how we use information from these important external individuals to improve and plan for the future at Walden.

Currently, we are focused on collecting information about external constituents and are working on creating a “cluster map” of where our students reside and the kinds of impacts they have on their communities. Just think about it: Walden is a global university, so our external constituents are, in reality, unlimited!

In our 2012 self-study, we defined our constituents very globally, and in our current reflection, we are digging into the data—the surveys of students, alumni, and employers; input from field supervisors and preceptors; lists of where our students conduct research, where they volunteer, and who they touch as employees; and information about how the university interacts with and assists programmatic accreditors, state governments and regulatory boards, and student honor societies to see the impact around the world.

Give this some thought: How do you as a student, alum, faculty member, or staff member interface with the world? What do you bring to your community, and how does your experience in your community inform your role at Walden? If you have ideas to share in this and other areas reflected in Criterion Five, please share your comments at We’d love to hear from you.

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