PQP not hullabaloo o Illinois students

The news pages of The Northern Star have been filled lately with rather complex stories about something called PQP.

No, PQP is not a new wonder drug, although many faculty members would tell you it’s a depressant. PQP is one of the most important issues in the usually stale universe of public universities in the last decade, if not ever.

Realizing that many students will skip the news stories if they deem the articles too difficult to understand, but at the same time recognizing that it is important for students to be up on this subject as it does affect them, I’ve decided to attempt to explain how PQP affects you as an NIU student.

PQP stands for Priorities, Qualities and Productivity and it was initiated by Arthur Quern, the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) chairman. Wait! Before you stop reading the column, let me continue. Here are the ground rules: The IBHE oversees all 12 public universities in Illinois. The Board of Regents (BOR), another term often used in this newspaper, is in most ways a less-powerful board which directly oversees NIU, ISU and Sangamon State University in Springfield. Think of it this way: the IBHE is the manager of the store, while the BOR is one of the assistant managers.

Having established the players, let’s look at what PQP is and how it affects you—the students. Basically, the process looks at the number of diplomas a particular academic program awards (i.e. geography, art, management, etc.) and other factors such as enrollment and future job opportunities, and then the IBHE decides whether the program is worth keeping. It’s a lot more complex, but I think that’s exactly it in a nutshell.

The outcome of PQP is that a bunch of graduate level programs are going to wind up being cut. Let’s clear up one thing right away—no programs, including the College of Law, have been cut yet. The IBHE has merely recommended that the programs, including the law school, be eliminated. The real fight will take place during the next month or so.

But how does a bunch of graduate programs being cut, affect you, the undergraduate? Well, the prestige of a university is based on its academic reputation (no, not the sports programs as some of you may have thought). Academic reputation is based largely on the comprehensiveness of the school, including the number and quality of graduate programs and the quality of faculty.

If graduate programs are eliminated, there is a chance many top faculty will leave NIU. Thus, the academic reputation will sink to even lower levels than it has already. This will hurt the in-class learning experience you receive. In other words, this means your degree will have less value in the business world.

That my friends, is how all of this PQP hullabaloo will affect you at NIU.

And to think, the value of the diploma you will receive from this university (in the five or six years it takes to graduate) will be devalued for the most part by a bunch of political hacks who really have no clue as to how delivery of education at a state university works. Because let’s face it, who else other than affluent, aspiring political types with connections can afford to take the time off of work to serve on the IBHE for free?