MU audit suggests changing 3 programs

A curators’ audit combines degree programs and creates new emphasis areas.
Thursday, July 22, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:38 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

Six MU programs under the magnifying glass for possible alteration or elimination know their likely fates. Changes will be recommended for three programs; the recommendation for the others will be they stay the same.

Provost Brady Deaton will present the recommendations Friday to the UM Board of Curators. According to a statement on the MU News Bureau Web site, the recommendations are:

  • To leave alone graduate programs in art history and archaeology, an undergraduate program in physics and astronomy and a doctoral program in theater.
  • To merge graduate programs in entomology with other departments in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
  • To form a “strategic alliance” between the department of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering (the area under review) and the College of Business.
  • To make the graduate degree programs in exercise physiology an emphasis area in the nutritional sciences unit in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

Audits were conducted at all four of the UM campuses. “Each campus will be giving a presentation of their results at the board meeting on Friday,” said UM spokesman Joe Moore.

He said the audits are not a one-time event, and each campus will continue to evaluate its programs to make sure they are as effective as possible.

“I really can’t stress enough that this is not a cost-cutting measure,” Moore said. “This is a process undertaken by the campuses to examine their programs and ensure that they are as up to date as possible and continuing to serve vital needs for the state. This is using existing resources to operate as efficiently as possible.”

Lori Franz, MU vice provost for undergraduate studies, said the financial impact was indirect.

“We will be considering some ways to merge and/or modify programs that may lead to more exciting interdisciplinary opportunities for students and faculty,” Franz said. “To the degree that we are successful, we may recruit more students to the area and use our existing capacity more effectively in a way that does have financial impact.”

MU spokesman Christian Basi said the campus’ Program Viability Audit Committee completed the audit according to criteria and a process developed by the system’s Program Evaluation Subcommittee.

“This program (review) ... was not designed to close programs, per se. It was designed to take those actions that are appropriate to manage our degree program inventory,” said Steve Lehmkuhle, UM vice president for academic affairs,”so we can move resources and direct resources to those programs which are of high demand and high priority.”

Lehmkuhle said reaction to the review has been favorable.

“It’s been a process designed by the faculty,” he said. “It was a very deliberate, disciplined exercise, and I think the decisions made were good decisions.”

MU’s program review was conducted over the past academic year.

Franz said all programs involved were cooperative, despite some frustration.

“There was some frustration about the numbers/data that led to the identification of the programs targeted for review,” she said. “Some of the data did not accurately reflect the department resource base because of faculty members with nonteaching appointments or other factors.”

Cheryl Black, director of the theater department’s graduate studies and an assistant professor of acting and theater, said the experience has been positive.

“We were, I suppose, guardedly optimistic,” she said. “We certainly felt like we had a strong program, and one we knew could demonstrate viability, importance and progress.”

Tom R. Thomas, professor of nutritional sciences, said the recommendation to make exercise physiology an emphasis did not come as a surprise.

“It’s basically what we’ve been working toward, anyway,” he said. “We have a long-range master plan, and that’s part of the plan. We’re moving toward moving the graduate exercise physiology under a nutritional sciences degree.”

Black said she thinks her department has benefited from the audit.

“It gave us a chance to collect information and look critically — in a positive sense, of course — and deeply at what we’re doing and our plans,” she said. “We’re always interested in improving and progressing. I think if anything that’s the ultimate upshot, helping us along with our plans for the future.”

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