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~~J Rodney A. Erickson (814) 865-2505
_ Executive Vice President FAX: (814) 863-8583
~ and Provost of the University E-mail: email@example.com
The Pennsylvania State University 201 Old Main
University Park, PA 16802-1589
TO: Susan Welch
SUBJECT: Core Council Recommendations Regarding the College of the Liberal Arts
The Academic Program and Administrative Services Core Council ("the Core Council") has discussed the recommendations received from the University Park Academic Review Coordinating Committee (UP ARCC) regarding the College of the Liberal Arts (CLA) programs and operations, and the background information you have provided about the College, its successes, and its challenges. The Campus Academic Program Review Coordinating Committee (CAPRCC) also reviewed curricular and operational matters that might affect one or more campuses and these comments were taken into consideration in the formulation of the UP ARCC recommendations to the Core Council.
The purpose of this memo is to share with you the response of the Core Council to various College of the Liberal Arts organizational, operational, and curricular issues and initiatives, and to make recommendations for such further changes based on the analysis and deliberations of UP ARCC and the Core Council. I should also state for the record that you did not participate in the deliberations of either UP ARCC or the Core Council regarding recommendations for the College of the Liberal Arts.
The College of the Liberal Arts is a large, complex organization serving virtually every undergraduate student at University Park (and beyond) through its delivery of General Education and the curricular requirements of degree programs in other colleges. The Core Council commends the College for its overall academic excellence. We note the phenomenal strides the College has made over the past decade in the quality of its graduate programs as reflected in the recent National Research Council evaluations of doctoral programs. It is clear that many CLA doctoral programs are among the most elite in the nation.
The CLA faculty are highly successful in securing external funding relative to peer academic units with similar disciplines represented. The College has made a considerable investment in World Campus programming and begun to generate a significant revenue stream.
The College is to be commended for numerous cost-saving and quality enhancing initiatives that have been implemented during your tenure as dean. You and your
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colleagues have led the way with many best practices including ways to share infrastructure and support services. As we elaborate below, we think the College can move toward even further streamlining and rebalancing.
The College of the Liberal Arts has two missions, as noted in the College's Strategic Plan (2008"2013): "First, excellence in the liberal arts is essential to any university with aspirations to national leadership. Thus, the College must playa leading role in the University's drive for increased national research prominence. Second.Jand-grant institutions, as noted by the Morrill Act nearly 150 years ago, must be dedicated to the enhancement of both' liberal and practical' education; it is the responsibility of the College of the Liberal A11s to supply the basis for all students' liberal education at Penn State."
CLA holds as its vision, ", .. to be a college that is widely recognized as among the nation's most outstanding public universities." The vision statement ends, "In sum, the realization of our vision, including our abiding commitment to quality, will enhance the intellectual life of the entire campus and increase the stature of the University as a whole."
The College has articulated several five-year strategic goals: (1) Expand the Revenue Base; (external funding, development, e-learning); (2) Transform Undergraduate Education in the Liberal A11s; (3) Achieve National Leadership in Graduate Education; (4) Recruit and Retain Top Faculty; (5) Augment Support for New and Emerging Centers (from the Strategic Plan 2008"2013).
Infrastructure and Programs
The College of the Liberal Arts is currently comprised of 18 academic departments, three programs, and 33 undergraduate majors (46 baccalaureate degrees). CLA has a total enrollment (Fall 2010) of about 5,800 undergraduate majors and graduate students and about 580 full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty (350 standing; 230 fixed-term). This faculty collectively taught about 377,000 student credit hours (SCH) in 2009"2010, an increase of approximately 11 % over the past ten years although down slightly from the peak of386,000 in 2006"2007 and 2008"2009. Just over two-thirds ofthis teaching (69.3%) was done by fulltime facuIty (discussed more below).
A veraged over all levels, CLA instructional and administrative costs are among the lowest of all the University Park colleges. Although across-the-board costs are very low, the cost per SCH at the 500"599 level is among the highest in the University. For 2010-11, the College's annual operating budget, including allocated fringe benefits, is about $84 million.
