Q: What were your recommendations in the Summative Program Assessment (SPA)?
A: My recommendations included that 80 percent of the programs be maintained, two programs be expanded, 20 be enhanced, three be suspended, and four be cancelled. The programs that are going to be suspended in this case are going to go through a review.
Q: What are the three programs that VIU officials were proposing to suspend?
A: The reason that we are doing the suspensions is that [the programs] did not do well with the six criteria that we have identified in the SPA. The criteria expectations are: program context, relevance, quality, financial performance, access, and strategic priorities. These programs are the Bachelors of Music in Jazz Studies, Bachelor of Science major in Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Heavy Equipment Operator programs. There is a required analysis to determine a recommendation to either redevelop the program or cancel the program. The process is very detailed with the view that there is an opportunity to redevelop the program so it is much better. That’s the whole point.
Q: How could these programs be redeveloped?
A: The Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies is expensive for students. They have to take 140–144 credits to graduate. Everybody else is basically 120. They had workload inequities and so they really needed to revisit what they were doing. We are going to end up with a much stronger Jazz program out of this and this is my hope for Fisheries and Aquaculture as well. We could make much better use with the Field school in Deep Bay than we do now. There is a lot of work we could do.
Q: What about the programs that are you are recommending to be cancelled?
A: Senate has to agree with me. We’ll see what happens when I present this to senate. In terms of the cancelled programs, two of them already have low enrollment. Horticulture Therapy and Green Building do not have any students. The minor in Theatre has five students and we’re going to cancel that because they have a strong diploma. It’s very successful so we will focus on the diploma. The other one that I am recommending we cancel is the diploma in Computing Science which has had 1.4 students per average per year. It’s what we call a ghost program actually. It doesn’t really register well. There is a strong major and minor so my recommendation is that we should invest in those instead of the diploma.
Q: How will this effect students and faculty?
A: I’ve had good conversations with faculty and some of the students in these programs. I think that people understand that we are trying to make VIU better. This is student centered and it’s all about having programs that are appropriately delivering for students and societal needs. We have identified that some of them need to be redeveloped. None of these suspensions and cancellations will affect current students. We have an obligation to ensure that students are able to graduate. If in fact the unlikely possibility that we didn’t offer the suspended programs, students that are in them can be assured that they will graduate.
Dr. Witty’s recommendations will go to senate Nov. 1.