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Quality Enhancement Plan

Discern, Experience, Achieve: 

Preparing for Life and Work in a Changing World

Quality Enhancement Plan

University of Dallas


Questions regarding Discern, Experience, Achieve can be directed to Shannon Blatt, QEP Director, from the Office of Personal Career Development.

In our mission the University of Dallas is committed to the pursuit of wisdom, truth and virtue as the proper and primary ends of education. In addition, we are dedicated to preparing our students for life and work in a problematic and changing world and equipping them to become leaders able to act responsibly for their own good and the good of their family, community, country and church. The order in which the mission articulates these ends suggest that these latter, more practical goals may derive from the pursuit of education's primary goals. In other words, the future success that our students may enjoy in their personal and professional lives should spring from an underlying and continuing pursuit of wisdom, truth and virtue. Through a rigorous undergraduate education, University of Dallas students are well-prepared for success in life. This Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), "Discern, Experience, Achieve: Preparing for Life and Work in a Changing World," intends to build on this educational excellence and to provide students with opportunities and resources to make informed career and vocational choices.

Through "Discern, Experience, Achieve," students will continue to be enriched by the university's Core curriculum and the intellectual and moral virtues of a liberal education illuminated by the Catholic faith. We envision students firmly grounded in this heritage of liberal education and confidently declaring a major on the basis of serious self-reflection guided by advisers. We envision students who dig deeply into a chosen discipline while participating in extracurricular activities, which bring to light opportunities available during and after the undergraduate experience.

The UD community strongly believes that student learning will benefit from integrating a consistent advising and career development process within the academic programs of the university. With consideration of all of the ways in which one's vocation in life comes to fruition, including employment, religious vocation, mission and service work, and graduate and professional study, "Discern, Experience, Achieve" intends to help students develop and succeed in reaching their short- and long-term goals and to exercise leadership throughout their lives.

A presentation of the program can be found here.

The full QEP proposal can be found here: Discern Experience Achieve: Preparing for Life and Work in a Changing World  

Discern, Experience, Achieve  Background


A Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is a required part of re-accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The QEP is a course of action for institutional improvement that addresses one or more issues contributing to quality enhancement of student learning or the environment for student learning. The QEP must be forward-looking and provide a process to move the institution into the future. It provides a valuable opportunity for an institution to evaluate itself and to identify areas of possible improvement and enhancement of the academic mission.

Over an eighteen-month period, the University of Dallas has engaged in a selection and development process for the QEP. Throughout the process data generated from several sources were used, including the National Survey of Student Engagement (2007 and 2010), the Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (2011), the University of Dallas Career Services Office Senior Survey (2009-2013), internship data from the Career Services Office (2008-2013), QEP Selection Committee survey data (2012) and qualitative faculty response from open meetings (March 2013).

Students and alumni have at times expressed concerns about how a University of Dallas education can help them meet career goals upon graduation. Students from all of the University's major undergraduate academic units desire adequate services to help them make decisions about their future, connect an academic major or program to future career and vocational goals, and develop mentoring relationships. Faculty and student responses to survey questions indicate that many in the UD community strongly agree that student learning may benefit from integrating a consistent advising and career development process.

With consideration of all of the ways in which ones vocation in life comes to fruition including employment, religious vocation, missions and service work, and graduate and professional study this QEP intends to address these concerns and desires expressed by students, alumni, and faculty.




Students will make prudent curricular and non-curricular choices concerning their major and their future life and work.


This outcome aims at helping students to discern prudently. UD's mission indicates that a goal of a UD education is the development of both intellectual and moral virtues, and central among these virtues is prudence or practical judgment. Prudence is the virtue that enables one to make the best decision within the circumstances in which one finds oneself. For our students, being prudent means discerning the best path forward in order to achieve goals that are fitting to them and choosing the paths toward these goals confidently.

This learning outcome is intended to allow students both a reflective and forward-thinking approach to their decisions concerning their discipline as well as future life and work. It is intended to situate this decision within the institutional context of liberal learning enlightened by the Catholic faith, as well as the students own truthful self-reflection concerning academic interests, skills, and abilities.



Students will intentionally pursue focused professional development.


This outcome aims at helping students to experience intentionally. This means relating the choice of a discipline and future goals in life and work to what is expected of someone who engages in that discipline or achieves those goals.

Attaining this outcome will afford students the opportunities to continue to acquire and then subsequently apply discipline-specific knowledge and skills. While the nature of professional development may vary among the disciplines, the goal here is to help students to confirm and to carry out decisions they have made in light of the realities of the disciplines they are pursuing and the broader needs of a changing world.





Students will present themselves professionally in pursuit of vocational goals.

This outcome aims at helping students to achieve professionally. Although it can be operative at various points of a students undergraduate education, this outcome focuses attention primarily on the transition between a students completion of a degree at the University of Dallas and the attainment of post-graduate goals, both short-term and long-term. To reach such achievement it is necessary that students are able to present themselves professionally, i.e., adequately and persuasively to a broader community. This is done through excellent oral and written self-expression, the demonstration of competencies gained through the core curriculum and a major discipline, and the exercise of habits, skills, and virtues gained by the experiences that were pursued in accord with Outcome 2. Achieving this outcome will be evidenced by the students manifestation of specific virtues, arts and skills necessary to live and work in a changing world and to serve the various communities to which they belong.

Achieving this outcome will be evidenced by the students manifestation of specific virtues, arts and skills necessary to live and work in a changing world and to serve the various communities to which they belong.


Essential Areas and Actions

The action items supporting Discern, Experience, Achieve at the University of Dallas have been divided among three essential areas: Advising, Academic Structures, and Career Services. Discern, Experience, Achieve will succeed by integrating the knowledge and experience of faculty and staff advisors, their academic structures (departments, colleges, schools), and the staff of the Office of Personal Career Development to establish an informed network of support within the student learning environment.

Essential Area 1: Advising

The Academic Advising Essential Area will address the process of student self-evaluation (Outcome 1) and the ability for students to become aware of and more intentionally pursue focused professional development in their fields (Outcome 2).

Actions to be taken through this area include the development of an advising mission statement and advising questionnaires and software. Students will be more accountable for updating their profiles and advisors will be supported through training and a QEP Council equipped to provide new information on effective advising.

Essential Area 2: Academic Structures

For Outcome 1, academic structures will aid students in making curricular and noncurricular choices through course offerings and events. As part of Outcome 2 academic structures will help students achieve the goal of intentionally pursuing professional development. Finally, for Outcome 3, academic structures will provide guides and resources to students in developing the ability to present professionally.

Actions to be taken through this area include discipline-specific advising guides, support for speakers and conference travel and the appointment of a Career Services liaison for each academic unit. This area will also provide improved student access to academic, service and professional development activities

Essential Area 3: Career services

The Career Services Essential Area will address all three student learning outcomes. The Office of Personal Career Development (OPCD) will offer services that aid in student discernment and help students become aware of and pursue professional development in their fields of interest. Finally, the (OPCD) will be a valuable resource in helping students present themselves professionally and achieve positions upon completion of the undergraduate degree.

Actions to be taken through this area include greater availability of self-assessment tools, access to internships, research, and experiential learning opportunities, and student resume, personal statement, and portfolio management


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