The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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December 9, 2012

Task force to begin assessing MSSU programs next month

JOPLIN, Mo. — An internal effort to scrutinize Missouri Southern State University’s academic and nonacademic services is under way, according to Crystal Lemmons, assistant vice president of academic affairs.

Lemmons was appointed by President Bruce Speck to lead a 12-person task force that will evaluate more than 130 academic and nonacademic programs across the campus. 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 in August.

Lemmons said representatives from each program that has been identified on campus are now compiling internal reports to submit to the task force. The report for academic programs includes information such as student enrollment, graduation rates and job placement rates; the report for nonacademic programs looks at factors such as the number of staff members and the types of duties performed. A third report exists for programs that contain both academic and nonacademic components, such as the distance-learning department, Lemmons said.

Reports are due by the end of this month. Pat Lipira, interim vice president for academic affairs, told the Board of Governors at its November meeting that two department chairs have already turned in their reports.

Lemmons said that beginning in January, each program will be evaluated by the task force 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 task force, which includes campus personnel from the academic and nonacademic sides, expects to have its analysis of the reports finished by April 1, although that deadline could be adjusted if needed.

“We will have to be purposeful with our time,” she said. “It will take quite a lot of work within the time frame that we have.”

At the end of the evaluation period, the task force is expected to recommend what, if any, changes should be made to the programs.

Those recommendations will go to the President’s Council and from there to the Board of Governors, which will have final authority over implementing any, all or none of the recommendations.

The yearlong effort, which has been termed “program prioritization,” could end up enhancing some programs while reducing or eliminating others.

Rationale

CUTS IN STATE FUNDING and a decline in enrollment have led Missouri Southern State University to review academic and nonacademic programs to keep its budget balanced and to properly distribute its resources, administrators have said.

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