A view from inside: an examination of institutional culture on noncredit administrators and their enrollment management decisions

Noncredit administrators are responsible for the education of six percent of the total California community college students. These same students are regularly referred to in studies as underserved, unemployed, or unprepared. The noncredit administrator is responsible for the service, employment and preparation of these students through the programs, services, and facilities that must meet their needs. Research regarding noncredit education is limited and studies concerning noncredit administrators are virtually nonexistent. California budget cuts created the stage for disproportionate decreases in noncredit class offerings compared to credit. New success measures and legislative direction proposed mission shifts from access to success. As this study demonstrates, the noncredit administrator must be uniquely qualified as organized, flexible, and accountable to respond to the complexities of their institutional culture and meet the needs of the students they are committed to serve. This study provides an in depth examination of the institutional culture and challenges encountered by noncredit administrators as they make enrollment management decisions. An ethnographic case study offers a holistic cultural portrait of the environment at three southern California community colleges that represent successful noncredit programs. Interviews of the noncredit administrators, their supervisors (vice presidents), and academic senate presidents offered a variety of viewpoints to examine the social structures in the colleges. Literature review provided a framework to the context of noncredit education. Extensive document analysis of the colleges' Self-Study reports as well as their Educational Master Plan reports contributed to the complete portrait of the institutional environment and culture. The findings from this report exposed the need for noncredit administrators to be flexible in managing resources and developing strategies that respond to requests and mandates. The requirement to organize data defined by success measures is a new assignment. Collaborating with colleagues and aligning to credit is now an obligation. Planning is critical to organize the multiple responsibilities required to maintain program integrity. Accountability is the main component to all funding and reporting for the future. Ultimately, noncredit administrators achieve success by maintaining their commitment to the students they serve.