rpk GROUP (rpk) was hired by the Vermont State College System to enhance the academic portfolio and align the System with the transformation goals articulated by the Select Committee on the Future of Public Higher Education in Vermont (Select Committee). rpk began the work in January 2021, working alongside the Chief Academic Officers from Castleton University, Northern Vermont University, Vermont Technical College, and Community College of Vermont to develop a frame for analysis, review analysis output, and engage stakeholders statewide. Below are the current versions of rpk GROUP’s framework and analysis.
The goals of the analysis of the academic portfolio are:
- Develop a framework for evaluation of current academic programs within the VSCS portfolio.
- Identify gaps in existing academic portfolio relative to Vermont labor market demand.
- Recommend an ideal portfolio that meets the needs of Vermont students and the work force.
- Design action plans to help VSCS implement the recommended academic portfolio.
Framework for Units of Analysis
In order to complete the analysis, rpk needed to create units of analysis that enabled the three institutions to be reviewed as one. This necessitated a program roll-up process, described below:
- Roll up to the CIP code + degree type: rpk GROUP received several files from VSCS Institutional Research for this analysis and used those various files to create the ‘universe’ of academic programs that were offered in some form during the years of the analysis (2016-2020). There were nearly 500 program codes in that data when restricted to Associates, Bachelors, and Masters, which made the unit of analysis at that level very small. To address that, individual catalog offerings were rolled up the CIP code and the degree type (Associates, Bachelors, Masters, etc.) to create a program name that was inclusive of all program codes listed under a particular CIP code and degree type. Once this roll up was done, only 128 Associates, Bachelors, and Masters programs remained.
- Assignment to area of focus: The newly renamed 128 programs were assigned to one of fifteen areas of focus. Some of the areas of focus function similarly to a department in that they are good captures of the disciplines of the programs within (e.g. Business/Accounting). Others are more ‘catch all’ and include a diversity of programs that are similar in ways other than discipline (e.g. Professional Programs). This assignment to area of focus was done in collaboration with the Chief Academic Officers from CU, NVU and VTC.
You can review the program roll-ups and assignments to area of focus in this excel file: VSCS rpk GROUP Area of Focus and Program Structure
On April 30, 2021, rpk hosted a faculty town hall via Zoom. You can access the recording of the meeting here: https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/uH5uGQs8obYGYb_DXpGep0GBaTG-UMmtWqtPlqlbA5V_9I_cl2inZ15IozZyi9to.uQbLGDy7y88AjA6-
In advance of that meeting, rpk put together the following slides that include the key analysis variables for each program and area of focus. You can download that deck here: VSCS Portfolio Analysis by rpk GROUP
Rpk’s final report is here, and the slides presented to the EPSL committee of the Board on May 24th are here