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Consulting firm hired to review educational programs in Kansas, presents findings

December 7, 2022

Ten months after the Kansas Board of Regents hired rpk Group to review the academic programs across the regent universities, the group presented an overview of their findings. 

According to KBOR’s website, they brought on the consulting firm to make sure that the degrees offered at Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University, University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Pittsburg State University and Wichita State University “align with Kansas goals for the State’s higher education enterprise, meet student expectations for programs centered on student success and increasing their employability, and efficiently deliver faculty and staff resources across each institution, division, and department.” 

At a KBOR meeting Dec. 1, rpk Group associate Mike Daly presented an “Academic Portfolio Review Framework.” In the report, rpk noted some programs that need to stay the same (maintain), programs that needed to change or adapt slightly (optimize), and programs that needed larger action (monitor and review). This data can be found on KBOR’s youtube page. 

“The framework’s intended to be an at-a-glance understanding for regents and institutions of the trajectory of the academic portfolio across institutions,” Daly said. “The framework is not intended to generate program elimination. … Those decisions are local ones.”

Daly dived into duplicate programs across the six higher education institutions in Kansas.

“Our intent in bringing forward this presentation and this proposed framework to the regents in December is to give them something to consider,” Daly said. “The direction that the regents take from that consideration … is up to the regents.”

The rpk Group presentation comes at the heels of a decision the Board made to allow Emporia State to make sweeping cuts to tenured faculty and degree programs. Thirty-three faculty and staff members were terminated and around 40 degree programs were cut.

These cuts also were based on a framework — “Framework for Workforce Management,” which, according to ESU president Ken Hush, was necessary to move forward as a university.

For several months leading up to this framework presentation, the rpk Group met with stakeholders from all six universities including the provosts, presidents and others. 

When The Sunflower reached out for comment from Wichita State administration, Shirley Lefever said, via email, that the report will be used to review and “ensure the relevance of programs to industry and student needs.”

“For example, [rpk Group is] highlighting programs where the data shows they have had declining or low enrollment over a period of years, and thus, might be in need of closer examination regarding future action,” Lefever said. “Those actions could include revising programs, combining or, in some cases, institutions could decide it no longer makes sense to offer a program.”

The Kansas Board of Regents will meet again on Dec. 14 and 15, where the findings by rpk Group will be discussed further. A meeting time has yet to be released.

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