Although enrollments in some departments/programs are low, the College is taking steps to meet these challenges through consolidations, mergers, etc. The high number of second and third majors for some of the under-enrolled majors, which appears to be a stronger phenomenon in Liberal Arts than in other colleges, also mitigates the "first glance" numbers. In terms of quality, there is some variation among programs, but judging by SAT and other indicators, the quality of students in the College is generally good to very good.
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Graduate enrollments in CLA were nearly 800 in Fall 2010, placing the College second only to Engineering among UP colleges. The largest enrollments are in the Ph.D. programs in Psychology and Economics and the lowest are in French, German, and Crime, Law and Justice (CLJ). Correspondingly, average numbers ofPh.D.s awarded per year range from under two in CLJ to 17 in Psychology. Judging by GRE scores, the quality of the students is very good in most programs. The present enrollments in Master's programs range from zero in a few programs to 37 in the M.A and M.F.A. in English.
As noted above, CLA did extremely well overall in the recent NRC rankings of doctoral programs, including a stellar range (by the "S" methodology) for Anthropology, which was ranked between 1 and 2 in a field of 82; Spanish, which ranked 1-7 of 60 programs, Political Science, 3-7 of 105 ; Sociology, 3-8 of 118; French, 4-15 of 43; English 4-19 of 119; Comparative Literature, 5-17 of 46; Philosophy, 6-15 of 90; and Communications Arts & Sciences, 7-18 of 83. While other programs were not ranked quite so strongly, overall the NRC report clearly shows that many of the programs/departments in Liberal Arts are now among the best in the nation.
Research funding in CLA has risen substantially over the last several years, with total attributed research expenditures rising from $15.2 million in 2002-03 to $28.5 million in 2009-10. Direct organized research expenditures per faculty FTE and unit not surprisingly vary greatly with the three largest in 2008-09 being Anthropology ($59,000), Psychology ($109,000), and CLJ ($197,000). There are 15 active research centers/institutes and the College is part of eight inter-college centers/institutes/consortia.
Cost Cutting and Quality Improvement Initiatives Completed or Currently Underway
The College under your leadership is to be commended for a variety of cost cutting, quality improvement, and revenue enhancement measures it has taken or is taking. These include, but are not limited to:
• Restructuring the Dean's Office by eliminating one of three associate deans and trimming staff.
• Centralizing staff functions by building consolidated "support units" for multiple departments as opposed to traditional department-specific support structures.
• Movement toward downsizing departments where appropriate (discussed in more detail below).
• Investing in significant revenue-producing online programs primarily through the World Campus.
• Further downsizing of graduate programs with associated reductions in the number of graduate assistantships, which releases funds to further enhance support and quality of particular programs.
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The recommendations below derive from fundamental issues of scale and scarce resource distribution. Clashing expectations of massive delivery of courses/sections confronting budget restrictions (as well as legacy) make this a challenging unit for crafting, indeed implementing, recommendations. While there is a detailed list of specific actions being recommended below, there are three main considerations or assumptions that drive the set of suggested changes:
1. CLA along certain dimensions and programs has become too large. It is large by nature but in some areas (e.g., graduate programs) the cost of competing at the scale it does far exceeds the benefits to CLA, the University, or even the markets that it serves.
2. The biggest challenge of CLA is the distribution of resources, especially its human resources. How standing faculty vs. part-time vs. tenure track vs. fixed-term faculty are utilized across such a broad, and often deep, band of programs and levels is an incredibly complex challenge that is tightly integrated with choices of program/course offerings, delivery options, research agendas, and history (and politics). It is one of the toughest "domino games" at the University; no matter where one starts with change, it will "knock down" many other pieces given its reach and range of offerings.
3. New and creative ways of being able to deliver its curricula at an optimal scale must be considered and be at the heart of recommendations. If the responsibility for hundreds of sections that must be delivered can be shared, rethought in terms of being technology-enabled, re-crafted, or even eliminated, changes can open the way for new ways of thinking about the distribution of scarce budgets for not just fiscal purposes but also to forge new areas of competitive distinction.
