Imagine PNW to analyze academic programs, resources

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PNW administrators revealed Imagine PNW, a two-phase, evaluative process that will scrutinize existing academic programs to plan future spending, during an Aug. 16 presentation.

The process, which is split into two consecutive phases: strategic resource allocation and strategic planning, will “establish priorities” for the university “within existing budget resources,” according to Imagine PNW documents.

Two faculty committees, the academic task force and support task force, are currently being assembled to review and rank PNW’s academic programs. These rankings will play a role in the future-funding of the programs, according to Imagine PNW documents. Members of the committees will be announced on Sept. 21.

Stephen Turner, vice chancellor for Finance and Administration, said recommendations by the task forces should be completed by the end of the Spring 2019 semester.

“We can’t be everything for everybody,” Turner said during a Faculty Senate meeting on Aug. 24. “We need to decide what we are going to be good at.”

Although recommendations can be made by the faculty and staff on the task forces, the ultimate decision to change curriculum is up to the voting members of the Faculty Senate. Questions, however, were raised by Faculty Senate members during an Aug. 24 meeting about whether recommended academic programs would be completely closed or if enrollment to the programs would be closed. The distinction was made as the latter option presents a possible way around Faculty Senate voting processes.

Ralph Mueller, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost, emphasized that curriculum is in the hands of the faculty and that any recommended academic closings will come in front of the Faculty Senate.

Turner said the process will not be without “conflict or controversy.” He continued that the process is preventative in nature, citing PNW’s past budget deficits and layoffs.

For the past two Fiscal years, PNW has amassed budget deficits largely due to declining enrollment. In 2017, PNW accumulated an $8 million dollar deficit and, in the following year, a $3 million dollar deficit, according to past reports from Turner.

The budget deficits were initially handled by offering early retirement to eligible faculty and staff. Last year, however, the leadership of the seven divisions of the university were tasked with reducing positions and supplies. In late January, 2018, seven PNW employees were laid off and 13 vacant positions were eliminated, according to past reports from Turner.

Open forum sessions with enlisted Imagine PNW consultant Larry Goldstein, president of Campus Strategies, will be held on Sept. 4 on the Hammond campus and on Sept. 5 on the Westville campus.