APC on defense

By Lesley Rogers

The Academic Planning Council might have to shift its emphasis from evaluating the quality of NIU’s programs to defending them because of the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative.

The faculty members, students and administrators who serve on the APC have taken on extra responsibility again this year in terms of looking at the programs the IBHE will recommend to be eliminated or modified at NIU.

Last year, the APC reviewed IBHE recommendations to eliminate NIU’s School of Law and doctorate program in psychology, as well as many other graduate and undergraduate programs at NIU.

“We targeted many reviews of the programs the IBHE recommended for elimination. The reviews answered the key issues the IBHE raised or the university raised because of PQP. We looked at the number of grad students accepted, occupational demands and centrality in the university,” said Lynne Waldeland, assistant provost of development and planning.

She also noted the chairs of the departments spent a lot of time gathering information by doing surveys of employers and former graduates. These surveys help rate the success of the recommended programs to be cut.

Waldeland said the APC reviewed the programs on the first “hit-list” last year. She said if some of the same programs are recommended again, they will defend them.

“We would review again along the lines of further issues the IBHE raises,” she said.

Using the example of the School of Law, Waldeland said if recommended to be cut again, the APC would try to defend the program.

IBHE recommended program cuts will be an ongoing process, Waldeland said. “It is confirmed there will probably be more program recommendations. Also looked at will be research, public service and faculty workload. I’m not sure if the APC will focus on all of these issues,” she said.

Another purpose of APC is to prepare and periodically update NIU’s mission statement. This year, the IBHE is devising focus statements for each of the universities in the state, possibly conflicting with NIU’s statement.

Controversy erupted because some faculty members and administrators on campus felt that the IBHE was uninformed about assigning NIU a focus statement.

The APC did an in-depth review of NIU’s mission statement last year, and Waldeland said little change will need to be made.

“We look at it every year, and the mission statement is going to be an issue this year,” she said.

“Between the IBHE’s focus statement and the university’s own mission statement, they are essentially compatible. We will look at the (IBHE’s) final focus statement and see if our mission statement needs to be revised,” Waldeland said.

The APC also will be reviewing recommended program cuts this year much differently than in the past.

“It’s quite different, all programs will be reviewed at the same time by the IBHE,” Waldeland said. “It’s a new procedure that will look at all eight programs in the state.”

This new system will take a regional look at the programs, and will enhance competition between universities, Waldeland said.

“We will be working on reviewing our programs and departments this year,” Waldeland said. “The APC will continue to be one of the campus committees that assists the university in the PQP initiative.”