ACADEMIC PLANNING COUNCIL
Minutes of October 4, 2004
3 p.m., Holmes Student Center – HSC 505
Present: Bose, Cassidy, Hartenhoff, House, Johnson, Legg, Levin, Miller, Munroe, Musial, Payvar, Prawitz, Seaver, Thompson, Waas, Wholeben, Williams
Guests: Frederick Kitterle, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Charles Miller, Chair, Department of Psychology; Joel Milner, Director, Center for the Study of Family Violence and Sexual Assault; Jamie Rothstein, Assistant to the Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Karen White, Director, Psychological Services Center
The meeting was called to order at 3:10 p.m., and Legg asked for announcements. Cassidy distributed the Mid-Term Review of the Illinois Commitment Final Recommendations and announced that this item will be on the IBHE board agenda tomorrow. These are the final recommendations, and there are 3 major areas that comprise the substance of those recommendations.
It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes of September 13, 2004, and the motion passed unanimously.
Legg introduced Charles Miller, Chair, Department of Psychology; Joel Milner, Director, Center for the Study of Family Violence and Sexual Assault; Karen White, Director, Psychological Services Center; Frederick Kitterle, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Jamie Rothstein, Assistant to the Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Legg asked Kitterle to make some opening remarks about the programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that are undergoing review this year.
Kitterle provided an overview of the programs and centers in the college that were undergoing review this year and highlighted major accomplishments and strengths of the units. The programs in the following departments and centers will be reviewed this year: Departments of Psychology and Political Science (including the Division of Public Administration), the Psychological Services Center, the Center for the Study of Family Violence and Sexual Assault, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, and the Public Opinion Laboratory.
Legg turned the meeting over to Prawitz, who was presenting the subcommittee report in the absence of Schoenbachler, for the discussion of the subcommittee report. Prawitz thanked the subcommittee members for their hard work on these reviews and the representatives of the college, Department of Psychology, and the centers who met with the subcommittee to discuss the reviews.
Prawitz said that the departmental strengths were that the document was very well organized and well written, strong student participation in research projects, and strong student demand for the programs imply quality. The department has an excellent service commitment to the university, the scholarly output of faculty and graduate students is outstanding, and the grant support garnered by faculty for research is very impressive. The training and support provided to faculty who advise students is very good, and the facilities and laboratories meet the department needs.
Points for discussion/areas for improvement include that over 70 percent of the students are women, and the faculty should be more demographically representative of the population. The department should discuss how it has incorporated multiculturalism in the curricula across the programs. This information needs to be highlighted in the reviews. The discussion of the number of books published needs to be clarified (page 8), and the data in the report should be reconciled. The facilities are a strength, but may become overextended if enrollments continue to rise.
In the recommendations for the future section of the subcommittee report, the subcommittee limited its recommendations to what it wanted to say about each specific program. Cassidy asked for clarification regarding the comment on multiculturalism in the classroom. Prawitz responded that it was not clear how the department incorporates multicultural into the classroom. The department does address this point, but it needs to be clarified in the review. C. Miller added that he would add this in the revisions.
Prawitz turned to the B.A./B.S. review. She noted that the subcommittee was impressed with the undergraduate student work on research projects, the co-authorship with students to encourage research interests, and the strong support for non-majors. Courses such as psychology 102 support the general education program for students across the campus. These are all strengths of the undergraduate program.
G. Miller said that one area for discussion is that the review seems to imply that psychology has an honors program in and of itself. C. Miller responded that students can earn departmental honors in psychology, which is distinct from the University Honors Program. Prawitz asked for clarification on the differences between the B.A. and B.S. degree programs. C. Miller said that the B.A. has a language requirement, and there are also differences between the B.A. and the B.S. in the statistics/mathematics and science lab sequence requirements. In the B.S. degree there are three groups of statistics courses and students choose the courses in one of these groups. All of these requirement differences are in courses taken outside the department. Prawitz asked if NIU B.A. and B.S. graduates go on to complete our master’s program. C. Miller responded yes, they can, but they represent a small proportion of the graduate enrollment. Prawitz said that learning outcome number 4 in the assessment plan is not measurable, and the survey response numbers in the tables need to be checked. C. Miller replied that the number of responses came from different sources, and he would reconcile the numbers. Rothstein clarified that one number was the number of responses and the other number was the percentage of respondents.
