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Faculty committee to review graduate programs

by Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu - March 30, 2009

A committee to review graduate and professional programs at the University has been established by President Michael Hogan and Provost Peter Nicholls.

The 18-member faculty committee, chaired by Suman Singha, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School, is charged with reviewing Ph.D. programs to determine which ones should be supported and which sunsetted, in line with the provisions of the Academic Plan.

“It is prudent to identify programs that are distinguished and on the cusp of distinction, with the aim of shielding them – to the extent possible – from the adverse effects of likely budget cuts going forward,” Nicholls said.

“We also believe it is important to identify programs that are not performing well in terms of factors such as student demand, completion, and placement, and to ask difficult questions regarding whether we can continue to support those programs.”

He says resources will be moved from discontinued programs to support those that have the potential for national recognition.

The Committee for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Programs, which began meeting earlier this month, is expected to make recommendations to the provost by the end of the semester.

It will review all Ph.D. programs, including those in professional fields such as law and physical therapy, with the exception of those in medicine or dental medicine.

Singha says the criteria on which the programs are being reviewed include number of students, number of faculty, quality of students in terms of their GPA, GRE scores, and the institutions they came from, admission and acceptance rates, retention rates and time to degree, and placement following graduation.

A program’s ranking in relation to its peers nationally, as well as grant funding and the publications of both graduate students and faculty in the program, will also be considered.

“The committee is developing metrics for evaluating the programs,” says Singha. “Although there are some qualitative aspects, this will be a data-driven process.”

Singha says in the event a program is discontinued, students already in that program will be allowed to complete their degree.

“We are operating in exceedingly difficult budget times,” he adds.

“Given the budget constraints, we have no choice but to prioritize programs and do some reallocation.”

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