Evaluating, Improving, and Prioritizing Miami's Academic Program Portfolio

Overview

Using a shared governance approach, Miami has embarked on a comprehensive evaluation of its academic programs in order to improve the quality of programs, direct resources to further enhance student success, and ensure that we leverage our resources efficiently and effectively. This process involves: (1) collecting and analyzing extensive data relating to student & employer demand, finances, and staffing for each of Miami’s degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; (2) establishing guidelines for departments and divisions to use in interpreting the data and developing action plans that respond to data findings; (3) creating, vetting and approving departmental action plans; and (4) assessing the overall impact and progress made in implementing the departmental action plans.
Aligned with recommendations nineteen and twenty of Miami’s new strategic plan, the purpose of the Initiative is to ensure that Miami offers the optimal portfolio of academic degree programs that will serve our students, ensure the financial success and longevity of the University, and leverage our human and financial resources wisely.

Steering Committee

This initiative was led by a steering committee of faculty elected from among the members of University Senate, the Chair of the Fiscal Priorities & Budget Planning Committee, Registrar staff, students, and ex-officio members (associate dean from each division, Associate Provost):

Stacey Lowery Bretz, University Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry (chair)

Debbie Coleman, Assistant Clinical Lecturer, Department of Marketing

Jennifer Green, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychology

Tom Poetter, Professor and Chair, Department of Educational Leadership

Susan Spellman, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities & Creative Arts

Harvey Thurmer, Associate Professor, Department of Music

Edith Lui, Student Representative, Associated Student Government

Anil Upreti, Student Representative, Graduate Student Government

Renee Baernstein, Senior Associate Dean, College of Arts & Science

Tim Cameron, Associate Dean, College of Engineering & Computing

Barnali Gupta, Associate Dean, Farmer School of Business

Carolyn Haynes, Associate Provost

Carol Jones, Senior Associate University Registrar, Office of University Registrar

Sherrill Sellers, Associate Dean, College of Education, Health & Society

Liza Skryzhevska, College of Liberal Arts & Applied Science and Regional Campuses

Rose Marie Ward, Interim Dean, Graduate School

John Weigand, Associate Dean, College of Creative Arts

Process and Evaluation

The Steering Committee will: (1) develop the first draft of the guidelines for divisions and departments to follow in crafting and implementing departmental curricular plans that focus upon improving both the quality of our programs and efficiency in delivering them; and (2) make recommendations relating to appropriate University policies. Department Chairs and Deans will monitor the overall progress of the initiative and provide annual reports to document measurable, tangible progress, including the development of new programs, retooling of existing programs, elimination of under-performing programs, courses and sections, and adjustments made to course scheduling and faculty workload plans.

The guidelines address the responsibilities of both Departments and Divisions, including assumptions that frame the process, suggested criteria for data analysis, reviewing and approval of actions plans, program ratings, and actions steps. The Committee has identified example strategies for departments to use in improving efficiency and student success. Draft guidelines will be submitted to the Provost and academic deans for review, revision and approval.

Resources and Support for the Project

External Consulting Services: Miami has contracted two major consulting services, both of whom have deep expertise in providing curricular data: Gray Associates and Hanover Research. Gray Associates’ Program Evaluation System offers an integrated data system and process designed to help higher education institutions evaluate their program portfolios and make curricular decisions. Gray works with Miami leaders to define markets that correctly align with the areas from which they draw students. Gray’s data includes actual student inquiries, Google search, IPEDs completions and custom scoring for each academic program. Gray also designed and facilitated a program portfolio evaluation workshop (held in November 2019) that enabled Miami curricular leaders to understand and interpret the data to help to inform decisions about the curriculum and resources.

In addition to providing data on each existing academic program, an outcome of the Gray workshop is to identify possible opportunities for high-demand majors/degrees not currently offered at Miami. Using these possible program ideas as well as input from our own academic departments, Miami is also utilizing Academic Program Development Solutions by Hanover Research to focus on a select number of potential programs. Hanover Research provides a comprehensive and data-driven report which analyzes the viability of each proposed program in an average of 4-6 weeks. Reports include data relating to academic program benchmarking, employer in-depth interviews, market opportunity scan, prospective student surveys, and market analysis.

Additional Miami Data: The Gray and Hanover data will be supplemented by in-house data provided by the Oracle Business Intelligence tool relating to staffing efficiencies and instructional costs as well as Civitas data relating to student success in courses and programs. Departments will also utilize data that they have gathered for academic program review and other purposes.

Internal Consulting Team: A team of Miami faculty has been formed and trained to assist chairs with interpreting and triangulating data from these multiple sources and to provide support and consultations to individual or small groups of chairs. The team members are:

Stacey Lowery Bretz, University Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry (chair)

Terri Barr, Professor, Department of Marketing

Jennifer Green, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Psychology

Julia Guichard, Professor and Chair, Department of Theatre

Sherrill Sellers, Associate Dean, College of Education, Health & Society

Amit Shukla, Professor and Chair, Department of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering

Susan Spellman, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities & Creative Arts

These consultants will function as a “critical friend” and ask questions to unpack (perhaps unexamined) assumptions about courses, programs, and faculty. They may also work with chairs to develop communication strategies with their department faculty, attend department meetings to hear faculty concerns, answer questions, and lend support to department chairs as they message challenging data and facilitate frank conversations.

Plans are evaluated by deans. Deans may ask for revisions. Final versions are submitted to the Provost for approval.​
Timeline
Date Agenda
September 2019 Identify consulting services to provide relevant data on all academic programs.
October 2019 Define markets that correctly align with the areas from which the University draws students. These custom market definitions ensure that the data provided specifically represent the areas served by Miami.
November - December 2019 Work with external consulting services to gather market and employer data. Work with internal stakeholders and tools to gather financial and staffing data.
November 2019 Form Steering Committee to guide the process
November 2019 Hold Program Portfolio Evaluation Workshop, facilitated by Gray Associates
November 2019 and ongoing Leverage Hanover Research to conduct feasibility studies on potentially promising new academic programs
November 2019 – February 2020 Develop first draft of guidelines for academic divisions and guidelines for academic departments
April 2020 – December 2020 In consultation with deans and internal consultants and using the data provided, departments create curricular plans.
Spring 2021 Plans are evaluated by deans. Deans may ask for revisions. Final versions are submitted to the Provost for approval.
Spring 2021 and annually thereafter Chairs and Deans monitor progress and develop annual report to share with the community and Board of Trustees.