A task force looking at the status and success of MU academic programs took final questions Friday from faculty.
The Academic Programs Task Force will turn in a report Jan. 15 to Provost Garnett Stokes recommending which programs could receive more funding or be consolidated or terminated.
The task force has been evaluating programs based on discussions with deans, graduation and enrollment rates, how much grant money the programs get, how much the programs cost to run and other factors.
About 25 faculty members turned out at the Memorial Student Union to question the task force members.
Several expressed concern about the status of interdisciplinary studies, which lack full administrative and other support. The fear is that such studies would be deemed unnecessary or that they wouldn’t be evaluated comprehensively. If certain programs were to be eliminated, it could impact several interdisciplinary students.
Matthew Martens, co-chairman of the task force, said he has heard similar concerns. The task force was attempting to figure out how to frame their recommendations in a way that would take a program’s potential status for elimination into consideration, he said.
Committee member Bill Wiebold also assured faculty that the task force has been researching which departments work closely together in an interdisciplinary way or rely on other programs in some way.
Martens said repeatedly that the purpose of the evaluation was to provide data and recommendations. Official decisions regarding budget allocation and program eliminations will be made by the provost and other high-level administrators next year.
One goal of the task force is to figure out which departments are struggling or may face difficulties. Even if a program is recommended for termination, Martens said, an intensive process would be undertaken by administration to determine whether that is truly the best option.
The task force also discussed any negative data with the appropriate deans and were able to determine what the program in question was doing to address the issue, some members said.
Wiebold and task force member Stephanie Shonekan emphasized the reason behind forming the task force was to have real people involved in the data analysis.
“We are mindful that the data is not the full story,” Shonekan said.
Shonekan also reminded the attendees that the goal of committee members was not to the ruin careers or departments.
“We’re not just a group of consultants from out of town,” she said. “We’re faculty.”
The task force plans to meet with a board of retired MU faculty members next week for extra insight before finalizing the report.