Action Plan for the University Strategic Plan


 



     

2004 Action Plan - Appendix 1 - Quality, centrality, viability, and comparative advantage of programs, centers, and activities

January 20, 2004

What is the focus of the university? What are the central programs, centers, and activities? What is the university known for? What are the program clusters that have come to characterize Georgia State?

How can the university take advantage of its location in Atlanta?

For many years, we have informed allocation of net new revenues through the strategic plan. This year, we are taking a comprehensive look at the total Education & General budget through a process of examination of academic programs and centers and all the activities that support the mission of the university. Beginning with a college-based and unit-based review process, the University will evaluate programs, centers, and activities according to their quality, centrality, viability, and comparative advantage. We will examine programs, centers, and activities that are less central and/or of low viability to identify potential funds for redirection. We will request proposals for Areas of Focus. In this manner, we will ensure that all activities and programs are aligned with the strategic plan. As we move forward towards our Centennial vision, we need to continue to enhance the quality of our programs, departments and centers, and support activities, through balanced investment in Areas of Focus, Action Plans from APR and ASUR, NTT to TT position conversion, graduate student support, maintenance of credit hours, and strengthened infrastructure.

The process of redirection of internal funds to supplement new external support will probably take several years to implement. However, our detailed examination of multiple programs, centers, and activities for centrality, viability, duplication, value added, and quality is not intended to be a continuing process. Rather, it is an opportunity to examine our total budget instead of just examining requests for incremental increases to the budget. Our normal ongoing cycle of Academic Program Review and Administrative & Support Unit Review will continue to afford us occasions to improve our departments, centers, and support units. Our normal annual budget process will continue after this year to be informed by the results of this year's detailed analysis.

Evaluation Criteria for Academic Programs and Research Centers:

We are seeking to position the university to develop and/or maintain all programs and centers to be of high quality over the next ten years. For programs and centers, combination of quality, centrality, viability, and comparative advantage will be our starting point.

(1) Quality:

Program quality measures include analysis through Academic Program Review. Other indicators include external data that benchmark a program relative to high quality programs in other academic institutions. Internal indicators could include, but not be limited to research funding per faculty member, number and quality of scholarly/creative contributions produced, GRE/GMAT/LSAT/other scores of accepted and enrolled students and the success of graduates measured via employment or acceptance into prestigious graduate programs, research output, and time to graduation. Other indicators could include pass rates on licensure examinations, etc.

(2) Centrality :

Centrality is a relative term that is used when judging the 'degree of fit' between a specific program and the traditions, character, and directions of a university. The relative centrality of a specific program is usually determined by judging the degree to which the program connects to the program clusters that have come to characterize Georgia State. While program clusters are usually defined through specific colleges, with each featuring at least one major focus, we are also re-examining our areas of focus that might cut across traditional colleges.

Program clusters are:

  • Biosciences and Health
  • Business
  • Literacy and P-16 educator preparation
  • Culture and values
  • Government/Economics
  • International studies
  • Physical environment
  • Social policy

To which program cluster does this program connect?

In what ways does this program advance the overall mission of Georgia State? Of the college or department in which the program is housed?

In what ways does the program connect to the major program clusters that have come to characterize Georgia State? To what extent does the program area require courses from other programs? To what extent do other program areas require or recommend courses in this program area? To what extent do non-majors take courses in this program area?

What would the college and the university gain specifically if the program were expanded, and what would they lose if it were discontinued or contracted?

Examples of centrality include but are not limited to: a) the liberal arts are central to a research-oriented university; b) accounting is central to a business college; c) educator preparation programs are central to a college of education.

In the evaluation of centers, questions of centrality include: to which program cluster does the center connect? In what ways is the center integrally related to the work of one or more academic departments? Is there a graduate "field of study" directly linked to the work of the center?

(3) Viability:

Another lens for assessing academic programs is viability. The approach looks at programs with few graduates, but recognizes that some small programs could grow appreciably with small investments. For viability, we will use the Regents criteria, as a first cut to determine which programs needs additional scrutiny. These criteria are:

  • Masters and Specialists Programs
  • Graduate enrollment in the major (average over the past three years) is less than 10.
  • Graduate degrees awarded in the major (average over the past three years) are less than five.
  • Bachelor's Programs
  • Pass rates on licensure examinations is more than 10 percent below the state or regional average, if applicable.
  • Enrollment in the major (average over the past three years) is less than 15.
  • Degrees awarded in the major (average over the past three years) are less than 10.

One of our objectives is to strengthen the quality of our research and doctoral programs and increase the number of doctoral degrees awarded. We will examine established doctoral programs that awarded fewer degrees in the major than 10 in three years (running three year average).

(4) Comparative advantage:

Comparative advantage is an assessment of the location, size, and number of such programs in the metropolitan area and how the programs at Georgia State compare to programs at other institutions. It is also based on a distinctive approach or on the compelling advantage of partnerships with Atlanta or the attributes of Atlanta such as seat of local and state government, international airport, CDC, a cosmopolitan, multicultural, and urban environment, and a media center.

