Instructional Resource Allocation
Decisions about the composition of the program array, and each program's role in the array, are made using the processes and criteria outlined in Undergraduate Program Array and Graduate Program Array sections. The related, yet distinct, decision about whether an academic department or program has sufficient instructional resources to carry out its mission requires a separate process and criteria. Instructional resources represent our greatest asset and our largest investment within Academic Affairs, comprising 86% of our total budget. We are committed to allocating these resources wisely, with our decisions guided by four fundamental considerations: the needs of current students; an understanding of future enrollment trends and programmatic directions; relative cost of instructional resources; and the program's alignment with the priorities of the Academic Master Plan and University guideposts.
Our mission to provide a transformative liberal education—through a challenging LE Core and high-impact learning opportunities—requires nothing less. Declining resources, however, will inevitably force departments and programs to focus their course array on fewer disciplinary topics. While it is regrettable that our students will lose the chance to study certain subjects in their majors, we serve students best by sacrificing comprehensive coverage of disciplinary topics in favor of maintaining high expectations in the courses we do offer.
- Nature of material taught and associated pedagogy.
- Level of material taught such as graduate versus undergraduate or lower division versus upper division.
- Differences between credit hours versus contact hours.
- Licensing requirements that may dictate student to faculty ratios.
- Strategic intent to provide smaller class sizes, especially during the freshman year.
Second, instructional resource allocation must simultaneously look beyond the present. It needs to be strategic, forward-looking, willing to take calculated risks, and aware of future enrollment and employment trends. Resource allocation decisions must evaluate the potential long-term benefits of maintaining programs in their current form, including select small programs; targeting growth in existing programs; and developing new programs to meet the needs of future students.
Third, beyond informed interpretation of workload measures such as the SCH to FTE ratio, program costs must also be a consideration in resource allocation. Measures such as dollars per SCH are necessary for understanding the relative cost of programs and for making informed cost/benefit analyses and resource allocation decisions. Program costs may include faculty and staff salaries/wages, equipment, and supplies. The Office of Institutional Research will develop the specific metric for measuring program cost and will provide this data to inform resource allocation decisions.
A fourth consideration must be the degree to which a program's practices and outcomes support the overall goals of the University and the priorities of the Academic Master Plan. While credit hour production is a key measure of current need, those credit hours must be produced in support of University priorities. Value metrics such as the following help align resource allocation with shared priorities such as the 100/90/50/20 guideposts: number of students engaged in high impact practices; program-level retention and four-year graduation rates; degree of student diversity within the program; ability to reduce the opportunity gap for students of color; annual number of admitted freshmen and transfer students; and post-graduate success of program alumni. Many of these measures are already incentivized and rewarded, albeit it in a relatively small way, through our campus Strategic Accountability Matrix (SAM), which tracks leading indicators of progress toward our Public Accountability Matrix (PAM) measures. While stellar performance on these value metrics certainly affirms the program's alignment with overall University objectives, it does not in and of itself entitle the program to additional instructional resources. Performance metrics are one piece of evidence to use in resource allocation decisions.
Resource allocation decisions must be driven by a holistic evaluation of four primary criteria: teaching workload created by current student enrollment in the courses offered by the programs in question, as measured by an SCH/FTE ratio appropriate to the discipline; an analysis of forward-looking, strategic implications of predicted enrollment and employment trends; relative cost of the program; and alignment of the program with overall University goals and priorities.