Study flawed but still useful

Assessing academic programs for a budget sacrifice is an unpleasant task, but it’s one the Board of Higher Education seems dead set on forcing President La Tourette to carry out.

On the heels of IBHE Chairman Arthur Quern’s call for NIU to prioritize academic services comes an IBHE study on NIU’s “low-output” degree programs. The study lists programs from nearly every academic department that, from 1988 to 1990, the IBHE says did not graduate enough students.

In other words, the IBHE is providing a “hit list” of degree programs for NIU.

In response, La Tourette has sent Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves his own commentary on the IBHE data. And there are some good points made.

As La Tourette points out, degrees that are being phased out already should not be singled out for criticism, just as degrees recently started should be given a fair chance instead of the ax.

Comparing the 1988-1990 degree figures and those for 1989-1991 also shows that some degree programs seem to be making a comeback.

But the attention the IBHE is giving these underserving programs is timely and will hopefully spur NIU to cut programs that cannot justify themselves. Now that the aberrations of the study have been pointed out, it is time for NIU administrators to take a long look at the rest of it.