The dimensions of quality, centrality, viability, and comparative advantage will be examined within the context of the Chancellor's budget principles. The Chancellor's guidelines include:

  • Within an institution and across instructional programs, high-enrollment, high-graduation programs usually take precedence over low-demand, low-graduation programs.
  • Broad teaching, research, and service activities that serve larger numbers of students and residents take precedence over more targeted teaching, research, and service activities that serve fewer numbers of students and residents.
  • At the research universities, high quality instruction and research take precedence over all other activities.
  • Institutions exist first and foremost to serve students. Direct academic and student support services take precedence over other institutional functions.
  • Activities that serve a large number of students and residents should be given preference.

Evaluation Criteria for Administrative and Support Unit Activities:

We create value through activities. There is little or no relationship between our revenue stream [state appropriations and tuition] and our outcomes [student learning, new knowledge, economic development, community engagement or contribution to the public good]. It's the activities that produce the outcomes that are our expenses. Hence, we will work from the premise that it is not outputs that consume resources, but activities. Activity based budgeting (ABB) can be applied to dissect the costs of processes and/or services. A primary benefit is that all activities and services would be identified and that the cost of providing those services would be known. For activities, one objective is to find duplicated activities that might be consolidated. Another objective is to improve communication and collaboration for an activity that is both central and decentralized. A third objective is to uncover activities that occur at higher cost than at comparable universities. Another objective is to uncover activities that add little value. Quality of activities can be evaluated from perspectives of accuracy, timeliness, responsiveness, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Evaluation Process for Selecting Programs, enters, and Administrative and Support Unit Activities to be Reviewed:

Process to Determine Program Clusters that Characterize Georgia State:
  1. Deans Group will refine the draft list of program clusters.

Process for Determining Central Administrative and Support Unit Activities:
  1. The deans and vice presidents, in consultation with their unit heads, will propose a draft list of direct support, background support, and other activities for their divisions. This list will be further classified into central and non-central activities for their divisions.

  2. Administrative Council will refine the draft list of central and non-central activities.

Process to Determine Programs and Centers for Additional Examination:
  1. The deans, in consultation with their department chairs and/or faculty, will propose a draft list of programs and centers in their colleges that are rated either low or low-medium in at least one of the criteria [quality, centrality, viability, comparative advantage]. Ratings will be high (1), medium (2), and low (3). For each program or center on the list, ratings must be provided for all criteria.

  2. Deans Group will refine the draft list of programs and centers for all colleges.

  3. The Strategic Planning subcommittee (SPSC) will establish faculty and administrator teams, including membership from Executive, APACE, Library Advisory, and Research Senate committees, to make recommendations on potential modifications to the programs and centers on the Deans Group list. Evaluation teams and programs/centers under review will be given a set of guidelines. The program or center under review will have an opportunity to respond in writing to questions from its evaluation team and to the recommendations. There will be coordination among various evaluation teams to ensure consistency in the review process.

  4. Activities in vice presidential divisions, college support areas, IS&T, Library, and enrollment management will undergo a modified zero-based budgeting - we will start with budget assumed at a skeletal level of 90% of current budget (SBB). This process has still to be refined by taking into consideration relative costs at benchmark institutions to limit the number of units involved in detailed review.

    1. Decision packages will be developed for activities beyond the minimum included for a unit under SBB. A decision package is a document that identifies and describes a specific activity or support program that, when isolated, has minimum impact on other components within a unit.

    2. Units will rank decision packages in order of importance for current as well as proposed activities or support programs.

    3. Deans and vice presidents will evaluate decision packages, rank them against other activities and support programs competing for limited resources within the college or division, and recommend approval or disapproval.

    4. FACP will establish task forces to make recommendations to FACP on decision packages. Each task force will include members of FACP, a senior administrator for areas under review, a senior administrator not immediately responsible for areas under review, and faculty and staff from appropriate Senate committees. Note that FACP has formal representation from Deans Group, vice presidents, Senate budget committee, Senate planning & development committee, staff council, and SGA as well as two senators elected by the Senate council of chairs. Examples of task forces with Senate committee involvement include:
    • Student Services - Student Life & Development
    • Finance & Administration - P&D, Budget
    • Faculty and Staff Support - Faculty Affairs, Staff Council
Timeline for Process:
  • Response to request to vice presidents, deans, etc. for information on EFT involved in activities due October 17, 2003

  • Deans Group refined draft list of program clusters on November 12, 2003

  • RFP for Areas of Focus released on November 14, 2003

  • Deans Group will refine the draft list of ratings on quality, centrality, viability and comparative advantage for all programs and centers that receive a low or low-medium rating on at least one of the criteria on December 19, 2003

  • Vice presidential divisions, college support areas, IS&T, Library, and enrollment management will develop decision packages for activities funded above a skeletal level of 90% of current budget for submission to FACP by January 9, 2004

  • SPSC will establish faculty and administrator teams and guidelines to examine programs and centers that remain on the Deans list for further examination in early January 2004

  • FACP will establish faculty and administrator teams with the charge to make recommendations on potential budget changes to administrative and support units in early January 2004

  • Faculty and administrator teams on programs and centers will make recommendations to SPSC on program and center modifications and to FACP on potential budget changes to the programs and centers in February-April, 2004 in order to inform budget allocation process for FY05 and future years [It is anticipated that budget changes might span several fiscal years]

  • Faculty and administrator teams examining administrative and support units will report back to FACP in February-April, 2004 in order to inform budget allocation process for FY05 and future years [It is anticipated that budget changes might span several fiscal years]

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