ACADEMIC PLANNING COUNCIL
Minutes of September 19, 2005
3 p.m., Holmes Student Center – HSC 505
Present: Bose, Cassidy, Hartenhoff, House, Johnson, Legg, Levin, Munroe, Musial, Prawitz, Reynolds, Schoenbachler, Thompson, Waas, Williams
Guests: Donna Askins, Research Associate, Office of the Provost; Carolinda Douglass, Acting Coordinator, Assessment Services; Richard Dowen, Chair, Department of Finance; Daniel Wunsch, Interim Associate Dean, College of Business
The meeting was called to order at 3:10 p.m. Legg announced that at the last meeting we discussed the possibility of moving the meetings to Altgeld Hall, but the rooms in Altgeld are not large enough to accommodate the APC membership. All the meetings will be held here (HSC room 505). It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes of August 22, 2005, as distributed, and the motion passed unanimously.
Legg introduced Richard Dowen, Chair, Department of Finance; Denise Schoenbachler, Chair, Department of Marketing; and Daniel Wunsch, Interim Associate Dean, College of Business and previous chair of the Department of Management. Legg turned the meeting over to Waas for the presentation of the subcommittee reports.
Waas thanked his subcommittee members for their hard work in conducting the reviews. Today we will be reviewing three undergraduate programs in the College of Business: Finance, Management, and Marketing.
Wunsch provided an overview of the college. There are several things since the last review that have changed. We do share a lot of things in the college, particularly a new building, technology, and classroom space, which helps us in recruiting and curricular issues. Five years ago a cross-functional course was developed, UBUS. We integrated the five principle courses into a 12-hour block, which consists of a 9-hour lecture course and a 3-hour applications seminar. This complements what we do in the senior level capstone course. These are gateway courses for the college. The College of Business has a limited admission policy that requires a 2.75 G.P.A., which has had a tremendous impact. The college works hard to recruit and retain minorities, and the College of Business has recently been reaccredited by AACSB-International for another six-year term. The college has a Strategic Planning Council, and almost everything done in our college is passed through this council, which is focused on the college’s mission. One of the challenges the college faces is managing resources. We want to recruit the best faculty. Currently we have new initiatives on ethics and internationalizing the curriculum. An Ethics Taskforce is working on a program that integrates content in the curriculum. We are also continuing with assessment, which is an on-going challenge for us.
Dowen provided an overview of the Department of Finance. The department has emphasized research somewhat more than the other departments in the college. One issue the department has is faculty turnover. Dowen distributed some data on this issue and informed the council that this was not a new problem for the department. Faculty leave to “go home” and/or the opportunity to increase their salary. When you look at the schools that we compare ourselves to (MAC schools) we tend to pay more, have a lower teaching load, and provide more teaching resources and travel money. When you look at the schools the finance faculty think they should be competition with, we are about even with them. Northern Iowa and Miami Ohio experience a similar turnover rate. The second issue is the use of temporary faculty in our courses and our cost numbers. Finance has the second highest number of courses being taught by full-time faculty at the junior and senior levels in the college. We account for 120 percent of the state average in costs per credit hour. Why is this? One-third of all finance undergraduates in the state of Illinois are at the University of Illinois. At the University of Illinois 44.9 percent of the course offerings at the junior and senior levels are being taught by full-time faculty in a lecture/discussion format. The faculty provide the lectures and then students are broken out into discussion groups that are taught by graduate assistants. Our students require more personal attention, and we don’t have the graduate students to teach every discussion course. When you look at who we are being compared with and the methodology of how we are comparing ourselves, it would be surprising if we didn’t have higher costs. Legg pointed out that many institutions are only graduating one Ph.D. candidate per year, and the number of degrees awarded seems to be cyclical. Why has there not been an increase in the finance area? Dowen replied that the top 20 percent of our graduates will be making as much as a regular faculty member within two years of graduation, and there is little perceived need to seek graduate degrees. In 1995 there was a decrease in the starting salary of finance faculty and the major schools said this was not going to happen. There was a conscious decision if salaries were going down, we would not need any more finance degrees.
Waas turned to the review of the Department of Finance. He said that one of the strengths of the department is the new state-of-the-art building that houses the College of Business. Another strength is the admission and retention policy that the college has instituted in their undergraduate programs. The department and college try to communicate with and support students early in their college careers with the Business Careers House and “business floors.” There are adequate library resources for the program even though the University Libraries have sustained cuts. Another strength of the program is the wide variety of services provided to assist students in their efforts to be accepted and retained by the department. There are assigned academic advisors, participation in university programs such as ACCESS and CHANCE, and a tutoring suite staffed by instructors and upper-division business students that assist students in core courses. There is also involvement with regional high schools that has an emphasis on recruiting underrepresented groups. Dowen said that contact with the high schools is a college initiative. Waas asked if the department takes part in this initiative. Dowen replied that it does when asked. He explained that there is no admission policy, but there is a retention policy. The College of Business requirement is that students need a 2.75 GPA to enroll in the UBUS course. At one point we were failing 15 to 20 percent of the students. The auditorium has 375 seats, and you cannot put more than 375 students in a class. If you have two UBUS courses, you can accommodate 750 students, but this is difficult because you have four different departments that have to coordinate their activities. Teaching UBUS is a full-time job. If you wanted to have another section, you would need to have another teaching team.
