Prioritizing Departments Begins

Rian Fantozzi, Editor-in-Chief

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The number of departments and programs at Juniata may be changing as a result of a Program Prioritization Committee that will be formed this year.

This year, all academic departments are going to be evaluated by a faculty Program Prioritization Committee. The Program Prioritization Committee will evaluate how Juniata’s academic programs have, or haven’t changed as a result of shifting demographics on campus.

The committee will create a report on the academic departments and send it to the president to determine the budget each gets. Departments are already evaluated every eight years by the Department and Program Committee. The time between these evaluations is too great for strategic change. Provost Bowen, a member of the committee, views this committee as “comparing apples to apples in real time.”

This all comes at the heel of the cutting of staff and instructors this summer. When asked if the College was now on firm financial footing, Bowen told the Juniatian, “We are still looking at operating budgets and if there are ways we can be more efficient in how we use resources.”

The focus of prioritization isn’t on cutting resources as much as it is on realignment of existing ones. The prioritization is to see if the current departments and number of courses offered by Juniata is in line with student interest and market demand. Bowen said, “Whether twenty departments is the right number, I think is on the table.” Bowen went on to say that there may be new programs that “we want to grow and invest in.” “There are really three broad categories we are going to look at with program prioritization: cost, revenue and quality,” Provost Bowen explained. The cost and revenue portions looked at by the eventual committee are just what they sound like, while quality is a little more nuanced. Quality could relate to whether the department was central to mission of a liberal arts college, or to student outcomes post-graduation from earning fellowships, grad school placement, or employment.

There currently isn’t a scale made for how the committee will measure student outcomes; Bowen says this will be the subject of a faculty debate, something Bowen says “we do best”.

The weight attributed to each of the qualities will be determined by the committee, however this weight will not be changed from department to department to provide a true picture of the state of our departments and programs.

The committee will vet the data through the fall into the early winter. This entails confirming the data are accurate and confirming its validity with department chairs. The internal prioritization process will occur in the spring and by the end of the academic year a report will be given to the President of the College.

 

 

BEHIND THE STORY

  1. Why did we report on this?
    • Our academic departments are the DNA of Juniata College. Like any organism we should evolve, but how we evolve matters a lot. Talking about administrative processes that directly impact the lives of students is an essential part of a public forum.
  2. How did we get the information to report on this?
    • Rian interviewed the Provost, tipped off to the story from Professor Pelkey.
  3. How can the reader get more information on the topic covered?
    • Readers may get in contact with Rian (fantorx16@juniata.edu) with any further questions for Provost Bowen about this article.
  4. Did we miss something?
    • Let us know! Contact Rian (fantorx16@juniata.edu) with any further questions, comments, or concerns about this article, or to suggest further articles about this topic.