As we have met with members of the campus community over the past few weeks, a number of questions have been asked about the quintile system the task force will be using to categorize academic programs. You may recall that the quintiles have been designated as follows:
1. Candidate for enhanced resourcing
2. Candidate for retention with current resourcing
3. Candidate for retention with reduced resourcing
4. Candidate for reconfiguration to enhance efficiency/effectiveness
5. Candidate for phase out, subject to further review
Through the review process, the job of the task force is to place programs in these quintiles, not by the number of programs, but by the proportion they represent of the portion of the operating budget available for academic programs. The result will be that programs whose costs add up to 20% in budgetary terms will be placed in each quintile, based on the assessment by the task force of all academic programs.
People have pointed out that this process would place programs amounting to up to 60% of the academic program portion of the operating budget in quintiles where reduced resourcing or elimination are possible outcomes. As the university is seeking to realize savings totaling 4-5% of the operating budget from this process, the classification of the programs in the way we have described permits strategic choices to be made, and not all of the programs placed in quintiles 3, 4 and 5 will ultimately be deprived of resources or eliminated.
Though the program prioritization process has been prompted by budgetary considerations, it is not in essence a cost/benefit exercise. It is important, of course, for the task force to understand the relationship between the costs of programs and the activities they comprise, but our primary task is to judge whether programs are more closely aligned or less closely aligned with the stated priorities of the university, and to categorize them accordingly. Thus, it is possible that a program may be highly efficient in cost/benefit terms and still be placed in the 5th quintile because it is not a high priority.