Levin asked if at a spring meeting we could talk about the number of programs university-wide that are set up this way and how this relates to grade inflation. Cassidy said this could be added to the spring agenda. House added that this is monitored regularly, and grade inflation hasn’t come to NIU. Cassidy noted that the GPA requirement has had an affect on the number of minority students in the college. Dowen said that in finance African-American students tend to come to NIU as freshman. For Hispanic and women students there is a 50/50 split between students entering as freshman and junior transfers. Over a 23 year period there has been approximately 10 African-American finance students who graduated with a finance degree. Whatever is happening with them is happening in the freshman and sophomore year. We have tried to address this by having the Business House and using our student organizations to help us address this issue. Are these students staying at NIU and graduating with another major? We have had some successful African-American students, but they are few and far between.
Bose said that he would assume since your faculty are teaching more undergraduate classes that they are more qualified than the University of Illinois teachers. Is your program ranked higher than the University of Illinois program? Dowen replied that there is no ranking system. Bose asked if NIU’s Department of Finance had a higher percentage of CFA’s compared to the University of Illinois. Dowen explained that the CFA organization will only report exam results for CFA scholars. Faculty who are charter holders can nominate up to five students. NIU’s results are similar to UIUC. Bose asked if there was more than one Ph.D. finance granting institution in the state. Dowen said Chicago, Northwestern, UIUC, and SIU all have Ph.D. programs in business. Bose asked why faculty can’t call Illinois their home. Dowen replied that Big 10 placements are all private placements, and we will never see these graduates as applicants for faculty positions.
Waas said one discussion point is that due to large student enrollment and reductions in full-time faculty, the department uses a significant number of temporary faculty. Four out of a total of eleven faculty members are temporary positions. The retention of tenure-track faculty is also an area for improvement. The department has lost several tenure-track professors. At the upper-division level the program costs are above the state average, and this was also noted in the last review.
Waas turned to the recommendations for the future. The admission and retention policy should be monitored, and the impact of these requirements on underrepresented groups should be looked at. There should be supervision and evaluation methods developed for temporary faculty. Factors contributing to faculty leaving the department should be monitored. Exit interviews and comparison studies regarding salaries, teaching load, facilities, etc. with peer institutions should be done. Some of the data we have today is a nice step in this direction. Levin asked who collects this information. Dowen replied that he does. Levin suggested that having someone outside the department might be helpful. Legg added that this issue is being addressed. Dowen noted that this is a small department with strong personalities. Cassidy stated that the broader question about staff turnover is addressed by human resources. Thompson asked if the other departments in the college have the same problem with faculty turnover. Wunsch replied that the problem is not as severe as it is in finance. Thompson asked what is the pool for the department’s temporary hires. Wunsch responded that for the most part the pool includes alumni and retired business people. There are a variety of highly qualified people who want to teach, usually on a part-time basis. Quite a few of these individuals, because of their experience in the real world, are rated by students higher than the regular faculty. Waas said another recommendation for the future is that program costs should continue to be monitored. Some of the information regarding this issue that was presented today should be added to the review. Also, the department’s involvement with area high schools should be highlighted in the review.
Waas turned to the review of the B.S. in Finance program. In terms of the program itself the strengths include the national recognition for preparing students to complete the CFA examination, the program meets occupational demand and societal needs, students are encouraged to take a careers in finance course, the faculty are very active in scholarship, and students participate in applied activities that are related to finance. The program has a wide variety of activities that students can participate in.
Waas noted that one of the areas of discussion is that program outcomes could be more data driven and, given the kinds of activities students take part in, performance-based products need to be identified and integrated into assessment activities. There is little data provided in the document. There is a discrepancy in the percentage of degrees awarded to underrepresented groups that should be corrected in the report. There is no discussion of plans to pursue the planned program changes, and more detail about plans needs to be included in the document.
Waas stated that the recommendations for the future are to have data-based program outcomes and performance-based student products identified, monitor the graduation rates of students in underrepresented groups, and add additional detail about the planned program changes to the document. Your colleagues in the college are a valuable source regarding assessment issues.
