Program Prioritization

History and Background

Background - Recent History and Why We are Using Program Prioritization (PP-PAR)

The campus community has requested program prioritization for more than a decade.  For example, there were periodic  informal discussions about the need for this type of process during the administration of Chancellor Anne Lydecker.  Subsequently, during the beginning stage of Reach for the Future in 2006, as that strategic planning process was labeled, there were meetings in the River Falls Public Library that included faculty, staff, and administrators; the item that received the most support, by far, was prioritization.  Since then the university community has worked collaboratively to utilize program prioritization.  In 2008-09 the Faculty Senate and Chancellor Connie Foster approved a prioritization processdocument that was used to collect data, to provide evaluations of programs, and to rank them.  The conclusiondocument reached after implementing the effort reads, in part, "Faculty Senate accepts the current program prioritization process as an appropriate and useful exercise that should be seen through to conclusion. . . . Faculty Senate recommends that program prioritization, upon revision, become an ongoing initiative . . ." 

During 2010-2013 the program prioritization process was reviewed by the Academic Program and Policy Committee, an ad hoc Committee on Program Prioritization, the Faculty Senate, and the Administration.  Input from the university community was critical to the collaborative development of the revised plan, and Faculty Senate approved the new program prioritization processes on three separate occasions (May 2, 2012document, December 12, 2012document, and May 8, 2013document), with strong support from Chancellor Dean Van Galen.  The Faculty Senate vote on May 8, 2013 showed 22 votes in favor, 0 opposed, and 0 abstentions, and these votes initiated a "trial year" designed to test the process.

After conducting the first "trial year" of program prioritization some modifications of the process were approved by the Faculty Senate on February 5, 2014document by a vote of 18 in favor, 1 opposed, and 2 abstentions.



Program Prioritization Process Goals

First, the process is intended to provide useful information to the campus at large, to departments and programs to help with ongoing responsibilities such as assessment and program improvement, and to decision makers who determine staff and resource allocations.  It is critical to stress that the process is informative for decision makers, rather than deterministic.   

Second, the university is transitioning from a seven-year program review process to a six-year program review process. One goal of program prioritization is to combine the two processes.  Hence, the label PP-PAR (program prioritization and program audit and review) has been used. 

Third, programs are currently required to file annual assessment reports.  Another goal of PP-PAR is to integrate the annual assessment reports into a single, combined process, creating synergies and efficiencies between program prioritization, program audit and review, and assessment.


Files and Information

Program Prioritization Files and Information

PP-PAR files and information are located on the university's T-drive, accessible to faculty, staff, and administrators through Falcon Share.  The files for 2014 can also be accessed from university computers using the following path: Computer > Campus (\\ (t:) > Collaboration > Program Prioritization-Audit-Review-Assessment > Program Review.


Key Dates

Program Prioritization Deadlines and Tasks (partial listing)*

Program chairs should access the PP-PAR files on the T-drive for additional information and directions.  The upcoming tasks and deadlines include:

April 2:  11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and April 3, 11:00 a.m.  Voluntary sessions to discuss the 2014 PP-PAR processes (all sessions cover the same information).

April 28: Strategic planning statements are due.

May 5:  Departments with multiple programs must submit the percentages of resources being allocated to each of the programs.

May 23:  Senior exit survey data is due.

September 15: Assessment plans are due (assessment reports are optional, but also due on this date).

November 3:  Engagement reports are due.

November 18:  Chairs will receive information regarding the "engagement exercise."

December 8:  Chairs and deans will submit scores for the "engagement exercise."

* Dates are subject to revision, and appropriate notice will be provided if changes occur.


Questions related to program prioritization should be directed to Associate Vice Chancellor Wes Chapinmail, 104 North Hall, (715) 425-0629.

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