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Originally published: 2013-12-10 18:09:28
Last modified: 2013-12-10 18:13:31

ASU program prioritization report presented to Peacock

by Anna Oakes

A decision on the possible consolidation and elimination of selected Appalachian State University programs is currently in the hands of Chancellor Ken Peacock.


Provost Lori Gonzalez said the chancellor on Nov. 25 received a draft report with recommendations from the university's academic leaders developed as part of the program prioritization process, which began in December 2011.


"Once he makes final decisions, we will release the report," Gonzalez said.


In November, the provost's office released composite rankings listing the undergraduate and graduate programs the university's seven deans deemed "most core" and "least core" for the university. Deans considered such program factors as low productivity (low enrollment numbers), graduation rates, uniqueness in the University of North Carolina system and other quantitative and qualitative measures.


ASU administrators have said programs identified as part of the prioritization process could be enhanced, consolidated with other programs or eliminated.


Speaking to the ASU board of trustees in June, University of North Carolina system President Tom Ross said universities were being asked to focus on programs they do well and that are needed and to reduce redundancies across the 17-campus system.


Peacock told trustees in June that UNC system leaders had advised campuses to "get serious" about program prioritization, paraphrasing, "If you don't do it, somebody's going to do it for you, and we don't want that to happen."


But ASU Faculty Senate chairman Andy Koch on Monday said recent comments by Ross indicated the UNC system would not force campuses to shut down programs. Koch said he asked Ross at a recent UNC Faculty Assembly meeting if campuses were expected to meet specific quotas or guidelines with respect to numbers of programs to be cut or dollars to be saved.


"He said he was leaving it up to the campuses," Koch said at Monday's ASU Faculty Senate meeting. "He made it very clear that (UNC) General Administration has not told a campus to shut down a program (and) would not reach down into a campus to shut down a program."


Joni Worthington, UNC system spokeswoman, clarified Tuesday that program prioritization decisions may be implemented by campuses as part of the instructional and operational efficiencies required by the UNC 2013-2018 strategic plan. The plan directed ASU to identify $892,497 in instructional budget reductions.

"The point President Ross was making was that exactly how and where those cuts are made (within academic budgets) is largely a campus decision, but he also noted that many campuses have begun by focusing on low-productivity degree programs," Worthington said.

A timeline published on an ASU program prioritization website indicates the final report will be approved by the chancellor, presented to the ASU board of trustees and submitted to UNC General Administration sometime between Dec. 1, 2013, and March 31, 2014. The report will be submitted to the ASU Academic Policies and Procedures Committee early next year.


For more information about the process, visit http://www.irap.appstate.edu/program-prioritization.