Prawitz said that the recommendation for the future is to continue to improve the assessment process using multiple measures, more measurable objectives, and identifying new alternatives to measure objectives one and two. C. Miller stated that he was hopeful that the way the department is doing objective one is suitable provided the department is doing this only intermittently because of the time and cost involved in this process. Cassidy added that one of the things that the University Assessment Panel tries to communicate is that everything does not have to be done every year. Think about the eight-year program review cycle and select two periods that you could sample. You should engage in one or two activities per year and have information to report on all the outcomes at the end of an eight-year cycle. Prawitz added that a sample of portfolios could also be reviewed. Cassidy replied that this would be good. The question really is what is feasible to do, and it is not feasible to do everything all the time for every student. Payvar asked what the learning outcome was for objective one. C. Miller responded that it is the evaluation of laboratory reports and the final lab that students take. We do use faculty and graduate assistants to evaluate them (but not their own labs) and assess final papers.
Legg asked if the department has some students who go all the way from undergraduate to the doctoral degree at NIU. C. Miller responded that there are some. Legg asked what the portion of students doing this was. C. Miller replied that he didn’t know, but it would not be more than 10 percent. Most of these graduates go into the school psychology program. Legg asked if this was characteristic of psychology programs. C. Miller responded that this is generally true of psychology, but a little less true than it used to be.
Prawitz turned to the review of the M.A. program. The strengths of the M.A. program are the relatively low costs, the strong record of student-faculty publications, the competitiveness for admission into the program, and the large percentage of master’s students who continue on into the Ph.D. program. Also the placement rate for school psychology graduates demonstrates its value in meeting societal need, and the high pass rate for board certification by these students is commendable.
Areas for discussion/improvement include the fact that it is not always possible to adhere to the limitation on the number of theses/dissertations per faculty member. C. Miller stated that the department’s policy is that a faculty member can not be on more than eight committees (including those that they supervise) and can serve as chair on no more than five committees. The maximum is closer to the average, and we sometimes waive the maximum. Currently 40 percent of the faculty are at or exceeding the maximum. This policy was set into place several years ago before the large increase in enrollment. We have the same number of faculty, but two faculty members are in administrative roles. Cassidy asked if there had been any discussion about how the department would address this issue. C. Miller replied that the college has authorized an additional hire, and that he will be advocating for another additional position. We are currently at or beyond where we should be in graduate enrollments. Supervision has become a problem with the number of students we have. One reason for the increase in enrollments is that we have the means to support all these students. For example, in addition to general revenue support, there are also a number of students who do externships. Cassidy asked if part of this issue was related to faculty being early in their tenure track. C. Miller responded that these faculty members do have a lighter load, but it is expected that students need to get to know a faculty member before they would ask her/him to sit on their committee. Bose asked what the faculty size was compared to SIU. C. Miller replied that he believed SIU has more faculty. In any event, when we compared our programs to other institutions, we had the highest student-faculty ratio of any of them. Kitterle added that the SIU grant rate is higher, but the depth of the grants across the faculty is less than at NIU. C. Miller said that SIU only gave an estimate of what their grant funding level was. Milner added that SIU also has a medical school, which allows them to compete for grants at a different level than NIU. Payvar asked if the programs have an open admission policy, and what determines the admission numbers in each program. C. Miller responded that in the bachelor’s program there is open admission, but we are in the process of asking to move to limited admission. The graduate programs are limited to the resources available. Payvar asked how many areas are there at the doctoral level. C. Miller replied that there are four different curricular areas, of which some are hybrids, so there are technically more than four areas of study. They are: clinical psychology, cognitive-instructional-developmental-school psychology, neuroscience and behavior, and social and industrial/organizational psychology. Milner said that in the clinical program there are over 200 applications each year, and most of these meet NIU’s requirements. The applicants have very high GRE scores but we only admit eight students per year. Payvar asked if the employment opportunities were as good in the other areas. Milner responded that you will get both kinds of answers. If a person wants a job, there are plenty of jobs; it may not be at the salary or location that the individual wants. C. Miller added that the clinical opportunities are the best, the school psychology area is good too, and the opportunities in industrial organizations outside academia are good. We also place people in academia. Prawitz asked if the eight students are all master’s students. Milner said that this is at the Ph.D. level, and we have full-time students only. C. Miller added that many students are admitted into the master’s, but they are going to continue their studies into the Ph.D. program. Prawitz asked if the master’s is selective as well, and Williams asked if the cohorts were interviewed. C. Miller replied it varies with the fields, but some students are interviewed, usually at an open house. Milner added that the department is very mindful of diversity. We have a training grant and we have stipends, and 75 percent of the stipends have been awarded to women and 50 percent to minorities. Over a five-year period the stipend amounts to $150,000 per student, and the training grants have funded a total of six students per year. Prawitz said that this discussion also addressed the subcommittee’s comment about selectivity in admission and diversity in the student population, and this needs to be discussed more fully in the program review document. The program growth may be straining the departmental resources, and the department needs to work on a plan to manage growth.
