Committee ranks IBHE’s ‘hit list’


The Academic Planning Council has made its preliminary recommendation on how NIU should treat its list of endangered programs.

During its meeting Monday, the APC began to categorize those programs slated by NIU’s 1992 Productivity Report and the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s “hit list” in order of their importance to NIU’s academic mission.

The NIU administration has asked the APC to review and give recommendations on those programs cited for either consolidation or elimination by NIU and the IBHE’s lists and the selection process is now in the final step.

During the meeting, APC members voted to recommend for consolidation or elimination those proposals which had been endorsed by the departments they concern. A total of nine proposals from both NIU and the IBHE’s lists were consented to by the departments they affected.

The APC then decided to tentatively rank the remaining 12 programs in three categories by level of importance to NIU’s mission. The APC members voted on the priority of each program by secret ballot, using the categories of high, medium and low priority.

The ranking system was intended to give the APC an idea of where the members stood as a whole on the priority of each program.

Jerrold Zar, associate provost for Graduate Studies and Research, said the system would set up a middle category and bring those programs which the APC was uncertain about into focus.

“It (the middle category) allows each committee member here to identify programs which he or she is uncertain on,” he said. “It opens the table for discussion on those programs.”

The APC agreed to discuss the merits and drawbacks to those programs which came out of the vote as being of middle or low priority to the university.

NIU Provost J. Carroll Moody said, “We agree that this is not final. There’s nothing to keep someone from looking at those programs on the top (of high priority to NIU).”

The results of the vote found only the College of Law and the Ph.D. in psychology in the high priority category. Six programs fell into the middle category and four programs turned out on the low end of NIU’s priority. The journalism masters program was among those on the low end of the APC’s list.

The result of the ballot triggered a myriad of concerns and discussion from the APC members.

Richard Dowen, associate professor of Finance, said the APC should take into account the repercussions which would occur if it voted to retain a program slated for elimination by the IBHE.

“The idea here is if we decide to save the economics Ph.D., the geology Ph.D. and the psychology Ph.D., then we have to come up with three new doctoral programs to give them (the IBHE),” he said. “If we save one program, another one will have to be given up.”

In addition, Moody emphasized the criteria the APC members must use for their decision-making.

“We’ve been told that whether it is a good program or not doesn’t matter,” he said. “We’ve been told that we have to reallocate to our priorities—not what we have seen as our priorities in the past but what we have been told our priorities are—and the IBHE says that is undergraduate education. That is the reality of what we face in this.”

The APC will review and finalize its recommendation at its Feb. 15 meeting.