The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 26, 2013

MSSU program evaluation work to stretch until October

By Emily Younker

— The internal evaluation of programs at Missouri Southern State University is now expected to stretch into the fall, despite administrators’ initial hopes that the results would be available this spring.

Crystal Lemmons, assistant vice president for academic affairs, said the delay is the result of the volume of work that the steps have required of those conducting the program analysis.

“It’s a very long process, with lots of discussion and clarification,” she said.

Lemmons is the chairwoman of a 12-person task force that has been evaluating more than 130 academic and nonacademic programs across the campus, based on written reports provided by the individuals involved with each program. Members of the Board of Governors gave a green light to the effort, which has been called “program prioritization,” last year, citing the need to better allocate resources. The evaluation could end with the possibility of growing and enhancing some programs while reducing or eliminating others.

Each program is now being evaluated based on criteria in five categories: its mission, vision or values; its demand, both internal and external; its quality; its costs and revenues; and its potential, Lemmons said. The evaluation steps are expected to last until June, she said.

Lemmons said the task force’s goal is to place each program in one of three categories: programs that are in high demand, have potential for growth and could therefore receive more resources; programs that are strong and efficient with their current level of resources; and programs that need to be restructured, reduced or eliminated based on “market demand” and the needs of the university.

Lemmons said she hopes the task force, which includes campus personnel from the academic and nonacademic sides, will complete the evaluation steps by June 15.

Citing the work, Lemmons remains tight-lipped about potential outcomes.

“We’re not ready yet to disclose any real results,” she said.

After its analysis is finished, the task force will make program recommendations to the President’s Council. Those recommendations will then go to the Board of Governors, which will have final authority over implementing any, all or none of them.

President Bruce Speck said last week that results of the evaluation and any subsequent recommendations are expected to go before the board in October. The original timeline had called for the board to receive results by its May meeting.

Speck also said the faculty senate has requested to review the results when it reconvenes in September, before recommendations go to the board.

Lemmons said any changes that could be made as a result of the analysis would likely take two to three years to implement.

“If any academic programs would be affected, we still have an obligation to our students to make sure they can complete their degree program of study,” she said. “It won’t affect things, really, in the immediate future, but it will set the stage for a long-term plan for not only financial resources, but also staff resources and those types of things.”

Program definition

An example of an academic program could be a minor in biology; an example of a nonacademic program could be custodial services within the physical plant department, according to the proposal approved by the Board of Governors last year.