TO: Regent

FROM: Richard A. Crofts, Commissione

SUBJECT: Academic Planning Proces

DATE: November 3, 1999

At our work session in September we agreed to pursue the development of an academic planning process (Academic Master Plan). I promised to provide the Regents at this meeting a recommendation on the elements that would comprise such a planning process. I also indicated that I thought we could have many of the elements in place by next September. Some of the elements of this process are already in existence, though modified by these recommendations. Other elements are new. A significant development here is to bring all of these things together in a single process, and ultimately a single document.

Here is the initial list of recommended elements for the new academic planning process:

  • Program productivity review. We are currently in the second round of what we initially called program review. In 1994-95 during the first implementation of this process we eliminated about 100 programs and options from our curriculum. This process flags programs that are not meeting enrollment or degree productivity requirements. Those programs are then reviewed to determine if an action plan would permit them to meet the productivity requirements or if they should be eliminated. In addition, some programs may be continued despite not meeting the productivity targets if they are central or essential to the mission of a particular campus.
  • Faculty productivity review. Measures such as teaching load, student credit hours generated, student/faculty ratio, and others will be used in assessing faculty productivity. Deputy Commissioner Scott will work with the academic officers to develop this review process and methodology.
  • Integration of campus program review and external accreditation. We will be revising our program review policy to make the reporting requirements to the Office of the Commissioner and the Regents more explicit. It will be expected that every program and center will be reviewed with regard to quality considerations every five years. These reviews will be coordinated with the review processes and timelines of external accreditation.
  • We will establish a pre-notice of intent process by which the academic officers under the leadership of the Deputy Commissioner will share with one another programs they are considering for submission of a Notice of Intent.
  • Each year every campus will submit to the Deputy Commissioner a five-year calendar of new programs under consideration.
  • The Deputy Commissioner will periodically carry out a statewide needs assessment for new academic programs.
  • The Board of Regents will identify for each campus its appropriate Carnegie classification and determine if campus plans should include changes in Carnegie classification. The Carnegie Foundation has recently announced changes in its method of classification. Descriptions of those changes are enclosed.
  • Action plans for the implementation of the Board of Regents statement of mission, vision, and goals for the Montana University System will be proposed by each university for all of its campuses.
  • The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education will maintain an accurate inventory of approved academic programs and make that inventory available electronically.
  • The Montana University System Data Warehouse will include data on enrollments, degree productivity, cost of education, and other relevant measures relating to academic programs.
  • The Office of the Commissioner in cooperation with the campuses will prepare and update a web-based guide to non-traditional learning opportunities available to Montanans. These will include distributed learning courses and programs, credit by examination and experience, and exchange programs with other states.