Thursday, January 12, 2012

Report on Program Changes

The Provost's committee on program changes has completed the final draft of its report (posted after the break), which is now making its way through the Faculty Senate and other venues for comment.

I'm not going to comment on this report at length right now, as I haven't had time to think it through. The committee was formed in part because the state is mandating that universities report on "low performing programs," meaning that those with low enrollment (<25 UG majors), few graduates (<6 per annum), or high cost (compared to peers). This process is also intended to help SIUC become more efficient. As the plan SIUC settles on could eventually result in multiple mergers, elimination of programs, etc., this is obviously an important matter, and I thought it appropriate to share this draft report as widely as possible to maximize faculty input and transparency.

An obvious problem with the process here, to my mind, is the idiocy of defining all and any small programs as "low performing". If we take that literally it will--to allude to my own department's plight--be hard to offer any language major other than Spanish. But that's not this committee's fault: it's the state's definition. And this report does suggest other ways to justify the existence of a given program, perhaps even a small one.

I am on the Faculty Senate committee that will be commenting on this report and will be happy to learn from comments made here. 

PRC Report


  1. I agree with Patrick. There is a lot of food for thought with this document this morning. I also share Dave's concerns about foreign languages being eviscerated (even more so than they have been), but coming from a different angle. We in history routinely have to advise our masters and doctoral students to do their mandatory language training elsewhere because the university does not offer the languages. (To earn my Ph.D., I had to obtain reading proficiency in two foreign languages - this is commonplace in my discipline and others in the liberal arts).

    So, I wonder what kind of metric will be used in such a case like this, where clearly your department serves a wider constituency than simply majors or minors? I also wonder about the integrity of our claim to be a top-tier research university when we do not support foreign languages to the degree that other "R1" universities do. It was appalling what the previous dean of CoLA was trying to do to foreign language offerings!

  2. "the idiocy of defining all and any small programs as 'low performing"

    Well, people who speak another language are underrepresented in America, right? And "underrepresented groups" - even "low performing" ones -- get a "get out of closure free" card, according to the report. So define the multilingual as minority and you are OK. ; - )


I will review and post comments as quickly as I can. Comments that are substantive and not vicious will be posted promptly, including critical ones. "Substantive" here means that your comment needs to be more than a simple expression of approval or disapproval. "Vicious" refers to personal attacks, vile rhetoric, and anything else I end up deeming too nasty to post.