ACADEMIC PLANNING COUNCIL
Minutes of November 21, 2005
3 p.m., Holmes Student Center – HSC 505
Present: Cassidy, Hartenhoff, Johnson, House, Legg, Levin, Prawitz, Russo, Schoenbachler, Waas, Wright (for Munroe)
Guests: Donna Askins, Research Associate, Office of the Provost; Carolinda Douglass, Acting Coordinator, Assessment Services; Sue Goad, Undergraduate Advisor, Department of Operations Management and Information Systems; Jane Mall, Director, Business Experiential Learning Center; Nancy Russo, Chair, Department of Operations Management and Information Systems; William Tallon, Interim Dean, College of Business; Daniel Wunsch, Interim Associate Dean, College of Business; Phyllis Zerull, Graduate Advisor, Department of Operations Management and Information Systems
The meeting was called to order at 3:10 p.m. It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes of November 7, 2005, as distributed, and the motion passed unanimously.
Legg introduced Nancy Russo, Chair, Department of Operations Management and Information Systems; Sue Goad, Undergraduate Advisor, Department of Operations Management and Information Systems; Phyllis Zerull, Graduate Advisor, Department of Operations Management and Information Systems; Jane Mall, Director, Business Experiential Learning Center; Bill Tallon, Interim Dean, College of Business; and Daniel Wunsch, Interim Associate Dean, College of Business. Legg turned the meeting over to Prawitz for the presentation of the subcommittee reports.
Tallon gave a brief college overview statement. The college generally operates under their strategic plan, which is mission based. This provides a system of continuous improvement.
Prawitz turned to the highlights of the department context section of the Department of Operations Management and Information Systems. The strengths include the student access to cutting edge technology, the project-based work that provides students with realistic work situations, and the application of knowledge through project teams. The department is located in Barsema Hall and the students have access to good equipment. The department encourages faculty/student interaction outside the classroom; the lab availability and the ability to run new applications quickly, and the flexibility of the academic advising system are all strengths of the department. Other strengths are the high-quality teaching and the large number of conference presentations.
Discussion points include expanding the best practice section. State how the team experiences in your department are different from other team projects. Explain how your training is different. Russo said that most of the careers that students pursue will involve working in project teams, and it is important to provide our students professional training. This is a project management type of situation. There is a project leader, a project plan, etc. Students follow that plan and should be able to say where they are in the plan at anytime during the project. We expect all the students to play a role in the project, even if they are not a leader. There is also a formal process in place for peer evaluation. Prawitz asked if the project work took place during class time. Russo replied that work on the project takes place both inside and outside the classroom.
Prawitz noted that there is very little grant funding, and asked what the funding opportunities are. Russo responded that in business in general there are not as many grant opportunities as there are in other fields. We do have some faculty who have applied for grants. Our opportunities are in the business community and we are working on this right now. Waas asked if grants factor into the personnel process. Russo replied that we encourage people to try and obtain grants. If an individual obtains a grant, they are rewarded. Cassidy asked if there were any opportunities in the homeland security area. Russo replied that the department is trying to see how it can get into this area. It is not an obvious fit for us, but we could be involved with quality data projects. Someone in the department would have to change their research area. Prawitz asked if the department had thought about ideas for recruitment, retention, and mentoring of minority and women faculty. Russo responded that the department has worked with minority faculty, but we have not hired for the last several years. We have not had the opportunity to practice this yet, but we now have a visiting position. We have also created a formal mentoring program. Prawitz noted that the mission-specific indicators should be tied into particular points in the mission and the Illinois Commitment, and the department should increase its efforts to obtain external grant funding.
Prawitz turned to the strengths of the B.S. in Operations and Information Management program. Employment opportunities are increasing and the program has good minority student representation. The program has fewer faculty that the comparison programs, and yet in 2004 it graduated more students than any of the programs in the comparison groups. The program is doing more with less. Students have won APICS awards. Russo added that APICS stood for the American Production Inventory Control Society, but this group has a new name. There is a professional organization that our students belong to if they are interested in careers in operations management. Last year was the first time our students participated in a team project, and they won first place. The students said that they felt very prepared for this project, and they were confident when they did their presentation.
Prawitz said that discussion points include adding information about tutoring that is available for students in UBUS courses and how students who do not meet the GPA requirement are advised. There has also been a decline in majors and credit hour production. Russo stated that this is the biggest concern in the department. We are seeing this decline nationwide and worldwide because of the dot.com crash. It takes students awhile to realize that the jobs are coming back. We have seen growth in the freshman and sophomore classes. The department is working on this almost every single day. Waas asked if other programs in the state have experienced the same type of decline. Russo replied that this is the same for other programs in the state. Cassidy asked if the department has an enrollment target in mind. Russo replied that the department would like enrollment to be approximately 300; right now we have 189 students. Levin stated that there will probably be more ups and downs in the future and asked what we can do to prepare students to be employable through these times. Russo replied that the needs of businesses have changed. The work that is staying here in this country is analysis and project management. Problem solving skills are critical and broader skills are more useful. Cassidy asked if this has been addressed in the curriculum over time. Russo responded that the undergraduate program has always been operations management and information systems. Now we stress the technology less and the operations management more and more. This changed what we were covering in the courses. The program is currently going through a curriculum redesign process, and there is less programming in the curriculum.
