Program Prioritization

Consistent with University of North Carolina instruction and accrediting body standards, Appalachian State University completed a required biannual "low productivity review" and initiated a more comprehensive review of all academic programs. As part of this process, the Office of Academic Affairs worked with faculty and academic leaders in the spring of 2012 to define a review and prioritization process with the intention of identifying programs that:

  • Were poised to move forward toward national excellence;
  • Had capacity to increase research funding or scholarly productivity;
  • Had capacity to increase the service mission;
  • Were poised to add additional degrees; and
  • Had insufficient enrollments or productivity to justify continuing in its current state.

The Program Prioritization Process began in December 2011 with the Provost's presentation to the Faculty Senate on academic program review and prioritization in higher education. The Faculty Senate passed a motion to refer the Program Prioritization Metric discussion to the Senate Campus Planning Committee. This Committee proposed three possible methods for reviewing programs. Embracing the Senate Committee's guidance, a final process for reviewing all programs was accepted in the spring of 2012.

Throughout the 2012-13 academic year, each academic program was reviewed and faculty in each and completed a detailed report including quantitative and qualitative outcomes. These reports were evaluated by faculty committees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and were used by college/school deans to prioritize/rank each degree program. A consolidated report was produced incorporating the outcomes of each college/school review and recommendations formed for each degree program consistent with the original intent of the process. Faculty involvement was crucial throughout the entire program prioritization process. Communication was also important as there were frequent updates from academic leadership including presentations to the Faculty Senate, Council of Chairs, the Chancellor's Cabinet, and the Board of Trustees.

The recommendations in this report were formed with careful consideration of the analysis conducted within each college/school, by faculty leadership at the undergraduate and graduate level, and by prioritization by college/school deans. The full report outlines the contextual framework for the process and more information about the rationale used to form recommendations for program consolidation, program elimination, further monitoring and other changes. The recommendations result in a reduction in the Academic Program Inventory by 26 programs.

In the spring 2014, the campus will begin the process of reviewing minors, concentrations and certificates. These academic offerings require use of the most important resource on the campus - faculty time. This critical resource must be used wisely. Additionally, a process will be developed to identify programs that should be enhanced and provided additional resources, if available.

The Program Prioritization Process, while needed, has been very difficult. While this process involved department faculty, chairs, deans and other faculty groups, it could have been approached in many different ways. However, the end result of choosing this process was reasonable and resulted in recommendations that allow the campus to use resources in the most effective way possible.

A detailed Program Prioritization timeline, related documents and the final report are available at the top left of this page.