ACADEMIC PLANNING COUNCIL
Minutes of August 25, 2008
3 p.m., Holmes Student Center – HSC 505
Present: Alden, Cassidy, Dawson, Erman, Fox, Freedman, Gorman, Gough, House, Jeris, Marcellus, Marsh, Molnar, Otieno, Prawitz, Reynolds, Singh
Guests: Donna Askins, Research Associate, Office of the Provost; Brad Bond, Acting Dean, Graduate School; Carolinda Douglass, Director, Assessment Services; Chris McCord, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Denise Rode, Director, Orientation and First Year Experience; Promod Vohra, Dean, College of Engineering and Engineering Technology
The meeting was called to order at 3:00 p.m., and Alden welcomed the members for the 2008–2009 academic year.
At the end of last year an email vote was taken on several of the follow-up reports. It was recommended that an addendum regarding this email vote be added to the August 25 minutes. It was moved and seconded to approve, with revisions, the minutes of April 7, 2008; and an addendum will be added to the August 25, 2008, minutes relative to the follow-up reports email vote. The motion passed.
Nominations were sought for assistant chair of the APC. The assistant chair conducts the APC meetings in the absence of the provost and serves as the APC liaison to the University Council. Aimee Prawitz was nominated to serve as assistant chair. By acclimation the council agreed that Prawitz would serve as assistant chair.
This year there are three subcommittees to conduct the reviews of the academic programs and centers. The subcommittee chairs are Kerry Freedman, Deborah Gough, and Aimee Prawitz. The subcommittee chairs were thanked for agreeing to serve in this important role.
The next item on the agenda is to elect an agenda committee. The constitution and bylaws specify that major university committees have an agenda committee, which allows faculty to contribute to setting the agendas. The common practice in past years has been that the provost, vice provost for academic planning and development, the APC subcommittee chairs, and the APC assistant chair have served as the agenda committee. This is not mandated; it has just been a practice, and we would welcome other suggestions. The major task for this committee is to create an agenda for the spring semester. All council members have the opportunity to give suggestions for items to be addressed by the council, particularly for the spring semester. The APC voted to continue its past practice for 2008-2009. The agenda committee will meet in January to set the agenda for the spring semester. Typically, there are two to four meetings in the spring.
A new subcommittee membership and assignment page was distributed for inclusion in the APC notebook. There was one change made on the subcommittee assignment page; Aimee Prawitz is taking on the responsibility of chairing subcommittee C.
The notebook distributed to the council members was reviewed. The first section of the notebook contains information about the committee and the council’s schedule. The first document spells out the APC duties. The schedule of planned meetings is listed for the fall, but council members were asked to hold all Mondays between 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. in case additional meetings need to be scheduled. Members will receive an agenda prior to each scheduled meeting. Also, the subcommittee assignments and dates that the program reviews will be discussed are in this section of the notebook. There are only two meetings on the spring schedule since the spring semester schedule has not been set. The follow-up reports list is not included in the notebook. This list will be distributed at the next APC meeting after the program review findings report is submitted to the IBHE.
The background information section of the notebook contains reference materials, and this information should be reviewed prior to reading the program review documents. This section contains the university mission and scope statement, the IBHE focus statement, the program review schedule, and the APC and University Assessment Panel reports to the University Council.
An item on the Public Agenda was not included in the notebook because it is a work in progress. A one-page overview of the work that has been going on at the IBHE regarding the Public Agenda was distributed. Last year the APC talked about the IBHE undergoing an academic planning process. The Illinois Commitment is no longer being used, even though the process is still being carried out. The program review format used to write the 2008-2009 reviews included questions about contributions to the six goals of the Illinois Commitment. The Public Agenda has four goals that are similar to the six goals of the Illinois Commitment. There is a task force comprised of IBHE staff and representatives from the legislature, community colleges, and higher education. The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) has been helping the IBHE with its strategic planning process. Information will probably be posted on the IBHE website in early October for public comment, and a strategic planning presentation will be presented at the December IBHE board meeting. After this, we should know about what kinds of benchmarks to address. Due to this process, we anticipate that there will be a new format for the annual Performance Report. In the Illinois Commitment some of the indicators were determined by the IBHE and some were determined by the institution. We are not sure if the new format will be structured in the same way, but we suspect it will be similar. It was noted that the Public Agenda does not seem to have the flavor of diversity that the Illinois Commitment had, and this is disturbing. In the Public Agenda diversity has been addressed in a more distributive way, and many elements of diversity have been talked about.
