Kent Chabotar releases final recommendations for APSA

Following three years of deliberations and discussions, two drafts and a community forum, President and Professor of Political Science Kent Chabotar released his final decisions on the Administrative Program and Services Assessment on Jan. 31.

Launched in Spring 2011, the assessment was intended to improve efficiency and raise accountability.

Chabotar, Guilford College’s top administrator and one known for relying on quantitative data, hopes the final decisions are more clearly understood than the original draft of the report, which responded to qualitative markers.

“There are many misconceptions about the APSA report,” said Chabotar. “Some stem from a lack of communication, while others more so from suggestions included in early drafts.”

Changes from the original draft include dropping the five-year “deadline” for the Art Gallery, leaving theBonner Center and Career Development Center under Academic Affairs, clarifying that the Conflict Resolution and Resource Center is not to be eliminated, and keeping the Early College program.

Still, many questions surround these final decisions and the entire evaluation process. Chabotar said that essentially there are three facts the community should know about the APSA report.

“We did not go into the process with a hit list for departments,” said Chabotar. “Each decision was suggested and then evaluated based on available data and community feedback.

“The timeline for implementation will also be staggered. Some things will take effect immediately while others will take months. And, while everything is final, the next president will have the authority to undo any decisions.”

Many professors and students were pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

“My initial take on the APSA recommendations had been that there was an over emphasis on the bottom line — financial considerations seemed to trump academic ones,” said Chair and Assistant Professor of Mathematics Benjamin Marlin, who is also the Early College liaison. “But I was pleasantly surprised that (Chabotar) clarified the recommendations in the process.

The Early College program was one of the many programs initially discussed. Among the many concerns was renegotiating a more profitable contract with Guilford County Schools — an issue that has been postponed for evaluation by the new president.

Other notable programs that generated significant initial controversy included the Bonner Center for Community Service & Learning and the Art Gallery.

James Shields ’00, director of the Bonner Center, said that he and his department were also delighted with the final report.

“We were confident that if we presented a response with current data and a clearer understanding of how the Bonner Center operates, the main recommendations would be reversed,” said Shields.

The new report reversed the initial report’s recommendation of reducing staffing positions within the Center and also called for greater collaboration with other campus departments.

The Art Gallery proved to be another point of contention. The initial report issued by the APSA committee suggested potentially closing the Gallery and eliminating the administrative assistant position.

“While APSA’s initial recommendations were … distressing, to say the least, the outpouring of support from students, faculty and staff in response to these recommendations buoyed my spirits and renewed my commitment to the Art Gallery as a vital academic resource,” said Theresa Hammond ’81, founding director and curator of the Guilford Art Gallery.

“I feel confident that with more than 20 years … of programming and relevance to the community, we will be able to meet the fundraising goals suggested by APSA, lessening the Art Gallery’s financial dependence on the College and ensuring it is always positioned to fund essential operations.”

Only as APSA’s recommendations are steadily implemented will the Guilford community understand their full impact. However, for the time being, many are satisfied with the results.

“The APSA initiative offered the College an opportunity to better understand the programs and services that impact the institution as a whole,” said Erin Dell, assistant academic dean and member of the APSA committee. “The team’s diverse perspectives enabled a thorough process and analysis.”

Junior Benjamin Strozier agreed.

“Frankly, I am somewhat pleased by the recommendations set forth by the APSA report,” said Strozier. “In the end, it was needed and will only benefit the College.”