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CQI program institutes new award named for Knowlton

October 18, 2017

Patience is not a virtue when it comes to improvement, said Dakota State University Provost Scott McKay at a recent all-campus forum.

Improvement is also a universal need. “We can all use continuous improvement,” McKay said.

With that spirit in mind, the Dakota State University Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) committee recently announced changes to the seven-year-old program.

Improvements include a new portal page and a new form, more training, and more engagement from everyone on campus. “Everybody has a voice, has ideas, and all ideas will be respected and utilized,” said CQI committee co-chairman Jay Kahl, director of institutional effectiveness and assessment.

Doug KnowltonAnother major change is a new award, the Doug Knowlton Excellence in Quality Award. Knowlton was president of DSU from 2004 – 2012.

DSU’s current president, Dr. José-Marie Griffiths, announced the award via a video at the forum, explaining that it will be awarded annually “for outstanding contributions to continuously improving outcomes for all of our stakeholders.”

“Doug Knowlton was a leader in implementing CQI at DSU,” Griffiths said, noting “his enthusiasm, willingness to give his time and energy to the effort, and his unwavering belief in the idea of continuously getting better as individuals and as members of an institution.”

“That provided the spark and commitment that touched the work-life of nearly everyone on campus,” she stated.

In the inaugural year, the award will be given to the team or department judged to have produced the best CQI project completed between summer 2016 and beginning of fall 2018. In subsequent years, the Knowlton Award winner will be announced at the beginning of each fall semester for projects completed in fall/spring/summer cycles. The award will be a traveling trophy, and in the spirit of CQI, design ideas for the trophy are being accepted by the committee. 

“We have an obligation to continuously improve our work,” said W. Edwards Demming, a renowned statistician who is known as the father of the continuous improvement concept. He endorsed a cycle called PIED -- Plan, Implement, Evaluate, Decide, a method which “allows us to determine strategy, business goals, objectives and what we need to make better,” said Kahl.

“Dakota State’s rising enrollment makes us aware of the fact that we have to be very effective and very efficient in our work,” said committee member Cherie Noteboom. 

A training session for the CQI introduction and overview process will be held in the Mundt Library, Room 201, on November 7 from noon to 1 p.m., said committee member Jack Walters. Announcements will be forthcoming regarding pre-registration for the event. If there is enough interest, a second introductory training session will be scheduled; an advanced training session will be held in the spring.

DSU has been using the continuous quality improvement program (CQI) since 2010, and in the past seven years, about 40 projects have been submitted annually.

Current CQI committee members include Kahl, Amber Alfson, Griffin Egner, Kathy Callies, Kacie Fodness, Mark Geary, Marilyn Halgerson, Billie Hoekman, Jared Indahl, Jason Jenkins, Cherie Noteboom, Jeff Howard, Carrie Slaathaug, Renae Spohn and Walters.