Questions and Rumors

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Mid-Week Questions and Rumors *

Program Prioritization Task Force

Snippets of Record for Week # 08
April 21, 2010

* These weekly snippets of communication serve as our convenient updates to the Campus community, and are by nature brief and to the point. They complement the more thorough and detailed announcements appearing on our frequent BlackBoard postings and in our occasional Campus-wide electronic mailings. The PPTF believes that “more is better,” and for that reason we have built into our communication plan this feature of purposeful redundancy. Again, a more complete treatment of these issues can be found on the PPTF site of BlackBoard—e.g., FAQs: Academic Program Prioritization, and

- Snippy's Quote of the Week -
"We do not laugh because we are happy,
we are happy because we laugh."

William James, Philosopher/Psychologist

Q: “Why is Snippets so flippant? I fail to see how the humor makes this task of filling out 30 pages of documentation any easier.”

“Why isn’t Snippets written in APA format so that I can understand it?”

“You guys did it again! Snippets just cracks me up! We really need this kind of transparency here on Campus, especially with it being delivered in such a humorous and reader-friendly manner. Keep up the good work!”

“I honestly look forward to reading each new edition of Snippets. It keeps me informed while also tickling my funny bone—something that has been sadly missing on this Campus for a long time.”

A: On a light note, humor is serious business. Humor allows us to keep a sense * of perspective and a grounded sense of balance by reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously, but, instead, to take our work and responsibilities seriously. After all—far better that we have humor posted on the walls of our offices than to have folks flying off the walls of our Campus.

Q:Again from Snippets # 07a: “Are you people nuts? Who is going to read all the data being posted from over 180 programs?”

A: Due to the number of departments that have already commenced entering their program data onto the P-Drive and/or who have already met with the co-chairs of the PPTF the resultant number of program consolidations/eliminations has dropped to a more manageable 61...and that number may fall further.

How did this happen? Several reasons have contributed to this shrinkage, including:

  • 56 consolidations resulted in the removal of “program” Minors that were not more than six credit hours beyond the Majors, including (a) the elimination of certificate “programs,” and (b) the consolidation of “service” courses, labs, and grant-based sequences.
  • The PPTF is only counting those programs that are not duplicated elsewhere. That is, all Majors are counted, but not Minors that are already subsets of the courses offered in the Major
    *** Notable exceptions include: (a) the case of those Minors that seemingly stand alone by not having a corresponding Major, as is the case of Women Studies Minor, and Journalism Minors, and (b) those Minors that differ from the Majors by having more than six credit hours worth of requirements.

Q:“What is the reason for intruding upon Common Time this week (Thursday, April 22nd from 12:45 to 2:15) with a meeting of department chairs and OIR?”

A:The PPTF is most respectful of the purposes of Common Time and believes that this single case of intrusion is justified—due to the plethora of concerns recently expressed by department chairs and program heads concerning the sanctity of the Office of Institutional Research data caches. Thus, the PPTF has requested that OIR—along with Budget Directors within Academic Affairs Division—address the expressions of concern about the apparent disparity between their data caches and the data files maintained within departments.

The OIR meeting is from 12:45—02:15 in Merrill Learning Center, B–111. And as stated in the Campus announcement of April 19th:

The goals of this collegial meeting include:

  1. promoting a constructive dialogue among all the participants on exactly what
    is and what is not operative in the OIR data caches;
  2. suggesting avenues of approach to get around the difficulties in the P-Drive Templates so that ample room is allowed for providing programs with the opportunity to display their qualitative/quantitative justifications in describing their statistical summaries in the most accurate and comprehensive ways possible;
  3. clarifying the data-retrieval issues related to the P-Drive; and,
  4. providing trend data on budget items related to Criterion #08 on the P-Drive.

Selected Snippets from Past Weeks

  • The P-Drive has some twists and turns that we all must navigate carefully.

    - The template is 29 pages long and will probably take several days for  entering program narratives into the 54 data indicators listed.

    - You will receive by April 7th your program's relevant quantitative data-23 caches of data indicators - from OIR; and,

    - you will be providing about 1800 words to address the 31 qualitative data  indicators - at the rate of 100 or 150 words per indicator - to supplement  and/or refute the OIR caches.

  • Data entry onto the P-Drive must be SAVED - not downloaded.

    - Downloading from your WP or WORD documents INTO THE TEMPLATE is  allowable; but not the reverse.

    - The value of SAVED is to allow a re-review of what you have  written; thereby allowing the opportunity to change it.

    - The value of SAVED is that everyone on the P-Drive can see what  each other has composed. This feature of brutal transparency was  not planned - it was an unfortunate glitch in the software.

  • Data entry onto the P-Drive must be SENT by 11:59 p.m. on April  30th.

    - Once you hit the SENT button it is "gone forever from your    control: and is deposited into the public archives of the PPTF.

    - The value of the public transparency that is characterizing the  entire process of the PPTF translates to allowing the SENT archival  treasure troves of all programs to be publicly accessible to the  Campus.

Q: The Call for Program Data announcement was recently released and asks that the data templates for all programs be submitted by April 30th . That is a tall order, considering what has historically been a “short” end-of-the-semester month. What resources will be made available to help with this massive undertaking?

R: The Office of Institutional Research has developed a series of support systems, including.

  • providing summaries of already existing data for the past five years, while at the same time allowing program heads to vouch for the accuracy or inaccuracy of such data caches;
  • providing training and support on accessing the treasure troves within both the DataWarehouse system, and the institutional data within the PeopleSoft system;
  • establishing live training opportunities to help with completing the templates:
  • providing the alumni/alumnae post-graduation survey data; and,
  • encouraging program heads to be supplementing all quantitative indices with appropriately concise qualitative indices of program support.

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