2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM


GOOD, Steve C., West Chester Univ, 750 S Church St, West Chester, PA 19383-0001, sgood@wcupa.edu

University administrators are applying business models to determine success of departments. Business terms applied to academia include productivity, efficiency and accountability. Failure of academic departments to meet these challenges can result in business-style consequences.

Productivity is measured by class size and graduation rates. The PA State System of Higher Education (SSHE) has established an “FTE” ratio which mandates an average class size of 23.25 and incentives to achieve 23.82. A second metric is the number of graduates from a department, with "low-enrollment" status conferred on programs graduating fewer than 12 students in the past year. Efficiency in SSHE has been implemented by a directive that undergraduate programs not exceed 120 credits. Accountability is measured by a department generated and university approved assessment plan and by external accreditations.

The productivity mandates require that introductory classes be larger enrollment yet engaging in order to recruit majors. Productivity mandate also requires attention to recruitment, retention, and graduation. The efficiency mandate has required a curriculum overhaul to reduce BS program from 128 to 120 credits, and our BSEd program from 134 to 120 credits. SSHE accountability values standardized test results that compare our students’ results with other universities. BS students mostly enter environmental consulting and will have to pass the ASBOG Fundamentals of Geology test and complete required courses in order to achieve PA Professional Geologist Certification. BSEd students become earth science teachers and are required to pass the Praxis Earth Science Content Knowledge test, and complete required courses required by the PA Department of Education and by the National Science Teachers Association (part of NCATE accreditation). While the curriculum revision reduced credits, it also is designed to meet the competencies required for licensure of our students.

Our department has revised our BS and BSEd programs to address the productivity, efficiency and accountability mandates. We carefully monitor the required metrics in order to keep our administrators content. We anticipate that our new programs will be attractive to recruit students, and effective to prepare students for their future workplaces.