Grad programs may be reviewed

Sam Black

Graduate School Dean Mark Brenner, in an effort to keep a closer eye on programs, has proposed the school to begin a more active review of its current graduate programs.
Brenner discussed the new policies for reviewing graduate programs Thursday at the Board of Regents’ Education Planning and Policy Committee meeting.
Brenner said the new policy would complement, not replace, the formalized way programs are evaluated now.
Currently, programs are reviewed by faculty committees about every seven years, he said. A new policy would use indicators, such as enrollment and attrition, as a kind of running gauge to see if a program should be evaluated.
Just because the Graduate School is monitoring objective statistics like enrollment, Brenner said, the smallest graduate programs aren’t necessarily in jeopardy of being merged or discontinued. “If we see a program in small numbers, they aren’t necessarily destined for changes,” he said. “A lot of small programs are truly gems.”
An important dynamic of program review, Brenner said after the meeting, is that “faculty are not generally going to be disfranchised because of a loss of graduate programs. They may end up in a merged or new program.”
He also clarified the distinction between the discontinuance of programs and the closing of departments. “There is no tenure within a program,” he said. “Tenure is granted within a department.”
Brenner said 13 masters and eight doctoral programs will likely be eliminated by spring 1997, and several others are under discussion. He stopped short of naming specific programs because they are still under review by the school’s six policy review councils.
The school currently has 163 degree-granting programs, and since February 1991, 32 graduate programs have merged or been discontinued.
Any changes will come from the bottom up, Brenner said. “We need to have a lot of consensus building,” he said.
“Graduate faculty, graduate students, budgetary colleges deans and provosts of the programs affected must be involved in restructuring decisions and actions,” Brenner said.
Current graduate students in restructured programs must not be abandoned, he said. “They must be allowed to complete their degree.”
Andrew Toftey, a student representative to the board, asked Brenner how the change in policy would affect undergraduate programs.
Brenner said the policy hadn’t addressed that issue yet, but he hopes to include undergraduate concerns in the proposed evaluation policy.