University Submits Program Action Plan to MDHE
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Oct. 29, 2010) – In working with the state to create an educational environment that meets tomorrow’s needs, the University of Central Missouri today submitted a report to the Missouri Department of Higher Education outlining steps it will take regarding “low-productivity” programs. The report identifies 10 undergraduate programs and one graduate degree that have been terminated or will be eliminated due to a small number of graduates.
In recent months, the university has been examining opportunities to better position itself for program strength and quality, particularly as Missouri faces expected budget shortfalls that will result in millions of dollars less for public colleges and universities. In looking for efficiency opportunities, MDHE launched a statewide review of programs at the request of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, and on Oct. 14 submitted to institutions a list of low-productivity programs. Institutions were requested to respond by today with actions to be taken regarding those programs, and a draft report will be submitted to CBHE by Dec. 2. By CBHE’s definition, “low-productivity” refers to baccalaureate degree 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.
George Wilson, UCM’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the report to MDHE identifies specific majors within an academic discipline, and “just because a particular program is being eliminated, doesn’t mean we are eliminating a whole department and other programs within that department.” He indicated programs identified for termination will be phased out over a three-year period. Students currently enrolled will have the opportunity to finish their degrees, but no students will be admitted in the future.
Specific undergraduate majors affected are speech communication, liberal studies, general recreation, Earth science, geography, journalism, agricultural technology, industrial technology, French and tourism, in addition to an Education
Specialist degree in curriculum and instruction.
“We will continue to offer courses in these areas. We just won’t have a major program,” Wilson said, adding that plans are being made by deans and department chairs to address all aspects of the review on faculty, staff and students.
He noted that meeting the short response time for program review included discussion between the provost and deans; participation by Gordon Lamb, a longtime higher education leader who serves as a consultant for UCM; as well as input from faculty and department chairs. In addition to using MDHE’s single criterion, based on numbers of program graduates, the following criteria was also considered in the university’s response:
- centrality of the program to the institutional mission and state needs;
- number of low-enrollment courses unique to the major;
- general education and service-course responsibilities of the program;
- potential for program collaboration with other state universities; and
- potential for cost savings from program elimination.
UCM President Charles Ambrose said the institution will continue to extend its review process to all of the university’s academic programs, which “will help guide the university’s future strategic direction by grouping programs into various categories.” This includes the identification of “signature” programs, which are strategic priorities for the future; “enhancement” or robust programs in need of additional resources; “maintenance and supported” programs for which continuous improvement and plans for advancement will be developed; and “reduction and elimination” programs to allow resources to be reallocated to strengthen or enhance existing quality and performance.
“This element of the plan is meant to directly strengthen the university’s direct strategic value to students and regional/national needs while at the same time seeking administrative efficiencies that either save or create additional resources to be allocated,” Ambrose said in a letter to the campus community.
Measures taken by the university are consistent with efforts to develop a new model for strategic resource allocation that will help the institution respond to the anticipated loss of state appropriations within the 2012 budget. According to Ambrose, the academic program review, extended institutional review of program viability, and changes in the academic administration structure will all be considered for the model to be developed in November. A preliminary review of the academic program and all recommendations for any changes to the college, school, or departmental structure also will be disseminated to the campus the same month, and there will be an opportunity for campus comment and suggestions before a final the plan for dealing with budget financial resource issues is submitted to the Board of Governors in February.