Questions and Rumors

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Mid-Week Questions and Rumors *

Program Prioritization Task Force

Snippets of Record for Week # 09
April 28, 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 -
“I worry about almost all there is to worry about in life.”
Charles Schulz, Cartoonist

Charlie Brown

Q: What's new?

A: On a light note:
“Keep your humor coming! Thanks for the weekly brighteners 
“Keep the Snippets tone and format, as is. Great job!”

On a more philosophical note, the PPTF has been and continues to be a “work in progress.” Its most distinguishing characteristic has been and continues to be its phenomenal transparency. Such candid transparency, however, has both an upside and a downside.

Consider for a moment the nature of this much ballyhooed term: transparency. Transparency—by way of analogy—is principally a property of glass, but not all glass is equally transparent. In fact, transparency does not even make glass to be glass. Instead, it is the characteristic quality of some glass that acquires transparency.

So it is with administrative structures and governance structures. Transparency is a desired property that has been experienced all too infrequently. Our Campus prizes this esteemed quality, not only because it is desirable in itself, but also because it is so rarely experienced. Why, you may ask, is it so rarely experienced? Well, on the downside, transparency when put into practice exposes us—warts and all. Consequently, the PPTF has courageously chosen to expose its warts and shortcomings, not only because it values keeping the Campus well-informed, but also because it values earning the much respected trust of the Campus.

Q: “What has resulted from last Thursday’s (04/22) noontime meeting of chairs with OIR?”

A:In true Charlie Brown fashion, the PPTF has worried itself silly about everything that could possibly go wrong, and has convened its meetings several times since last Thursday. Consequently, as a result of the feedback provided, several alterations in the design and direction of the procedures have occurred, including:

  1. Postponing—as of last Friday(04/23)—the April 30 th deadline to May 14th.
    • The PPTF heard you, saw you, and felt you at last Thursday’s noontime meeting and has taken to heart your challenges and your suggestions for clarifying and simplifying the templates.
  2. Repositioning the templates to allow for a 200-word narrative, as well as affording some additional space for including general commentary.

    • Some items have been eliminated as a result, including Item 2.1(d,e,f),; Item 3.2(a); and Item 4.1.(a)—to mention a few.

    • The revised template goes onto the famed P-Drive on May 3rd.
       * Consequently, the P-Drive will close down for construction work @ High Noon tomorrow, Thursday, 04/29)
       * This delay in sending out will allow for testing the beta version.

  3. Maintaining the integrity of all data recently submitted by some programs by transferring their already entered data into the newly expanded format, while still providing the added opportunity to expand and/or revise.
  4. 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
    The basic features of the Operations Data-Template Manual are essentially the same as what was previously posted under FAQ on the BlackBoard and/or Web Site.
       * These added clarifications, refined operational terminology, and real-world examples have all resulted from Campus input.
    Program-level data from OIR will still be provided with the modified templates, only if such data caches are verifiably up-to-date.
       * Point I: Some OIR data caches are based on definitions not commonly shared by all programs, and some data caches are not all broken down by PeopleSoft at a program-specific level.
       * Point II: Ample opportunity in the 200-word narrative section allows for program data to be entered and/or justified.

    Department-level data is being eliminated during this initial phase of data collection and the term “removed” will appear in various locations.
       * Chairs will have a later—yet to be announced—opportunity to provide their own quantitative/qualitative input on the template sections showing the term: “removed.”
       * Chairs will also have a yet-to-be-announced opportunity to meet with the PPTF to discuss their various programs, individually.
  5. Reenforcing the validity and reliability of the OIR data caches.
    OIR has met with several program heads in the past several weeks and has been amenable to correcting its numerical summaries, when justified. The number of times corrections were made to the joint satisfaction of both OIR and the program head was quite minimal and largely due to terms being given separate meanings; i.e., to terms not being operationally defined.

    The PPTF has adopted a policy of giving the program the benefit of the doubt whenever a disparity appears between the two sets of data.

    The PPTF has consistently maintained that the narrative discourse portion of each template will provide the TF with the opportunity to be making qualitative analyses, so that the ultimate rankings will not be
    exclusively numbers-driven.

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