Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Path to APP at PSU

People often ask what prompted the introduction of an Academic Program Prioritization process at Portland State. Some wonder, for example, if it was motivated by particular budgetary issues, or by the need to address other specific organizational problems or challenges.

Those who are only hearing about it now in Fall 2014 might be surprised to discover that, in fact, discussions and planning for APP have been taking place in the Faculty Senate throughout the past year.  From the perspective of APPC, at least, there is no emergency situation or looming financial crisis that drives our work.  Instead, we approach this an opportunity for careful, thoughtful, and faculty-driven development of an APP process that will provide long term benefits in helping to shape and guide the future of our university.

The purpose of this post is to document key events during the past academic year, culminating in the charge to the APPC in June 2104 to begin an Academic Program Prioritization exercise in the 2014-15 Academic Year.

Specifically, this post includes links to key documents that were generated along the way for those who are interested in following the development in more detail.  Most of these documents are excerpted from the relevant PSU Faculty Senate Meeting Materials, which should be considered the authoritative source, and the Senate meeting minutes that are collected there also provide additional context for the discussions and events that are summarized in this post.

Initial Senate Conversations:

Developing a Process for Academic Program Prioritization:

  • February 2014: A new ad hoc committee was charged with the task of developing the initial groundwork for how PSU will conduct an Academic Program Prioritization process.

  • March 2014: The new committee made a presentation to the Senate to review its charge and share its initial plan of work.

  • April 2014: The committee shared its final report and recommendations and summarized the key points in a second presentation to the Senate.

  • May 2014: A final presentation from the ad hoc committee was used to stimulate a conversation in Senate about next steps for APP at PSU.

  • June 2014: The Senate Steering Committee coordinated the development of a charge for  a new ad hoc committee, APPC, to oversee an Academic Program Prioritization process at PSU.  The charge was presented, discussed, and amended by the Senate before being put to a vote.  The motion to create the APPC was then approved with 46 senators voting in favor, 6 against, and 3 abstaining.

Initial Steps for APPC:

  • June 2014: In email announcements, PSU faculty were invited to submit nominations for APPC members "with broad experience of academic programming at PSU, some expertise in assessment, and a willingness to dig into and oversee the nuts and bolts of the prioritization process."  Nearly 100 nominations were received.  The faculty members on the PSU Faculty Senate Steering Committee and the Advisory Council used these nominations to identify seven candidates for APPC membership.  The provost and president concurred with these recommendations and all seven accepted the invitation to join the committee.

  • July-September 2014: Following the recommendations of the earlier ad hoc committee, APPC began a series of meetings during the summer to draft initial proposals for the parameters and benchmarks that would be used for APP.  An email announcement regarding the work of the committee, authored jointly by APPC and the Senate Steering committee, was shared with all faculty in August, and the provost added an item about APP on her blog

  • September 2014: Members of APPC began an ongoing series of visits and presentations as part of an effort to reach out and connect with interested groups across the campus, including faculty in COTA, CUPA, CLAS, SSW, GSE, Honors, as well as the Academic Leadership Team, the AA Deans, and the Administrative Briefing.

  • October 2014: The APPC presented an interim report to the Senate in its first meeting of the academic year to review the goals of APP for new senators, and to present initial draft proposals for high-level parameters including criteria, categories, and programs.

  • November 2014: On the anniversary of the original Senate conversations about APP, the APPC made a second presentation, describing the steps that had been taken to develop a list of metrics and questions for use in the APP process; sharing a draft document detailing specific proposals; and soliciting feedback and suggestions from senators and faculty at large.