The IBHE also assigned a peer group for NIU. The peer group list was selected on criteria that didn’t seem clear to us, so we asked the IBHE to make some changes to this group. The IBHE made it very clear that it would not run the analysis again, but it allowed us to drop five of the institutions that were selected and add five institutions that we suggested. We are not sure how the assignment of the peer group fits into the IBHE strategic planning process.
The guidelines section contains the program review calendar and review formats. The format should be referred to as you read the reviews. Minor changes were made last year to the program review format. Last spring it was suggested that questions regarding strategic planning be added to the program review format. The programs being reviewed in 2008-2009 already had the format, so these changes will appear in the 2009-2010 program review format. The center review format is also in this section of the notebook.
Due to the fact that the IBHE is currently involved in a strategic planning process, the university did not have to submit a Performance Report for 2008. The university will submit a report on the licensure examination pass rates for law and nursing, the number of undergraduates meeting initial teacher certification requirements, and the program review findings.
The programs that will be reviewed this year are: all the programs in the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology and the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Physics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Also, the Plant Molecular Biology Center, the Center for Biochemical and Biophysical Studies, and the Microelectronics Research and Development Laboratory will be reviewed this year. Times are provided during regular APC slots so the subcommittees can meet with the department and college representatives to discuss the reviews. The members received the reviews assigned to their subcommittees, and the subcommittee chairs are setting up meetings with the college and department representatives. The program review packages contain information that will help you prepare for those meetings.
The council was updated on the strategic planning process and the budget. Today there was a half day retreat with the president, some members of the president’s cabinet, and the provost’s senior staff. There are a number of common themes that we will be presenting to the Academic Affairs, Students Affairs, and Personnel Committee this coming Thursday as an executive summary. The biggest uncertainty is where we stand on budget. We probably won’t know until next month what we can go forward with. The university received a 2.7 increase in funding, and was told not to spend it because the state does not have a balanced budget. To balance the budget a half a billion dollars has to be cut. This is why it is hard to say where we stand budget-wise. We didn’t have a student fee for the permanent improvement of facilities, and because we didn’t have this set up; the governor cut $1.3 million from our budget. We also don’t know where we stand on enrollment. We are close on the numbers of new students, but the number of returning students is down by about 700. This may change; there were 28 students who registered today, and this number changes on a regular basis. All the recovery effort grants are submitted. The president is looking into a modest salary increment. If the increment is modest, it will probably be across the board. We may not know where we stand on the budget for awhile. There were many good ides brought forward in the strategic planning process; the culture at NIU is unique. Almost every proposal had an interdisciplinary component to it, and we should brag about this. There is much to be happy about; we just don’t know about the funding right now.
The council turned to the external reviews of doctoral programs. In the fall of 2007, Alden, Bose, and McCord began conversations about bringing in external reviewers for all doctoral programs. There were a series of proposals that were developed, and we were ready to move forward. February 14 changed all of this, but we are planning on conducting four reviews this year to pilot the process. After this, it will be extended to include all doctoral programs. An external review of dissertations has been done in the past; and if a program is accredited, it has site visits from its accrediting body. There have not been external reviews of doctoral programs in the past. This external review process will be synced with the program review process. There has not been a discussion about whether professional programs (e.g., Au.D.) will be externally reviewed; these types of programs are accredited too. Departments have been asked to suggest names of possible reviewers, and programs will be asked to provide information. We have talked to the deans too.
The next agenda item is the baccalaureate review and goals. The General Education Committee (GEC) was interested in reviewing general education for a number of reasons; some of the general education goals are not measureable. Seven members from NIU went to a workshop at the University of Minnesota. As these members looked at our proposal, we realized we were way off base. In working with the consultants, we realized we need to take a bigger step first; reviewing the goals of the baccalaureate degree. The baccalaureate degree goals were last reviewed in 1983. A Steering Committee has been put together and a task force will be established. During this academic year we want to have a campus wide review of the baccalaureate degree to define general education goals. This group will consist of faculty, operating staff, supportive professional staff, and others. After this step, the group will look at general education, and will be looking at how well we meet the new goals. In another year or so we could look at how the major’s goals are reinforcing the general education goals. This may end up being part of the program review process. We need to ask the question how student should look when they graduate from this institution. Transfer students need to be addressed too. This can tie into assessment, and tying this into assessment might save some steps if you look at the learning outcomes that are already in place.
