MDHE Asks Institutions for Input on ‘Low Productivity’ Programs
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Oct. 15, 2010) – In an effort to assist the state in reshaping higher education in light of anticipated funding reductions, the Missouri Department of Higher Education has identified “Low Productivity” programs throughout Missouri’s public colleges and universities. Yesterday, the University of Central Missouri received a list of such programs for review and response. The report provided by MDHE includes information about 16 baccalaureate, five master’s, and one education specialist degree, as well as one professional certificate area. Currently, there is no requirement that any program on the list be eliminated.
Although many colleges and universities, including UCM, had already launched an internal review process of all academic programs in preparation for fiscal challenges, Missouri’s Coordinating Board for Higher Education mandated the “Low Productivity” program review through MDHE. By CBHE’s definition, “Low Productivity” applies to baccalaureate programs that have had an average of 10 or fewer graduates per year during the last three years and master’s degree programs that have had an average of five or fewer graduates per year during the last three years. MDHE implemented the review at the recommendation of the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education, which is projecting a possible state budget shortfall that could result in a 15 to 20 percent decline in appropriations for higher education institutions.
The review process calls for public colleges and universities to submit a report to MDHE by Oct.29 regarding any actions they plan to take regarding these programs that have low graduation rates; although UCM will continue its internal review of all programs past that date.
“We are reviewing program areas in accordance with the request from MDHE,” said George Wilson, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Just because a program is listed as ‘Low Productivity,’ that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be eliminated. It also doesn’t mean that programs that aren’t included will not be affected. As an institution we have to make decisions about all academic programs and determine which ones are critical to our mission.” He pointed out the listing is based on discipline categories rather than actual program major titles. In some cases, the university may have a program major that yields few graduates within a strong cluster of other majors that have high numbers of graduates.
The provost and deans, in cooperation with Gordon Lamb, former Missouri higher education leader and consultant for UCM, are in the process of reviewing all of the university’s academic programs. Each dean will work with department chairs and faculty members to provide program information and prepare responses for MDHE. Wilson said the university’s intention is to improve its mission focus.
Beyond its next response to the state, Wilson said UCM will continue to work to:
- identify, strengthen and promote signature academic programs;
- develop plans to enhance the productivity and viability of mission-essential programs; and
- identify programs for elimination.
Throughout November, MDHE will analyze findings and consult with institutions about proposed actions on low-performing and duplicate programs, with a goal to submit a preliminary findings report with recommendations to CBHE by Dec. 2.