A task force of faculty, students and administration has begun the process of developing a new Quality Enhancement Plan for Rice University  aimed at a measurable and fundamental improvement in student education.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools requires Rice to create a QEP every 10 years. Rice’s previous QEP in 2006 created the Center for Civic Engagement, which is now the Center for Civic Leadership. The goal in opening the center was to better integrate the Rice and Houston communities by providing community-based research and civic engagement opportunities for students.

The QEP Task Force is co-chaired by James Weston, a professor of finance at the Jones School of Business, and Susan MacIntosh, a professor of anthropology. Weston said the QEP will be spearheaded by Rice faculty and will incorporate input from the entire Rice’s community. Weston said he credits the lead of faculty to the overall goal of the program.

“The purpose is an initiative to improve student learning, which makes it a curricular objective,” Weston said. “So if it’s a curricular objective, then it becomes a faculty initiative, but [we will] gather input from all stakeholders in the community— student, staff, alumni, administration, everybody.”

Weston said the task force is currently launching a website that will allow everybody to submit their opinions regarding student learning.

“We are in the process of casting as wide a net as possible,” Weston said. “We are looking at broadening the input to the entire community.”

Weston said the task force will filter through the input submitted over the next six weeks.

“The committee will give two [representative] proposals to the administration, Weston said. “Ultimately, it’s the president and the board’s decision about what we do.”

According to Weston, though the QEP is required by SACS, the program is not being created simply because it is obligatory, but because it is what should be happening.

“We are constantly in the process of developing and evolving curriculum,” Weston said. “And here’s an opportunity for us to point a focus on something that we’ve been up to or want to get up to and communicate that to our accreditation body.”

Weston said the QEP’s goal is to significantly improve student learning outcomes. The key parts to making it a successful program are the administration and resources.

“Whatever this initiative is, the university as an institution has agreed with this initiative and is putting resources in place to see it happen,” Weston said.