It is hard to find the goals for the baccalaureate degree. Our programs are good at being able to say what they want, but when you talk about the entire university, it is hard. We need a better discussion about how all of us participate in this. There are some good goals already, and LEAP has some good student learning outcomes. We will look at what we doing and other potential models, and then have a campus-wide discussion. This is good for the university from a Higher Learning Commission standpoint too. We need to be very clear and let students know what they should expect to participate in when they come to this university. This year we do not have a wait list, and there are changing demographics in the high school population. Many of the high school graduates have a different view of higher education.
Denise Rode was introduced to discuss NIU’s involvement with the Foundations of Excellence project. An NIU team attended a Foundations of Excellence meeting, and we are excited about getting this started at NIU. We expect to have individuals from assessment, the faculty, the student affairs staff, and the operating staff involved in the self-study process. This is a new form of student planning focused on institutional behavior, and it fits into the strategic planning imperatives. What will be happening in the near future is to put together subgroups for nine dimensional issues. Student learning is one of these dimensions. We will look at the philosophy or rationale of the first year at NIU, and how this is articulated to students. The organizational structures and policies that provide a comprehensive and integrated approach to the first year will be look at too. We need a comprehensive well-organized plan that we can articulate. We will be looking at internal and co-curricular learning. We want to look at serving all first year students in their particular needs. These are just a few of the items that will be addressed.
We have been encouraged to approach this as a transparent process. We hope the results will be a set of recommendations that we bring forward and implement as resources are available. We are going to start this process by looking at the current practices and surveying the students and faculty. You can look at five high enrollment courses, and look at the percentage of Ds and Fs from a curricular standpoint. A spin off is an impact on retention and persistence, but this is not the driving force for participating in this project; student learning is the driving force. The baccalaureate review and the Foundations of Excellence self-study process will be parallel activities, and have many of the same individuals involved. The information can be shared with students and their families. NIU is one of 30 institutions participating this year. The output of this exercise is a plan for the institution to move forward. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale will be participating this year, and Oakton Community College, Rock Valley College, and Western Illinois University have participated in the past. There is a collaborative sense about this process.
Dean Vohra from the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology was introduced to provide an overview of the college’s programs that will be reviewed this year. All of the programs in the college have regular accreditation visits and review by ABET. Over the last eight years, the college has gone from primarily a teaching college to a teaching college with excellent research projects. Over 80 percent of the faculty are involved in research, which is run through the dean’s office. The college has made an effort to declare its niche, and is considered to be practical in its orientation. Student placement is good. Our students have internships and capstone experiences, and when our students graduate, they are ready for the job market. The quality of the programs is demonstrated by the fact that 80 percent of the companies we work with come back and hire our students. The facilities are wonderful and are used for both teaching and research. There are over 140 design software programs available to students, and the computers are upgraded on a rotating basis each year. The faculty teach five courses per year, and all of the advising is done by faculty members. It is typical for a faculty member to advise 25 students per year, and the faculty also serve as laboratory directors. The college has a capstone experience that involves the entire faculty. We use course release time and summer stipends for research activities, and this is working well for us.
The college has done some interesting curricular innovations. The University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana has 18 programs. We can’t compete with this number of programs, but we try to include diversity within the programs we have. For instance, in mechanical engineering students can focus on simulation, modeling, or megatronics; industrial and systems engineering has a new emphasis in health systems engineering. The college provides almost 100 hours of free tutoring a week. There is also a science and engineering house where 120 students live together.
Degrees awarded and retention have increased during the review period, but enrollment has gone down. In 2003, when the enrollment management project was started, our enrollment decreased. Another factor in the enrollment decline is that it is hard to recruit in the STEM fields. The master’s students in the college are largely international students, and these students are no longer thinking about the USA. They are thinking about other countries and the opportunities available in these countries. One critical pipeline for the M.S. programs is our domestic students. The college has an integrated five year B.S./M.S. sequence. Students must have a 3.0 to be in this program, and during their last semester they can take nine hours of dual credit. About 40 students have gone through this program, which was started about five years ago. Most of these students receive assistantships. The college has many initiatives started to increase enrollment. We have adopted 300 high schools in the state of Illinois, and are involved in Project Lead the Way. These students take four engineering/science courses during high school. The college also has funds to increase the number of women in engineering and gives out diversity scholarships yearly. The college is committed to recruiting more students.
