Second level program rankings complete

By Heather Scroering

As the semester zooms further into February, the prioritization process is keeping up the pace as the Support and Operations offices completed the second phase of the Program Information Request rankings.

Ranked by the vice presidents of each program, PIRs were scored using the identical criteria to what was used by the associate vice presidents who first ranked the forms, as previously reported by The Chronicle on Jan. 17. A second round of listening forums was also held Feb. 6–9.

The prioritization process, which began in fall 2011, evaluates every aspect, both academic and non-academic, of the college to reallocate funds and determine the future of academic programs, clubs and other student services.

Vice presidents gave each program a score out of 40—20 points for essentiality of the program, 10 for efficiency and 10 for effectiveness, according to Andrew Whatley, assistant dean for Faculty Advising and LAS Initiatives and member of the Support and Operations Team, the prioritization committee formed to assess the business side of the college.

Scorers were again asked to assess the unmet needs and demands of each program and rank them as low, medium or high, according to the reviewer worksheet. Both the numerical score and ranking of unmet needs and demands allowed vice presidents to categorize programs accordingly.

Categories include “Growth and Investment,” “Maintain Stable Resources,” “Reorganization/Restructuring/Consolidation” and “Reduce in Size or Scope,” according to the ranker worksheet. Of the 96 programs, 62 were ranked “Maintain Stable Resources,” 26 scored “Growth and Investment,” seven for “Reorganization/Restructuring/Consolidation” and one, the University Cafe, for “Reduce in size or Scope.”

The numbers of programs that scored a “low” for unmet needs and demands was 37, 38 for “moderate” and 21 for “high.”

Vice presidents provided rationales for each score as well as an overall narrative of recommendations. While most reviewers focused their narratives on objectives within specific programs, Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Affairs, made some recommendations for the future of the college at large.

Kelly suggested making changes in nine areas, including admissions and enrollment, pricing and financial aid, and administrative structures and salaries.

He stated in his recommendations that he wishes to improve the chances of students remaining at the college by admitting

fewer applicants.

“The result of adjusting the college’s admission practices will undoubtedly mean that fewer students are admitted to Columbia,” Kelly said. “However, those who are selected for admission will be far more likely to be successful and far more likely to graduate.”

While he suggests that fewer student acceptances could be beneficial, he wants to ensure that the college’s diverse community is not negatively affected by the changes.

In his comments, Kelly also recommended that the college assess its tuition rate and discount practices to become more affordable for students.

Regarding administrative structures and salaries, Kelly suggested the college review administrative costs and senior administrator compensation. He added that the college should encourage more transparency across the institution.

The first two listening forums were sparsely attended. The first forum, held Feb. 6 in the Ferguson Auditorium of the Alexandroff Center, 600. S. Michigan Ave., was hosted by Alicia Berg, vice president of Campus Environment; Anne Foley, vice president of Planning and Compliance; Ellen Krutz, vice president of Human Resources; and Eric Winston, vice president of Institutional Advancement.

Joanne Harding, operations coordinator of Building Services and Facilities and Operations, was the only one to speak. She used her three minutes to talk on behalf of the Recycling Department.

The second forum, hosted by Patty Heath, interim chief financial officer and vice president of Business Affairs, was held in the Hokin Lecture Hall of the Wabash Campus Center, 623 S. Wabash Ave. No one spoke at this forum.

The last forum on Feb. 9 in Film Row Cinema of the Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., was hosted by Kelly. Approximately 50 people attended and nine people spoke.

Among those was Kari Sommers, assistant dean of Student Life and adjunct professor in the Arts, Entertainment and Media Management Department. Sommers spoke on behalf of the Student Life program.

She said she believes the Student Affairs staff is “undercompensated” compared to other positions in the college.

“We do not have the luxury, like other units, to engage consultants and freelancers to assist with our workloads,” Sommers said at the forum. “I would ask you and the senior administration to please be mindful that we are already unable to reward good work and innovation and are seeking ways to address these challenges.”

Kelly said he was pleased with the turnout and number of people who spoke.

“I was very encouraged,” he said. “It was a listening session that was less about specific departments and more about future and the ideas that are going to move us forward.”