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K-State Today

March 12, 2021

Task force formed to design and implement universitywide academic program review and revitalization process

Submitted by Chuck Taber

Dear colleagues,

Today I am announcing a university initiative to design and implement a process to support universitywide academic program review and revitalization. This is one of several initiatives currently underway that will help advance Kansas State University into the future.

Many universities have institutionalized an academic program review process with elements of data collection, a self-study review, and an evaluation process that eventually leads to decisions about investment and growth. Such processes can support continuous program improvement, innovation, and sustainability. While we have always participated in the Kansas Board of Regent's academic program review and external accreditation processes, we have never engaged in a comprehensive review of all academic programs. While we may have needed such a process pre-pandemic, there is no doubt that we are at a critical point. If there is a right time to do it, the time is now.

We cannot expect to come out of this pandemic the same university, nor should we want that. We need to address our academic programs and ask critical questions such as: do students want it? Is the program what society needs? We need to make strategic choices and changes based on a comprehensive review and evaluation of changing student needs and emerging opportunities.  

Academic innovation is a key strategic focus for us as we look to our future. We also know we do not have a budget right now that allows us to continue as we have — a comprehensive review of our academic programs is one of the ways we as a university can strategically respond to that reality.  

Over the coming months, a task force will research, design and implement a universitywide, data-informed, recurring academic review process. Through this work, we will establish a common framework and set of metrics that will provide an objective and transparent path to reveal programs for revitalization, investment and growth. A universally accepted comprehensive review process provides a critical decision support tool for our faculty and academic leadership. As we plan for the future, academic program review data will help drive innovative curriculum, and support continuous program improvement. The data can also drive investment decisions and promote financial viability by assuring we meet contemporary market demands and opportunities. I look forward to the development of an academic review process that is collaborative, promotes academic excellence and accountability, and supports the long-term viability of the university.

Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education, and John Buckwalter, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences, have agreed to co-chair the Academic Program Review and Revitalization Task Force. Additional task force members: 

  • Jenny Bormann, professor of animal sciences and industry, College of Agriculture and member, Faculty Senate Academic Affairs Committee.
  • Gary Clark, senior associate dean, Carl R. Ice College of Engineering.
  • Royce Ann Collins, associate professor of educational leadership, College of Education.
  • Tanya González, professor of English, College of Arts and Sciences and past president, Faculty Senate.
  • Troy Harding, professor and director of integrated studies, K-State Polytechnic.
  • Matt Knox, professor and head of architecture, College of Architecture, Planning & Design.
  • Katie Linder, executive director for program development, K-State Global Campus.
  • Sonya Lutter, professor and head of applied human sciences, College of Health and Human Sciences.
  • Brian McCornack, professor and head of entomology, College of Agriculture.
  • Ellyn Mulcahy, associate professor and head of Master of Public Health program, College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Bin Ning, associate provost for institutional research.
  • Claudia Petrescu, vice provost for graduate education and dean, Graduate School.
  • Tim Steffensmeier, professor and director of leadership communication, Staley School of Leadership Studies.
  • Scott Tanona, associate dean for academic affairs, College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Bill Turnley, professor and head of management, College of Business Administration.
  • Lynn Carlin, special assistant to the provost and executive vice president, ex officio.
  • Ethan Erickson, chief financial officer and director of budget planning, ex officio.
  • Emily Lehning, special assistant, Office of the Provost, ex officio.
  • Sandra Brase, executive assistant, Office of the Provost, staff support.

We thank all the task force members for their willingness to commit their time in the coming months to take on this very important work. The task force's work is scheduled to begin next week and extend through the summer and fall although the exact timeline has not yet been determined.

To launch this university initiative, a virtual open forum will be held for faculty and staff from 1-2:30 p.m. on March 25. The forum will include a presentation, "Academic Vital Signs," by Dr. David Vuletich, senior director of EAB's Research Advisory Services and time for questions. The forum will be streamed on the provost's website. Access will require a K-State eID. 

I invite everyone to engage in conversations about the role of academic program review and revitalization in the continuous improvement of our academic portfolio and the long-term viability of our university. Project updates, resources, and frequently asked questions will be available on the Academic Program Review and Revitalization website in the coming weeks. You may email your ideas, questions and suggestions to aprr@k-state.edu.


Chuck Taber
Provost and Executive Vice President