Council to review targeted programs

By Lesley Rogers

The faculty members, administrators and students on the Academic Planning Council have taken on extra responsibility again this year, as they review recommended programs as part of a new statewide procedure.

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

Now the IBHE is requiring each of the 12 state universities to review the same programs during the year, in another effort of the Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative.

“This year is a huge change. Now the IBHE is looking at the program reviews at the same time, which will cause competition between the different university programs,” said Lynne Waldeland, assistant provost of Development and Planning.

Targeted programs to be reviewed in the College of Professional Studies this year are the bachelor of science programs in clinical laboratory sciences, physical therapy and in communicative disorders, the master of arts in communicative disorders, both the bachelor of science and the master of science in nursing, the bachelor of science in community health and the master’s degree in public health.

In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the bachelor of science, master of science and doctorate in biological sciences will be reviewed.

NIU was on its own system of reviewing programs, so the biology program was reviewed within the last five years. In cases like that, the IBHE said an update of the program is all that is needed.

NIU Provost J. Carroll Moody said program reviews are tied into the PQP process, so the APC had to suspend the programs that would normally be reviewed this year.

“Program reviews have become a part of PQP for the foreseeable future,” he said, noting that the reviews are becoming more and more important to the IBHE.

“PQP is a political process. The IBHE is beginning to act more like a governing board than a recommendation committee. PQP will become a major issue in the legislature eventually,” Moody said.

The program reviews must be completed in less time than last year, which has become a major concern with many members of the APC.

“The review programs are on a schedule that was not released early enough and it is enormously frustrating when you want to do a good program review,” Waldeland said. “The first drafts are done, and they had to do in two months what would take eight months and in one month what would normally take the summer to complete.”

Allan Kulikoff, associate professor of history, posed a question to the other APC members. “If they (the reviews) are going to be done with a shred of statistical accuracy, how are departments, who only have a couple of months, going to get the information needed?”

Moody said the reviews will place more emphasis on student evaluations and student satisfaction of the campus, their education and how well NIU graduates have done in the work force.

The IBHE is also requiring an annual review of undergraduate education in the form of a productivity report, which NIU has been doing since 1986.

“The state is also mandating a review of all graduates after 1991, in NIU grads one year out, five years out and 10 years out,” Waldeland said.

This procedure will hopefully help in the program review, as well as the reaccreditation process this year, Waldeland said.