Colleges prioritize, rank majors

Michael Bragg

All six university colleges at Appalachian State University are in the process of prioritizing majors within their programs as the final step of the statewide program review, which started in fall 2012.

The university decided to review all programs at once in response to the Board of Governors’ decision to review program inventories at all UNC system schools, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Lori Gonzalez said. 

There is currently no timeline regarding the implementation for the prioritization of majors, Gonzalez said, although deans have until the end of the semester to finish the review.
However, Gonzalez said the prioritization will just be based on numbers.

“The ranking process is a way to think collectively about which programs may be discontinued or consolidated,” Gonzalez said. “Programs will not be discontinued or consolidated by applying some formula or cutoff in size as measured by majors or degrees awarded. Collective judgment of deans and others will shape the outcome.”

While the outcome is not finalized, students enrolled in majors chosen for consolidation or discontinuation will still be able to finish their degree, but the major will not be available for new students, Gonzalez said.

The College of Arts and Sciences, the largest college on campus, is looking at various means and seeking input from as many faculty as possible to determine the prioritization, said Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Neva Specht.

The college is examining how a major fits the university’s mission statement, the uniqueness of the program within the UNC system and, for graduate degrees, the external support the program receives.

To start the review, the deans divided department chairs and faculty into four groups. Each group reviewed and ranked every major within the college and submitted it to the deans.

Now, the two associate deans and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Anthony Calamai will view the four reviews and decide their own individual ranks and will submit that information Tuesday, Specht said.

Specht said the college is taking the ranking of majors very seriously.

“Prioritization seems like it’s just ranking the programs,” Specht said. “But programs are people, and programs are students and they’re how people learn, so I think it’s something we need to be very careful of and very considerate of. Everybody took this very seriously and we see this as a serious process not to be taken lightly.”

At some point later in the semester, all deans from the university will meet to rank every program at the university, Specht said.

Story: CHELSEY FISHER, Senior News Reporter