UI awaits panel’s report on grad programs


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UI graduate students are anxiously waiting for a decision that could change the future of their respective programs.

But UI officials say not to worry.

In April 2009, UI Provost Wallace Loh charged the Graduate Task Force with evaluating all 100 UI graduate programs and 70 doctoral programs. Officials planned to make the results public last month, but they have been delayed.

That means the future of some programs is still uncertain.

But task force members say the delay should not provoke tension among faculty and students.

“We have been impressed with the breadth and quality of the graduate programs at the University of Iowa,” Professor Sarah Larsen, a task-force member and a professor of chemistry, wrote in an e-mail.

Task-force members said they wanted to thoroughly and fairly evaluate each program.

“We didn’t want to do it too quickly and work on an artificial deadline,” said Graduate College Dean John Keller, also a member of the task force. Months of assessing his peers has been “a difficult thing to do,” he said.

The panel is made up of 12 well-respected faculty members, Loh said, and the evaluations didn’t cost the UI any additional money though the group’s members spent a considerable amount of time on the project.

Evaluations of the graduate and doctoral programs included an assessment of each department’s retention rate, recruitment issues, and overall strength of the education, Keller said.

Completed evaluations have been sent to each program. Department leaders now have a chance to respond to the panel’s assessments. Recommendations to phase out or cut programs will be made after department responses, but they would first have to be approved by the state Board of Regents, Loh said.

Assuming programs are going to be cut left and right is not true, he said.

But some faculty members are expressing their concerns.

UI Faculty Council President David Drake has addressed the issue with the Faculty Council — behind closed doors.

“There is, as you might suspect, concern from some faculty across campus,” Drake said.

He insisted that whatever the final reports say, the Faculty Council will be “highly engaged.”

“We’ll make sure the faculty voices are heard,” he said.

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