SUNY BROCKPORT PROGRAM REVIEWS:
The initial impetus for academic program reviews at SUNY Brockport began during the tenure of Provost Dr. Mary Ellen Zuckerman who constituted a committee in 2015 to commence program reviews for the purpose of assisting with resource allocations. After her tenure, this work was again undertaken while Dr. Katy Heyning served as Provost and with the establishment of an Academic Master Plan Committee in 2018, reportedly at the President Macpherson’s request. During these intervening years, templates were designed, piloted, and reviewed by the involved faculty with three different provosts. With my arrival as Interim Provost in June of 2021, much initial work had already been accomplished, especially for undergraduate programs. Nonetheless, there was the need to establish a timetable for program review completions and bring this long process to fruition.
Thus, in August of 2021, I changed the emphasis from “academic master planning” to “academic strategic planning” with the older Academic Steering Committee renamed as the Academic Strategic Planning (ASP) Committee. I subsequently published a schedule for the completion of the undergraduate and graduate program reviews begun years earlier. The initial work of the ASP involved the classification of undergraduate programs into one of four categories (described below) with the proposed timetable providing multiple opportunities for involvement and review of the initial work by relevant parties in academic affairs. Opportunities were provided for the College Senate, Department Chairs and the faculty, and Deans to give their recommendations with their own commentary on program classifications and needs to the Provost.
The College Senate constituted an Ad Hoc Study Team on Academic Program Classification which provided its report to the Senate (Attachment A) on November 1, 2021. Among its recommendations were: development of a clear communication plan about the process (my weekly campus reports); communication of the specific goals for academic strategic planning at SUNY Brockport (resource allocation and enrollment stabilization); the development of clear and measurable goals for the ASP (please see above 12 items); publish a clear process for future academic strategic planning at Brockport (in development now with the PPR as the basis for academic strategic planning); and adjust program classifications through shared governance and collaboration (ongoing process with departmental faculty, chairs, and deans for respective programs within their purview). During the two months the College Senate reviewed this task, the emphasis placed was on the process involved rather than outcomes. My formal response to their recommendations is also attached as the last page of Attachment A. Their recommendations are part of my ongoing responsibilities and, as such, will be communicated to the incoming permanent Provost.
In the fall of 2021 with the emphasis on academic strategic planning, there were 69 undergraduate programs and majors, 58 undergraduate minors, and 60 tracks and concentrations with the program portfolio at SUNY Brockport. The use of tracks or concentrations within academic programs has precluded the need to formally change some majors given the State of Education rule that 30% of a major program can be altered without State level review. Attachments B and C to this report comprise enrollment data for six years that were used by the Committee during their deliberations. Attachment B provides and Institutional Enrollment summary; and Attachment C provides a summary of undergraduate first and second majors by academic program within Schools as well as for graduate students which will be used in Part II of this report.
Three cautionary notes are necessary when examining the attached data from Institutional Research. First, large percentage changes may indicate little since small numbers exaggerate gain, i.e., moving from 2 to 4 majors is reflected as a 100% gain yet the number of enrolled students remains very few. Second, since overall institutional enrollment has declined during the preceding six years (Attachment B with the exception being graduate enrollment) there is some expectation that the number of majors also may decline proportionately. However, this has not been true across all programs so care must be exercised when examining enrollment data for each academic program. And third, some programs have been classified in the “growth” or “augmentation” categories with little student enrollment growth reflected in the program’s institutional data. In this third instance, the lack Page 6 of 62 of growth has been constrained by, for example, lack of laboratory space, insufficient external placement and field settings, or unavailable faculty (including adjuncts) to teach more students seeking admission to specific programs.
