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Program Prioritization: What Happens Next?

March 29, 2016

A photo of the NIU front gatesTask Force reports are scheduled to be released on or about May 2, and the work of the Task Forces will have concluded. We thank them for their many months of hard work and commitment. At that point, the Program Prioritization process will have completed the peer review stage, with many more months of discussion and deliberation taking place at all levels.

As has been the case throughout the process, Program Prioritization will continue to take place in a context of transparency and commitment to mission. Soon after issuance, the Task Force reports will be posted on the Program Prioritization website alongside a mechanism to provide feedback. Electronically-generated feedback from the website will be sent to the administrator or administrators most closely connected to the issue or program being discussed. Concurrently, shared governance groups including the Student Association will convene to review and discuss the recommendations and to create formal responses for senior leadership. Formal responses from shared governance groups and responses submitted through the website will be received for a period of 3 weeks following the release of the Task Forces’ Reports.

Vice Presidents and other divisional leaders including deans will review the Task Force recommendations and campus feedback related to their respective areas, consult with program leaders, and begin work on action plans for improvement and change. These plans will synthesize the task force recommendations with feedback from all sources. Within the Division of Academic Affairs, deans and vice provosts will submit their action plans to the Provost, so that these plans can be reviewed and discussed at Deans Council to generate a unified plan. That plan along with all other divisional plans will be discussed by the President’s Cabinet and then submitted for review by a group made up of the Executive Budget Committee (EBC) and representatives from the NIU shared governance committees charged with providing budgetary recommendations to senior leadership; these committees are the Academic Planning Council (APC) and the Resource, Space and Budget committee (RSB). Plans are due no later than July 15, 2016.


The group comprised of the EBC and APC/RSB representatives will be responsible for reviewing the plans, resolving conflicts, and providing the President with an integrated set of recommendations to accompany the individual divisional plans. Where the group’s recommendations differ substantially from those of the task forces, a rationale will be provided. The EBC includes the Executive Vice President and Provost, Vice President for Finance and Administration, Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships, Vice President for Information Technology, and Associate Vice President for State and Government Relations. The vice-chair of the APC and the chair of the RSB will represent faculty, students and staff in accordance with the NIU Bylaws, 2.6.3A, and 2.6.3B.

The President will review the divisional action plans, and evaluate the recommendations received from the EBC and shared governance representatives. He will ensure that the outcomes of the Program Prioritization process will be reflected in the annual and multi-year budgets presented to the NIU Board of Trustees. As plans are enacted, NIU will continue to honor all existing contracts with employees and will guarantee that students will be able to complete their academic programs. All curricular processes currently in place for removal or addition of academic programs will also be followed.

During the period from March 30 to April 14, task force co-chairs will be presenting at open meetings of the Faculty Senate, University Council, Operating Staff Council, and Supportive Professional Staff Council to explain the work of the task forces. In addition, a Town Hall meeting on Program Prioritization with members of the senior cabinet will be held on April 27, 2016. Questions on the next steps in NIU’s Program Prioritization process will be welcome.