The discussions within UP ARCC and the Core Council identified several areas of opportunity to accomplish further cost cutting, quality improvement, and revenue enhancements. These include by category:
1. Science, Technology and Society
The Core Council recommends that the Science, Technology and Society (STS) program be discontinued. The program, jointly administered by the Colleges of Engineering and Liberal Arts, has existed at Penn State for about 40 years The STS program has been important historically to College of Engineering students because of its general education offerings; the program is important to the College of the Liberal Arts because STS provides an administrative home for several faculty in applied ethics and other areas who do not fit neatly into other departments. With its unique administrative structure and mix of faculty, it exemplifies interdisciplinarity. The STS program is currently stronger academically than it has been during most of its history,
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with several excellent faculty members. That said, STS has had a rather limited curricular impact over time, producing about 3,000 student credit hours (SCH) annually, and the program has been somewhat of an academic "orphan" throughout its existence.
STS currently has three program minors (no major) and has proposed a dual title Ph.D. degree in bioethics. STS initiatives in ethics are important and should be embedded within other academic units. In addition, some STS or S'TSvtype courses (many of which are already cross-listed with other programs) should continue to be offered, including at Commonwealth Campuses, where student demand is sufficient. The recent foci on ethics and on global issues related to science and technology (e.g., terrorism and food and the environment) are exciting thrusts, and relevant faculty should consider affiliating with an existing center(s) that could provide an appropriate home for these streams of research.
Closing the STS program would permit recovery of about $600,000 of its approximately $1.0 million budget (including fringe benefits). Several tenured faculty have minority appointments budgeted in STS and those budget pieces would move to other Liberal Arts units. Other Liberal Arts faculty have tenure homes in STS and would need to be relocated to other units in the College or not continued on the tenure track. AU Engineering faculty are on fixed term appointments and would need to be supported in the future on research grants/contracts or not renewed.
2. Programs with Sub-Optimal Graduate Enrollments
Although graduate program enrollments have declined from about 950 students 18 years ago to 780-800 today, there should be continued efforts to downsize selected graduate programs based especially on placement rates. Cited in our discussions have been departments such as French, German, Philosophy and English. In small programs like German or Comparative Literature, you might consider moving to a dual title degree. The Council agrees with the College that a holistic approach needs to be considered that will result in cost efficiencies, reflect the external realities of placement markets, and allow for strategic improvements in quality, particularly at the doctoral level and in terms of fewer, but stronger specialty fields amongst the faculty; the latter would involve building even greater strength in targeted areas of excellence.
For example, the number of graduate assistantships in English should continue to be downsized, both to reduce the number ofPh.D.s added to an already poor job market that is predicted to become even more difficult in the future, and to allow recovered resources to be reinvested in better supporting fewer students and putting more intensive effort into building their teaching and publishing records/skills. Specialty areas within the department should be reduced to target strategic areas of excellence (e.g., stress Rhetoric, where there is less competition and more job prospects, and American Literature); reduce the number of graduate seminars and offer fewer such courses, but with a broader scope of topics and larger enrollments in each seminar. Overall, such downsizing in some graduate programs could lead to higher stipends per student, even higher quality students, and a better placement record. Master's programs such as the M.F.A. in Creative Writing should be restructured or graduate
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support completely removed. Although considerable progress has already been made on some fronts, we highly recommend examining the breadth and depth of all graduate programs through a lens of streamlining, "right-sizing," and even elimination, where appropriate.
