NIU submits solutions to IBHE

By Brian Slupski

Eliminating several programs and combining departments are among NIU’s solutions to the statewide mandate on productivity at public universities.

The report is part of the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative, which is designed to sharpen the focus of public higher education by eliminating academic programs it feels are subpar.

The IBHE, which is the highest-ranking governing board of all state universities, required all state universities to submit a list of ways to streamline by Oct. 1. NIU’s report was completed Monday night and sent to the IBHE headquarters in Springfield.

The NIU report states two programs will be phased out—the master’s program in library and information studies and the educational doctorate program in business education.

Several programs are listed as being “under consideration.” Acting Provost J. Carroll Moody said these programs will be given special consideration.

“These programs have been identified, and we will look at them carefully. Some will be eliminated or consolidated in the October 1993 report to the IBHE,” Moody said.

The programs in this category include bachelor’s degrees in education in technology, home economics education and the emphasis in manufacturing technology.

Graduate programs under consideration include some individual master’s programs in music, master’s program in outdoor teacher education and master’s programs in business education.

One stated goal of the PQP initiative is for universities to stop doing things they don’t do well and eliminate programs which are a low priority.

Moody said just because programs are listed in the report, it does not mean they are poor.

Moody said NIU looked at the programs in a number of quantitative ways such as program cost, student demand and student enrollment.

Two consolidation suggestions are made in the report as well. The first would combine the departments of communication studies and journalism. The report states that this consolidation would result in the elimination of the master’s program in journalism.

The second consolidation would combine the departments of geography and geology.

The NIU list also suggests internal reallocation and an enrollment reduction to streamline the university.

The NIU report is markedly different from the IBHE’s list of recommendations which came out Monday. The IBHE recommended cutting 15 graduate level programs including the College of Law.

Moody also addressed the IBHE assertion that the elimination of graduate programs would free up faculty and improve undergraduate education.

“We don’t have free-standing graduate faculty. Most of our faculty teach a mixture of courses,” Moody said.

Moody said the assumption that NIU faculty either teach graduate or undergraduate courses only is wrong.

He said in some instances professors teaching doctoral courses may also teach a general education course.