Background - Recent History and Why We are Using the Program Improvement Process (PIP-PAR)
The Program Improvement Process grew out of earlier campus initiatives related to program prioritization. This effort is aligned with the university's focus on continuous improvement and providing the highest quality education possible for students. On Wednesday, October 21, 2020, the Faculty Senate approved a motion to move from program prioritization to program improvement, and this was subsequently approved by Chancellor Connie Foster.
Former Program Prioritization Process (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. Subsequent modifications to the components focusing on the placement of graduates, faculty qualifications, and strategic planning were approved on February 3, 2020.