Program Prioritization is a process aimed are reorienting resources within the university towards sectors that are more aligned with the mission of the university and at the same time forcing those units that are less central or effective to reinvent themselves or face reductions of elimination.
The UFA has expressed support for this process, which is being run by a large task force known as Academic Program and Administrative Services Prioritization (or APASP). The reason we have supported this effort is because of the serious financial troubles the University has found itself in. Declining enrollment, reduced state support and continued expenses has tasked this university and led to a series of across-the-board cuts that have strained departments and risk damage to the academic offerings at the University of Montana.
Because of this, the UFA called for a process to transparently assess programs at the University so difficult decisions about how to reduce the budget can be done in a more open and strategic way.
President Paul Haber said as early as December 2016 that “Some might say that it is not faculty’s job to come up with a better idea than prioritization but I think we undermine ourselves and our institution if we take that position.”
Since then the APASP committee has been formed and spent much of this summer hammering out a process, criteria, data and rubrics that will be used to assess both academic and administrative programs.
The union appointed three people to the committee — Haber, Steve Schwarze and Chris Fiore. All three have done tremendous work in APASP. An excellent example can be seen in Prof. Schwarze’s update from June 2017:
“I want to address those of you who have been skeptical of this process and model for decision-making. I count myself as one of those… For years, people throughout UM have said that we need to do a better job at making decisions strategically and transparently. In turn, the Task Force has attempted to craft an approach that takes stock of every program and service, guided by campus feedback and prior planning efforts, and tailored to the distinctive character of UM. The entire campus has a stake in making this process work. We do not have to wait for a new President or a new Provost to chart a course for UM’s future. It is up to all of us to shape our University and to renew our vision of UM as a premier public institution in the West.”
Now, the process enters the phase where departments, programs and administrative offices will complete their reports and submit them to APASP. The committee will then produce a ranking of programs to submit to the president.
The UFA continues to press for clarity about how the University will then make decisions about what, if any, programs to cut or curtail.
We are diligently monitoring the work of the task force and the efforts by administration to ensure they abide by the CBA ad other governing policies.
We encourage all members to keep an eye on the Academic Program and Administrative Services Prioritization website.