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Comprehensive Academic Program Evaluation (CAPE)


During 2018-19, WKU is embarking on a process of evaluating its entire suite of academic program offerings. This site provides general information, as well as, a link to a password-protected site containing additional information and resources for colleges, departments and programs, and reviewers during the evaluation process.

There are several reasons. WKU's new strategic plan, Climbing to New Heights, includes among its goals to enroll a diverse student body who are prepared for a rigorous, fulfilling college experience at WKU; to that end, the plan includes the following strategy:

"Engage deans and department chairs in a comprehensive academic program review to ensure WKU has an appropriate mix of study options and efficiently deploys scarce resources."

In today's world, it is essential that WKU offers a portfolio of academic programs that are aligned with the interests and needs of our students and the region we serve. We must ensure that WKU offers academic programs that provide 21st Century students with 21st Century skills.

At the same time, we must ensure that the programs we offer are sustainable and productive. Given a declining population of high school students, downturn in the number of international students, and reduced state allocations, we need to optimize allocation of scarce resources to promote and support growth.

Finally, students should have confidence that the programs we offer are vibrant, relevant, and important to both us and them.  A healthy academic portfolio that clearly demonstrates the value and importance of a college education will reaffirm why the WKU student experience is top-quality.

All academic programs will be included. This means all undergraduate and graduate majors, minors, certificates, and ranks. In total, about 350 programs will be evaluated.
Programs will be evaluated based on a series of institutional metrics and self-developed narratives related to productivity, success of students, costs and revenues, and alignment with institutional and statewide priorities. Department chairs and faculty will prepare a self-study for each program and, based on this assessment, recommend one of four outcomes for each program: grow/enhance; maintain; transform; or suspend.
Self-studies for all programs in a college will be evaluated by a dean's-level group (TBD by each dean); this group will score each self-study using a standardized rubric, and combine that with their narrative assessment to either concur with the department's recommendation or put forward an alternate recommendation. All of this information will then be evaluated by a university-level CAPE Committee, who will make final recommendations to the Provost. The Provost will make a final recommendation on each program to the President and his Cabinet. A final report will be brought to the Board of Regents for final action.
No. While financial considerations are certainly an important factor, there is not a predetermined number of programs that must be cut or dollar savings realized. Having said that, it is the case that, over the last five years, the total number of programs offered at WKU has increased, while our enrollments have decreased by almost exactly the same percentage. This suggests that we may well have programs on the books for which there is little current demand. In order for us to be in a position to invest in programs that are needed and growing, we must reduce our expenditures on programs that may be outdated, duplicative, or non-essential.

WKU is committed to honoring our current students and their choice of program of study.  In addition, our regional accrediting agency SACSCOC requires us to teach-out any suspended programs in which students are currently enrolled. This means that, while we would prohibit any new students from enrolling in a suspended program, we will ensure that all students already enrolled have the opportunity to complete their degrees in a timely manner.

In terms of protecting jobs, our first obligation is to tenured faculty; while their teaching obligations may change, we do not anticipate a reduction in force.  We will also do our best to protect untenured faculty wherever we can. 

We anticipate that the Board of Regents will take action on final CAPE report and recommendations at their May 2019 meeting. At that point, we will be in a better position to determine when and how any changes are implemented. Some will likely occur relatively quickly, while others may require more planning.

Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 10/24/18