UPG Committee Minutes


Northeastern State University
University Planning Group (UPG)
Minutes: July 22, 2009 Meeting

Scheduled Time: 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Location: SH 147, BA226, M206


  • Amend/Approve Minutes
  • Academic Priorities Process Task Group: Report and Proposals
  • Update/Enhance the Strategic Plan

Future Meetings

  • Friday, August 28, 9:00-11:00 a.m. – follow-up Academic Priorities Process; Proposed process for updating/enhancing the strategic plan (expanded Steering Committee)
  • Tuesday, August 4, 3;00-5:00 p.m. – Expanded Steering Committee Meeting
  • September-December meetings: set parameters for finalizing by email.

9:01 a.m. Call to order

Actions Taken

  • Minutes from last meeting: Motion to accept, seconded, all in favor.
  • Approved Academic Priority Process Task Group proposals – all in favor (Appendix 1):
    • To conditionally approve the Academic Priorities Process presented by the task group;
    • To share the purpose and intent of the process with the university community (opening meetings);
    • To share the detailed plan with stakeholder committees and groups.
      The next step is to advise and discuss with Dr. Betz (Dave Kern).
  • Approved (unanimous) expanding the steering committee to develop a detailed process to update/enhance the plan (Appendix 1). Draft plan to be presented at the August 28 UPG meeting. All in favor. Ed Huckeby, Tim McElroy, Tom Jackson, Mark Kinders, Laura Boren, and Denise Deason-Toyne were added to the steering committee. The first meeting of the expanded group was set for Tuesday, August 4 at 3:00 p.m. with sites at all three campuses. All in favor.

Notes on Discussions

Academic Priorities:
Martin Venneman presented the report and recommendations of the Academic Priorities Task Group (presentation available in a separate document). The presentation focused on a five-step process (Appendix 2) that was adapted from the Dickeson book and the Milliken University process. The process focuses on self study category assessments and ratings. Documents were presented explaining the categories and ratings approach. The categories are:

  • Centrality to - and Consistency with - the University’s Mission
  • External and Internal Demand for the Program
  • Program Inputs and Outcomes
  • Program Productivity (past 3 fall semesters)
  • Cost and Academic Efficiency
  • Critical Information not Categorized

The presentation is provided in a separate document, and process itself is included in Appendix 2. During the presentation, the task group emphasized the following:

  1. The process provides an organized approach to assessing the value, quality and potential of programs and supporting elements. Benchmark processes were employed by the task group in a six-month intensive review.
  2. The ratings provide the best possible information to decision makers – they do not determine decisions.
  3. The process must be inclusive. Faculty members are central to the process, especially steps 1 and 2, which provide the base information for criteria assessment.
  4. Reviews and summaries require 2-way communication and feedback at every step.
  5. The process is designed to provide the best possible information for making decisions, and is not structured to be punitive. (Follow-up discussions clarified that the outcome of the process could impact programs and people, and this should be addressed in the initial presentation of purpose and intent.)
  6. The process must be transparent and encourage open communications.
  7. The desired outcome is an effective way to make long term program decisions in the most unbiased structure, and with the best information possible.
  8. The communication process will result in some changes to the process, but will not change the timing or desired outcomes.

During the presentation a number of issues and comments were discussed. The following is a summary of the comments, and may be useful in preparing for questions that may arise in the initial and future presentation of the Academic Priority Process.

