Suggested cut under question

By Brian Slupski

NIU’s doctoral program in special education could be cut under an Illinois Board of Higher Education initiative.

The initiative, Priorities, Quality and Productivity (PQP), is designed to streamline public higher education through the elimination of academic programs. Under the initiative, the IBHE has recommended cutting 15 programs at NIU, including the doctoral program in special education.

Assistant Provost Lynne Waldeland said the program was recommended for elimination by the IBHE because it is the smallest of the five doctoral programs offered in special education at public universities.

Susan Vogel, chair of the educational psychology, counseling and special education department said she does not think PQP has judged programs fairly.

She said that when the doctoral program was created, its enrollment was limited by a “ceiling” established by the IBHE.

Under the ceiling, the program couldn’t admit more than five students per year.

Waldeland said, “The IBHE is overlooking qualitative data in making these recommendations. They are emphasizing quantitative data like enrollment.”

Vogel said the program is of high quality and that the IBHE ignored this in making its recommendation. She said the faculty of the program were ranked seventh at NIU in terms of attaining research grants.

Vogel added that in 1986 the department ranked number one in research publication when compared to other doctoral programs.

Waldeland said the IBHE seems to be looking at the number of programs in the state and student demand. She said cuts seem to be recommended in areas which have several programs at various state universities and modest-to-low student demand.

Waldeland said that when the program was created, it was tied to the Illinois State University at Normal program.

She said the programs always were reviewed and treated as one in reports by the IBHE.