About Doctoral Program Prioritization

Over the past two decades, MSU has expanded the breadth of doctoral program offerings. As we continue to elevate the quality and quantity of graduate education and scholarship at MSU, it is important that we develop a practice of assessing existing programs to advance their excellence. This practice will position our campus for healthy growth in doctoral education by providing a formal mechanism for identifying programs that could benefit from increased investment, modification or realignment.

The Montana Board of Regents and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education are encouraging all public colleges and universities in the state to conduct academic program prioritization reviews. In this context, we are launching this holistic review of our portfolio of doctoral degree-granting programs. This will entail a focused and deliberate process, informed by data and discussions with doctoral degree-granting departments. There will be frequent opportunities for input and review by faculty in those departments, as well as from the campus.
Dean of the Graduate School, Karlene Hoo, will lead a committee of faculty and administrators in the prioritization review. In forming this Doctoral Program Prioritization Committee, we placed special attention on identifying individuals who will effectively interact with the campus community, have established track records in doctoral education, and would be willing to represent the campus on this important undertaking. I am pleased to announce members of the DPP Committee, listed in alphabetical order:

  • Anne Camper: Professor, Environmental Engineering, Associate Dean, College of Engineering
  • Jayne Downey: Associate Professor, Education
  • Alan Dyer: Associate Professor, Plant Science & Plant Pathology
  • Tamela Eitle: Interim Vice Provost, Office of the Provost
  • Ian Godwin: Associate Director, Office of Planning & Analysis
  • Patrick Hatfield: Professor and Department Head, Animal & Range Sciences
  • Julie Heard: Administrative Support, Provost’s Office
  • Jeffrey Heys: Professor and Department Head, Chemical & Biological Engineering
  • Karlene Hoo: Committee Chair, Dean, Graduate School
  • Yves Idzerda: Professor and Department Head, Physics
  • Clemente Izurieta: Associate Professor, Computer Science; Member Faculty Senate
  • Timothy LeCain: Professor, History & Philosophy
  • Joshua Meyer, Graduate Student, College of Education Health and Human Development
  • Nicol Rae: Dean, College of Letters & Science
  • Sarah Shannon: Dean, College of Nursing
  • Jovanka Voyich-Kane, Assistant Professor, Microbiology and Immunology 
  • Robert Walker: Professor, Chemistry & Biochemistry

The committee will establish criteria for use in assessing each doctoral program for its quality, productivity, impact, and alignment with the university's mission and strategic goals. This effort is more purposeful and comprehensive than past viability assessments that were focused primarily on counting graduates. Program assessments will lead to recommendations for:

  1. further development and growth
  2. minor modification and realignment with the university's mission
  3. substantial modification (e.g., consolidation, merger, disinvestment or moratorium)
  4. continued longitudinal assessment (for relatively new programs)

The committee's work will begin with a focus on the following tasks:

  • Develop a plan for regular communication with campus.
  • Create an open and transparent process that features frequent opportunities for faculty input.
  • Identify indicators and criteria to be used in the assessment, and their relative weights.
  • Gather and analyze appropriate quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Gather input from deans, department heads and faculty in each program.
  • Categorize programs and provide recommendations drawn from the assessment.

Please join me in thanking the committee members for taking on this task as we continue to build a strong foundation for continued growth and excellence in scholarship and doctoral education at Montana State University. I thank you in advance for your willingness to engage with committee members on this undertaking and for your continued support in enhancing Montana State University's stature as a land-grant, research institution.

In the coming weeks, additional information will be communicated about the process. This information will include a timeline for the committee's work and link to the prioritization web page, where information about the process will be posted. As we launch this review, I encourage you to share your input and ideas with members of the review committee so that they may incorporate your ideas into the process.


Robert Mokwa
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost