IBHE reverses position on new program moratorium

By Peter Schuh

The Illinois Board of Higher Education is now saying that it will not institute a program “moratorium” next year.

The threat of a moratorium was made at a hearing last month at NIU. At that time, IBHE Executive Director Richard Wagner said the IBHE was considering not approving new academic programs in higher education for a period of two years.

IBHE Deputy Director Ross Hodel said the board will not impose the moratorium which was being considered to encourage universities to focus on the Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative.

The goal of PQP is to reallocate university fiscal resources from low priority areas to high priority areas. Under PQP, 190 academic programs were recommended for elimination, with the idea that savings from the eliminations be geared toward high priority areas.

The IBHE will deliver formally a second hit list during its meeting in Chicago today.

This hit list will recommend, for a second time, NIU’s doctoral programs in geology, economics and special education for elimination.

The programs are three of 30 across the state cited by the IBHE as “economically and educationally unjustified.” This means the decision to axe the programs will not fall on the universities, as they did last year, but to the universities’ governing boards, such as NIU’s Board of Regents.

The 30 programs on the IBHE’s second list are all programs the universities refused to eliminate in the first round of recommendations.

The IBHE will discuss and take action on the new hit list during its meeting. If it ratifies the new list with the old programs, it will mean renewed PQP efforts for nine of the states’ 12 public universities.

The ratification of the new list and the IBHE reports that go with it, however, will be good news for NIU’s College of Law and its doctoral program in psychology.

These programs, as well as the performer’s certificate in music and the M.S.Ed. in school business management, were cited in the IBHE’s last list but did not reappear on this year’s list.

The board also will assess and make recommendations on the PQP efforts pursued by the universities in the areas of administrative and support services and intercollegiate athletics.