The council turned to the overview of the programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences undergoing review this year, which was presented by Dean McCord. The Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Physics and the Centers for Biochemical and Biophysical Studies and Plant Molecular Biology are also under review this year. All the programs have doctoral degrees, but the Ph.D. in Physics is the youngest program. The programs are somewhat similarly sized; each have about 30 Ph.D. students and 15-30 masters’ students. The big difference is at the undergraduate level: biological sciences has 543 undergraduates and physics has 46. More students may take biological sciences as a pre-med option. Chemistry and biochemistry has 180 majors, which is up significantly from the last review period. The department worked aggressively to try and grow its undergraduate population. The general education service mission is to provide the science curriculum, and all of the departments have a role in teacher certification. This is carried out in a collaborative manner. In physics we have worked with health and human sciences and engineering to produce a STEM outreach office to attract students to come to NIU to pursue study in the sciences and take the necessary high school preparation course work to come and be successful. There has been an increase in STEM interest, but a record of low math placement scores.
Associated with these departments are a number of research centers, and some are undergoing review as part of this process. The Center for Biochemical and Biophysical Studies is connected closely with biological sciences, but other departments are involved in this center as well. The Plant Molecular Biology Center is focused primarily on the biological sciences.
Chemistry and biochemistry and physics now have a specialization in nanoscience in their doctoral programs. These are critically important, especially in physics. The physics program has a high level of engagement with Argonne, and is involved with both Argonne and Fermi on high energy physics projects. Chemistry and biochemistry also takes advantage of Argonne initiatives, and so does biological sciences to a lesser extent. Close to 50 percent of the physics faculty have an official appointment at one of the labs, and we look forward to all three departments having a role in the proton research facility.
The Departments of Biological Sciences and Physics will both be undergoing an external search for a department chair this year. We are looking for chairs who can aggressively lead the connections with the proton center.
These disciplines depend on external funding for their success. Some of the units that have had terrific success in obtaining earmark funding are now looking at other funding sources. It appears that the funding for Fermi has been restored.
One point that came across strongly in all of the reviews is the extent to which all students are engaged in research, including undergraduate students. Chemistry and biochemistry has taken the engagement lead for undergraduates, and the department was very cognizant and purposeful about increasing student engagement in research. All of these programs participate in the USOAR and URAP programs.
After this meeting, the subcommittee chairs would like to meet with their subcommittees. Please stay for a few minutes after the meeting adjourns.
The meeting adjourned at 4:40 p.m.
Carolyn A. Cradduck
Addendum to August 25, 2008, Academic Planning Council Minutes
The following email was sent to all Academic Planning Council members on 11 April 2008:
At our APC meeting on Monday, 7 April 2008, we omitted addressing three of the five follow-up reports that were included on the agenda. Before we can report to the IBHE on the follow-ups, we need the concurrence of the council on the adequacy of the reports. Please review the reports on the B.S. in Business Administration; the B.S. in Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality Administration; and the M.S.Ed., Ed.S., and Ed.D. in Educational Administration, and let me know if you see any issues that need follow-up in these reports. Unless I hear from you by **Wednesday, 16 April 2008** I will presume that you are satisfied with the reports, and we can, therefore, report on them to the IBHE.
A summary of the substance of all of the follow-up reports is provided below:
We discussed the B.A./B.S. in Communication Studies and determined that they had moved forward on addressing the “exit declare” issue. The provost’s office, the college, and the department will work together to do some modeling that can help determine the most appropriate course of action to follow for resolving this issue. The department will submit a follow-up report to the APC in spring 2009.
The M.S. in Mathematical Sciences reported on enrollments and program costs. The department demonstrated that enrollments had increased and costs decreased. No further action on this report was recommended.
As a result of a major curriculum revision, the B.S. in Business Administration was asked to revise its assessment plan and demonstrate that it had been implemented. The program provided an updated plan and examples of the data that had been collected since the implementation of the new plan.
The B.S. in Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality Administration was asked to incorporate direct (authentic) measures into its assessment plan. The program reported on the inclusion of course-embedded measures and several capstone experiences that had been made available for students.
The M.S.Ed., Ed.S., and Ed.D. in Educational Administration programs were moved from the Department of Leadership and Sport Organizations to the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology, and Foundations, and the department was asked to show how the programs had been integrated into the new department. The department provided a detailed report on enrollments; degrees awarded; faculty recruitment, retention, and collaboration; and curricular revisions.
Many thanks for your attention to these matters.
No responses were received.