Defining the fundamental elements of the Missouri coordinating board's review mandate

Questions and answers about the coordinating board and its review mandate
Monday, October 4, 2010 | 5:25 p.m. CDT; updated 10:12 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 16, 2011

COLUMBIA — As reports of a comprehensive, statewide review of higher education programs surface, some basic questions arise that demand some answers.

What is an academic program?

MU defines academic programs as "the academic organization to which a student applies, is admitted, and ultimately graduates. These will, in most cases, correspond to schools and colleges." Examples would include journalism, agricultural economics, education policy, pharmocology and exercise physiology.

How many total academic programs does MU have?

MU has 96 undergraduate and 199 graduate programs.

What is the Coordinating Board for Higher Education?

Members of the coordinating board, which was authorized in 1972 by an amendment to the Missouri Constitution, are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. The board's responsibilities include designing and establishing a unified budget and coordinated plan for higher education for the state.

Who is on the board?

The board names the commissioner of higher education. The interim commissioner is David Russell.

What is the coordinating board's power?

Section 173.030(2) of the Missouri statutes gives the board responsibility for recommending to governing boards of any institutions in the state the development, consolidation or elimination of programs, physical facilities or policy changes where that action is deemed in the best interests of the institution and/or the general requirements of the state.

What are the criteria being used to determine whether an academic program is "low-producing?"

Those criteria are still being developed, higher education department spokeswoman Kathy Love said. But preliminary lists were based solely on numbers of graduating students over the past six years. Programs for that list were considered low producers if they failed to produce a three-year average of 10 graduates per year at the baccalaureate level, five majors per year at the master’s degree level and three majors per year at the doctoral degree level.

What are MU’s options?

MU, at this point, is charged with indicating which of five options it will choose for each of the programs deemed to be low producers. It must declare one of the following five:

  • That the program has or will be voluntarily terminated.
  • That the statistics are incorrect in the data provided and program does actually meet criteria for productivity.
  • That the program is new, having been approved within the past three years, and is exempt.
  • That the program is critical to the institution's mission and will be retained.
  • That the program contains courses that support other programs offered by the institution.

MU and other institutions also have a sixth option called "other," in which they can indicate their plans to increase completion rates, argue that the program produces sufficient revenue, describe its potential as a collaborative program, call for a more detailed program review, put the program on inactive status or advocate for retention because master's and doctoral programs are in the same discipline.

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