New degrees advance to trustees as approvals process revamped

Utah Valley University’s degree development is under evaluation as 11 potential programs are advanced to the trustee level.

(Photo/Austin Skousen)

New degree proposals have been placed on hold during an approvals process overhaul, according to multiple sources.

Norm Wright, dean of the Woodbury School of Business, said the university-wide hold was implemented “while we worked on internal processes to strengthen our evaluation of new proposals.”

Already in-process potential degrees were advanced to the trustee level Tuesday awaiting further approvals, according to David Connelly, associate provost of the university. He said the March to September delay was initiated “through discussions with the Dean’s and President’s Cabinet and Council.” This was done to consider the budget risk of committing to new faculty and equipment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Assistant Dean Mikki O’Connor of the WSB said that the college has approved three certificates of proficiency: product management, digital marketing and data analytics and decision making. The potential product management certificate is new to the field of marketing and should not be confused with the existing product management offering in business management.

Potential degrees advanced to board of trustees

  • M.S. in clinical mental health counseling
  • M.S. in engineering and technology management
  • M.S. in mathematics education
  • B.S. in bioinformatics
  • B.S. in computational data science
  • B.S. in healthcare administration
  • B.S. in microbiology
  • B.S. in operations and supply chain management
  • B.S. in public relations and strategic communication
  • B.A.S. in software development
  • A.A.S. in healthcare services
A flow chart describing the process a Utah college must go through to approve a new degree program.
Information provided by Norm Wright, Mikki O’Connor & Phil Witt. (Graphic/Natasha Colburn)

Wright said the hold for new degree proposals “was done to ensure that the university is using scarce resources to adequately fund those programs of greatest value to the students” and other interested parties in the community.

“There exists a real risk of trying to do too much with too little,” Wright said. “This could result in ineffective programs that don’t support students as well as they should.”

Wright added that a supply chain emphasis in the master of business administration degree program has been considered but not finalized.

Several American universities offer a master of science degree in supply chain management or an MBA degree with a supply chain emphasis, but Utah currently does not have a graduate program for it, with the exception of a PhD in operations management offered by the University of Utah.

The B.S. degree in operations and supply chain management may be available as a major in fall 2021, according to Phil Witt, assistant professor of operations management, adding that the degree proposal was complex and almost 30 pages long. 

The proposals require research about “job market demand, student demand, forecasts for student enrollments, financial costs…and a degree outline,” Witt said.

They also require a faculty hiring timeline and industry partner information for job placement.

In Nov. 2019, UVU’s master of physician assistant studies program was denied accreditation by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant. This denial resulted in disruption to potential students and faculty who had been preparing for the spring 2020 semester.

“The PA degree is still on but just delayed for a bit is my understanding,” Wright said. “They did fail the initial certification but will fix some problems and go up again.”

According to the university’s PA program website, they “are working diligently on an application for provisional accreditation.” It states, “We are hoping to matriculate our first physician assistant class in the 2022 spring semester.” 

The ARC-PA’s denial of a major program at UVU was a cause for concern, Connelly said, but was not an influencing factor in the pandemic-related decision to overhaul the approvals process for new degree proposals.

As for the 11 potential degrees delayed in the approvals process from March to September, Connelly said, everyone understood just how unique a situation we are in and agreed to a pause.

Write to Austin Skousen at [email protected]

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