The Division of Student Affairs supports the university’s educational mission through comprehensive programs and services that promote student learning and success while fostering an inclusive and vibrant campus community. We partner with other stakeholders to enroll a talented and diverse student body, enhance student engagement and development, promote the safety and general welfare of the university community, and prepare students to be contributing members of a democratic society.
The Division’s prioritization efforts began in May 2004, after our leadership had the opportunity to read and discuss “Prioritizing Academic Programs and Services” by Robert Dickeson. The Division also had the opportunity to discuss the book with Dr. Dickeson and evaluate strategies for how his recommendations could be applied to Student Affairs.
As the University considered the adoption of an academic prioritization process, it was clear that non-academic areas would not fit perfectly into the process that would be developed for academic departments and programs. As such, each Division was charged to identify a comparable process that would be effective for the unique considerations of the Division.
Prioritization Guiding Principals
In light of the significant financial and operating impacts on each department in the Division of Student Affairs, the Division adopted the following guiding principals for our Prioritization and Recovery efforts:
- Student Affairs is fully committed to the preservation of all of our broad program functions, as they are essential to the educational mission of the University.
- Due to the breadth, depth, and diversity of services and functions found in the Division of Student Affairs, the prioritization process would produce few meaningful results when comparing programs across the Division (e.g. comparing Housing with Admissions and Police).
- The Dickeson strategies assume that resources exist in each program that can be reallocated to higher priorities of the Division or University. This is problematic for Student Affairs. Years of extensive budget and enrollment cuts have left our departments and programs without a minimal operating budget and this has greatly impacted the quality and quantity of available services. In addition, new demands, including the conversion to PeopleSoft and increased requests for assistance from other departments facing reductions, increased the pressure on departments for quality performance.
- While the Division will not use this process for comparing programs in different departments, there is significant potential benefit for every department and unit to use the prioritization process to compare intra-departmental programs and services. Many of our individual programs offer a broad range of programs and services and could potentially benefit from a reduction in these programs and services, with a redirection of resources to higher priority programs.
- Because of the internal focus of this process, it was agreed that resources freed in this process would be maintained in the department or unit.
- It is expected that a department-focused prioritization effort will engage all levels of personnel in each program or unit.
- While Student Affairs is committed to preserving broad program functions essential to the University, there is perceived potential benefit by the consolidation of small programs and units. These benefits include increased financial flexibility of consolidated programs, increased flexibility in managing human resource issues, and improved management oversight by assuring that each major department or program have an appropriate HEERA manager directing them.
Student Affairs Prioritization Criteria
Agreeing with the “spirit” of the Dickeson recommendations, Student Affairs developed a division-wide set of evaluation criteria (.doc) would be beneficial so that similar conversations were held in each department, even when the services from department to department varied greatly. These criteria were developed initially in smaller divisional writing teams and repeatedly shared with our entire leadership for feedback.
In addition, criteria scoring grids (part 1 and part 2, .xls) were developed to assist departments with the evaluation and comparison of their programs and services. Departments were permitted to individually determine if weighing their criteria results would produce a more effective and mission specific result.
Outcomes to Date
During the 2004-05 academic year, the Student Affairs prioritization effort yielded the following results:
- Most departments in the Division engaged in the evaluation of their programs and services using the established prioritization criteria. The goal for each department was to determine a set of high-priority programs that would be eligible for additional reallocated resources and a set of low-priority programs that could be de-emphasized or potentially eliminated.
- Student Support and Equity Programs (SSEP) Consolidation – In an effort to streamline academic support services provided by the former Educational Equity Services and University Advising Center; a merger of these programs into the newly created Student Support and Equity Programs was completed. This expanded unit strengthens the services to Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and undeclared students, will produce operational efficiencies, and enlarge our capacity to generate external support and new initiatives.
- For the 2005-06 academic year, each department is expected to develop and act on an implementation plan to reallocate resources from their identified low-priority programs to their established high-priority programs.