Programs across six KBOR universities under review


Mia Hennen

Mike Daly, rpk Group associate, speaks to the Kansas Board of Regents on Dec. 14.

The six Regent universities in Kansas offer a combined 688 degree programs. Of those 688, only 355 are classified as “unique,” meaning not duplicated across the different institutions. 

The Kansas Board of Regents hired rpk Group, a higher education consulting firm, to analyze the current programs offered at each institution. 

At KBOR’s monthly meeting on Dec. 14, rpk Group shared its findings, which suggest that out of the 688 programs across the six universities, only 110 are operating at a level that doesn’t indicate the need for further action, with 578 programs classified as needing optimization or needing to be reviewed and/or monitored. 

“(These findings are) consideration for how to think about the overall health and energy of an academic portfolio across six very different and diverse institutions and to understand where the appropriate people need to turn their attention,” Mike Daly, rpk Group associate, said.

The hiring of rpk Group has raised concern for some, since the firm’s focus lies on identifying program duplication.

“Programmatic duplication is not, in itself, a bad thing as (Kansas higher educational) institutions often serve very diverse communities,” Nate Brunsell, Council of Faculty Senate Presidents chair, said. We want to make sure that there’s not zero-sum thinking involved in the interpretations of (rpk Group’s) results.”

Daly frequently assured the board and those at the meeting that program analysis does not inherently mean program elimination.

“Duplication should not be understood as inherently good or bad within our framework,” Daly said. “Duplication is very often necessary when you think about the geographical distribution of universities that we’re talking about here.”

Currently, no immediate action will be taken based on rpk Group’s findings, based on the Regents’ meeting, but future meetings will likely result in actions. A timeline for rpk presentation, review, and feedback is below.

General questions regarding rpk Group’s project with KBOR can be directed to the Academic Portfolio and Workload Reviews Feedback Form.

Some of the programs marked by rpk can be seen here. An extensive list has yet to be released.