Final stages of prioritization process

By Heather Scroering

With the final recommendations from the Support and Operations and Academic teams submitted, the prioritization process is winding down to its final stages.

The Academic Team’s recommendations, which will affect student and faculty life most, are on their way to President Warrick L. Carter, who will discuss them with the Board of Trustees and have the final say on the fate of Columbia’s departments and programs. Though other documents have been part of the process, the Academic Team’s recommendations are the summation and will be the primary resource for Carter’s decisions. These include such new ideas as making Columbia admissions more selective and turning The Chronicle into an exclusively online publication.

While each team has taken into consideration all of the recommendations from vice presidents, deans and the provost, according to Don Smith, associate professor in the Film & Video Department and a member of the Academic Team committee, the Academic Team’s report reflected other significant discrepancies from Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Louise Love’s recommendations.

Most notably, the Academic Team suggested the Center for Black Music Research “combine/restructure” its resources, as opposed to Love’s recommendation to “phase out/eliminate” the program. However, the team did keep the recommendation to “phase out/eliminate” the Chicago Jazz Ensemble.

Another inconsistency between reports was in the Art & Design, Dance and Photography departments. Love suggested all “combine/restructure” while the Academic Team recommended maintaining resources. Where Love suggested the Arts, Entertainment and Media Management Department would “maintain resources” the academic report recommended an increase. The only program the academic report recommended to decrease resources was The Chronicle, which Love recommended resources be maintained.

Perhaps most stunningly, the Academic team proposed to make the admissions policy more selective.

“The single biggest problem is our retention and graduation rate,” Smith said. “So if we don’t do anything about that really soon, we’re going to be in big trouble, and not just money trouble, but people not coming to the college.”

While Columbia currently offers a “generous admissions policy,” accepting more than 80 percent of its undergraduate applicants, the report suggests transitioning to a more selective policy to ensure students are both academically and financially equipped to succeed.

The academic report also suggests programs cap enrollment where necessary and create selective admissions policies in specific programs.

Several of the Liberal Arts and Sciences core classes, such as History and Humanities, marked as “maintain resources,” are noted with “revise LAS Core.” According to Smith, the team hopes to build LAS core classes and make them even more collaborative with other departments.

Overall in the academic structure of the college, the report lays out plans to improve accessibility to online and honors classes, maximize minor programs and more clearly define differences between degrees.

Different from past reports’ listening forums, a conversational discussion of the team’s decisions will take place April 9. Carter will review all of the recommendations and reveal his report to the college in May. The final decisions could be reported as early as June.

However, the academic report recommended no major changes should be implemented until fall 2013.

To view the Academic Team’s full report, visit the OASIS homepage.