Opinions, please

Lisa Freeman
Lisa Freeman, NIU executive vice president and provost, talks
about Program Prioritization during the April 27 town hall meeting.

Program Prioritization Task Force reports are open for review, and now is the time for students, faculty, staff and other stakeholders to provide feedback on those recommendations.

Feedback is due Monday, May 23, and can be shared directly with program owners and/or online.

“The task force reports are thoughtful and nuanced, and reflect the dedicated effort of committed faculty and staff members. I am very impressed with their reports, particularly the overarching themes that they have provided to guide our work,” said Lisa Freeman, executive vice president and provost.

Monday’s release of Program Prioritization information – including the narratives provided to the task forces – also included explanatory statements from the task force members about their recommendations.

The Academic Task Force (AcTF) concentrated its efforts on identifying high-performing, high-potential programs and suggesting ways to strengthen these important offerings. The Administrative Task Force recommendations center on broad themes across the university and offer strategic direction and high-level program feedback.

On the academic side, a recurring theme was “the need to enhance the foundation of tenure-track faculty.”

“While respectful of the important contribution of instructors, visiting professors, clinical and adjunct faculty members,” the statement read, “the AcTF report emphasizes the need to strengthen the underpinnings of academic reputation, research accomplishment and contributions to disciplines by continuing our historic commitment to investing in the recruitment and retention of tenure-track faculty.”

NIU also should “develop an institutional plan for enhancing graduate student stipends, recognizing that graduate students make essential contributions to the university’s research mission and to undergraduate programs across colleges.”

Members of the Administrative Task Force identified “opportunities for many programs to transform themselves in order to create greater impact, improve outcomes and contribute more profoundly to realizing the university’s mission.”

davisSeveral programs were identified for their work to boost enrollment, provide vital administrative services and drive the creation of “a more inclusive, diverse and welcoming environment” for students, faculty and staff.

Enhancement recommendations focused on programs that grow enrollment through recruitment and retention.

Both task forces also cited areas, such as a number of certificate programs, where submitted program narratives needed to provide more detail and data for them to have been evaluated more fully. “This next phase of providing feedback and developing action plans provides time to add clarity and address any questions raised in the reports,” Freeman said.

Freeman commended the task forces for the outstanding contributions.

“I appreciate the commitment of both task forces to all aspects of the academic mission,” Freeman said. “I share their desire for NIU to be recognized for being a forward-thinking, thriving institution that provides students with a well-rounded education through access to excellent faculty and facilities.“

NIU President Doug Baker, who with members of his senior cabinet will receive action plans for review July 15, will issue a Program Prioritization President’s Report late this fall.

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