Date: Nov. 1, 2013 to: uaa faculty and Staff from: Elisha "Bear" Baker IV, Provost

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DATE:  Nov. 1, 2013

TO:  UAA Faculty and Staff

FROM: Elisha "Bear" Baker IV, Provost

SUBJECT:  Prioritization

On Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, in our regularly scheduled meeting, Faculty Senate President Mark Fitch and I discussed some of the issues raised with regards to the current prioritization efforts.  What became clear to me was that I have misrepresented the process.  Specifically, I have from the beginning stated that this was a faculty- and staff-led process. Technically that is not correct.
There are two commonly used models of faculty involvement in governance at UAA. One, exemplified by the development of the new Faculty Evaluation Guidelines and GER assessment, has the following steps.
1. The administration submits a request for action to the Faculty Senate (alternatively Faculty Senate initiates the request for action).

2. A committee is created and members are selected (not elected).  If the action request was initiated by the Faculty Senate, they will approve the existence of the committee and determine its composition (representation).

3. The committee may research ideas on its own.

4. The committee may take input from faculty.

5. The committee develops recommendations based on input.

6. The committee takes input from faculty on the recommendations.

7. The committee revises the recommendations.

8. The committee brings the recommendation to senate for approval.

9. The recommendations approved by the Faculty Senate are forwarded to the administration for action/implementation.
This type of process typically takes a minimum of two years.  In the case of the Faculty Evaluation Guidelines the process took five years. Another model of faculty involvement, exemplified by the Student Code of Conduct and the hiring of provosts, chancellors and others, has the following steps.
1. The administration requests action on an item.

2. The administration requests recommendations for faculty to serve on the committee from the Faculty Senate, deans or the faculty at large and selects the members from the list of recommendations.  Members are not elected and may or may not include representatives from academic administration and staff.

3. The committee develops recommendations for the item requested by the administration.

4. The committee may at the request of the administration take feedback from faculty. This is common.

5. The committee revises the recommendations.

6. The committee presents the recommendations to the administration.

7. The administration implements the recommendations.
This process can be much faster than the former process.
My inexperience as provost has resulted in many of our faculty believing that the prioritization process was operating under the first structure outlined, the Faculty Senate-driven process.  That is not the case.  The current program prioritization process is operating under the second structure, the administration-driven process.
The Academic Task Force members began their work under this assumption.  A call for membership nominations was sent to the faculty at large by the chancellor.  As provost, I also requested nominations for the membership from the Faculty Senate.
It is apparent to me that many of the faculty members now voicing concern about the prioritization process are doing so under the assumption that this is the Faculty Senate-driven process. Again, this is not the case. Further, to make that change now would require stopping the current work and restarting.  The delay in implementing such change is unacceptable.
Our goal from the beginning was to maximize faculty and staff involvement in academic program and administrative services prioritization by empowering the Academic Task Force and the Administrative Services Task Force to develop the methodology they felt appropriate for the task.  In the process of methodology development, the need for broader faculty and staff input was noted.  Numerous faculty listening session were held.  The input from those meetings was and is being considered by the task forces separately and jointly.
The recommendations for process implementation are being approved by the administration. We will go forward with this process.  The prioritization effort will be integrated into the UAA management and budgeting process.  Specifically, the results of prioritization will be used to guide the budget allocation (and reallocation) process through the PBAC, the committee of faculty, staff and administrators responsible for university-level resource allocation.  
Prioritization is part of continuous process improvement.  It will be an ongoing effort.  The program and services template data developed will be maintained. Reprioritization will be necessary on a periodic basis, perhaps every five years.  The process used in the next reprioritization can be discussed by the faculty and staff and redesigned as necessary to meet the evolving needs of the institution over the next several years.
A draft post prioritization process for academic programs is under review by the administration.  (A similar process for administrative services will be developed.)  That draft process is outlined below.
1. May 9, 2014: AcTF prioritization report is released to the campus.

2. August 2014: Programs categorized as “subject to further review” (and/or “transform”) may request reconsideration of placement in AcTF prioritization report by written request to the provost no later than Aug. 22, 2014.

3. Sept. 30, 2014: Program’s approved by the provost for reconsideration will submit the written response and other requested materials to the provost. 

4. October & November 2014: Provost meets with departments who have submitted written materials. 

5. December 2014: Provost submits final report to the chancellor.

6. January 30, 2015: Chancellor’s final report and decisions released.  

7. April 2015: PBAC integrates prioritization recommendations and chancellor’s decisions into budget process: Deans include context of prioritization in proposals, requests must include prioritization ranking.  PBAC investment must be guided by the prioritization rankings without exception (no consideration for investment if not so prioritized). 

8. December 2018: All programs submit updated and complete templates.

9. January 2019: New Academic Task Force reviews all programs for prioritization review during Spring 2019.  

10. Repeat program prioritization on a 5-year rotation in replacement of program review.  Align revision of plans (strategic, academic, etc.) to utilize program prioritization results.

In summary, much of the current misunderstanding is my fault. I have stated many times that this is a faculty-driven process. With Mark Fitch’s consultation I now understand the confusion this has caused and accept the responsibility for the stress that has resulted in faculty, staff and the administration. My goal from the beginning was to maximize stakeholder input in the prioritization process. I believe the current process meets that goal.
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