Undergraduate Program Array

Academic Affairs

When we think about program array, we often think only of majors. However, as an institution, we must expand our thinking and consider our overall program of study to be comprised of disciplines that provide majors, minors, and certificates, along with curriculum that supports the Liberal Education Core and interdisciplinary learning.

All of these contributions are important and must be recognized as such. However, we also must recognize that it may not be in the best interest of the institution to offer majors, minors, or certificates in all disciplines. We must develop criteria and a process by which we make decisions regarding the role each discipline will play within the program array.

Program array decisions essentially require a balance between two broad considerations: academic mission and financial responsibility. As a public comprehensive university strategically emphasizing "The Power of [AND]," we seek to offer a diverse array of programs to provide students with opportunities to grow intellectually, synthesize knowledge across disciplines, experiment with new avenues of investigation, and grow in their global and cultural competence. Our students are made stronger by the breadth of their experience, intentionally exposed to all facets of a comprehensive, liberal education-infused program of study. However, in the face of limited financial resources, and the reality that we are increasingly reliant on student tuition to fund the academic enterprise, our program array must be responsive to student interest. We must offer programs that enhance the image and reputation of UW-Eau Claire, are aligned with the mission, values, and strengths of the University, and are attractive and relevant to current and future students.

In addition, as leadership makes decisions based on the two primary considerations of academic mission and financial responsibility, we must also consider the opportunity costs that are part of every decision. With each decision to invest, there is a decision to not invest somewhere else. We must be strategic and transparent in the decisions we make and the implications of those decisions. The question is not simply whether a program contributes to the academic mission of the University. Rather, the analysis needs to recognize the resources consumed in that effort, the number of students benefiting from that resource allocation, the overall benefit to the University, and the alternatives for which those resources could be used.

Quantitative data has a key place in decision making, but in the end, resource allocation decisions must be made by human administrators who are cognizant of the limitations of algorithms developed from the quantitative metrics which we can readily obtain. Whether it is the assessment of faculty workloads or of the "value" of a particular program as part of the university array, individual judgments must be made to continue to fulfill the broader, ethical goals to which this University and higher education in general have long committed themselves to as part of a broader social and civic responsibility.

Manny Fernandez, et al.

 

Evaluate and revise the undergraduate program array in a manner that enhances the reputation of UW-Eau Claire and meets the changing needs of society.

  • Conduct a review of the undergraduate program array.
    • Academic Affairs will identify the initial scope of screening by considering each of the following. The intent is to cast a relatively broad net to identify programs for further screening.
      • Majors (by emphasis) that fall into the lower quartile in number of admitted freshmen and transfer students
      • Majors (by emphasis) that fall into the lower quartile in number of graduates per year
      • Majors, minors or certificates that offer a course array in which more than 25% of class sections have a class size of 10 or fewer.
    • Departments and academic programs with majors, emphases, minors, or certificates being reviewed will be invited to respond to the review.
    • Academic Affairs will make one of the following recommendations concerning each identified program or emphasis, using shared governance processes where appropriate:
      • Continue the program as is, subject to usual program review procedures and timelines.
      • Streamline course offerings in relation to student demand.
      • Develop or contribute to cross-disciplinary majors in order to boost enrollment and class sizes within the area.
      • Redirect program resources to develop new programs in the discipline that will be more attractive to students or better address needs.
      • Modify the role of the program in the array to suspend or eliminate majors, minors, emphases, or certificates.
  • Apply the following criteria in the review.
    • Academic Footprint: How many students does the program code in question serve through declared majors, minors, or certificates? How many students graduate from the program each year? What other roles does the program play in the curriculum?
    • Attractiveness to Students: How many new students declare a major in the program? Are students initially attracted to the major retained to graduation at UW-Eau Claire?
    • Low Enrollment Courses: How many and what low enrollment courses are currently needed to meet requirements in the program? Is there a pedagogical or strategic need for low enrollment in these courses?
    • Ability to Address Existing or Future Needs: Does the program meet identifiable needs that signal continuing demand?
    • Program Reputation: Does the program enhance the University's reputation in a manner that attracts students to campus? Does it support campus priorities such as EDI initiatives and HIPs? Is the program crucial to the mission and vision of the University?
    • Student Success: Do students complete the program in a timely manner? Do students of color complete the program at rates similar to majority students? Do students achieve post-graduation success in licensure, employment, or graduate or professional school admission?
  • Utilize the program review process to identify opportunities for continuous improvement and program modernization. Program design should be attentive to student demand and societal needs, while maintaining the core value of instilling liberal education principles throughout all programs.

Maximize efficiency and effectiveness of the curriculum.

  • Change the definition of "comprehensive major" in the university graduation requirements from "at least 60 credits" to "at least 48 credits."
  • Identify and merge similar courses in different majors and revise majors that could benefit from courses designed to serve several programs.
  • Develop and market new cross-disciplinary majors that draw on existing coursework or utilize new courses that have broad appeal across multiple programs.
  • Eliminate barriers to students desiring cross-disciplinary programs of study and to faculty working to develop those programs.
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