IBHE releases PQP hit list

By Brian Slupski

The Illinois Board of Higher Education upped the ante Monday, releasing a list of programs that it would like to see folded.

NIU had 15 programs out of the 190 programs on the hit list. The list is part of the IBHE’s Priority, Quality and Productivity (PQP) initiative, which is designed to streamline public higher education by eliminating and restructuring program offerings.

The College of Law and doctoral programs in psychology, geology and economics, as well as master’s programs in journalism and business education, were suggested for elimination by the IBHE.

NIU President John La Tourette said NIU agrees with about two-thirds of the list. However, he said there are four programs on the IBHE list which NIU doesn’t agree with—the College of Law and doctoral programs in economics, psychology and geology.

NIU and all other state universities must submit a list of their own recommendations to the IBHE by Oct. 1.

Acting Provost J. Carroll Moody said some of the information used to evaluate these programs was outdated, and that some relevant data was overlooked by the IBHE.

Moody said programs which have been judged with dated or inaccurate information will be defended.

“The total aim of this process is not on reallocation but on the elimination of programs,” Moody said. The IBHE has stated previously that the goal of PQP is streamlining, not necessarily program elimination.

“The elimination of three Ph.D. programs could mean a major change in our mission, it could mean a lessening of our graduate and research mission,” Moody said.

La Tourette said, “A real problem with most of the IBHE’s analysis is that they think many students are mobile when they are not. This process will eliminate opportunities for many students.”

La Tourette said big savings will not result from the process, but there are three areas which will generate big savings for NIU.

He said big savings should result from three areas—athletics, faculty workload and departmental administration.

IBHE Deputy Director Ross Hodel said he agreed that there might not be much dollar savings. However, Hodel said the process is designed to improve education and the spending of present resources.

He said with fewer graduate programs there can be an “investment in time” in undergraduate education. The quality of undergraduate education will improve and the cuts will result in more classes being available as professors teach more undergraduate courses, he said.

Hodel said this could shorten the time it takes students to graduate.

Hodel said undergraduate education is a higher priority under NIU’s mission than is graduate education.

The IBHE staff and individual universities will discuss differences in their recommendations. The staff then will make recommendations to the board at its Oct. 6 meeting.