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Originally published: 2013-10-18 11:39:57
Last modified: 2013-10-18 11:40:42

ASU faculty want input in program evaluation

by Anna Oakes

The Faculty Senate passed a resolution Monday seeking the opportunity for faculty to provide input in the ongoing program prioritization process.

Deans at Appalachian State University were scheduled this week to discuss academic program evaluation process, which has caused anxiety among faculty across campus.

The University of North Carolina system has directed campuses to prioritize their programs in ongoing efforts to operate more efficiently. ASU Provost Lori Gonzalez has said the evaluation will determine which programs can be consolidated or eliminated, but also programs that can be enhanced.

Last month, Gonzalez said the deans of ASU's colleges were asked to rank their academic programs by Oct. 15, and she told the Faculty Senate that she would meet with the deans on Wednesday.

Gonzalez said the next step in the process would likely be asking the deans to identify programs they would put in the top quartile and the bottom quartile of academic programs at ASU, working from the rankings developed by each individual dean and using other performance criteria.

"I ... recognize that this is the worst type of conversation to have to have on a campus," Gonzalez said.

Faculty senators asked the provost when the deans' rankings and recommendations would be made public. Gonzalez said her office would present a final report to Chancellor Ken Peacock in November and that the report would be presented to the ASU Board of Trustees in December -- but that the board is not required or expected to approve the recommendations.

"The whole process should conclude by the end of the calendar year," Gonzalez said. "In other campuses, (the report) wasn't made available until the chancellor made the announcement about the programs."

Faculty Senate Chairman Andy Koch asked if ASU leaders had been asked to cut a specific number of percentage of programs, and Gonzalez said no. When asked by Senator Greg Reck if faculty would have an opportunity to respond to the recommendations, Gonzalez said that would be up to the chancellor.

Reck called the process "an attack on the principle of faculty governance" and introduced a resolution calling for any changes to departments or departmental programs to be carried out in consultation with the departments involved. The resolution cited Faculty Handbook language stating that the "basic and most important unit in determining curricula is the academic department."

The resolution, which was approved by the Senate, also stated that it is the position of the Faculty Senate that any changes to programs or departments must be submitted for approval to ASU's Academic Policies and Procedures Committee according to rules outlined in the Faculty Handbook.