Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Faculty react to finalized academic program review

In their first meeting of the academic year, the Faculty Senate hit the ground running as the body responded to the newly-approved academic program review framework from the Kansas Board of Regents on Aug. 28.

Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) met on June 14-15 and approved the academic program review framework for the six state universities under their jurisdiction while, as Chase Billingham pointed out, most faculty at these universities were off contract.

Ashlie Jack, the associate vice president of institutional effectiveness, gave a presentation to Faculty Senate that broke down what the KBOR-approved framework for academic program review means for Wichita State.

According to Jack, most of Wichita State’s current academic program review process falls in line with KBOR’s new policies. 

“What we have done within that template, we have aligned every element to KBOR and or the HLC (Higher Learning Commission) criteria that it needs,” Jack said.

Prior to KBOR’s guidelines, Wichita State conducted their own program reviews every four years. Jack said that the system-wide policy was put in place because not every university in the KBOR system did that in the past.

The review system that will be in place for Academic Years (AY) 25-28 looks at six criteria: market demand, student demand, a program’s worth to fulfill a university’s mission, the program’s quality, the program’s service to the university and beyond and the program’s cost-effectiveness.

Physics Sen. Terrance Figy questioned who decided this criteria. He said that the framework does not account for students going to graduate school or finding success in lower-paying positions.

Figy gave an example of a physics student leaving the state to go to the physics program at Cal Tech as a doctorate student.

“They’re not going to be making 280% of the poverty level within five years, and they will have left the state to go to an excellent physics program,” Figy said. “In no normal program review would that be a negative for your program.”

Jack refuted this point, saying that there is space on these reviews to “tell our story” and account for these kinds of situations.

Billingham, an at-large senator from sociology, criticized Jack’s presentation, saying that it didn’t express the urgency of the situation.

“The Board of Regents put this item on their agenda, surprising even members of the Board of Regents, to essentially remove program review out of the hands of the universities and put it into the hands of the Board of Regents,” Billingham said. 

An outline for a system-wide review of academic programs during AY 24, the current school year, was also laid out during the June 14 Academic Affairs meeting.

At their in-person board meeting on Sept. 20, KBOR and the Board Academic Affairs Standing Committee (BAASC) will compile a list of programs that are five years or older and do not meet at least two of these criteria: 

  • 25 or more juniors and seniors on a four-year average 
  • 10 or more graduates on a four-year average
  • 51% or more graduates working in the region on a four-year average
  • the 2022 five-year post-grad median salary of $38,050 or more

According to Daniel Archer, vice president of student affairs for KBOR, the region includes Kansas and Missouri.

Once this list is put together, it will be handed to the universities, who have three options: phase out the academic program, merge the academic program in a cost-effective way or create an action plan to review and monitor the program for no more than three years.

These plans will be submitted to BAASC, who will make recommendations to KBOR, who will then make the final decision on the fate of these programs.

Archer said at the June 14 academic affairs meeting that programs deemed “mission critical” would be taken into special consideration. 

When asked by a fellow board member about what that means, Archer said, “I think it’s hard for us to have a really clear-cut, broad definition that applies across the board because I think you could make the argument that any program probably (fits).”

Archer went on to say that a more finite definition could be determined during a conference call prior to the Sept. 20 meeting, if needed.

Faculty Senate will meet again on Sept. 11, a week and a half before KBOR finalizes the list of programs that will go under further review.

Updates on policies and other old business

KBOR updates

KBOR met in June to approve the framework for program review. Wichita State has requested their rpk report with specific feedback and does not anticipate getting a response, according to Jolynn Dowling, president of Faculty Senate.

Market-based compensation update

Faculty received a 2.5% salary increase for FY23. Wichita State faculty are still 15% below the market average. Human Resources will present their plan for FY25 to the Faculty Senate in October

Academic integrity policy and committee update

The Academic Integrity Policy Committee needs to reconvene for the Fall 2023 semester, and the revised process for Academic Integrity Hearings, first presented last spring, will be tabled until they meet again. 

The Academic Integrity Committee is looking for faculty to sit for hearings and help work through the backlog from the summer. Teri Hall, vice president of student affairs, and 

Dowling met during the summer to plan how to recruit faculty to serve on the committee. 

Their current plan is to have three faculty members sit for any one academic integrity hearing: two from the home college of the offender and one from any college.

Course evaluations and survey update

Course Evaluations and Survey (CES) is the new evaluation tool for students to complete faculty evaluations, which debuted during the spring semester on Blackboard. Dowling encouraged faculty to follow their departmental policy in regards to evaluations and tenure and promotion. 

Non-tenure track appointment policy update

The non-tenure track appointment policy changes were sent to General Counsel and are waiting on approval. Both Dowling and provost Shirley Lefever have made attempts to expedite the process.

During informal statements, history senator George Dehner brought attention to an episode of “I’ve Got Issues” on PBS that featured a discussion about tenure and academic freedom

Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Trinity Ramm
Trinity Ramm, Managing Editor
Trinity Ramm is the managing editor and former sports editor for The Sunflower. This is her second year on staff. Ramm is a senior English Lit major and a sociology minor with a certificate in film studies. In her limited spare time, she can be found at the movie theater, browsing some obscure film database or crocheting. Ramm uses she/her pronouns.
Mia Hennen
Mia Hennen, Editor in Chief
Mia Hennen is the current editor in chief for The Sunflower. Before becoming editor, Hennen was the news/managing editor. They are a junior at Wichita State majoring in English and minoring in communications and Spanish, hoping to pursue any career involving writing or editing.

Comments (0)

All The Sunflower Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *