Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

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  • Academic Program - Instructional program of a professional or non-occupationally specific nature leading toward an associate's, bachelor's, master's, doctor's, or first-professional degree or resulting in credits that can be applied to one of these degrees.
  • Academic Year - The period of time generally extending from September to June; usually equated to two semesters or trimesters, three quarters, or the period covered by a 4-1-4 plan.
  • Account -
  • Accreditation - is the recognition of being associated with and approved by a specific body (typically regional), whereby certain standards are achieved.
  • Acquisitions -
  • Action Plan - The steps to be taken to complete an objective. An action plan outlines specific tasks, resource requirements, responsible parties, and a timeline for completion.
  • Annual Operating Budget -  A written budget for the fiscal year, estimating and itemizing all income by sources and all expenditures by project or department.
  • Annual Operating Work Plan - A detailed framework to help implement a logic model. The annual operating work plan breaks activities down into detailed tasks, assigns responsibilities, defines timeframes, and identifies needed resources.
  • Annual Report - Written and submitted by each department or unit by September 15th for the previous Fiscal Year.  Compares the progress made against the strategic plan for that year.
  • Appreciative Inquiry - An evaluation approach in which data is collected in a positive manner intended to elicit openness in interview and survey subjects.
  • Appropriations - are funding provisions granted to an institution from the resources of another organization, often from a governmental entity.
  • AQP - Academic Quality Improvement Program.  Program for maintaining affiliation with The Higher Learning Commission based on the principles of continuous improvement.  It focuses on nine distinct categories.
  • ASF -
  • Assessment - is evaluation of program, goal, or objective outcomes.
  • Assumptions - Facts or conditions you assume to be true, and that contribute to the reasoning behind your program's approach to solving the Problem. Contextual assumptions refer to facts or special circumstances in your community, region, or field.  Program-level assumptions are thoughts about how your service or program can reach and create change in your audience.
  • Auditing - 1 a : a formal examination of an organization's or individual's accounts or financial situation b : the final report of an audit   2 : a methodical examination and review


  • Benchmarking - is the use of comparisons with other institutions on various aspects (e.g., resources used for specific functions, student-to-faculty ratio, etc.).
  • Best Practices - are documented strategies and tactics employed by highly admired organizations. These organizations may not be “best-in-class” in every area; but, because of their competitive nature and desire for excellence, these organizations have implemented and honed specific policies and procedures that other organizations admire because of their profitability, efficiency, effectiveness, etc.
  • Budget -
  • Bylaws - The rules which govern an organization's board and internal operations. Bylaws typically include rules concerning the maximum number of board members; terms and election processes for board members; and the process used to hire an executive director. Depending on state law, bylaws may be a required attachment to Articles of Organization.


  • CAC - Curriculum academic code/community advisory cont
  • Campus Solutions - Oracle's comprehensive suite of software, specifically designed for higher education institutions.  This is the product formerly known as PeopleSoft.
  • Capital Budgeting - is concerned with planning for expenditures too large and too irregular to be easily made part of the operational budgeting process.
  • CDR - Central Data Request, a UW-System database and the tools for accessing the underlying information.
  • Champions of Change - is a strategy of evolution whereby specific individuals are identified to push an institution toward goals or new initiatives.
  • Charter - Refers to project charter when associated with planning.  It is a statement of the scope, objectives and participants in a project. It provides a preliminary delineation of roles and responsibilities, outlines the project objectives, identifies the main stakeholders, and defines the authority of the project manager.
  • CIPT - Continuous Improvement Planning Team, formerly named the Strategic Planning and Budgeting Committee (SPBC).  Membership may be found on the CIPT website under Team Members.
  • Contact Hour - A unit of measure that represents an hour (50-70 minutes) of scheduled instruction given to students.
  • Core Values - The shared beliefs of staff and board that guide an organization's work. Core values provide the basis for an organization's culture, and clarify the beliefs that give rise to the organization's mission.
  • Cost Center - The financial account responsible for a set of university expenses.
  • Critical Mass Decision Making - involves large-scale participation and agreement to arrive at resolutions to problems/issues.


