Program Prioritization


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 process that was used to collect data, to provide evaluations of programs, and to rank them.  The conclusion 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, 2012, December 12, 2012, and May 8, 2013), 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, 2014 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.



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 can also be accessed from university computers using the following path: Computer > Campus (\\ (t:) > Collaboration > Program Prioritization-Audit-Review-Assessment.

To determine whether or not your program is scheduled for program prioritization, please consult the "PP-PAR Schedule," which can also be located following the above path.  This excel document is located within the Program Review folder.


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:

May 16:  All departments with multiple programs should submit the percentages of resources being allocated to each of their programs if any changes have occurred (to

May 23:  Strategic planning statements are due (to

May 30:  Exit survey data is due (to

August 25 (tentative):  Optional session in 23 Hagestad Hall at 8:00 a.m. to discuss the PP-PAR processes.

August 31:  Faculty must have all of their information loaded and proofed in Activity Insight.

September 14: Assessment plans and assessment reports are both due.

October 24 (estimated):  Program chairs will receive copies of the PP-PAR data reports.

November 11 (estimated):  Engagement reports are submitted by program chairs to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (i.e. emailed to

November 18 (estimated):  PP-PAR Engagement Committee Members will receive information regarding how to score the "engagement exercise."

December 2 (estimated):  PP-PAR Engagement Committee Members will submit scores for the "engagement exercise."

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


Programs in 2016 PP-PAR

The following programs are in the 2016 program prioritization cycle (i.e. 2016-2017).

Accounting BS & BA
Animal Science BS
Art BFA & BS
Art Education BS & BA
BFA (Fine Arts)
Biology BS & BA (also in PAR)
Business Administration BS & BA
Business Administration MBA
Computer Science & Information Systems BS
Dairy Science BS
English BS & BA (also in PAR)
Environmental Science BS (also in PAR)
Geography BS & BA (also in PAR)
Psychology BS & BA (also in PAR)
Secondary Education MSE (also in PAR), includes:
   Secondary Education Mathematics
   Secondary Education Montessori
   Secondary Education Principal Licensure
   Secondary Education Shared Inquiry Communities
   Secondary Education STEMTeach
Sustainable Management BS - collaborative

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

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