‘The P word,’ part two

By Alexandra Kukulka

Last year’s prioritization process generated fierce debate over what programs should be cut or restructured. Over the summer, it gained a new name, “self-assessment,” and seemed to be on the back burner until Senior Vice President Warren Chapman announced in a Nov.8 email that the implementation phase has been in progress all semester.

The deans and chairs of each school and department have condensed hundreds of recommendations made during last year’s process and categorized them by urgency. Recommendations will be addressed at different times during the next three years, the email said. The suggestions that came out of the process were sent back to deans and chairs for further review at the beginning of this semester, as reported by The Chronicle Sept. 4.

“[These recommendations] are an accumulation of discussions that have taken place since I came here [full-time] in June,” Chapman said.

According to the email, there are 12 recommendations, referred to as “first-tier priorities,” that will be addressed this academic year. The college will tackle second- and third-tier suggestions during the next two to three years, the email said.

The 12 first-tier recommendations to be discussed and who suggested them are as follows:

1. From the School of Fine & Performing Arts and the Arts, Entertainment & Media Management Department: Integrate the AEMM and Marketing Communication departments; also collaboration between AEMM, Marketing Communication and the Portfolio Center to develop a foundation program that highlights entrepreneurial skills.

2. From Alicia Berg, vice president of Campus Environment: The Dance, Music and Theatre departments, along with Campus Environment, are in the process of assessing the feasibility of a new Performing Arts Center that will accommodate larger crowds.

3.  From John Green, interim dean of the School of Fine & Performing Arts: Convert the Dance Department into an Arts Therapy Department.

4. From Deborah Holdstein, dean of the School of Liberal Arts & Sciences: Assess LAS core curriculum.

5. From Holdstein/Green: Consolidate two LAS creative writing programs with the Fine & Performing Arts creative writing program to form a Creative Writing Department.

6. From Carol Rozansky, chair of the Education Department: “Strategic planning for the Education Department.”

7. From Holdstein: Implement the LAS interdisciplinary studies major, which will include the cultural studies concentration that is currently part of the Humanities, History & Social Sciences Department and other concentrations that were not specified.

8. From Green: The possibility of dividing the School of Fine & Performing Arts into two separate entities, Fine Arts and Performing Arts, to be discussed with the School of Media Arts; Green’s recommendation said all of last year’s recommendations for the Art & Design Department will be included in discussions, including the future of Anchor Graphics, Columbia’s nonprofit fine arts press.

9. From Green: Strategize development for Art & Design programs.

10. From Green: Potentially integrate Interdisciplinary Arts and the Center for Book and Paper Arts within FPA.

11. From Nancy Day, chair of the Journalism Department: Assess a restructuring of the broadcast journalism concentration.

12. From Robin Bargar, dean of the School of Media Arts: Reorganize programs in the Television and Radio departments into a new Internet Broadcast Media Production department.

Both Holdstein and Green said they are optimistic about the process and the discussions they will have with their schools about the recommendations.

According to Holdstein, her school chose to work on the listed recommendations first because it felt they were most important.

“The deans were allowed to select the priorities that we thought we could at least begin discussions about, because these are big things,” Holdstein said. “We were asked to identify the ones we could begin discussion on with groups of faculty members, and that’s what we are doing.”

Green said some of his recommendations stem from discussions he had with his staff during the summer.

“I think [these recommendations] represent potentially major shifts in the college,” Green said.

The Chronicle contacted Bargar, who declined to comment, and other deans and chairs did not return phone calls as of press time.

According to Chapman’s email, a working group and three panels composed of members of the administration, faculty, staff and board of trustees have been formed to analyze the college’s enrollment policy, finances and students’ first-year experience.

“There is an intent from the board [of trustees] to create an interdisciplinary process of going forward and looking at what the college is going to be doing about issues that came up during last year’s process,” Chapman said. “[These panels] are representations of this mix of people from different places … who are working together on ideas that can transform the college.”

The working group will focus on creating a relationship among administrators, faculty and staff to improve the campus environment; strengthening enrollment by improving recruitment, retention and graduation rates; and creating an economic model that expands scholarships and financial support, the email said. The panels will function under the working group.

According to the email, the finance panel will assess tuition, financial aid and revenue. To develop some of these strategies, the finance panel will collaborate with the admissions panel, which was established to create plans to increase enrollment and address issues such as student loan default rates and academic standards.

Lastly, the email said the integrated first-year experience panel, which includes members of the prioritization process’ Academic Team, will brainstorm ways to improve the “first-year experience” for students and propose new courses, programs and teaching methods.

The Chronicle reached out to various members of these panels, all of whom declined to comment.