Prawitz stated that the internal and external evidence of program quality section should include how the Barsema contributions have benefited the department. The efforts being made to pursue access to organizations willing to open databases to research should be discussed. Russo responded that this is not needed any more. What is needed now is more access to the operations of the organization. We are now looking at bigger issues, and we are using our Executive Advisory Board to help us with this.
Prawitz noted that the assessment section needs to be expanded. You should explain how each program objective is assessed, and discuss your assessment results and how you use these results. How do you use the rubric that was developed? Goad replied that the program has an electronic portfolio requirement that is collected at the end of the program. The rubric used to assess the portfolio is on the web site so students can see it. Prawitz added that the program should consider course imbedded assessment, the use of internship supervisor evaluations, input from the advisory board, and capstone projects. Add that the increased involvement of the Executive Advisory Board can contribute information to be included in the employer feedback section. This will strengthen your report. Adding assessment methods should be included in the program areas needing improvement section. Cassidy asked if the program submitted a report to APASC on its limited retention policy. Russo replied that the program did a submission, but it hasn’t heard back yet from the committee.
Prawitz said that the strengths of the M.S. in Management Information Systems are the service provided to non-majors, the strong focus on skills needed in a complex and changing technological environment, the programs shift in focus from programming to project management and business systems analysis, and the strong focus on teamwork. Over the review period, women averaged 40 percent of graduates, which is good mix.
Discussion points are to reword the program objectives so they reflect student learning and are measurable. Russo noted that the program has started to work on this. Prawitz stated that alumni achievements should be discussed in the review. The program states that there is a particular concern about the lack of satisfaction with the program based on comments from graduates; what is your plan for improvement. Russo replied that the lack of satisfaction is not what we would like to see. There is a misperception about what the program is. We need to do a better job of marketing and positioning ourselves with the students. We are a business-focused management program. Cassidy asked if the program has any sense that some students don’t want this major. Russo replied that at the undergraduate level that might happen, but not at the graduate level. Zerull added that the accountancy students look at this major as broadening their skill base. Students want this degree or they need it for work. Waas asked what the student backgrounds were. Russo replied they vary (business, computer science, engineering, etc.). Waas asked if the change in focus from technology to management is reflected in the faculty slots and research. Russo responded that most are oriented in that way. Most technical skills were taught by instructors or students in the computer science program. Askins asked what kinds of jobs would undergraduates and graduates obtain. Russo noted that graduates do not go into management positions right away. Graduates of both programs could be business analysts. Occasionally graduates go into the same type of job as undergraduates, but with a higher salary. Graduates who have experience could be employed as project leaders or in some type of project management role. Zerull added that they also go into consulting. Prawitz said that the assessment plan needs to be revised. Think about things that you are already doing. An expanded, detailed assessment plan should be developed and added to the planned program changes section.
Recommendations for the future are to modify the learning objectives so they reflect student learning and so they are in line with the department’s new mission. The assessment plan needs to be completed. The subcommittee recommends an updated report on the assessment plan that includes revised objectives for spring 2007.
Prawitz turned to the business administration review. The business administration program is housed in the college. The strengths of the program include the state-of-the-art instructional technology available in Barsema Hall, the strong external relationships with alumni and employers, the off-campus undergraduate completion program at NIU-Rockford, and the good diversity in students. This is an interdisciplinary program that has made significant changes in its curricular focus, and the costs are below the statewide average.
Discussion points include how the program is administered; who is in charge of curriculum changes, assessment, etc; and who feels ownership for this college-based program. Tallon replied that the college has struggled with this quite a bit. Previously, the program was housed in the Department of Management, but the business administration program is more of a cross-functional college degree. There were seven themes that courses across campus could fulfill, but it was often difficult for students to enroll in courses that met requirements and many course substitutions were made. As management enrollment increased, it was also difficult for business administration students to enroll in courses. This frustrated some students, and some students had very little business course work. The program was redesigned and moved to the college level. This program combines non-business and business components in the same major. There were some problems associated with taking this program out of a department too. Students in a program at the college level really didn’t have a home. The program is run out of the Undergraduate Studies Office and administered by the college curriculum committee. It is like our M.B.A. program. We need to develop some administrative structure at the college level. This is a very challenging major, and enrollment is now skyrocketing. Students want a general business orientation. We think it is a powerful degree, well sought after, and enrolls many good students. Wunsch added that we are looking at different ways for this program to be administered, and we are not sure it should be administered like the M.B.A. program. We think it needs a faculty member to coordinate it, and we are going to put together a focus group to discuss this issue. Legg stated that he was pleased that the program was offered at NIU-Rockford. Wunsch said that all indications are that the NIU-Rockford enrollment will increase. Cassidy added that this is our only full-time undergraduate program offered off campus. Are you thinking about a half time faculty coordinator? Wunsch replied yes, something like that.
