Academic program prioritization project gets underway

DePaul college flags
(DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
The current strategic plan, “Grounded in Mission​,” calls for a university-wide process of academic-program prioritization. A faculty task force has been working with Academic Affairs to develop a timeline and design for this process. A rough draft of the program-evaluation methodology is expected to be completed by the end of winter quarter. 

“Academic program prioritization is a comprehensive, concurrent evaluation of all academic degree programs according to a shared set of criteria,” says Lucy Rinehart, associate provost for academic planning and faculty, and co-chair of the task force. “This evaluation, which will look at factors such as program quality, mission relevance, enrollment trends and program costs, will provide needed guidance for the strategic allocation of resources going forward. It will also give academic unit leadership useful roadmaps for program revitalization and redirection where needed.”

In the fall quarter, DePaul’s provost appointed a task force to develop a methodology for this project and to oversee its implementation. The task force is chaired by Rinehart and Scott Paeth, president of Faculty Council. 

According to Rinehart and Paeth, the long-term goals of the project include a well-balanced program portfolio, an enhanced sense of institutional stewardship, and a shared understanding of meaningful indicators of program health and quality, which units will be able to track on an ongoing basis.

Supported by Liz Sanders, associate vice president for institutional research and market analytics in Enrollment Management and Marketing, and a data-modeling subcommittee, the task force is charged with developing and weighting the criteria for evaluating graduate and undergraduate degree programs, identifying and requesting the necessary data, serving as a resource for the colleges during program evaluation, reviewing the program reports, and producing a summary report for the provost.  

“Academic program prioritization requires the evaluation of programs from multiple dimensions,” says Acting Provost Salma Ghanem. “The task force is working diligently to develop a robust process that resonates with DePaul’s mission. It will provide the comprehensive analysis we need to ensure we are investing in strategies that deliver the highest quality programs to students.”

During the spring quarter, the task force will continue to refine the methodology as they engage college leadership and faculty in discussion and testing of the proposed model and measures. Over the summer they will pull together program-specific data packets and develop training for program chairs and directors, preparing for fall quarter, when units will be asked to review the data and answer further questions about the programs they offer. The goal is to produce a final report for the provost by the end of winter quarter of next year.   

“Grounded in Mission” emphasizes financial sustainability as an essential element of the academic program prioritization. This is one among several factors — contribution to the university’s mission, academic quality, curricular demand and opportunities for future growth — that DePaul’s study, like similar projects elsewhere, will weigh in its evaluation of programs.    

In addition to Rinehart and Paeth, the task force includes six faculty members selected by Faculty Council and two deans appointed by the provost. 
  • Michael DeAngelis, Professor, College of Communication
  • Thomas Donley, Professor, Economics, Driehaus College of Business. 
  • Suzanne Fogel, Associate Professor, Marketing, Driehaus College of Business
  • Michele Morano, Professor, English, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
  • Alice Stuhlmacher, Professor, Psychology, College of Science and Health
  • Christopher Tirres, Associate Professor, Religious Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
  • David Miller, Dean, College of Computing and Digital Media
  • Paul Zionts, Dean, College of Education
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