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Strengthening Academic Program Viability Through Strategic Development

Internal Forces

It is important for CSD programs to establish themselves as central to the mission of the college and university and to increase their visibility within the academic community on the campus. In addition, program chairs/directors should understand the priorities of the campus administration (e.g., strategic plan, community outreach and service learning, or multicultural student recruitment and retention) and align the department as much as possible with those priorities. Some suggestions for accomplishing both of these goals are provided in the following:

  • Develop a program planning document that demonstrates what the priorities of the program are and how those priorities will be accomplished.
  • Understand the administration's financial and budgeting processes by consulting with university budgeting officers to learn how the university's budgets are constructed, how resources are assigned, and how the program might be a better steward of resources.
  • Understand how to frame proactive budget discussions (e.g., cost-benefit ratio data and comparative enrollment and financial data).
  • Consider how additional revenue might be raised to support program needs (e.g., enrollment of additional students through an online component or establishment of contracts on a fee-for-service basis to expand training opportunities and service delivery options).
  • Understand what changes would need to be made in response to a variety of cost reduction initiatives (e.g., 10% or 20% cut in costs) in order to negotiate for and protect the program's highest priorities.
  • Maximize the program's centrality and intrinsic value to the university by building collaborations with key campus units and by enhancing visibility of the program and its contributions (e.g., developing courses integrated across CSD and related disciplines, and supporting faculty participation in campus governance and on-campus committees, participation in campus general education course offerings, and documentation of accomplishments of faculty and students in campus media outlets).
  • Be innovators and leaders in developing not only new curricular offerings but also training models (e.g., interdisciplinary clinics with psychology, counseling, special education, and education).

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