University Initiates Process to Cut Doctoral Programs
By Jeff Bossert
The initial paperwork has started to eliminate some doctoral programs at the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus.
But U of I Trustees will not be voting to cut any of them this week. Graduate College Dean Deba Dutta cautions this is a first step in a lengthy process.
All 98 such programs went through such a review by an 18-member faculty committee, but did not use national rankings, like those published in US News and World Report.
Instead, the group used criteria, such as how faculty and resources made an effective program, and how well they prepared students.
Paired with letters from faculty and confidential student surveys, Dutta says in many cases, this process has allowed faculty to re-imagine doctoral degrees.
“It has provided a framework in which the changes the faculty think they need to do in order to serve the students better, to address the intellectual shifts in their own domains," he said. "It has been very effective.”
Dutta calls the assessments ‘instruments for positive change’.
He says the process for shuttering a doctoral program begins with the program itself, then its college on campus, the graduate college, U of I Academic Senate and then to the U of I’s Board of Trustees.
At Thursday’s meeting on the Springfield campus, Trustees will hear an update from the Provost on which ones are in the initial stages of closure.
As for the future, Dutta says all doctoral programs will be reviewed on a four-year cycle, looking at 20 to 25 per year. He says that will provide more time to revisit the assessment process.