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Provost's Post

Program Prioritization Update

November 20, 2014
Dear CU Denver colleagues,
A year ago, the Board of Regents requested that each CU campus undertake a “program prioritization” process, conducting a thorough review of academic and administrative programs. I’m writing to update you on the academic prioritization process at CU Denver. The administrative review is just getting underway.

The process
We convened the CU Denver Academic Program Prioritization Committee in November 2013. The committee’s membership includes faculty from each school and college, all the members of the Faculty Assembly’s Budget Priorities Committee and several administrators. We also engaged a consultant with experience in this area, Stephen Portch, to help guide and inform the process.

Charged with conducting the study and developing recommendations to university leadership on program prioritization, the committee met weekly from January through August. It analyzed a wide range of factors in its study of our academic program offerings. It looked at both short- and long-term goals; it evaluated best practices and developed a quantitative methodology for evaluation; it asked heads of academic units for qualitative information to expand on the quantitative data.
The committee synthesized the quantitative and qualitative information into a draft report which it presented to the deans in August. Based on input and feedback from the deans, we refined the report and the recommendations were presented to campus leadership in September. In October, we held a town hall meeting to discuss the study’s findings with the campus community.
Today we presented the results of the committee’s work to the Board of Regents. I will be discussing specific school/college results with the deans, and would be happy to discuss the project further at school/college meetings on request.
The results
I’m pleased to report that the process confirmed that CU Denver’s academic programs are efficient, effective and necessary. Given our significant financial pressures, we had already learned to be lean!
The committee found that all of the CU Denver academic programs either were meeting or exceeding expectations. Academic programs were assessed using an array of parameters related to our institutional priorities--including financial, student, faculty and diversity parameters. While some units were identified as emerging or requiring further study, such results did not necessarily correlate with under-performance.
The prioritization study identified multiple lessons learned from the prioritization process and it was recommended that as a campus, we continue to refine, review and evaluate the prioritization process as an ongoing management tool.
I greatly appreciate the hard work that was carried out by the Academic Program Prioritization Committee. This work provided us with an opportunity to review our programs as we navigate our way through an ever-changing higher education landscape. We’ve learned a great deal from the process already, and our goal is to continue to learn from it as we move forward. Each time we examine ourselves as an institution, we have the opportunity to make necessary changes that will make us a better, stronger university.
I welcome your suggestions about the process of academic prioritization. Please contact me at if you have questions or comments.

Roderick Nairn, PhD
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs

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