Prawitz turned to the strengths of the Ph.D. program. This program has outstanding students, strong placement of students in academic or professional careers, and is a cost-effective program. There is also excellent involvement of students in scholarly endeavors at conferences and in publications.
One of the discussion points for the Ph.D. program is the mixed responses from the external review of dissertations. Cassidy asked if there were any trends in the findings. C. Miller replied no, there was one review that was negative and one that was mixed. The other reviews were quite good. The highly negative review came from someone whose theoretical position was being questioned by the work, but the reviewer was up-front about this issue in the review. He noted that the reviews of the dean’s designees were highly positive, and that this was a small sample of dissertations that had been sent for external review. There are no concerns about quality control. Bose added that there were two negative reviews. One review noted problems with the methodology and the other problems with the literature/background. In the end the reviews did not criticize quality.
Prawitz said the candidacy examination timeframe needs to be clarified in the review. In the review document it suggests that students take the examination in the third or fourth year of the Ph.D. program. C. Miller clarified that he thought it said third or fourth year of the graduate program. The actual requirement is that students take this examination no later than the end of the third semester after the master’s degree. Payvar asked how long it took to earn the Ph.D. after completing the undergraduate degree. C. Miller replied six and a half years, but it’s probably more time than this in the clinical areas. Milner added that the average was 6.9 years. Prawitz also said that the program should avoid using grades as an assessment measure.
The recommendations for the future are to work on a plan to manage growth and identify assessment measures other than grades and examination pass rates. Multiple measures are desired. Cassidy said there are many authentic assessments built into the program including the internal and external reviews of dissertations.
Prawitz turned to the review of the Psychological Services Center (PSC). The strengths of the center are the training and community service goals, services are provided to economically disadvantage individuals and those without access to psychological services, and the graduated clinical training methods that allow students to progress and develop skills. White stated that faculty supervise five to six students, and each group has first, second, third, and sometimes fourth year students. This allows the younger students to learn from the advanced students. As students advance in their studies, there is a corresponding increase in the number of clients and difficulty level. The model provides for supervisors in training and clinicians in training. Prawitz said that additional center strengths include the fee structure that provides services to a diverse group and offers a large variety of work experiences for students in training and the strong relationship with mental health agencies in the area.
Prawitz said that the center needs to include a best practice in the review. White said that the center will highlight the tiered approach that emphasizes helping students develop empirical approaches.
