A university task force is looking to increase campus efficiency.
The Complementary Practices and Academic Efficiencies task force is responsible for suggesting redundant classes to eliminate, determining how to move classes to more beneficial departments and increasing inter-department cooperation while containing costs, according to the task force report. The task force presented an attachment of recommendations for different university programs during Faculty Senate’s Feb. 12 meeting, and the suggestions include moving economics and agribusiness economics under the College of Business finance program as well as moving computer science to the College of Engineering.
Jim Allen, task force chair and associate provost for academic programs, said Provost John Nicklow established the task force last spring after the Illinois Board of Higher Education required all universities to create a program review committee.
Sievers said the group plays an important role, especially in the state’s weak economy. However, he said, it is still too early to determine how the task force’s suggestions and class combination would impact the university’s future and budget.
“Money has been quite an issue given the state of the economy for the state, for the institution, and the state continues to cut back on the amount of money they provide the institution,” he said. “We have to start looking at efficiencies. Can we do that without affecting the quality of the academic offerings? … That’s certainly what this task force was designed to do.”
Allen said the group’s suggestions are now under consideration in departments across campus. University spokesman Rod
He said while the task force looks for results, it is cautious in the information it presents. The group decided the best way to determine program changes is to let departments decide what might work and direct their Faculty Senate representatives to recommend changes, he said.
However, task force recommendations do not have to be followed, he said, and departments are not mandated to act on the report.
Although some classes might be combined or removed, it is highly unlikely changes will result in job loss, Allen said. It is not in the best interest to lay off employees because the university may move programs around, he said.
“What we’re talking about is trying to strengthen programs where faculty have retired or left, and we haven’t been able to get enough of a budget from the state to hire replacements and won’t be for a while yet,” he said.
Several students said the task force is essential, but the university should also continue to search for other revenue sources.
Logan Hoeltke, a junior from Orangeville studying mathematics, said although SIU should look for additional revenue generators, the task force is a great idea because the university should cut costs when it can.
“It would tighten things up,” he said. “If a class is redundant and it’s not working like it should, if people aren’t getting their money’s worth, then I say out with them.”
Hoeltke said he believes condensing classes could also lessen student-teacher interaction. However, he said the teacher and class size do not matter if students apply themselves.
Alex Kirt, a graduate student in mass communications from Makanda, said the decision to condense classes is interesting.
“It seems like more classes would be better for the university,” he said. “At the same time, if they don’t have the money to do it, I guess maybe they’re going into survival mode.”
Condensed classes could also limit students’ learning opportunities, Kirt said.
“I found in my studies here that having a variety of different people teaching really benefits you in the long run and your educational experience just because people can be specialized in different areas,” he said.