  • Data Collection - Any research procedure, activity, or instrument, that is intended to gather or record the actions, reactions, attitudes, and/or other behaviors of subjects (e.g., program staff, participants, and other stakeholders) in conjunction with a evaluation effort.
  • Department (or unit) Strategic Plan - The Department (or unit) Strategic Plan is revised annually by every academic department and non-academic unit across campus.  The planning template is located on the CIPT website under Planning and Resources
  • Depreciation - is an expense recognizing the cost of using up long-lived assets as an allocation over the life of the assets.
  • Designated Resources - are unrestricted revenues or assets which have been earmarked by the institution’s senior management or governing body.
  • Direct Expenditures - are those payments from research or grant funds that specifically support the research or program activities described in the award application or proposal.
  • Document Review - A data collection method in which existing program records or documents (e.g., attendance sheets, curricula, casework notes) are reviewed and analyzed.


  • Endowment Funds - are those received from a donor with the restriction that the principal is not expendable in perpetuity (true endowment) or until a stated period of time has passed or a certain event has occurred (term endowment).
  • Evaluation - The systematic collection of information about a program that enables stakeholders to better understand the program, improve its effectiveness, and/or make decisions about future programming. Important notes:  • Effective evaluation requires systematic data collection -- not haphazard, once-in-a-while data collection.  • Evaluation results are useful for internal purposes (e.g., helping to set new goals, organizational course correction) and external purposes (e.g., communication with stakeholders, reporting to funders)  • Evaluation is key to becoming a learning organization.
  • Evaluation Question - A question related to a program's outcomes, outputs, indicators, or other definition of success.  The goal of an evaluation effort is to answer one or more evaluation questions.
  • Evaluation Plan - A tool that sets out strategies for the systematic collection of information to answer questions about an organization or program -- for example, whether an organization is moving closer to achieving its mission and goals, or whether a program is achieving its intended outcomes or implementation goals.
  • Expenses - are the cost of goods and services consumed in operating a business or other economic unit.


  • FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid - the form all U.S. students use to apply for financial aid.
  • FASB - is the Financial Accounting Standards Accounting Board, the designated organization in the United States of America that establishes accounting and financial standards for private sector entities (e.g., for private colleges and universities).
  • FICE - Federal Interagency Committee on Education. Each institution of higher education in the United States may be identified by its unique FICE number.
  • Financial Audits - determine whether the financial statements or other reports provide timely, accurate, relevant, reliable, and complete information upon which to base decisions.
  • Financial Capital - is an institution’s economic resources—its revenue, reserves, investments, and endowment.
  • Financial Need - Financial need is the gap between the cost of going to a college (known as the cost of attendance) and what a student/family is expected to pay for college costs (which include direct and indirect expenses)
  • Fiscal Year - UW-Superior's fiscal year begins July 1st and ends the following June 30th.
  • Focus Group - A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their attitude towards a product, service, concept, or idea. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members.
  • FTE - Student FTE is the number of credits taken divided by 15 credits (undergraduate) or 12 credits (graduate).
  • Funded Scholarship Expense - is the amount of financial aid awarded using payout from the scholarship endowment or other gifts restricted specifically for scholarships.
  • Fundraising Action Plan - A document that articulates who is responsible for specific fundraising tasks, and the timeframe for each task.
  • Fundraising Plan - A document that outlines the fundraising strategy, goals, sources, contacts, and deadlines for a project or organization.


