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Academic Program Planning and Review

Academic Program Management at RIT

Academic program management at RIT can be parsed into three broad categories – planning and development, assessment and evaluation, and improvement/reinvention/ discontinuance.

Planning and development includes guidelines and criteria for program development, the processes for program approval, and the budgeting of resources for new programs. Assessment and evaluation includes systematic data used for annual program audits, analyzing program productivity, tracking new program performance, and broader-based periodic program review. Finally, improvement/reinvention/discontinuance refers to those actions that, as a result of continual assessment, lead to program improvement, program redesign or in some cases program deactivation, reduction or discontinuance.

Program Planning and Development

New Program Development: Thorough planning and development processes for new academic programs are guided by an overarching institutional academic plan that makes clear the university mission, criteria for new programs, distinguishing program characteristics and institutional values that every new program is expected to reflect. New program developers are expected to embed expectations from the following three institutional guiding documents into any new program proposal:

  • RIT’s mission and vision articulate the important goals of an RIT education:  RIT aims to “lead higher education in preparing students for innovative, creative and successful careers in a global society.”  These goals should be imbedded in every academic program.
  • In addition, RIT’s Essential Learning Outcomes must be built into every RIT undergraduate program and to the degree possible, into every graduate program.
  • Programs must also meet the parameters and criteria articulated in RIT’s Academic Portfolio Blueprint.

New program approval process: New programs at RIT are required to undergo a thorough vetting and review by faculty and administration.  New program development starts at the concept paper review stage and progresses through various internal review and approval stages. 

RIT curriculum review policies (Policy D1.0) govern the required review levels. Review concludes with approval by the Provost and alignment to the Institute Budget process. Every new program must be approved and registered with the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

Assessment and Evaluation

There are currently four data tools that assist with review and assessment:

Program census: The program census is an annual compilation of institutional data (pulled from institutional research) that gauges from a quantitative perspective important program validating metrics. It shows 5-year trends and assesses progress towards goals such as selectivity, persistence, enrollment, and graduation. Program census data resides with the Dean’s Office.

Delaware data: The Delaware study is an ongoing national study conducted by the University of Delaware to assess program productivity. By comparing RIT programs with programs of the same discipline at other institutions, faculty and administrators are able to comparatively assess how RIT programs are managed and resourced on such metrics as credit hours generated by full time and part time faculty; section size; etc. Delaware Study Data is available from the Dean’s Office.

New program tracking: An approved new program has an attached academic cost model that projects revenues based on enrollment and costs associated with faculty instruction, space, and equipment. The campus agrees to fund resources for a new program using these enrollment and revenue targets. New program tracking is a mechanism that tracks program enrollment targets and anticipated revenues to see if they meet projections.   If new programs do not meet their projections, a plan for program recovery or discontinuance is developed.

Program review: A program review is an extensive review of the quality of a program. Typically programs undergo thorough review every 5 or 7 years. In addition, many discipline specific accreditation organizations require these reviews and have their own review criteria and review cycle.

Improvement / Reinvention / Discontinuance of programs

On the basis of assessment and evaluation, programs can embark on efforts aimed at program improvement, program redesign, or, in some cases program deactivation or discontinuance. In some cases, improvements involving significant program re-design will need campus approval through the same process as new programs.  When discontinuance occurs, RIT’s policy E20.0 provides guidance and oversight to programs as to the steps that must be followed.

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