The Academic Strategic Planning (ASP) Committee consisted of thirteen voting members:
- Dr. Monica Brasted, Associate Dean, School of Arts and Sciences
- Dr. Eileen Daniel, Vice Provost; Mrs. Frances Dearing, Director of Assessment
- Dr. Linda Delene, Interim Provost and VPAA
- Michael Harrison, Director of the Center for Graduate Studies
- Dr. Lerong He, Associate Dean of the School of Business Administration
- Dr. Alisa James, Associate Dean of the School of Education and Health and Human Services
- Dr. Jeffrey Lashbrook, Sociology
- Dr. Kathleen Peterson, Chair of Nursing
- Dr. Darson Rhodes, Public Health
- Cathy Houston-Wilson- KSSPE
- Mr. Brad Schreiber, Advancement
- Taneika Thompson, Institutional Research
The Committee was well served with the ex-officio addition of Dr. Crystal Hallenbeck and Ms. Rachel Killion from the Budget office — both of whom provided valuable data and explanations of Brockport’s budget over time. This ASP Committee met throughout the fall semester and into the spring semester, discussing and advising me about academic programs at SUNY Brockport. On Friday, January 28, 2022, the Committee met for five hours, reviewing each program and voting (9 positive votes required) on the classification for each program with discussion. Attachment D represents the various levels of the review process and the outcomes at each successive review.
Before reading the summary of recommendations, it could be helpful to review the four categories into which programs were classified. This classification stems from a 2x2 matrix decision tool that is often used when data are a blend of quantitative and qualitative information, and when constraints confine alternative actions. The four categories and their definitions used during this process were as follows, and with the related factors outlined (pp. 2-5 above) and considered as well by those involved in this work.
- GROWTH: there is substantial student demand and interest in the program by the number of qualified individuals who seek program entry; and/or by external partners who ask for and hire the program’s graduates. Usually, growth programs require additional resources to support program expansion and such resources must be offset by expected enrollment revenue. This balancing of student demand and program costs is usually fraught with difficulty since demand may be cyclical and costs may not be able to be forecasted accurately due to uncontrollable, external variables.
- AUGMENTATION: this is a program where faculty, facility, or other material resources are needed to respond to unmet or expected demand for program graduates. Often such programs will have an expected growth pattern (for example, licensure changes, certification requirements, emerging national consciousness about needed programs, technology developments) that can, with some certitude, be forecasted. One key question is whether the demand will be adequate to cover the costs necessary to upgrade or strengthen the program – and over what time period.
- RECONFIGURATION: in this category, academic programs could examine their entry requirements; their proliferation or scarcity of elective courses; course sequencing; the associated titles of courses and course material for the mid-21st century; and shifting relationships with other disciplines and external social change, for example, the proliferation of social media and data analytics into every aspect of our life. It is clear that some departments have seriously reviewed their programs from PPR recommendations while others, from earlier and repetitive PPR’s, have largely ignored improvement suggestions. A curricular program must be accurate, timely, and identify knowledge paths for student success with the investment of their time and energy. Without that minimal reflection in program material, few students will engage in a languishing program that needs updating and renewal into contemporary terms.
- DISCONTINUATION: there is insufficient demand and student interest in the program (despite its quality or depth) to continue to offer the program, especially with low and/or declining student enrollment for years and scarce resources. This is a painful category for everyone and particularly for those who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of knowledge in the discipline or area involved. Of course, academic programs will be continued until students currently enrolled have finished their degree requirements. Tenured faculty will retain their positions although perhaps with different tasks.
This is an important time for SUNY Brockport**.** It is taking a thorough and careful look at its academic programs with multiple review stages that have clarified issues ahead. It represents a positive initiative undertaken by this organization to make decisions about future growth and enrollment prospects. Thus, the many, many individuals who worked on this initiative have positioned SUNY Brockport in a more positive situation which reflects its vitality and energy while facing an uncertain future. Although it may take three to four years for results to be apparent, this academic program review was the necessary first step in facing our future together.
Linda M. Delene, Ph.D., Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs- March 1, 2022
- Undergraduate Cover Letter
- Undergraduate Final Report (available upon request)