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Letter to the Editor: Clarifications regarding Luther College's hiring of an educational consulting firm

Posted: Wed, Sep 2, 2020 10:43 AM

(The following Letter to the Editor has been submitted by Luther College Vice President for Mission and Communication Brad Chamberlain):

"I am writing to provide some clarifications to the article published by on Sunday, August 30th, regarding Luther College's hiring of an educational consulting firm. The college's 2018-23 strategic plan includes an initiative to review programs and services. Luther College partnered with Gray Associates this year in order to gain additional data that would help us identify opportunities for improving effectiveness, making strategic investments, or discontinuing programs. This initiative supports a decade-long effort affirmed by separate task forces in 2011 and 2016 to adjust the student-to-faculty ratio at Luther College to 13:1 (the present ratio is 11:1, and it has ranged from 12:1 to 11:1 over the past ten years). Gray Associates provided data and analysis to Luther's Academic Prioritization Task Force, a new task force that was formed in 2020, regarding the demand and competition for each academic program at Luther College relative to 45 other institutions in our peer market. The data provided by Gray Associates complemented Luther College's own data on internal program demand over the past ten years.

Gray Associates made no recommendations to the task force regarding Luther College's academic programs. The task force, which is composed of five tenured members of the faculty and the Dean of the College, made all of the recommendations to the full faculty, which accounted for factors such as the number of students graduating with a major in the program, the market demand for the program, and how the program contributes to the mission of Luther College. The Curriculum Committee will determine the final form of the recommendations and the timing of a faculty vote. No vote has been scheduled.

If approved by the faculty and the Board of Regents, recommendations that result in the reduction in the size of an academic program or the elimination of a major or minor will be enacted over time in order to allow students within the program to complete their studies. Additionally, some programs might continue to offer courses without a major or minor. Any reductions to faculty staffing levels (which could affect tenured and non-tenured faculty) would occur through a combination of retirements and the non-renewal of contracts."