TransformUS criteria finalized

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With the finalized program prioritization model announced in a letter to the campus community on May 10, the TransformUS initiative is one step closer to completion.

TransformUS is the process of ranking and adjusting university operations according to budgetary changes.

The program prioritization process has been adapted for the University of Saskatchewan from the methodology of Robert C. Dickeson, a higher education consultant from the University of Northern Colorado.

The final prioritization model includes separate criteria for academic and support services programs.

The academic prioritization model is broken down into 11 categories of criteria, each with its own weight.

Quality of program outcomes accounts for 18 per cent of the model. It focuses on a program’s accomplishments and is the most heavily weighted criteria. Institutional importance and program size also account for large portions of the model.

The category of importance to the University of Saskatchewan, which examines the program’s essentiality to overall institutional success, holds the most weight of the support services model’s eight criteria. Other criteria focus on program demand, quality and cost effectiveness.

The criteria set out the guidelines for which departments will make budgetary changes.

“One of the messages we are communicating to students is that the task force will not be making any actual decisions about reconfiguration of programs.” Academic Program Transformation Task Force co-chair, Beth Bilson, said.

“Any elimination of programs or significant changes in them would have to proceed through the usual governance bodies of the university.”

Over the last several months, feedback has been collected from the campus community to ensure their concerns are addressed throughout the TransformUS process. This has been done through a variety of channels, including discussions involving on-campus groups and meetings with department heads. There were also public town hall meetings.

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A draft version of the program prioritization model was previously released to give students and faculty a chance to voice their concerns about the criteria and their weightings. It was later discussed at a public town-hall meeting arranged by the TransformUS task forces on March 25.

All criteria were also presented to the university council. Bilson, said she feels both events were successful.

“The task force was very pleased with the level of interest taken by the campus community,” Bilson wrote in an email. “We benefitted from our discussions with different constituencies within the institution and we were able to refine and explain the criteria as a result of the comments we received.”

With the prioritization criteria and weightings established, the TransformUS task forces can now move forward with creating a submission template over the coming months. Information will be collected from individual colleges and departments through online forms. Templates are due Aug. 16.

Once the information has been reviewed, the task forces will compile a report for the university president by Nov. 30. The report will outline suggested budgetary changes and other actions.

Further TransformUS town hall meetings are planned. The Sheaf will update as dates are finalized.


Graphic: Graphic: Cody Schumacher/Graphics Editor