Prioritization process indirectly includes students

With the last phase beginning, administration will directly notify students and continue discussions with employees.

Rebecca Mitchell, Writer

As the implementation phase of the prioritization process approaches, administration will begin to share program decisions with employees and students.

aiming for transparency

Employees will hear from the president’s executive leadership team on the initial decisions made to programs, such as if they are in the category of substantive change, reduce, enhance, phase out or maintain on May 19. Students will receive letters the week after finals containing a general explanation of the prioritization process and its effect on their programs.

Throughout the process, employees submitted feedback on their programs, a procedure many other schools do not include in their processes, according to director of communications Brenda Velasco.

“I did some research on other schools and their best practices on communication and involving the different audiences,” Velasco said. “So most of the schools, all but one I believe, just released the recommendations from the task forces and then the president gave their… final approval or disapproval of the recommendations and then they just moved forward with implementing the decisions that way. So, we were unique in that we’re one of the few schools that actually had an input process that allowed our employees to provide feedback on the reports from the task forces.”

However, neither these schools or Biola directly directly included student input because of the complex questions on the program templates which students would have difficulty answering, such as the history of the program, according to vice president of Student Development André Stephens. He also noted administration aimed for transparency in the whole process and the timing of releasing information to students remained important.

“The whole process is to be transparent. So, with the community and to some degree with the students as well, but there’s [an] appropriate level of confidentiality in terms of the timing, right, of the process because the process is in different phases,” Stephens said. “So we didn’t want to be premature and scare students.”

a well-rounded perspective

While students did not directly give information to the first phase of the process, faculty members used student input from previous assessments, surveys and focus groups in their submitted program template forms, according to Stephens. In the first phase each of the 332 programs were placed into the categories of substantive change, reduce, enhance, phase out or maintain.

“To say that student voices weren’t heard is not true,” Stephens said. “To say that they were heard explicitly, well, also that’s not true because we didn’t go and say, ‘Hey, tell us about this.’ But to say that they were included in an indirect way because of our culture of doing assessment, yes. So student voices were heard.”

Since students had indirect input within the process, many do not know about the prioritization process and feel they could not give an opinion on the situation, such as freshman nursing major Mikayla Seaman.

“I honestly don’t totally care. But, I mean, they probably should have gotten the students’ opinions because we pay so much money to go here,” Seaman said.

Other students feel administration understands the future of Biola, but want students to have the option of sharing their opinions on the process, including senior business management major Kyle Moberg.

“I think that in general faculty and the leadership know a lot about where Biola’s headed and the good direction it’s headed. So I have faith and trust in them, but I think it would be definitely good for them to ask students,” Moberg said. “I think that they kind of put a lot of time and effort into certain departments and not much in any, and it does need to change. But they don’t know from student perspective what that might be. They just know it from their perspective, so I think getting a… well-rounded perspective on it all would be beneficial.”

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