Academic program inventory released


Reggie Thomas, jazz studies coordinator and Jazz Ensemble director, directs Jazz Ensemble during a rehearsal Sept. 29 in the Music Building. Music and theatre and arts will be reviewed in the spring.

By Satta Kendor

Academic programs set for review as part of the program prioritization process were announced earlier this month, with administrative programs soon to follow.

Program prioritization is an initiative that began with community talks in the spring by NIU President Doug Baker and Provost Lisa Freeman to determine funding mergers, cuts and increases for all academic and administrative programs. The administrative program inventory is expected to be released in mid-August, said Carolinda Douglass, vice provost for Academic Planning and Development and facilitator of the program prioritization coordinating team.

“The point that I would make that I think sometimes people get confused about is that this really happened before the significant budget crisis that we are in and program prioritization would be happening even if we weren’t in that budget crisis because the process had already begun,” Douglass said.

Programs will be evaluated by task force members starting in January under a unique set of criteria designed for academic and administrative programs, Douglass said.

Prioritization Plus

Programs will be reviewed using a $49,000 software called Prioritization Plus, in which department heads will write program narratives and reviews and send them to the academic and administrative task forces for evaluation.

Prioritization Plus is a web-based program that will offer access to program data, a walk-through series of questions related to criteria and a way to send narratives to the task forces, said John Kearsing, project manager for the Division of Information Technology.

There are eight criteria for the academic side with each criteria containing three to four questions in regard to a program, while the administrative side will have five criteria with about three to four questions per criteria, Kearsing said. When a program author completes the narration it is then sent to be approved, and the program creates a report that the task forces will ultimately review, Kearsing said.

“In a time of budgetary constraints you have to prioritize just like a family would have to prioritize their budget in times of constraints, and that’s what NIU is doing,” said Andy Small, laboratory manager for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and representative of the operating staff for program prioritization. “We’re making sure we have a focus of where we want to go and what programs are important not just to our constituents, but also to the people who hire our students.”

There will be meetings to train task forces, department heads and community leaders on how to use Prioritization Plus in September, Douglass said