3. Departments with Low Undergraduate Enrollment
There are several departments and programs (Women's Studies, African and African American Studies, Religious Studies, and Jewish Studies) with very low undergraduate enrollments. The Core Council recommends that the College set targets for their enrollments and encourage these units to develop and market second majors with student appeal. The Core Council also recommends that these units be reviewed to determine the most appropriate arrangements for their administrative homes, organizational structures, and delivery of their curricula. For example, the College should continue its discussion of whether African Studies should be a separate unit. The Core Council recognizes the legacy, symbolism, and politics associated with each of these programs, but also asks whether the core faculty and the programs' students might be better served by being part of larger departmental units. Such an approach would align with the current operation of the Women's Studies program at the graduate level, for example, where the dual title graduate program enrolls 25-35 students annually. The Core Council is aware of the longstanding debates concerning the efficacy of freestanding "studies" departments as versus distributing and embedding faculty whose teaching and research interests can be aligned with and complementary to related disciplinary departments,
The B.S. in Russian with at most four students should be dropped or merged into the B.A. degree.
Beyond these particular departments and programs with low enrollments, the Core Council encourages CLA to continue its department-by-department reviews, examining the course portfolios, section sizes, upper-level courses that are taught by part-time faculty, as well as the market for its graduates at aU levels. Addressing these issues should provide further insight and evidence for right-sizing departments by downsizing some and re-investing in others.
4. Standing Faculty Teaching
In Fall 2009, full-time, standing faculty taught 15% of the student credit hours in courses at the 001~299 level, 13% ofSCHs in courses from 300 to 399, 53% of SCHs in courses from 400 to 499, and 92.5% ofSCHs in courses from 500 to 699. In Spring 2010, full-time, standing faculty taught 13% ofSCHs in courses at the 001-299 level, 14% of SCHs in courses from the 300 to 399 levels, 50% of SCHs in courses from 400 to 499, and 89% of SCHs in courses from 500 to 699.
The Council is concerned that the proportion of SCH taught by standing faculty is low and continues to decline. The oldest records we found on this matter are from 1978, when CLA overall taught 68% of the credit hours with standing faculty. This figure declined to about 50% in 1990, and has continued to decrease, more rapidly in recent
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years perhaps because of the increased size of the freshman class at University Park and the relative stagnation of growth in faculty numbers. Even with large portions of the CLA curriculum not needing tenure-line faculty per se (e.g., basic language and composition), we question whether CLA can continue to grow its reputation and quality using such a skewed proportion of non-standing faculty.
If one were to look at this from a department perspective and focus just on tenured/tenure track (TT) faculty, the percentage ofSCH taught by TT faculty at the 400-499 level is a mixed picture. Several departments, including some big ones like Economics (90%), History (83%), and English (71 %) do very well. African and African American Studies, Anthropology, French, and Philosophy all exceed 70% on this metric. There are some departments in the 40% to 60% range, However, Labor Studies and Employment Relations (13%), Political Science (39%), Spanish (33%) and Women's Studies (21 %) are quite low by comparison.
When the courses at the 001-399 level are examined, it is clear that some shifting should be considered. In Economics, for example, only about 1.5% of these courses were taught by standing faculty in Spring 2010 (compared to 100% in History). These data should be part of the "right sizing" decision for a given department/program. Although this may not be a cost-savings issue, it significantly affects the opportunities for undergraduates to take classes in some departments with our most experienced and research-active faculty.
The department-by-department reviews mentioned above are part of the solution in addressing these problems. Many tenure line faculty will be teaching somewhat larger sections and some will be redeployed from small graduate seminars to other offerings. Overall, CLA needs to continue to examine the teaching loads and enrollment in the classes of its standing, tenure-line faculty and improve allocations where appropriate. As you are doing, this allocation needs to be accomplished in terms of the specific units, individual faculty, and level of courses to which such standing faculty assets should/could be assigned.
