NextGen Next Steps—Facts, Initiatives, and Results

Posted on 2/15/21 12:06 PM

IUP NextGen has certainly been a major focus for the university community over the last several months. While it has many moving parts, IUP NextGen is, at its core, a restructuring of IUP’s academic colleges and programs, along with the creation of academic areas of focus, to create a sustainable and more student-centered university. This is our opportunity to shape our own destiny for the future.

The NextGen Plan: Changes to Our College and Departmental Structure

This plan includes a complete review of all of our colleges and academic programs.

Decisions about changes to academic programs are being made with four factors in mind:

  • Student demand
  • Employer demand
  • Demonstrated IUP strength in this area
  • Potential for financial sustainability

One of the most visible changes is the decision to reduce the number of colleges from six to five. The programs now in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences will be placed into other colleges, with many of them moving to what is now the College of Fine Arts.

This change reduces our administrative workforce, creates operational efficiencies, gives each college a strong and focused set of programs, provides more opportunities for collaboration and innovation, and facilitates interdisciplinary student experiences. In short, it is designed to strengthen this new college and its programs.

IUP has an ongoing commitment to sustain the fine arts, social sciences, and humanities in challenging times, because we believe in the value of these degree programs and understand their importance for all our students through our general education core. They enrich and enhance our university and greater community.

As we move forward, programs and academic departments may remain the same, or they may be renamed, merged, placed into moratorium, moved to a different college, or closed.

At this time, four programs are scheduled for closure, which affects about 18 currently enrolled students. These programs are

  • Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Fine Arts/Dance Arts
  • Master of Fine Arts in Art Studio
  • Master of Arts in Art Education
  • Master of Arts in Art Studio

All students in these programs will be given the opportunity to complete their studies in the program in which they started. We will work with these students on a case-by-case basis so that they can meet their academic goals in a timely fashion.

We understand that some of these decisions will result in disappointment and frustration. We don’t make them lightly. The goal throughout is ensuring that IUP can continue to provide students with an affordable degree in the areas that they seek and that are in demand by employers.

The NextGen Steering Committee

While our NextGen work will continue through the spring semester, there are some things we need to do right now to make sure we are ready to welcome new students to IUP for the fall semester and to make sure ongoing students have what they need to continue their academic progress.

Provost Timothy Moerland has tapped Karen Rose Cercone, provost’s associate, and Hilliary Creely, interim dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, to cochair the NextGen Steering Committee to tackle this work.

The charge to the steering committee is as follows:

  • Focus on students. This is the alpha and the omega of our work.
  • Work through the vision that has been articulated.
  • Translate the vision into reality and help us understand what is needed to achieve that vision.
  • Organize the immediate work that must be done so our students are not disadvantaged. If at all possible, create a seamless transition for our students.

This is complex, important work, but it also is incredibly forward-looking and empowering—truly about defining IUP’s future.

The NextGen Steering Committee has 12 members, representing four divisions across the university. The steering committee has as its charge:

  • Establish transition needs and timelines
  • Communicate with university offices and departments to ensure compliance
  • Monitor progress of the work and identify issues
  • Recommend solutions and work-arounds
  • Develop Task Force Teams, and serve on those Task Force Teams where appropriate

Seven working teams have been created. These teams have membership in all of the university’s divisions and have the assignment of creating a list of needs or goals and identifying best practices. The teams are not necessarily making decisions, but they are charged with making recommendations.

NextGen Task Force Teams

These teams do not have “chairs,” but they do have very tight deadlines, with the expectation that we will, as a steering committee, help them meet those deadlines.

The teams all have very specific areas of focus:

  • Team 1—Academic Department Mergers
  • Team 2—College Transfers of Department and Programs
  • Team 3—College/Department Names and Websites
  • Team 4—Admissions and Orientation
  • Team 5—Catalog, Banner, Institutional Research, and Information Technology Systems
  • Team 6—Teach-out Advising for Closed/Orphaned Programs
  • Team 7—Budget Issues, Costs Centers, and Funds

As these teams do their work, they will respect how the university governs itself and our processes. For example, both Team 2 and Team 6 are operating with the clear understanding that curriculum revisions of programs can only be proposed by IUP faculty and reviewed by the university-wide curriculum committees, which are currently operating under the oversight of the faculty union, APSCUF. Team 7 has been reminded that actual fiscal decisions, such as budgets and new distribution models for funds, will be made by IUP administration; the role of this team is to identify immediate fiscal issues and required integration tasks/timeline.

Steering committee members were invited to select the team in which they thought they would have the most impact, and they are off and running. The teams participated in break-out groups at the end of our task force meeting last week.

As we complete this work, we’ll turn next to what we are calling the Priority 2 Blue Ribbon panels, which will look at some of the bigger-picture topics—for example, what a NextGen IUP campus looks like and realizing the full vision of IUP NextGen restructuring.

In our commitment to transparency, the steering committee leadership is already working with the Division of Marketing and Communications on how we will use the website to keep people informed.

Initially, this information will be housed on the Academic Restructuring Transition Overview page, with the idea that the information will transition to the About IUP page, in conjunction with updates for other university-wide initiatives.

The steering committee understands that there will be things that are missed as the work progresses, so members of the IUP community are invited to “put up the red flag” for issues that are critical for our students.

To facilitate this, there will be a button on the page with NextGen Steering Committee updates that invites employees to “contact the steering committee.” This form will have a mechanism for people to indicate that the concern being shared is an immediate priority.