‘Roadmap for Investment’


The ECU Program Prioritization Committee assessed 277 programs, targeting 48 for reduction or elimination. The committee released its recommendations Jan. 18. (ECU News Services photo)


Program Prioritization Committee releases recommendations

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

A committee tasked with assessing productivity, quality and centrality in the academic units across East Carolina University released its recommendations Jan. 18.

Members of the Program Prioritization Committee examined nine colleges, including 70 departments and schools, and the Brody School of Medicine beginning last May. Faculty input was gathered at multiple stages during that process.

While the majority of 277 programs examined would be maintained, the report targets 48 for reduction or elimination. Those stretch across multiple subject areas, including the College of Education, the School of Music, Construction Management, Interior Design and Merchandising, and the Anthropology, Geography, History, Political Science, and Sociology departments within the Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. They range from masters and bachelor degrees to certifications, licenses and concentrations.

Click here for full list (.docx).

Several of those programs are already winding down operations, according to the report. Others have declining enrollment or offer coursework that the committee believes would better fit under a different program, it explains.

‘Continuous, challenging and essential’

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard accepted the university self-study report from the committee and deemed it ready for release.

“I’m proud of the systematic and comprehensive work done by the Program Prioritization Committee, which I believe to be among the very best campus prioritization assessments in the nation,” he said. “All of this work to reduce expenditures and find more resources will be continuous, challenging, and essential to our future.”

Program Prioritization Committee Chair and geography professor Ron Mitchelson expects the Faculty Senate, the chancellor’s Executive Committee and the ECU Board of Trustees will review the final recommendations and provide feedback before any changes are approved.

Meanwhile, the committee will begin assessing the costs and benefits of the potential reorganization of academic units. By Feb. 16 members expect to provide five to seven scenarios with analysis of potential savings for each. Input from faculty and staff will also be sought at that time, Mitchelson said.

Targeted for growth

Another 67 programs are identified in the self-study as candidates for additional investment when funding and resources are available. Those include programs in the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the School of Theater and Dance, the Biology department, the Accounting and Finance departments, the Department of Kinesiology, the Department of Nutrition, and Math/Science Education and Instructional Technology.

The Brody School of Medicine is significantly different from the rest of the university in how it operates and educates students. Committee members found the criteria used to measure other academic units didn’t work with the medical school. Thus, the committee recommended the direction of the medical school be determined more by findings of its accreditation site visit, taking place this month.

The committee also recommended the Brody School pursue an increase in its student body, as approved by the UNC Board of Governors, once state funding becomes available, and build new clinical facilities, among other suggestions.

The newly-created Honors College and School of Dental Medicine were exempt from the study.

A roadmap for the future

The recommendations are intended as “a roadmap for investment and reallocation over time,” the report states, with its relevance extending over the next five to 10 years.

“ECU, like nearly all public universities, faces a daunting fiscal environment,” said Chancellor Ballard. “We will continue to focus on improved efficiency, reduced administrative expenditures, and more private giving to help alleviate base budget cuts.”

ECU took a 16.1 percent budget cut in state funding for the 2011-2012 fiscal year following four consecutive years of state budget cuts. That has meant fewer sections of courses, larger classes and as many as 200 jobs have been eliminated on campus.

“There is no doubt about us working as hard as we could, taking in and listening to the campus as intently as we could,” Mitchelson said. “I’m hoping the document is stronger because of the quality and volume of the feedback we incorporated.”

A copy of the self-study and recommendations will remain available on the committee’s website until June 30. For more information, visit www.ecu.edu/pcc/.

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