5. Creativity in Design and Delivery of Required Communications Courses
The College delivers a required nine-hour sequence of communications courses and is centrally involved in delivery of General Education courses. The Core Council has recommendations concerning the redesign of communications courses and rethinking the communications curriculum that may also have implications for other General Education courses.
a. Redesigning communications courses. About 71 0 sections are taught annually of English 15,30, and 202 and Speech Communications 100. There are many more taught in the Summer Sessions through the Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP) and the World Campus. The 710 count excludes those sections taught through Continuing Education in the evening (though that is a relatively small number). The estimated cost is $5,500 to $6,000 per section in the collective cost roughly $4.25 million, about half in permanent funds This represents a major cost. We need to examine whether the current
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modes of teaching these courses is as effective and efficient as they could be. In the spirit of new ways of addressing this challenge and realizing opportunities, the Council asks if there are ways that CLA could systematically work with other units to redesign the ENOL 202 sequences and perhaps CAS 100, too. The College of Engineering has had successful interaction with the instructors ofENGL 202C, organized as a Technical Writing Initiative with assistance from the Leonhard Center for Enhancement of Engineering Education. We recommend that this model, or a similar variation, be explored for other ENGL 202 venues, such as Smeal College, and used as a model with potential applicability across the University.
It is also possible that more technology could be added to these courses (e.g., taught through online tutorials and other technology enhanced models). Given the large amount of resources devoted to the same courses at the Commonwealth Campuses, there should clearly be a strong parallel interest in this discussion.
Issues of the timing of when ENGL 202 is taken also need to be addressed. In many cases, students take the course in their senior year rather than earlier when it would be helpful in later courses.
b. Rethinking the communications curriculum. At the heart of this effort should be some assessment of the CLA basic communication courses required by the University (e.g., English). Overall, CLA is involved more than any college in the delivery of large enrollment required courses. While there is an assumption of value, the real question is how well are the current courses working in terms of content, credits, pedagogies, etc., for delivering learning expectations/goals?
The Core Council recommends that you and the vice president and dean for Undergraduate Education, along with representatives of other appropriate units including the Faculty Senate, convene a task force to evaluate the concepts, aims, and operational designs of the communications curriculum and assess its impact on student learning/knowledge. But it also means a rigorous evaluation of cost effectiveness that includes whether particular courses or credit levels are needed (e.g., do nine' credits of Writing and Communications actually add measurably more value than six?) and how might we rethink the very nature of the course(s) for the changing needs of students and the marketplace. We recognize that the College has experimented with a four-credit version of a combination ofENOL30 and CAS 100. The Faculty Senate balked at this change because it was eroding the six-hour requirement. A more rigorous assessment ofthis experiment (which was opened to CLA's Paterno Fellows) could be a good start to an understanding of whether this is a promising path that could perhaps be expanded to other students.
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6. Research Center Support
Research center support that is provided from both College and central University funds should be evaluated and where appropriate, adjusted accordingly. The cost/benefit of such support is not clear in some instances. Some centers have arisen from perceived needs within CLA and the University, while others have been created and supported in collaboration with private philanthropy. Regardless of the origins of research centers, it is useful to periodically review their current relevancy and overall benefits to scholarship and our faculty and students. If a center is not self-sustaining, an assessment of its value to the College should be conducted.
As we have described here, the Core Council wants to encourage CLA to move forward on its current efforts to evaluate each department and question the course portfolios, section sizes, faculty mix, potential alternative delivery models, as well as the market for its graduates at all levels. Although some of the particulars of such an effort were itemized above, an overall examination of departments might suggest an "over investment" that could be corrected in concert with curricular changes, downsizing of some programs and faculty, course/program elimination, and enrollment caps, especially in the Ph.D. programs. Some of these savings could be used to invest in units that have growth potential. Given the size and scope of CLA, these modifications could go well beyond the specific recommendations here. The magnitude of the College's operations means that opportunities for savings, streamlining, and value enhancement are probably greater here than in most other units of the university. Finally, the Core Council commends CLA on the increase (almost doubling) of external funding and the strong NRC rankings for selected doctoral programs. The leaps in quality and reputation are astounding and deserving of recognition. We are also impressed with the entrepreneurial spirit in the College especially in terms of the online instruction (and resultant revenue stream) that has grown so much over the last few years.
Please report back to the Core Council the actions that have been or will be taken in response to these recommendations by May 1, 2011.
Cc: Core Council