CAA discusses program review methodology

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

The Council on Academic Affairs discussed how it would start looking at programs being considered for elimination and reorganization at their meeting Thursday.

The four programs being considered are the bachelor’s degrees in philosophy, adult and community education, Africana studies and career and technical development.

Of these, the philosophy program is the only one whose possible elimination could involve the laying off of Unit A, or tenured, faculty.

Philosophy professor Gary Aylesworth said the council should be looking at curricular issues that have not been addressed so far regarding the four programs.

“That discussion really hadn’t even started yet. I think it’s important that we now begin,” he said.

Aylesworth said there are different ways to look at a program, such as what it is about, how it is structured and the role it plays as a program.

He said eliminating a program would most likely not just affect the program eliminated but could possibly affect other programs as well.

Rebecca Throneburg, a communication disorders and sciences professor, said the CAA would need to see the kinds of questions it would want to ask the departments and the data that needs to be gathered.

“I would think if they’re eliminating programs, are they eliminating courses as well?” she asked. “I would assume, so I would think we need to address all four programs, not just one.”

In response to a question on how many universities are going without a philosophy program, Aylesworth said it is “under attack everywhere, not just (at Eastern).”

During its 2016-2017 academic year, Western Illinois University eliminated its philosophy major.

The Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review Committee, Faculty Senate, Council on Teacher Education and graduate school are looking at and making recommendations on the programs being considered for deletion or consolidation.

Though only the Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review Committee is under contractual obligation to have their recommendations in by March 15, President David Glassman wants all groups to have their suggestions submitted by this date.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Blair Lord said he would try to be a resource if the council needed something, but ultimately, this needs to be the CAA’s conversation.

Jake Emmett, a kinesiology and sports studies professor and member of the Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review Committee, said the committee was instructed that its sole responsibility is to review programs up for elimination if its deletion could potentially lead to a reduction in Unit A faculty members.

However, Emmett said Lord suggested the committee look at the other programs as well.

“If we wanted to do that, would we be stepping on your toes…or would it be helpful?” he asked. “We’re not sure if we’re gonna look at other programs or not, but before making a decision, we wanted to check with this committee to see how it would be viewed if we were to do that.”

The CAA did not object to the Academic Program Elimination/Reorganization Review Committee possibly looking at these programs.

CAA Chair Stacey Ruholl said the CAA has not heard from any of the other groups.

The CAA set aside a time during their meeting to brainstorm ideas on other information it wants, what questions it should ask and if they want to set up a subcommittee.

It will discuss the programs considered for elimination or reorganization at 2 p.m. and then will discuss the other items on its agenda at 3 p.m.

The CAA also voted to approve a revision to a technology-delivered policy to allow executive action requests for designating online courses.

Psychology professor Jeff Stowell said there has been growth in online programs.

“As a whole, we are hoping to reduce some of the hurdles that programs who desire to transition to an online delivery format have to overcome,” he said.

He said this is something where the CAA could consider making a change in its policy.

“With over 450 online courses approved for delivery at Eastern, I think we’ve come to the point where we can hopefully can trust departments, of which almost every department on campus now is teaching online courses, that we can trust the other existing processes to help us maintain the quality and rigor of the courses,” he said.

A request to make the University Honors admissions criteria more holistic, with a dean’s choice admission, was approved as well.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]