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Few send comments on task forces

BY ARIANA WITT | MARCH 01, 2010 7:30 AM

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It seems the University of Iowa community is keeping relatively quiet about six budget-related task-force reports released in February.

Provost Wallace Loh said about a “handful” of comments have been submitted on the task forces’ website, in addition to roughly 12 comments e-mailed to him.

The comment site has been open to the public since the reports were completed, on Feb. 15. Of the comments Loh had received, he said about one-third are in support of the task force’s approach to creating a leaner university and one-third are against cutting a certain program. The other comments are more general and aren’t wholly positive or negative, he said.

The task force for Graduate and Professional Education has received the most comments.

“As anticipated, most interest has been from those affiliated with the programs that were rated in the additional-evaluation-required group,” UI Graduate College dean John Keller wrote in an e-mail.

To deal with budget concerns, that task force concluded that 14 graduate programs — including some languages, film, and sports studies — must reorganize or face consolidation or elimination.

These evaluations are part of the reason this particular report has attracted so much attention, Keller said.

In addition to unsolicited comments, UI officials are gathering feedback from certain faculty.

UI geoscience Professor Mark Reagan discussed the graduate program report with Keller. Many of the faculty asked to provide mandatory feedback had opted to verbally critique the report with Keller.

Associate Provost Beth Ingram, who has worked with the Undergraduate Education Task Force, said her group has not received any comments since the release of its official report. Still, she said, she would appreciate the public’s thoughts.

“If we did receive comments, we would respond to them by seeking more input and incorporating important points in the discussion leading up to the strategic plan,” she wrote in an e-mail.

The Provost’s Office will continue to collect public ideas for the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan as long as the task force website remains active, Loh said.

“The university is an ‘academic democracy,’ ” he wrote in an e-mail. “And it’s essential to listen to what faculty, staff, and students … have to say about important issues that affect the future of the university.”

Loh assured people that all comments will be taken into account when deciding which task force recommendations are investigated in the final plan.

Comments may be directed to one of seven subcategories, including Undergraduate Education and Student Success or Academic Budgeting.

Loh, along with the associate provosts assigned to work with each task force, will review the comments. Some comments will also be forwarded to the appropriate task force heads.


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