Hocking College Working On Plan To Manage Programs

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As enrollment continues to decline at Hocking College, the school is looking at ways to address the management of its academic offerings and programs.

Associate Provost Joe Wakeman presented a plan to the Board of Trustees last week regarding the need to review the goals of the college with regard to its academic programs and ways to maintain once established.

Wakeman spoke of the six goals that the college should be working to achieve for each program, including healthy enrollment, making the programs identifiable and relevant to the industry, and job opportunities for graduates.

In order to reach the goals established, there were multiple options as to how each could be accomplished. Those are to include advisory panels, a curriculum committee and program reviews.

“We need to reestablish Hocking College as an innovator,” said Wakeman. New ideas, new programs and new academic ideas need to be put in place and will be reviewed and finalized with the interim president to be implemented.

The idea of outcome based education (OBE) curriculum design would bring in people from outside the college who work in the respective industries for which programs are being reviewed. This will allow representatives from the college to meet with those representatives and find out what is needed in today’s work environments and better align the courses to fit those needs.

“It is essential for any new program or significant changes to existing programs,” explained Wakeman in his presentation. The plan would be to put it in place to have this type of review occur on a three-year rotation, ideally at the same time as program reviews are conducted.

An extension of the OBE committees would be the advisory panels for each program. Currently some colleges have these in place, but it is unclear how often they are actually utilized and if there is consistent membership on the panels.

“We have gotten away from them with five years of leadership transition,” stated Wakeman when asked by Trustee Mike Budzik how the the college had gotten away from the panels.

The new plan calls for the panels to meet twice per year, with one meeting possibly conducted electronically. There would be a panel for every program with come consistent membership as well as some new members rotating in to bring new ideas.

When reviewing options for modification or additions to programs, Wakeman explained that Hocking is unique in what it offers to students and that they needed to make sure that the program would fit Hocking.

Wakeman pledged to the Trustees that if he were to be involved in the program review process it would be structured, data-driven and on-going. The reviews would be for all programs and colleges including and annual review for key attributes of the program and an holistic review every three years.

The annual review would look at items such as the applications, enrollment, retention and job placement. While it may be difficult to measure job placement, a plan would be worked on to do so. Benchmarks would be established at the program level as to what is considered to be satisfactory.

The holistic review which would occur every three years would discuss items such as the environment of the industry, career opportunities, partnership opportunities and curriculum and instruction review. It would begin with self reviews by the faculty and proceed to outcomes that would become an action plan to capitalize on opportunities and address challenges.

“Only when data dictates and all options have been exhausted for a struggling program, would there be a recommendation to the board for closure,” stated Wakeman.