  • Is there a template for colleges and program leaders to utilize in the process (Mark Giese)? Martin Venneman pointed out the support documents and suggested that there would be opportunities to develop the detailed process within the academic units and in the Academic Council.
  • How does this process relate to Program Reviews (Craig Clifford)? Aren’t we trying to integrate processes and reports? Although the mission of the task group was to develop and effective prioritization process, the comprehensive nature of the Academic Priorities Process should provide substantial information for the Program Reviews this year and in future years. The Academic Priority Process will probably be updated every five years or so.
  • When this plan is communicated there may be questions about how and why the UPG became involved (Chuck Ziehr)? Martin Venneman, Janet Bahr, Dave Kern and others responded by noting that the 2006 plan includes the determination of priorities, that it is a critical planning process in other universities, and that the UPG approved the plan to develop the process as the primary planning organization at NSU. The President and cabinet were apprised of the approach at an early stage; they encouraged completion of developing a plan for review and approval at the cabinet level. The UPG is in a unique position to ensure broad involvement in developing the process. Its membership includes a broad constituency, and is focused on effective planning.
  • Some may question why we are addressing the academic side, but not the administrative (John Schleede)? Kim Cherry noted that this was not the charge to the task group. Moreover, the academic process must come first, and then follow with a prioritization process in administrative units. [Although not noted during the meeting, the 2006 Strategic Plan includes goals and plans directed at efficiencies, which can be expected to be enhanced as the UPG updates the strategic plan in October/November).
  • How is this to be rolled out and communicated to faculty, administrative personnel, students and other stakeholders (Tim Foutch, Kim Cherry, Craig Clifford, Chuck Ziehr)? There is concern that rumor and lack of information will create a negative attitude before the process is presented and discussed. This discussion provided a platform for proposal 2. It is essential that the university community be informed of the purpose and intent of the program (not the full proposal) at the beginning of the semester in an open, honest and positive approach, lead by the President, and supported by UPG members (a number of members contributed to this response). The more that faculty members are involved in planning (it is) and presentation (it should be), the better.
  • If not punitive, what is the probable outcome of the process (Mark Giese)? Many contributed to the response. The Academic Priority Process is designed to include all stakeholders in an open process requiring input and feedback at all levels. The process results in fact-based information for decision making that otherwise may be subjective or that could appear capricious. Stakeholders (especially faculty and students) will have access to relevant information that will help them understand their situation, and seek answers where there are concerns. If we have to face severe cuts at any time, this is the best vehicle to provide information for these types of decisions. Moreover, the low scores do not automatically ensure that a program will be dropped. The use of the Dickeson book and the Milliken University benchmark provide proven models upon which the proposal is based (although with appropriate modification to meet NSU needs).
  • Questions arose relative to how MBA programs and certification programs fit in the process. Martin Venneman and Janet Bahr indicated that they fit within the structure for programs.
  • Ed Huckeby asked for clarification of how the ratio measures would be weighted and used. Janet Bahr suggested an example: the number of majors in a program. Ed noted that this would rate Education higher than Optometry. While this is true it is only one of 18 measures, and would not in itself skew the data.

Update/Enhance the Strategic Plan:

  • This was a much shorter discussion simply identifying the objective and establishing a group.
  • Expectations are that this group will meet twice before our next meeting.

Meeting was adjourned 10:38 AM

Members in attendance: April Adams, Martha Albin, Janet Bahr, Jym Brittain, Sue Catron, Kim Cherry, Craig Clifford, Sheila Collins, Della Combs, Denise Deason-Toyne, Phyllis Fife, Tim Foutch, Nancy Garber, Mark Giese, Kay Grant, Ed Huckeby, Tom Jackson, Christee Jenlink, Dave Kern (chairperson), Christy Landsaw, Pamela Louderback , Tim McElroy, Doug Penisten, John Schleede, Joe Spence, Andrew Vassar, Martin Venneman, Paul Westbrook, Chuck Ziehr.

Members absent: Laura Boren, Dalton Bigbee, Richard Carhart, Liz Cook (NSGA), Michael Gibbons, John Gyllin, Mark Kinders, Shu Nakai, Jeff Konya, Randy Shelton

UPG Steering Committee Proposals Approved July 22, 2009

Comments in italics were not formally approved.


  1. UPG approves the proposed Academic Priority Process and timetable (appendix 1) with the understanding that there may be clarifications, modifications and/or updates.
  2. At the opening faculty meeting in August the purpose and intention of the Academic Priorities Process would be shared with the university community.  (Specific message and delivery to be discussed with Dr. Betz and the cabinet.)
  3. After the opening meeting, the detailed plan for the Academic Priorities Process would be shared with stakeholder committees and groups with their feedback directed to the UPG.  (Suggestion that faculty members of the UPG participate in some of these communication sessions.)


  1. Direct the University Planning Group Steering Committee to develop a process to update and enhance the 2006/2007 Strategic Plan, incorporating input from a broad spectrum of stakeholders.  The Steering Committee will complete a discussion draft of a process “plan” for presentation and full discussion at the August UPG meeting.  A final proposal will be presented at the September UPG meeting.
  2. Expand the University Planning Group Steering Committee membership to include members from Student Affairs, Muskogee Campus, Broken Arrow Campus, Faculty Council Chairperson, Graduate Studies, and University Relations.  The objective is to ensure input from key areas of the university. 

    (Current Steering Committee: Janet Bahr, Craig Clifford, Liz Cook (NSGA), Tim Foutch, Kay Grant, Chuck Ziehr)

    (Expanded membership: Laura Boren, Denise Deason-Toyne, Ed Huckeby, Mark Kinders, Tom Jackson, Tim McElroy)