  • GASB - is the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, the designated organization in the United States of America that establishes accounting and financial standards for public sector entities (e.g., for public colleges and universities).
  • Goals -  Goals are clear statements of the overall purpose of your program. They provide an answer to the problem statement and communicate the intended aims or impacts over the life of the program.  Each goal may have a number of more specific actions that would be identified and acted upon.  Some goals will take multiple years to complete.
  • Governance -
  • Grants -
  • GSF -


  • Headcount - Student Headcount is the total unduplicated number of students enrolled in that program or institution. 
  • HEGIS - Higher Education General Information Survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), incorporated into IPEDS after 1985 (see IPEDS).
  • HLC - The Higher Learning Commission.  The commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools that accredits degree-granting higher education organizations (our accrediting body)
  • Holistic Admission - A system through which each applicant's credentials receive a comprehensive review that results in an admission decision.   All UW campuses adopted holistic admission practices beginning for the class that entered in Fall 2007.  This replaced the former system of using a grid-like matrix of high school class rank and ACT scores.
  • Human Capital - is the intellectual wealth of an institution – its students, faculty, and staff.


  • IDC -
  • Incremental Budgeting - involves awarding of (typically small) increments (or decrements) to last year’s budget.
  • Indicators - Indicators are measurable markers that a certain condition or circumstance exists, or certain outcomes have been achieved. They tell you how much progress you have made toward a particular goal, output, or outcome.
  • Indirect Costs - are those expenses incurred by an institution in support of, but not directly for, the research or programs conducted through a grant award.
  • Information Capital - is library and computer resources.
  • Information Literacy - is a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. See:
  • Institutional Effectiveness - emphasizes the performance of the total institution in relation to the institution’s mission and goals.
  • Institutional Research (er) - is a person or department at an institution responsible for analytically viewing and trending institutional data, identifying critical indicators, and assisting to link academic and fiscal planning.
  • Integrated Planning -
  • Internal Controls - are a system of processes designed to provide reasonable assurance that operations are effective and efficient, that financial reporting is reliable, and that the institution complies with applicable laws and regulations.
  • Interview - A qualitative data collection method in which an interviewer spends time in a one-on-one interview finding out about the subject's particular circumstances and their individual opinions.  An interview is a very flexible form of data collection and is the best method for in-depth probing of personal opinions, beliefs, and values. However, a skilled interviewer may be required (which can be expensive), and analyzing data collected through interviews can be time consuming and responses can be difficult to interpret. In contrast with the focus group, one-on-one interview subjects may answer more openly, since they are under fewer social pressures (for example, they may be willing to discuss sensitive information in an interview setting, which they would be uncomfortable revealing in a group setting).
  • IPEDS - The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System comprised of a series of annual and regular periodic institutional surveys of all postsecondary institutions administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).




  • Lab-Mod -
  • Learning Outcomes -
  • Liberal Arts Initiative - Adopted by Faculty Senate in 2006, the Liberal Arts Initiative includes five components.  Academic Service Learning, Senior Experience, Global Awareness, First Year Experience and Writing Across the Curriculum.
  • Liberal Education - is an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest. A liberal education helps students develop a sense of social responsibility, as well as strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings. See:
  • Loans -
  • Longitudinal Measures - compare data over periods of time.


  • MAAD - The Multiple Applications and Admissions Database System is used by the Office of Policy Analysis and Research and the UW campuses to collect and edit student applications and admissions data from fourteen UW System institutions
  • Maintenance -
  • Marketing - defined by the American Marketing Association as the activity and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.  The term is often misused to describe only the "promotion" aspect of marketing, although the accurate definition also includes "product, pricing, and place."
  • Marketing and Communications Plan - A document that outlines the marketing and communications goals, strategies, and outcomes that an organization intends to achieve. The marketing communication plan should include a definition of target audiences, methods of delivery, and resources required for implementation.
  • Metadata - Data about data; information about information. Metadata is used to describe information resources and learning objects. Typically, it reveals the contents of the learning object so enabling discovery, management, and exchange. It sometimes exists as a ‘wrapper,’ directly attached to a learning object; other times, it exists separately in searchable repositories. (From chapter four.)
  • Mission Statement - A brief description of the College’s purpose. A mission statement describes what we do, for whom we do it, and the benefit. A mission statement serves two functions: it ensures that everyone in the organization is united in purpose and serves as a baseline for effective planning.
  • Mission Statement - A statement that describes how an organization’s purpose is aligned with its vision. A mission statement is brief -- "short enough to fit on a t-shirt" is one rule of thumb -- and describes why the organization exists, what it does, for whom it exists, and the value that it creates, without listing specific activities employed to achieve the mission. An organization should decide how often to revisit the mission statement and who should participate in its review. An annual review is wise, since communities change and program demands shift. Re-examining the mission statement ensures that it continues to reflect an organization's values and offers the appropriate direction for the organization.
  • Multi-Year Operating Budget Projection -  An estimated budget based on strategic planning goals and considerations, taking growth and change into account.