Prawitz stated that the recommendations for the future include continuing to focus on the center’s dual mission of training the students and the community service provided. The subcommittee also recommends keeping the fee structure to encourage service perspective of the center rather than making the center a for-profit center. White added that probably 50 percent of the clientele would not be able to pay for services. Cassidy asked if the center still maintains a sliding fee scale structure. White replied yes, but most people are at the lower end of the scale. Cassidy asked if were possible to have a fee structure where the people who could pay full fees would, but still have a sliding scale. White replied that there are very few people in this upper part. Some insurance companies will pay for student delivered services, but some will not. Thompson asked how referrals of non-NIU students come to the center. White replied that referrals come from school districts and word-of-mouth. We have no problems generating business, but we do have a problem with meeting demand. Legg asked if the counseling center uses the PSC. White replied that we collaborate with some of the interns, and we provide services to NIU students. There is nice overlap with the Counseling and Student Development Center (CSDC). Thompson asked as a professor what would be the differences of where I would send a student between the PSC and the CSDC. White explained that CSDC provides services for a short time period. It would depend on the case and sometimes treatment is much longer depending on the problem. We have a strong anxiety person at the clinic, and CSDC refers students to us in this area. Thompson asked in an emergency situation then I would send a student to the CSDC. Seaver said that the CSDC is financed from student fees. Have you had any discussion about charging them for services you provide to students? White replied that this would be an interesting route to explore. C. Miller added that the case load is also part of this issue. Seaver said that other agencies might be referring cases to us. White said sometimes this is the case. We also have some areas of special expertise, especially the areas of severe anxiety disorders and psychological assessment. We do collaborative work with other mental health centers, school districts, and physicians. Bose said that he thought there is a law that you cannot have a sliding charge for the same services, but you can write off the charge. You cannot provide the same services and charge different fees, and you might want to look into this. Milner replied that this is true for insurance. Seaver stated that there is one other clinic on campus that has a sliding fee. Milner said this is OK if it is a private pay, but it is not OK for insurance purposes. White added that she belonged to an organization of clinical directors and would say that 70 percent have a sliding fee scale. Milner said if an individual is more severely disturbed, you would likely bring them to the PSC. The CSDC is not set up for working with a schizophrenic person. White added that the CSDC does have a 24 hour on-call service, but it depends on what kind of program you are dealing with where you send an individual for help. The PSC serves clients who have more serious disorders. Cassidy asked the subcommittee if they would change the last recommendation from “keep the fee structure” to “look at options for the fee structure.” Musial replied that we don’t want to make the fee structure higher, and we don’t want a business model fee structure. We like the idea that they care for the poor and the multicultural component of the program. Seaver stated that the original discussion this summer about the fee structure was about the impact on the need for more faculty. One suggestion was that the department should think about increasing revenue, and we would like to look at this as an opportunity.
Prawitz turned to the strengths of the Center for the Study of Family Violence and Sexual Assault. The strengths of the center include its successful grant program of over $7.5 million in five years, the theoretical research focus, and the facility. Milner said that the facility is a 21,000 square foot building. The public area of the building is downstairs and the administrative areas are upstairs. There is no furniture because funds have not been released. We are putting in labs in the basement. We are excited about what we do, and we try to involve graduate students in our work. We have graduates students from many different areas (computer science, sociology, and statistics). Prawitz stated that the service provided outside the university is a strength of the center. Milner added that we have had people from 15 international schools come and study here, and we are interested in third world countries. Prawitz said that the center is attracting interest in NIU from external constituencies.
Prawitz noted an area for improvement is to have more collaborative effort across campus. The review refers to collaborations, but putting them into practice has been difficult with the resource constraints in the center. Milner stated that we should develop more interdisciplinary research. My view is that this research is theory driven and you develop lines of research based on the theory. If the line of research requires someone outside your discipline, you build that into your team. We have to be programmatic and theoretical. Prawitz stated that this needs to be clarified in the report. Kitterle said that the unit looks for strategic collaborations. Legg asked how much of the money was from the earmark. Milner said we brought in $11 million in seven years and $3.5 million was earmark money. Most of our funding is competitive. Bose said that since your success rate is non extensive in working with other people, how about taking those projects and helping those people writing grants. Milner responded that he is a very slow grant writer, and most people come to him with only 30 days to put a grant proposal together. If you want me to be someone who helps people write grants, I will listen to you, but there is only so much time in a day. Kitterle added that one thing that we are looking at is Milner’s expertise in how things can be presented. This is very valuable, and we are looking at creating a summer institute to work on this. Blazey and Thompson would be other people that we would like to have involved in this institute. Musial said that there is a danger with having just two people in the center, and we need to look at what could be changed to protect the center from being insulated. The whole department should look at this; it needs to be part of this institution. Milner said he is going to try to do more outreach. Musial stated that the concern is primarily about the organizational structure. Kitterle said we need to look at strategic alliances. We have some very small centers, but they grow because of a commonality of interest.
The meeting adjourned at 4:55 p.m.
Carolyn A. Cradduck