Thompson asked if the students who make it to the UBUS course, typically make it through the program. Wunsch replied that once students pass UBUS after six semesters approximately 90 percent of them make it through the programs in the college. Waas added that this should be highlighted in the document.
Cassidy noted that the department has an additional retention requirement about repeating courses where students receive a grade of D. Dowen said that this typically affects 15 to 20 students in fall semesters and 6 to 10 students in spring semesters. Cassidy asked why are students getting these grades? Dowen replied that these are second semester juniors and he has looked at the grades in the finance core courses. The course grade averages vary from 1.6 to 2.1. When I became chair, 30 to 40 percent of the students were failing these courses. We have reshuffled personnel, and we are hoping to raise course grade averages to 2.0 to 2.2. There is a group of faculty in the department that is very elitist. Part of this also relates to the number of seats we have available in those courses. If a student receives two Ds, they are dismissed from the major. Schoenbachler asked what happens to those students. Dowen replied that they change majors. Cassidy asked what is being done to support student learning and what do you find out from your assessment data. How are you looking at what the issues are and identifying ways in which resources can be used? Dowen responded that the teaching ratings in those courses are typically above four, and we put our best professors in these courses. Students are not failing because they are not adequately taught. Cassidy stated that the question was not about the quality of the faculty but about other teaching and support strategies that are more effective than the strategies the faculty are using now. Dowen replied perhaps, but we have not looked at this. The performance in the three major courses has become a constraint. Schoenbachler added that if the GPA was raised, students would know that they were not finance majors before they were second semester juniors. Bose said that since faculty retention is a serious issue in the department, do you think that the retention issue is related to your elitist attitudes in the department. Is the department culture so difficult that faculty don’t want to call it home? Dowen said that in terms of retention of faculty he didn’t think this was the case.
Waas turned to the review of the Department of Management. Wunsch noted that he was chair of the Department of Management during the time the report was written.
Waas said that some of the strengths of the department are Barsema Hall and the state-of-the-art facilities, the close relationship with alumni and employers (which is an important link to the business community), and the faculty’s contributions to the off-campus B.S. in Business Administration program.
The discussion points are the use of temporary faculty, career advising and job placement services, and methods to collect employer evaluations on student preparation. It should be noted, however, that the department does provide substantial assistance to temporary faculty and closely monitors their effectiveness.
The recommendations for the future include monitoring the use of temporary faculty in core courses, looking at ways to increase career advising and job placement services, and exploring methods for obtaining employer evaluations of graduates. Sometimes departments take too rigid a view of what constitutes employer feedback. The section on contributions to the mission and the Illinois Commitment needs to be expanded upon, and be sure that all the data are consistent with the Institutional Research data (specially, Table 3). The data should be double-checked. Cassidy noted that the comment related to feedback from employers is well taken, and it is difficult to get feedback from employers particularly from surveys. The assessment panel has done some things to try to broaden our idea of employer feedback. We have talked about methods where the definition of employer is broadened to external feedback. Evaluations from internship supervisors and feedback from advisory committees can be viewed in this way. Any information that you get that students are progressing in their careers can be use as employer feedback. It is important to think more broadly about employer feedback. In regard to the use of temporary faculty, do some of the recruiting issues that Dowen talked about also apply to this program? Wunsch replied that management receives numerous applications for open positions; there are approximately 40 applications in a pool. We try to make sure we get the right people to teach. In terms of part-time faculty, I have a file of applications and it is a selection process. Legg said that the graduates seem satisfied with the program, but when they answer the question if they would pursue this degree again, they say they would not select the management program. Wunsch replied that this needs to be investigated. We have a trickle-down effect from students who can’t make it in another business major come into this program. Legg asked why this program was appealing to women and minorities. Wunsch replied that this is the nature of the program; it is a “people program.” We deal more with human behavior. Schoenbachler added that marketing and management also have a high number of women faculty.
Waas noted that the program strengths are: the opportunities for students to become involved in student professional organizations, the applied activities closely linked to the business community, the program meets occupational demand and societal needs in a complex and growing service region, and the extensive service provided to nonmajors. Thompson asked if this service was provided to non-business majors. Wunsch replied that the department also serves quite a few students from the College of Health and Human Sciences. Waas noted that the alumni have a very positive view of the program, and frequently participate in program activities. Another program strength is that the department has recently hired a new academic advisor with experience in career services, and hopefully this will address some of the issues previously raised.
Waas stated that discussion points include integrating the performance-based programs into assessment activities. It would be helpful to identify these more in the document. The discussion on student communication, critical thinking, and technological skills is too general. It is not clear what methods were used. Wunsch added that this is a summary of data, and additional information can put this into the document. Waas said that the feedback from internship supervisors appears positive, but is reported in general terms.
