Task force to volunteer ten programs for elimination

By Alexander Chettiath

Ten undisclosed academic programs have been volunteered for elimination after an initial review of the program prioritization reports.

Program prioritization, which began in 2014 after a recommendation from the Higher Learning Commission, uses task forces to create reports that review 223 academic programs and 236 administrative programs to influence the allocation of university funds, according to the program prioritization website.

Program reports were completed on Dec. 11, and the task forces are currently meeting, privately, every Friday to grade the programs. The program reports must be graded by April 30, said Provost Lisa Freeman.

“They have a firm deadline for providing us with the reports, how many times they meet between now and then is really in their hands,” Freeman said. “They may finish early, they may find out they need to add some extra meetings to get everything completed but they know a report is expected by April 30.”

Meetings began the week after the reports were turned in, at which ten programs were volunteered for elimination and ten new academic programs were submitted for approval. The program names will not be made public until after the task force reviews them and grades are released, said Carolinda Douglass, Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Development.

Reports were compiled using data collected from alumni surveys, departmental research and feedback from students, and are indexed in the data glossary section on the program prioritization website, Freeman said.

“I think it is very important for the university to be intentional in its budget process,” Freeman said. “Our state appropriations are down and continue to go down, but we can control where we put the money we do have and try to direct it to programs that serve our region and our students well, programs that have been historically excellent, programs that have the opportunity for growth and to enhance the reputation of the university.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Fiscal Year 2016 proposed budget includes a reduction in funds to public entities, and a lack of agreement on the proposed budget has resulted in a six-month impasse. Without a finalized budget, funds cannot be appropriated fully.

“Right now we have no MAP funding and no appropriated funds for operations from the state, even though we are six months into the current year … but it doesn’t really affect our long term goals of being more data-informed,” Freeman said.

Program prioritization is not intended to influence FY 2016 and will only go into effect on July 1, influencing the Fiscal Years 2017 through 2021, Douglass said.