Minutes of March 7, 2005
3 p.m., Holmes Student Center – HSC 505

Present: Bose, Cassidy, House, Legg, Payvar, Reynolds, Russo, Thompson, Waas, Weilbaker (for Schoenbachler) Williams, Wright (for Munroe)

Guests: Donna Askins, Research Associate, Office of the Provost

Legg called the meeting to order at 3:10 p.m. It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes of November 29, 2004, and the motion passed unanimously.

Legg stated that during the spring semester the council takes up matters related to the broader issues of academic planning. One aspect of those activities is to review the APC responsibilities. Cassidy referred the group to the results of the 2004 evaluations of committee responsibilities in the APC notebook. These results showed that a significant portion of members disagreed that we had met the responsibility of periodically updating the academic mission statement; however two years ago the APC did update the mission statement in preparation for the Higher Learning Commission site visit. This is not an activity that the council would engage in annually.

The second area of concern was related to updating plans and strategies to fulfill the university’s academic mission. There are different ways that this statement could be interpreted. In the program review process we ask about plans. Askins stated that maybe there is not a connection when taking the surveys with what occurs in the program review process. Williams added that changing the word “update” to “assess” might make a better connection. Thompson said that “update” gives more power and “assess” implies reaction. There is some confusion about what happens after the program review process and what has made a change in terms of university policy. Part of this might be advertising changes that have taken place due to the APC discussions about the programs. Cassidy replied that the follow-up reports help members see what has occurred, but the follow-up reports are not always discussed by the APC when the original members who called for the reports still serve on the council. This information could also be seen in the program review summaries from the last review. The program review includes plans for the future and university recommendations, and it is sometimes hard to say what lead to a specific change. Thompson added that as a council she would like to think that we do more than “assess.” Cassidy asked if there was a suggestion for a change in wording. Thompson replied that the council should be informed of what changes come about after the program review process. There should be a mechanism that will not be onerous that helps the council members know what the impact of APC program review discussions are. Cassidy noted that there is a report submitted to the University Council. Thompson said this information needs to be more in terms of program review. Williams said that the council has not thought at an abstract level about updating plans for the academic mission. Legg said these really are not activities that are prescribed to this council, and it is not in our mission to discuss.

Cassidy stated that at the next meeting we have an agenda item to talk about the program priorities requests that have been submitted, and we will ask for the council’s feedback. Right now this is an exercise because there has not been any money to fund these requests. Legg added that this will probably be the case for several more years.

Bose said that last year there was some discussion of the global view of the here and now and where we are going. In the spring we could talk about the academic mission, and this might address the negative comment about the lack of participation of this body beyond the program review process to update academic policy. Cassidy added that in the fall the APC is always heavily involved in the program review process, but we do have the whole spring semester to talk about broader issues.

Legg said that diversity of the faculty has been a high priority and another high priority that he is working on is the need for tenure and tenure-track faculty. There is an internal plan, and a commitment from President Peters to increase faculty. This council might be able to advise the provost on academic priorities and strategies for the achievement of those priorities. We need to do more with the broader issues. Cassidy said that she will add this to the April agenda and asked if there are any other broad areas that should come to this group. Bose suggested that a meeting could be spent on enrollment figures and analyses. This will help show us where the needs are and will give us some tools to make decisions. Information from Institutional Research would be helpful. House said he would also include demographic information on who is coming through the pipeline. Williams added that projected information would also be helpful, and the POL might be able to provide this information. House replied that Institutional Research has this information at both the regional and state levels, and there is also national data available.

Cassidy stated that several people disagreed or strongly disagreed that the council makes recommendations to curriculum committees. Bose added that there is no connection between this council and the Graduate Council. Williams said that this seems to be indirect. Legg stated that the APC does review all graduate programs. Bose said that there is a collaborative effort in getting information to the programs under review, but I am not sure if there should be a connection between these two committees. Cassidy added that the Graduate Council does approve curricular changes which the APC would ultimately see in the program review documents. Williams said that most curriculum committees are not policy making bodies; the committees respond to proposals brought forward to them. We do make suggestions to programs about curriculum. Cassidy asked if this should be eliminated or if it required a wording change. Payvar said that the APC reviews programs from the point of view of consistency and how the programs assess if they have or have not achieved their learning outcomes. Cassidy said that even if a program comes and says that we are thinking about offering this degree, we would never tell them what the curriculum should be. The APC does offer recommendations to programs on future plans. The review of the APC responsibilities will be on the agenda for the next meeting.

Waas asked if there was a mechanism where the APC might make recommendations to a college. For example, on how you deal with using adjunct faculty. Would this fit under recommendations? Cassidy replied that she could see it fitting there. In making our own program review schedule, we tried to put together a schedule that made more sense to this campus. Several colleges review all programs in one academic year, which gives a true perspective on college-wide issues. Williams said we could insert “make recommendations to colleges.” There needs to be a way for us to think about common themes for feedback to deans. I would also add departments to this language. Cassidy added that one example of this is the student-at-large issue. The APC had follow-up discussions on this issue, and we also talked about the need to tract certification students. Thompson said that these statements are turned into our council functions, and will have to be approved by the University Council. We might want to keep the statements general.

Council members had no other suggestions at this time. Cassidy said that the provost’s office would develop a couple of alternatives and bring these items back to the next meeting. Also, since the work of the UAP includes individuals from this council and other curriculum bodies, would it be appropriate to add something about coordinating activities with the UAP that students have achieved learning outcomes. We will bring back a draft of language for this issue as well.