  • Net Tuition Revenue - equals gross tuition revenue minus institutional financial aid and scholarship expenditures.


  • Observation - A data collection method in which an observer looks or listens to a situation and records what is happening. Observation can be an extremely powerful part of a data collection effort, since it does not depend on other people's willingness or ability to answer questions, and since it presents information directly rather than filtered through another person's perceptions.  Direct observations involve looking at actual behavior or occurrences, either in real time or by viewing or listening to a recording. Indirect observation examines results of behavior or occurrences (for example, counting the number of pieces of paper in the recycling bin to determine whether people are recycling.) Whether direct or indirect, observations should be guided by a checklist to ensure that the observer is getting all the required data.
  • Operational Budgeting - refers to the budgets set for day-to-day expenditures and revenues, as opposed to those for capital and other longer-term expenditures and inflows.
  • Organizational Assessment Tool - Part of Innovation Network's Point K Learning Center, the Organizational Assessment Tool takes the user through a survey covering seven areas of organizational development and produces a snapshot report on that organization's strengths and challenges. The report is useful for sharing with staff and board as a springboard for discussion of next steps in organizational development planning.
  • Organizational Unit - The basic component of the organizational structure of a college or university. Usually referred to as a department, but including both academic units (e.g., English Department, Physics Department, School of Law, etc.) and administrative units (e.g., Office of the President, Registrar, Physical Plant, etc.).
  • Outcomes Chain - Also called a "Pathway of Outcomes", this term refers to the sequence in which outcomes are achieved. Outcomes cannot all be attained at the same time, and some outcomes rely on the earlier achievement of other outcomes. Your shorter-term, intermediate, and longer-term outcomes should reflect a logical outcomes chain (or pathway of outcomes) in which your longer term outcomes are supported by, and dependent on, your shorter-term outcomes.
  • Outcomes - The results that your program aims to achieve. Outcomes are the changes that occur because of a program, or the difference that is made by a program. When defining outcomes, consider: how does the program touch the lives of individuals, groups, families, households, organizations, or communities?
  • Outputs - The measurable products of your program; the concrete items that are produced as part of your program.
  • Outsourcing - is hiring others outside of the institution with more specific expertise to perform those specific tasks, responsibilities, or operations.


