IBHE to hear NIU’s plans for program eliminations

By Brian Slupski

NIU President John La Tourette will report the elimination of seven academic programs to the Illinois Board of Higher Education at its meeting today in Skokie.

The productivity report La Tourette will deliver is another step in the IBHE’s Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative. Last year, under PQP, 190 academic programs were recommended for elimination state wide, including 15 at NIU.

Now, nearly a year later, the state’s 12 public universities are reporting to the IBHE what was done with those recommendations.

Debra Smitley, IBHE associate director of public affairs, said the IBHE has been encouraged by some of the actions taken by the universities.

She said the universities will outline actions or non-actions regarding the recommendations and justifications for the decisions made by the institutions.

NIU eliminated or is planning to eliminate nearly half of the programs it was recommended to by the IBHE. This is a stark contrast to Illinois State University in Normal, which eliminated only two of the 12 programs the IBHE targeted.

However, at least one of NIU’s planned eliminations has hit a snag. NIU had agreed to eliminate the M.A. in journalism; however, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee did not approve the proposal at its last meeting.

The committee did approve two other recommendations to eliminate programs, but the fate of the journalism proposal is now in question.

Smitley would not comment on the M.A. in journalism and would only say the effectiveness of the universities in carrying out PQP mandates will be evaluated later this year.

“We will review the results, and target where further recommendations can be made,” she said.

The stated goal of PQP is to better focus the fiscal resources of higher education. Universities would generate budget increases by reallocating monies from low priority areas to high priority areas. The state would provide inflationary increases for higher education, but real dollar increases would be generated internally.

NIU reallocated $3,757,100 through PQP, with $1,023,000 going for undergraduate education. However, NIU’s top priority seems to be “salary competitiveness,” as $2,065,300 of the reallocation pie went to making NIU’s salaries more competitive.

NIU reallocated $206,800 for “deferred maintenance,” $200,000 to the library, $177,000 to “minority student achievement” and $85,000 to “federal/state mandated but unfunded services.”