An update, as the President’s Task Force nears the end of its mandate (5 May 2014)

With the Task Force on Program Review now approaching the end of its mandate, this communication will update the Brock community on the recent activities of the Task Force and its future plans.

In October 2013 the mandate of the Task Force was limited to responsibility for administrative programs, requiring the Task Force to shift gears. Its first task was to sort the 700 programs that had been identified between academic programs (which became the responsibility of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Program Review and Prioritization) and administrative programs. This left about 350 programs within the purview of the Task Force.

These 350 programs were further divided between programs in administrative units (i.e. Facilities Management) and administrative programs in academic units, such as academic advising and information technology. The Task Force did not want to make decisions on the programs without consulting the managers directly responsible for these programs. Therefore, the Task Force requested that the senior managers on the academic and administrative sides meet as two separate groups and assess programs within their areas of responsibility.

The shift in responsibility of the Task Force caused it to shift its focus. The central mission of the University is its academic core, and reviewing administrative programs related to the academic core, while not considering the academic programs themselves, was problematic. Revising the lines of responsibility also created a timing issue, as the Task Force had already made substantial progress on its mandate, while the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Program Review and Prioritization only started to meet in January 2014 and is not scheduled to complete its work until late in 2014.

The work of the Task Force was also affected by the fact that the annual budget process overtook the activities of the Task Force. Even before the Task Force has completed its work, certain decisions had to be made with regard to the 2014-15 budget.

The Task Force began with a mandate to prioritize all of the programs within its purview. The shifts mentioned above caused the Task Force to shift its focus to considering the efficiency of these programs. Even the consideration of efficiency was somewhat limited, due to the large number of programs. The Task Force will not likely be making any specific recommendations to terminate this program or combine those two positions, and so forth. This level of decision-making requires much more in-depth analysis than the Task Force can perform, given its time and resource limitations. The Task Force’s recommendations will be more along the lines of suggesting what processes should be followed to produce more definitive recommendations in the future.

The Task Force has now received the reports of the two groups of senior administrators mentioned above and is in the process of preparing its final report to be submitted to the President. While this will be the final report of the Task Force, it will be purely advisory in that any recommendations that appear in the report cannot be implemented without decisions by the Board of Trustees, the Senate or the senior administration, depending on the nature of the recommendation.

The Task Force expects to transmit its final report to the President before May 31, 2014.

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