  • Participatory Evaluation - A social research method in which program staff, participants, and other stakeholders participate in the evaluation of a program, by helping to define what success means for that program, collaborating in preparation of data collection instruments, and/or conducting data collection and analysis.  "One of the negative connotations often associated with evaluation is that it is something done to people. One is evaluated. Participatory evaluation, in contrast, is a process controlled by the people in the program or community. It is something they undertake as a formal, reflective process for their own development and empowerment."
  • PEAQ - Program to Evaluate and Advance Quality.  Evaluation process used by the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Performance Audits - go beyond financial matters to examine specific areas of program functioning and outcomes.
  • Physical Capital - consists of buildings, land, and equipment.
  • Planning - is the process of identifying, quantifying, and developing goals and actions for accomplishing the mission of an institution.
  • Potential Risk - The degree to which future events may threaten your organization's ability to accomplish its mission. Considering potential risk is an important first step in protecting an organization's vital assets and resources. (More at
  • Problem Statement - Also simply "problem", or "issue statement", or "challenge": A concise statement of the problem to be addressed by a program.
  • Program Evaluation Plan - A document that details strategies for systematic collection of information that will be used to answer critically important questions about a program. A program evaluation plan provides a framework for developing indicators for program outcomes, and determining how evaluation information will be collected.
  • Public Relations - the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics
  • Purchase Order - document issued by a buyer to a seller, indicating types, quantities, and agreed prices for products or services the seller will provide to the buyer. Sending a PO to a supplier constitutes a legal offer to buy products or services.
  • Purchasing Card - Also called ProCard, short for procurement card or purchasing card.  It is a specialized credit card that may be used to purchase low dollar value commodities that do not exceed $2,500 in cost.


  • Qualitative Data - Data described in terms of quality, as opposed to "quantity" (see "Quantitative data"). Qualitative data is often obtained through asking open-ended questions, to which the answers are not limited to a set of choices or a scale. Qualitative data collection is most useful when you would like information in people's own words, or when the questions you are asking have too many possible answers for you to be able to list them. Qualitative data is more time-consuming to analyze than quantitative data, but can be a worthwhile and important part of a data collection effort.
  • Quantitative Date - Data described in terms of a quantity or number. Quantitative data is collected through closed ended questions, where users are given a limited number of answer choices, or asked to answer on a scale. While quantitative data collection is suitable for collecting numeric data such as age, income, number of staff, number of children, etc., many types of information can be collected quantitatively if placed on a scale.
  • Quasi-Endowment Funds - are funds that have been established by the governing board to function like an endowment fund but that may be expended at any time at the discretion of the board.
  • Questionnaire - A data collection instrument consisting of a printed or online form containing a set of questions, sent to a group of respondents as a way of gathering information for a survey. In some cases, "questionnaire" may specifically mean a list of closed-ended questions (where respondents are limited to a set of answers or an answer scale), in contrast to a "survey" which may contain open-ended or "fill in the blank" questions.


  • Realized Gains (losses) - represent the increase (decrease) in value in a security when it is sold-the difference between the original cost of the security and the value at which it is sold.
  • Re-engineer - is to focus on process redesign or structural changes in the way institutions do business.
  • Requisition Field Order -
  • Reserve Funds - are resources accumulated to be available for miscellaneous purposes, typically for capital needs or emergencies.
  • Resource Allocation - The process by which an organization decides how to apply limited resources (e.g., dollars, people, space, and technology) within a priority framework in order to achieve its goals.
  • Restricted Resources - have either their use or control (or both) prescribed by the donor or sponsor.
  • Results-Based Accountability - Often referred to as "RBA", Results-Based Accountability is a planning and evaluation process used by communities and agencies to improve conditions of well-being for a given population.  RBA identifies measurable indicators to signify achievement of population-level results, and links these to measurements that track outcomes for individual projects and programs. In its fullest expression, RBA includes a process to:  • Identify successful strategies,  • Illustrate and describe data trends,  • Develop a research agenda, and  • Build partnerships to undertake social change efforts that are beyond the scope of any individual organization or program.
  • Retention - Student retention, a primary indicator of institutional success, is expressed as a percentage of a new freshmen or transfer class that is retained in subsequent semesters/years.  Faculty/staff retention involves human resource management efforts to value, reward, and retain high quality employees.
  • Revenues - are inflows of cash or other properties received in exchange for goods or services provided to customers.
  • Revenues Buckets -



