APC readies health-related programs for review

By Markos Moulitsas

The Academic Planning Council analyzed several of NIU’s health-related progams and a graduate program in biology Monday.

The APC conducted a general overview of programs that served as “introduction and background into putting the reviews under consideration into context,” said J. Carroll Moody, acting NIU provost.

The programs discussed have been scheduled for review by the Illinois Board of Higher Education as part of the ongoing Priorities, Quality and Productivity process. Most of these programs fall in the health professions category.

Currently under review are the B.S. in community health, clinical laboratory sciences (formerly medical technology), physical therapy, communication disorders, nursing, the M.S. in community health (formerly public health) and the M.A. in communication disorders and nursing.

Also under review are the B.S. and M.S. in biological sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Science.

Sharon Miller, associate dean of the College of Professional Studies, in which the bulk of the programs under review fall under, presented a general overview of the college’s status, stressing the importance and pertinence of all its programs.

Miller quoted a report from Occupational Outlook Quarterly, saying, “The large health services industry will continue to grow much faster than average. Consequently, health occupations will be among the occupations having rapid growth and providing favorable job prospects in all levels of education.”

Among questions raised was concern for President Bill Clinton’s proposed health plan and how it would affect job prospects if implemented.

“It feels as though we’re standing on the threshold of a black hole,” said Ellen Parham, a professor at human and family resources, explaining the uncertainties posed by the health plan.

Miller said she was confident the plan would bring increased growth to the industry, but admitted only “heaven knows.”

Alan Kulikoff, an associate professor of history, was critical of the review process. He said it was hard for him to make a decision on something he knew nothing about, using only information provided by the departments under review.

“Is there any plan to bring outside experts in the fields (of programs affected)?” Kulikoff asked.

Moody said, “Even the IBHE has suggested external evaluators. That would be ideal and we may be moving toward that in the future, but we are talking about significant costs.”

Assistant Provost Lynne Waldeland said council members outside the disciplines being reviewed would closely scrutinize the programs in question.

LA&S Dean James Norris said he was surprised biology was being reviewed, since it had just undergone a review in 1991-92.

He said in the year since the last review the only changes to the biology department were an administrative shuffle concerning the plant biology program and the moving of its animals from the top floor to the bottom floor, since it was discovered animal excrements seeped to lower floors.

Norris, in a tie-in with Miller’s presentation, said, “If the health field expands, the need for biologists will also expand.”

“Even the IBHE has suggested external evaluators. That would be ideal and we may be moving toward that in the future, but we are talking about significant costs.”