Payvar presented an oral report on the work of the University Assessment Panel (UAP). The UAP has taken preparatory steps for the report to the Higher Learning Commission that is due in July 2007. The central theme that needs to be reported on is assessment and implementation. This past fall the UAP evaluated assessment plans and discussed issues of concern about the quality of on-line programs. Most of the programs have assessment plans, but there are some that do not have plans. In the spring meetings we have talked about requests for funding, a report on the honors program, etc. Thompson added that there are a variety of assessment programs, and one size does not fit all. The UAP has also had reports related to general education and other areas like UNIV101 and the student exit survey. Bose asked if the panel scans how other universities are doing assessment. Thompson replied that the panel gets various brochures and newsletters, and some panel members participate in conferences and bring back information to the other members. Bose noted that MSU has a long list of criteria that is spelled out to every department, and this was a comprehensive tool. I would like to see the panel send this type of list out to all departments. Thompson said that there is a two tiered system. There are assessment activities at the university level, and the second tier is at the department level. I like the diversity of the panel. It may not be appropriate to spell out what everyone should do. Bose said that a department may already be doing assessment but not perceiving it as assessment. Having a list of activities might make this connection for them. Thompson noted that there is a set of sample documents that have been created and a rubric. The UAP has looked at these documents and helped to advertise them. Payvar stated that all schools across the nation are looking at this. It would be good to have a list and choose carefully the ones that are applicable to your program.

Cassidy said that the Statewide Performance Report was mailed with the APC agenda and the 2004 Performance Report is in the background section of the APC notebook. The statewide report includes information about state institutions and how institutions are achieving the goals of The Illinois Commitment. Goals on specific indicators, best practices, and the addendum of summaries of program review are sent to the IBHE annually. In the past the APC has been asked for recommendations about initiatives that can be included in the Performance Report, and the APC has been helpful in identifying some best practices across the university. We do request input from this council with items that we can follow-up with. Item #11 in your handouts also relates to program review. The full report, which is over 200 pages, can be found at Default.htm.

Cassidy said that item #6 (Proposed Amendment to the Preface of The Illinois Commitment) talks about the changes under discussion in The Illinois Commitment. The IBHE undertook a five year review of The Illinois Commitment. There is also another item attached to the agenda (The Illinois Commitment: A Policy Framework for Illinois Higher Education) that talks about the changes that have been proposed. These items reflect changes that the board adopted. The Illinois Commitment document is a reformat of The Illinois Commitment. There are still six areas, but the language has been changed. The “goals” are now called “policy areas.”

On the bottom of page 3 there are two sets of indicators that have been adopted. For the common- institutional indicators the individual institutions usually report on three years of data. In the past, the university has set goals that the university would meet, and we provide an assessment of meeting or not meeting these goals. The mission-specific indicators will be on the April 18 APC agenda. We need to set targets for these indicators. Last year we voted on the mission-specific indicators that the university would adopt.
Cassidy stated that if APC members have a suggestion for a best practice, an email can be sent to her or this issue can be discussed at the next meeting. Legg noted that people should be referred to what we have done in the past. Cassidy replied that the reports are online.

Legg turned to the program review guidelines. Cassidy added that after going through program review in the fall, we always ask the APC to review the format and make recommendations for changes. Bose added that we would like to save trees and faculty time if possible. Bose asked what the concern was. Do people not understand how to write the reports? Legg said that professional programs undergo external review, and asked if the program review could be formatted in a different way. The timing of when the external review occurs in connection with program review would be important. Education programs could have been tied together. Bose stated that there is no problem in giving programs flexibility. There could be other pertinent information about programs at the end. You have to have the structure that we have and you need the data that we send out. There could be flexibility on other criteria that the department has. Payvar said that accreditation reports tend to focus on different issues than program review reports. ABET is not interested in cost per credit hour generated and other issues that we look at in program review. The accrediting board has a very precise description of what they want to read. In program review you take a broad look at objectives, plans for the future, etc. There is some overlap between accreditation and program review and this information could be used for both reports. Cassidy said that the AACSB has taken a different approach. Weilbaker said that programs now report yearly, and do not have a four- or eight-year cycle. Williams asked if the structure of the review is set by the state. Cassidy responded that it was not set by the state. The questions are consistent with program review formats found at many institutions. The formats ask about resources, faculty, students, costs, plans, etc. We have a set of questions that we need to respond to the state. Legg asked the council to give this some thought and look at the format we currently use. Bose said programs should feel free to add information from their accreditation report to the program review. We try to address the needs of individual programs. Legg noted that some people write enormous amounts of information, and we might want to think about limits on the length of the responses. Cassidy added that many chairs do not have experience in writing program reviews, but some are very good at reading the questions and answering them succinctly. This year we did send out a sample program review to the departments undergoing review. Legg said we will talk about this at the April 18 meeting. If you have any ideas, you can send them to us before the next meeting, and we will distribute them with the agenda.

Cassidy turned to the Reauthorization of Higher Education Act and public accountability item. The CHEA Letter from the President, Balancing Competing Goods: Accreditation and Information to the Public about Quality was distributed at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation meeting. There was some discussion about the proposed changes in the Higher Education Act that promotes high stake testing for universities, and we wanted to make you aware of this issue. The perception is that accreditation is a mysterious process. The other document (Our Student’s Best Work: Five Keys to Accountability for Outcomes that Really Matter) talks about how universities can we be accountable without being overwhelmed. It discusses five key outcomes for baccalaureate education. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation tried to engage people in this discussion and create a consensus.

The meeting adjourned at 4:35 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Carolyn A. Cradduck