  • Sample Size - (See “Sampling”) The size of a representative sub-group chosen from a larger group to act as a base for data collection. Different sample sizes result in different "confidence levels" or reliability of the final data.
  • Sampling - A data collection technique in which results are collected from a representative sub-group, or sample, of a larger group.
  • SCH (credit hour production) - Semester Credit Hours - used to measure the productivity of programs and departments.
  • Segregated Fees - charges in addition to tuition that are assessed to all students for services, programs, and facilities that support the primary mission of the University. 
  • SFS - Shared Financial System. Refers to PeopleSoft implementation of UW-System for accounting, purchasing and general ledger for all UW campuses.
  • Shared Values - A set of guiding principles that impact how everyone in the organization thinks and acts.  Shared values guide our conduct and define the enduring character of our organization.
  • Silos -
  • Social Networking - Social Network Services (such as Facebook, MySpace, engage people who share interests and/or activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.  These services are increasingly important elements of an institution's public communication strategy.
  • SSCI - Self-Study for Continuous Improvement.  Adopted in 2007 by the Campus PBRC as the process by which to conduct Departmental Reviews.
  • Strategic Goals -  Broad statements of intent that, when accomplished, move the College closer to its vision. Goals are statements of desired ends.
  • Strategic Objectives - The means of achieving, or moving toward, a goal. Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time -focused.
  • Strategic Plan - A narrative “map” that communicates where the College wants to go and identifies how it intends to get there. It is based on an examination of internal and external factors that shape the college’s priorities and operations. It guides goal-setting and resource allocation to achieve meaningful results over time. Strategic plans are reviewed annually to monitor progress and are revised when appropriate. The college is committed to aligning its planning and budgeting activities with its Strategic Plan.
  • Strategic Planning - An ongoing process by which the College envisions its desired future and develops goals, objectives, and action plans to realize that future. It is rooted in identifying community needs, examining environmental trends, opportunities, and threats, and assessing the institution’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Student Development -
  • Student Persistence - UW-Superior's retention rate from first to second year is lowest in the UW-System.  Campus and unit strategies to improve student persistence are critical.
  • Student Recruitment - The process through which potential students are identified, engaged, and enrolled.
  • SWOT - is a framework for analyzing an organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This framework is used particularly in strategic planning.
  • SWOT Analysis - Environmental Scan or analysis of unit Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats


  • Tactical Planning - is a planned action to produce a specific result aimed toward a particular goal. Tactical plans typically can be implemented fairly quickly.
  • Task Forces - are groups of persons with a leader who are given a charge, a timeline, and a responsibility/problem/assignment, and are asked to meet a deadline.
  • Temporarily Restricted Fund -
  • Test - A measurement of performance; can be used as part of a data-collection effort around particular indicators.
  • TIS - Transfer Information System - a UW online tool that provides detailed transfer information to prospective students and the professionals who counsel them.
  • Travel Card - refers to the personal credit card that can be applied for through the Business Office to be used by individuals for campus travel.
  • Theme - A unifying subject of discussion around a dominant idea.  Themes are linked to our mission and values.  Each theme is followed by a number of goals that are addressed in support of the theme.
  • Tuition Discount - is the percentage relationship of institutional financial aid to gross tuition revenue


  • Underwater Endowment - is an individually permanently restricted endowment fund whose market value has decreased below its historical cost basis (the amount required to be accounted for as permanently restricted, usually represented as the value of the original gift adjusted for amounts required to be added to it either by the donor or law).
  • Unfunded Scholarship Expense - is the amount of financial aid awarded using unrestricted operating funds—that is, funds that otherwise could be available for other unrestricted operating purposes.
  • Unrealized Gains (losses) - represent the increase (decrease) in value in a security that is held and not sold before it is sold.
  • Unrestricted Fund -
  • Unrestricted Resources - may be used for any institutional purpose consistent with the mission and articles of incorporation.


  • Vision Statement - A statement of what the College can and should become in the future. A vision statement should be forward-thinking, orient people’s energies, and serve as a guide to action.





  • Zero-Based Budgeting - begins with $0 and builds a budget activity-by-activity or item-by-item.