A state-mandated law that could call for program consolidations and cuts has some faculty and staff members worried about what it could mean for their programs.
The open forum held Thursday at Morris Library was to review recommendations made by the Program Changes Review Committee in charge of developing a process and set of metrics used to evaluate low-performing programs at SIUC.
Programs that don’t meet the standards under three categories — enrollment numbers, graduation rates and cost — could possibly be consolidated or eliminated.
The program’s director of department chair can then submit a plan of improvement to the Associate Provost for Academic Programs. The APAP, provost and the review committee then can determine whether the program could be rehabilitated, and if not, other options would be considered.
Scott McClurg, chair of the political science department, said at the forum he’s worried about the competition it could cause between programs.
“There’s no sense that I should help sociology or economics that are smaller than (political science),” he said. “Quite the opposite. The incentive is to say, ‘We’re going to close you guys down anyway. Why don’t you be a political science major?”
McClurg said he doesn’t think that’s the goal anyone, including the state legislature, would want.
Allan Karnes, associate dean and professor of accountancy and co-chair of the academic program review committee, said he wants it to be clear that the document is only a first draft and input from faculty is vital for the process to be successful.
The mandate also recommends colleges have students graduate with no more than 120 credit hours whenever possible. Peter Chametzky, director for the School of Art and Design, said some programs such as education and engineering could have a hard time lowering their requirements to 120 hours.
Laura Harrawood, adjunct professor of educational psychology, said the state dictates what must be offered in order for students to get teacher certification.
“How can a one-size-fits-all prepare a teacher to adequately teach our children to meet all of the standards that are imposed upon us? (It) is something we need to consider,” she said.
Todd Winters, associate dean of College of Agricultural Sciences and co-chair of the committee, said the 120-credit hour standard does not apply to programs that require accreditation.
Harrawood asked if a program gets flagged whether it must write a report every year after. Winters said no.
Jeanine Wagner, director of the School of Music, said there is a program co-owned between the School of Music and the theater department, and those pursuing a bachelor’s of fine arts in musical theater are not counted because the system has not been figured out. Winters said the recommendations are directed toward programs and not departments, so he dismissed her question.
Winter said he understands no one likes change.
“If you put two majors together, there probably will be problems at the beginning,” he said. “Over time, it can work out if the people involved are willing to work it out.”