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Overview of Program Prioritization at East Carolina University


Background. East Carolina University, like other major public universities across this country, has a mission of instruction, scholarship and research, service, and engagement. The vision for ECU directs the institution to achieve leadership in a selected number of strategic directions while delivering excellent undergraduate and graduate degree programs and making significant contributions to the economic vitality of eastern North Carolina and beyond.

Current funding is under continuing downward pressure and few new resources are available for investment in strategic priorities. The university must use existing resources in the most efficient manner possible within and across all divisions. In order to increase the efficient use of our limited resources the university will prioritize programs. This prioritization process will create a roadmap for investment and reallocation over time. Our view of program prioritization is a positive one which emphasizes the importance of self-study and reflection that yields deeper understanding of our academic and service programs and the resources needed to support them. The process will identify opportunities for longer-term reallocation that will enable us to better achieve our mission. The intent is for this important process to be as inclusive and transparent as possible. To that end, this web site will provide a key resource for communication. The entire campus community is encouraged to provide ideas and feedback to the Program Prioritization Committee. In addition to this web site, we will employ college forums, university forums, and briefing sessions with campus leadership groups.

Phase I. The process for the prioritization of programs at ECU involves two phases. First, at the request of the Chancellor in February 2011, the Educational Planning and Policies Committee (EPPC) of the Faculty Senate developed a general framework to guide program review. The framework consists of three basic dimensions (Centrality, Productivity, and Quality) along with nearly 100 indicator variables to situate programs on the three dimensions. In addition to providing this initial empirical framework for prioritization, the EPPC also considered the possibility for greater administrative efficiency through academic reorganization. Given a severe time constraint, the EPPC provided a real "conversation starter" with one reorganization scenario. That single suggestion for reorganization drew considerable attention and elicited very valuable feedback from across the campus. The EPPC presented the Framework and the Reorganization Option to the Faculty Senate and the campus in April 2011.

Phase II. Subsequently, the Program Prioritization Committee (PPC) was appointed by the Chancellor in April of 2011 with very broad structural representation, including six faculty members. The PPC's first purpose is to refine the EPPC's prioritization framework by considering important feedback from the campus community and to develop an inclusive and transparent prioritization process as we move forward in reimagining ECU. Departments, schools, and colleges will be directly involved in prioritizing their own programs as we consider alternative futures. While the EPPC provided a starting point with a single academic reorganization scenario, the PPC will develop several scenarios and encourage campus-wide conversation as we assess the academic effectiveness and financial efficiencies associated with varied reorganization options. Because programs are the heart of the university and provide its building blocks, program prioritization will be the first order of PPC business. Only after priorities are established can the building blocks be assembled into appropriate structures for campus consideration. As a result, the PPC envisions a final recommendation on program priorities no later than January 16, 2012 and a recommendation on potential academic reorganization no later than April 30, 2012. Any changes to the timeline will be effectively communicated to the entire campus community through this webpage and other means.