MIPEx awards highest honor to university

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Grand Rapids-based Davenport University serves about 7,500 students on campuses across the state and online, with more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs. Courtesy Davenport University

A nonprofit that helps Michigan organizations improve their performance awarded its highest honor to a university for the first time.

Michigan Performance Excellence (MIPEx) awarded the 2020 Michigan Performance Excellence Award to Davenport University. The award is given to organizations that demonstrate “fact-based, systematic evaluation and improvement processes and organizational learning, including innovation, which results in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of key processes,” MIPEx said.

MIPEx is one of more than 30 state and regional Baldrige-based performance excellence award programs. It serves all organizations and industries including health care, nonprofit, education and others across Michigan.

Using the Baldrige criteria as its framework, MIPEx utilizes an extensive business review process to determine top recipients. This rigorous evaluation process takes months to complete. There have not been any other recipients between 2012 and 2019.

Davenport completed a 50-page application before MIPEx examiners spent 12-15 weeks evaluating the organization. Nearly half of Davenport's full-time employees were part of the interview process prior to selection.

The organization is not funded by the state, and all award evaluations are performed by volunteer examiners with award decisions made by an independent panel of judges.

"Davenport has exhibited well-deployed processes that answer the questions of the criteria," said Geri Markley, executive director for MIPEx. "The leadership team uses a systematic strategic planning process to deploy an intense focus on students — first understanding student needs and then addressing them systematically."

Using the Baldrige Framework, Davenport has improved several key initiatives for the university, the partners said. For example, the university has seen a 158% increase in student graduation rates, achieving regional and national industry standards. Student graduation rates went from 19% in 2008-09 to 49% in 2018-19.

Formed in 1994 as the Michigan Quality Council, MIPEx exists to improve the competitiveness of Michigan organizations that will, in turn, enhance the quality of life in the state, the organization said.

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