Prawitz said that the strengths of the B.S. in Business Administration program are the interdisciplinary nature of the program, the opportunity to complete the program at NIU-Rockford, the redesign efforts that were undertaken in 2002 that prepared graduates for the cross-functional needs of the business profession, and the strong employment outlook for graduates. The program is also appealing to women and minorities.
The discussion points include rewording the learning outcomes so they are measurable. How the learning outcomes will be assessed should be discussed in the review. The other discussion points listed were suggestions for improving the document.
The recommendations for the future are to reword the learning outcomes so they are measurable, add a discussion on how learning outcomes will be assessed, and the subcommittee recommends a brief report in one year on the update of learning objectives and assessment data. Cassidy asked if the program has data it needs to report on the assessment of learning outcomes. Wunsch replied that there is minimal data since the program has been revised. Cassidy asked if a year was enough time to have information that shows that students are achieving these outcomes and asked if we should wait for two years for a follow up report. Wunsch stated that there would be some data available a year from now. The assessment plan is not complete at this point. Cassidy asked Prawitz if the timeframe for the report could be two years from now. Prawitz responded that would be fine.
The next item on the agenda is the review of the Business Experiential Learning Center. The document was well written and easy to follow. Strengths of the center include providing faculty-guided training in project management methodology and consulting, project work experience that is useful for prospective employment, the important service to non-profit organizations in the NIU service region, the involvement of other units in project teams, and the student-focused projects. The projects help students, businesses, and faculty. Other strengths are the emphasis on quality vs. quantity, the internship alternative provided for international students, and the success that the director has had in getting projects for students to complete.
Discussion points are that the personnel costs information needs to be explained in the document, clarify that the project teams are made up of both graduate and undergraduate students, list all of the goals of the Illinois Commitment that apply and state how they are being met, and discuss your plan for increasing project funding. Mall said the document would be revised to state that both undergraduate and graduate students work together on projects. I can also tie into goals five and six of the Illinois Commitment. The plan for increasing project funding is to expand the number of projects that the center is involved with. In the past, fees were not charged to businesses for the projects. Last fall we started charging $5,000 per project. One project did not go well, so we refunded the money. This fall we have several funded projects and Caterpillar is willing to sponsor projects for non-profit agencies. We want to do four projects each semester (fall and spring), which will provide about $40,000 per year. Tallon added that our intention is that this will not be a money making operation, but we want to get enough money to help pay stipends. Cassidy said this is a very new unit. It was previously called the Business Information Technology Transfer Center and was housed in the Department of Management. Now it is called the Business Experiential Learning Center, which is involved in interdisciplinary projects.
Where do you see the center in five years? Mall replied it depends on the projects. We have a sponsor explanation form that we are currently using. The businesses have to be open with their data, and we would like a mix between profit and non-profit projects. We are going to strive to do four quality projects each semester (fall and spring). We will still have an applications process for the students in place. We would like to see more corporate sponsorship of non-profit projects. Prawitz asked if the students receive credit. Mall replied that students receive three credits. Cassidy noted that this is almost like an honors project. What portion of students who want to be involved in this experience are able to be involved? Mall replied that about half of the students who originally sign up for the project work on a project, but most of the students who do not participate self-select out of the project. Tallon said that growth would depend on student demand and the availability of coaches. Many times “A” students do not get involved in project work. We are satisfied with the students who are involved in the projects right now. We may have to reassess this in the future. Mall added that the center now has a call center, which is used for marketing and sales. Wunsch noted that the bigger issue is the coaches. This is a very time intensive process. Douglass asked if a coach coached one team. Mall replied that some coaches will coach two teams. There are three to six students on each team, but four seems to be an ideal number. Schoenbachler added that this is a lot of work, but it can’t be put on-load because it would increase costs too much. Mall stated that there are some teams that have co-coaches. An undergraduate who has gone through the project is also eligible to be a coaching assistant. Tallon stressed that this is experiential learning – this is not where a coach tells the team what to do. Students learn through their mistakes.
Cassidy stated that the center has temporary approval, and this fall we should have submitted a report to the IBHE. Since the center was in the queue to be reviewed, we extended the deadline for the interim report. It will be very important in this report to identify the specific outcomes the center has achieved in detail so we can send a program review report and this interim report to the IBHE.
Cassidy announced that in the spring (March 24) the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center will be doing a workshop on developing program objectives and how to address the attainment of those objectives through course-embedded assessments. There was an announcement about this workshop in Toolkit and it will also be announced in Northern Today.
Legg told the APC members that he appreciated their contributions to the program review process.
The meeting adjourned at 4:25 p.m.
Carolyn A. Cradduck