The recommendations for the future are to systematically identify and report on the performance-based products that students complete, add quantitative evaluations to the assessment of students’ performance during internship experiences, and report college assessment procedures and findings with greater specificity.
Waas turned to the review of the Department of Marketing. Schoenbachler provided a brief overview. She said the main strengths of the marketing program are that it is a student-focused program and it has strong assessment activities and curriculum. Its best practice is where the business classes meet the business world. There are many opportunities to relate to business professionals, which helps to keep the curriculum current and helps to maintain good relationships with alumni. The department has a very good faculty. A portfolio requirement has recently been implemented for program assessment. One frustration is what to do about the marketing minor. We eliminated it basically by not admitting new students. This action was taken due to limited resources but we would like to try to reopen admissions.
Waas said that this was an outstanding report and made the subcommittee’s job very easy. The department strengths include the facilities, the three unique resource labs (Sales Training Suite, Interactive Marketing Lab, and Market Research Lab), and the close relationship with alumni and area employers, which provides an important link to the business community. The three labs provide students with applied experiences related to marketing, and all of the students in the department take part in one of these experiences. Legg asked about the course that includes a golf outing. Schoenbachler replied that this is a course in which one of the activities focuses on students’ interactions with business professionals, which occurs on the golf course. The golf outing includes pairing students with sponsors from the business community and having students practice marketing a product that was assigned to them. Businesses sponsor the event, which also provides them with an opportunity to recruit students.
Legg asked about a focus on international business. Wunsch replied that international topics are covered in UBUS 310, and each department has international courses on the books. The college is trying to develop a college-wide short-term study aboard program, and would like to increase student participation in this program. Legg noted that this is the only item that AACSB-International pointed out during the last reaccreditation visit. Munroe stated that one of the assignments in UBUS is to explore a country in terms of its economy and resources as they relate to business. Schoenbachler added that the Department of Marketing has a short-term study abroad program with Dublin University in Ireland.
Waas turned to the discussion points for the departmental context section. The percentage of degrees awarded to students from underrepresented groups is below the percentage of such students enrolled in the program. The department makes significant use of temporary faculty.
The recommendations for the future include monitoring the admission and retention policy and the impact on underrepresented groups. Examining the factors that contribute to student attrition and the impact on graduation rates of underrepresented groups should be undertaken. Develop methods for the supervision and evaluation of temporary faculty. Schoenbachler added that AACSB does have a ratio about temporary/regular faculty, and we are little close to this ratio right now. Prawitz asked what departments are accredited. Schoenbachler responded that AACSB is a college accreditation. Legg added that it is an international accreditation.
Waas said that the strengths of the program are the extensive opportunities provided for students to become involved in a variety of business oriented student organizations, the strong ties with the business community, and that the program meets occupational demand and societal needs in a complex and growing service region. The department has also managed student growth well, and makes use of a wide variety of assessment methods. There is a portfolio project that has been put into place. Another strength is the strong performance-based approach to curriculum, which is closely tied to the business community and involves simulation and role-playing. Musial said it would be helpful to have a sense of the portfolio initiative. Schoenbachler replied that the assessment coordinator is a faculty member and this is part of their service commitment. Musial asked how they communicate with other faculty; are there monthly meetings? Schoenbachler responded that the assessment coordinator, portfolio team, and faculty interact regularly and that she also interacted with each of them on the portfolios.
Waas turned to the discussion points. The students have identified writing skills as a relative weakness in the program. The student-initiated internships should be monitored and evaluated more consistently. Douglass asked what was occurring. Schoenbachler replied that there are different types of internships. The department coordinator oversees all internships that are taken for credit; there are three assessments and the students write a paper about their experience. Between 30 and 50 students participate in department-initiated internships each year. NIU also has a cooperation education office that offers internship experiences. These internships are somewhat monitored, but are not overseen as much as the department internships. Students can also independently seek internship experiences; there is no oversight of these experiences. Students list internships on their resumes regardless of whether they were credit or non-credit or how they were arranged. The department internship is not required because it would be hard to find this many opportunities for internships. Some students are better equipped for an internship, and the department tries to match the students with appropriate internship experiences. Prawitz asked if the internships were competitive. Schoenbachler replied that there are usually more internships available to the department than students who apply for them. Not all students need the credit hours they would earn in the department-based internships, but they want the experience. Cassidy asked if the department has talked to career services about the kinds of standards that are in place for monitoring performance in the cooperative education experiences. Schoenbachler responded that there is considerable communication.
Thompson noted that there was discussion about more ethics being included in the curriculum and that the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has an ethics initiative that faculty from various departments are working on, and I thought you might want to know about this.
The meeting adjourned at 4:55 p.m.
Carolyn A. Cradduck