Deadline for academic prioritization process delayed until June

CMU’s academic prioritization program has been delayed from its initial completion deadline.

In his opening remarks during the Thursday’s board of trustees meeting, University President George Ross said the deadline for a survey of academic programs has been changed to June and may not ultimately be completed until the fall.

The original deadline was set for January, said Stephanie Comai, board chairwoman.

“We are not sure if fall is the beginning of the semester or the end of the semester,” Ross said of the potential completion date.

Comai said she was very pleased with the president’s performance during his eight months in office, but was hopeful CMU would be ensured completion of the academic prioritization surveys on deadline.

“It’s a very important strategic initiative,” Comai said. “This is one area we cannot move at ‘university speed’ with — proceed with due haste.”

University speed is an expression Ross coined for the slow moving bureaucracy of large universities.

Ross said he does not want to make excuses for missing the deadline, and fully understands the pressure to accomplish things at a quicker pace.

“The provost and deans act in prioritizing programs, and it’s taking more work (than expected), and we will be as transparent as possible,” Ross said.

Preliminary reports will be made and Ross will be informed of them, he said in response to the board.

“I wasn’t happy to say we’ll miss (the deadline) by 8 to 9 months,” Ross said.

Ross said the process is new and thus was difficult to judge beforehand.

“We underestimated what is involved in getting it done, not having done it before,” Ross said. “There are some 327 programs we are evaluating.” New programs do receive a prioritization evaluation, Provost Gary Shapiro said, but it is unlike the current academic prioritization process.

“We wanted to do (the evaluations) right, and that required a lot of planning,” Shapiro said. “Also, the timeline we set out for originally, the faculty felt it was too short.”

Shapiro said the current plan is to have faculty evaluations for each department completed before the end of spring semester. They will then be sent to each individual college’s dean and then to Shapiro. Shapiro’s decision will be made during the summer.

The board did not give Ross a salary increase during the meeting because of the poor economic climate.

Comai said the university is not facing prosperous times, especially with cuts to state appropriations. Faculty voluntarily took a salary cut and Comai said it would not be productive to give the president a raise at such a time.

In other business, Trustee Sarah Opperman was appointed as the board’s next chairwoman, starting in January when Comai departs.


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