Regents claim PQP lacks vision

By Brian Slupski

The Board of Regents criticized a controversial initiative which could eliminate 190 academic programs as being visionless.

The Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative is the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s streamlining plan for public higher education.

The IBHE staff judged programs using qualitative data and released statements on what a university’s mission should be as an institution.

A university’s mission is significant because it determines what kind of programs the university can offer. A change in mission means a change in program offering and justification to eliminate programs.

A Regents’ report states, “The proposed mission statements have appeared to be more of an after-the-fact justification for program decisions than a before-the-fact effort to develop planning parameters.”

“Most people think the mission descriptions were written to justify recommendations (for program cuts),” said NIU President John La Tourette. “This is backwards. For effective planning you need an idea of the future.”

“This (PQP process) appears to be downsizing for the sake of downsizing,” La Tourette said.

Regent David Murphy referred to the PQP acronym as standing for “Please Quit Planning,” or “P Quern P.” Arthur Quern is the chairman of the IBHE and a main supporter of PQP.

Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves also felt the PQP process lacked an aspect of planning.

“PQP seems to be exclusively concerned with downsizing. There ought to be a planning element, we ought to know where we are going,” Groves said.

La Tourette said no one at the IBHE has specified a vision for public higher education.

“An IBHE member confided in me that there is a vision within the IBHE somewhere, but as of yet we have not seen it,” La Tourette said.

Thomas Wallace, president of Illinois State University at Normal, said an educational plan in the state of Virginia seems to have what Illinois’ restructuring plan lacks—an eye toward the future.

“Virginia is looking in a positive way at things like public service, research and graduate education,” Wallace said.

The board met at NIU Wednesday and Thursday at the Holmes Student Center.