Proposal for master’s program must pass IBHE

By Stephanie Bradley

A proposal for a master of arts program in the foreign language and literature department, which has been accepted by NIU and the Board of Regents, still must be approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Lynne Waldeland, NIU assistant provost for academic development and planning, said there is an even chance the program might or might not be approved, depending on the stand the IBHE takes.

Waldeland said the IBHE might not approve the program because of the current economic status of NIU and other Illinois universities. She said the IBHE could see the request as a contradiction—NIU is asking to begin another academic program but in the same token keeps publicizing its financial woes.

On the other hand, the program might be approved because of the method with which it is being funded. Marilyn Skinner, NIU foreign language and literature department chairman, said her department now uses temporary instructors and tenure-track faculty for 100- and 200-level Spanish, French, German and Russian classes.

Skinner said funds that had been used to pay temporary instructors now will be used to pay teaching assistants in the master’s degree program. She said the use of TAs will free tenure-track faculty to teach mostly 300-, 400- and 500-level classes, although they still might teach some 200-level courses.

Waldeland said the IBHE will question the Regents and NIU staff on the proposal, which was approved by the Regents in June. She said questions on funding and whether there is a need for the program will be asked.

Bob Wallhaus, IBHE deputy director for academic affairs, said it is too early to predict what his board will do, although he indicated the board might be reluctant to continue to approve new programs unless there is a definite need for them.

Wallhaus said the IBHE staff will make a recommendation to the IBHE in December after the discussion.

January 1989 is the earliest a final decision could be made, Waldeland said. The date could be pushed back because of budget problems, she said.

Waldeland said, “It’s hard to predict what the IBHE will do. They are cautious about granting approval for new programs. We will develop new programs without having to have more money.”

Skinner said her department sent a survey to undergraduates, teachers of kindergarten through grade 12 and to business people to find out if they were interested in having a master’s degree program. About 40 percent of the students polled said they wanted to pursue their MA at NIU, she said.

Skinner said 189 out of the 469 teachers who returned the survey said they would “definitely consider” going to NIU for their master’s and about 60 more said they would consider it. Many business people showed strong support for the idea, she said.

Skinner said if the program is approved, the first classes will begin in fall 1990. Graduate students will be able to take structured classes in French, Spanish, German and Russian. They will receive a master’s in foreign languages and literature, she said.