Academic programs under review at MU have two months to justify their existence.
Six departments that include programs targeted for review will be required to submit a detailed report of their operations, which will be evaluated according to four criteria developed by a subcommittee of MU’s Strategic Planning and Resource Advisory Council.
The reports — addressing costs and revenue, program quality, centrality to MU’s mission and need — must be turned in by Jan. 15.
The audit targets two MU departments in their entirety and six degree programs, but the panels created by MU will review entire departments regardless, Lori Franz, MU vice provost for undergraduate studies, said at a Thursday briefing of MU’s Faculty Council.
“It’s harder to evaluate a program within a department,” Franz said.
MU’s chancellor will base final decisions on reports from the review panels. The chancellor could decide that the programs should be left alone or that they should be enhanced, eliminated, consolidated or reduced.
Programs subject to the reviews were selected by a UM system task force because they generate a low number of credit hours or graduated fewer than 10 students last year. Franz said the MU reviews will be completed in the spring.
MU programs under review are master’s and doctoral degrees in art history and archaeology, bachelor’s degrees in physics and astronomy, doctoral degrees in theater, and master’s and doctoral degrees in exercise physiology. The two departments being audited for viability are entomology and industrial engineering.
Franz said the strategic planning subcommittee is finishing a process that will allow for ongoing evaluation of all MU programs. Steve Lehmkuhle, UM System vice president for academic affairs, said reviews should be done regularly and not only during a budget crisis.
Lehmkuhle said that if programs are selected for elimination, the process of closing them would last about five years, during which admissions would be suspended and students already enrolled would be allowed to complete their degrees. Efforts would also be made to place faculty in other units or with other campuses in the system.
The program viability audit is a system-wide effort by UM to make the best use of its resources. The system’s four campuses are reviewing a total of 48 programs.