More than 40 leaders from across Augusta University met Nov. 16-17 for a collaborative workshop to review the university’s program portfolio. The workshop hosted leaders from across the institution’s 10 colleges and schools, including members of the Augusta University Faculty Senate and the academic affairs leadership team.
The workshop was led by Dr. Neil MacKinnon, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, and Gray Associates, a data analytics, software and strategy consulting firm focused on higher education.
Augusta University’s partnership with Gray Associates includes access to their Program Evaluation System (PES), a program that provides data on employment, competition and student demand for an institution’s academic programs and markets.
At the workshop, participants learned about PES, including the data sources and methodologies behind the tool. Attendees then broke off into smaller interdisciplinary groups to envision Augusta’s long-term program horizon based on the data presented in the PES.
Later, participants brainstormed new programs, identifying 39 potential new undergraduate and graduate programs. The group also discussed existing programs, deliberating which should be sustained, altered, grown or deactivated.
The group also faced the reality that the university’s enrollment growth will likely outpace its physical growth as a campus, prompting discussions about which programs should be offered in person, online or hybrid. The university is also working to appoint a new position: an associate provost and dean of Augusta University Online, the institution’s forthcoming online college.
“By the time we wrapped up the workshop, we had the start of a data-informed, judgment-driven plan for the future of AU’s academic programs,” said MacKinnon in a recent email.
The workshop is well-timed, in light of recent enrollment data and the university’s newly developing strategic enrollment management plan. The strategic growth of the university’s program portfolio has a direct connection to institutional enrollment growth, MacKinnon said.
Since growing programs — whether starting new ones or transforming existing ones — will require additional resources, deans are expected to present their proposed new programs at the Planning and Resource Alignment Hearings scheduled for late March 2022.
Dr. Almira Vazdarjanova, professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Medical College of Georgia and chair of the Augusta University Faculty Senate, is pleased with the outcomes of the workshop.
“This was an intensive two-day bootcamp on data-gathering through PES and strategic academic planning that was conducted using the best practices of shared governance with a collegial, data-driven and transparent approach,” she said.
“It was uplifting to see converging recommendations arise from the different workgroups, which speaks volumes to the integrity of the process. I’m genuinely excited about continuing this process with a deeper dive into the data that will help AU identify new programs, invest in those existing that need to grow, and reach not only the 16×30 [enrollment] goal but also be a choice destination for both students and faculty.”