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WSSU Academic Portfolio Review


Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) is engaging in a critical project to develop an appropriately data-informed framework to review our academic portfolio. Doing so will allow us to understand how aligning available resources supports our mission and student success more fully.

Interim Provost, Dr. Kathy Stitts and Chief Financial Officer Lisa McClinton will co-lead these projects. They will be fully supported by the members of the project’s Steering Team, and Data Team Program in partnership with rpk GROUP (rpk). rpk was selected as WSSU’s partner in this work because they have a proven history of building the capacity of university faculty and staff to design replicable processes that reflect institutions’ priorities and values and use a data-informed framework to inform decision-making beyond the timeframe of the project. Additional input regarding the project and its outcomes will be provided by the stakeholder groups detailed below.

The framework that will be developed because of this project will allow WSSU to facilitate the changes necessary to remain a vibrant student-centered institution in a dynamically shifting higher education landscape. This project will also create additional internal capacity for continuous improvement in fulfillment of WSSU’s commitment to its students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community.

Project Goals

A review of WSSU’s academic portfolio and resources is designed to:

  • Proactively respond to declining enrollments that negatively impact the sustainability of WSSU’s operating model.
  • Create a replicable and sustainable framework that can be populated annually for regular review and maintenance of academic offerings, which is consistent with industry best practices and aligned with accreditation standards and attuned to emerging opportunities.
  • Shift from focusing only on how we spend money to helping us ask and answer the question: “Are we serving students and fulfilling mission best with the resources we have?” 


Project Members

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is charged with being the first ‘sounding board’ as the framework is drafted and shared for review. Steering Committee members have broad, working knowledge of the WSSU’s academic offerings and an ability to represent and share multiple stakeholder groups’ understanding of the data and findings. The Steering Committee will meet monthly throughout the project’s duration.

Members of the Steering Committee are:

  • Doria K. Stitts, Provost, and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (interim)
  • Lisa McClinton, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration
  • LaVie Leasure, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of University College (interim)
  • Mel Johnson-Norwood, Associate Provost, and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
  • Cheryl Pollard, Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management (interim)
  • Frank Ingram, Associate Provost for Academic Budgets and Faculty Affairs
  • Anthony Artimisi, Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Strategy
  • Tracey Worthey, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
  • Leslee Battle, Dean, School of Health Sciences
  • Manju Bhat, Dean, College of Arts, Sciences, Business, and Education,
  • Montrale Boykin, Dean, the Graduate School
  • Keisha G. Rogers, Vice-Chair, Faculty Senate
  • Myron Brown, Chair, Department of Music
  • Yolanda Edwards, Chair, Department of Rehabilitation Counseling

Data Team

The Data Team is the core functional unit of the project and is comprised of individuals at the institution who have working knowledge of common data systems (course data, faculty data, financial data, and student data) and appropriately represent the institution’s academic structure. The Data Team is responsible for supporting data collection as well as developing and refining the approach to the framework. The Data Team will meet regularly throughout the project, with individual members of the Data Team meeting more frequently based on access to data and specific knowledge of data.

Members of the Data Team are:

  • Anthony Artimisi, Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Strategy
  • Christine Whitaker, Business and Technology Application Analyst
  • Cheryl Thomas, Social/Clinical Research Specialist
  • Mariam Lackey, Human Resources Specialist
  • Lisa McClinton, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration
  • Dana Dupree, Associate Vice Chancellor for Financial Services
  • Marquita Graves, University Registrar
  • Shelly Barnes, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences, College of Arts Sciences, Business and Humanities
  • Elija Onsomu, Associate Professor of Nursing, School of Health Sciences
  • Georgette Crawford-Crooks, Director, Student Success Collaborative
  • Cindy Isler, Business and Technology Application Specialist
  • Faculty Affairs, TBD

Stakeholder Engagement

To facilitate awareness and transparency regarding this critical work regular project updates will be shared with the Board of Trustees, Provost’s Cabinet, and the Faculty Senate. Additional opportunities for the broader WSSU community to learn about the project and its progress will be offered, starting with a town hall on April 10, 2024. These opportunities are designed to allow constituents to share feedback or ask questions related to the project.


The project begins in Spring 2024. With respect to faculty that are off-contract during the summer, the project’s work during that time will be limited to data collection and meetings with the Data Team and Steering Committees. We anticipate this process to include the following milestone events:


Project launch


Data collection


Data utilization for framework development


The timeline is dependent on the availability of data and may be adjusted accordingly to ensure appropriate collaboration and stakeholder awareness.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This FAQ will be updated throughout the project to reflect any comments or questions received from the WSSU community through the feedback form.


What is an Academic Portfolio and Resources Review?

As higher education has developed its response to changes in the external environment, institutions have begun the difficult and important work of reviewing their academic portfolios. The goals of this project should be to move away from an emphasis on cutting (budgets, people, programs) and shift to an investment lens. That lens must consider the financial business model, but also includes assessments of quality, student demand, and equitable outcomes.


Our work will help us determine where program investments can be made, reallocations can occur and explore how to maintain high quality instruction that leads to student success. 


Why is WSSU conducting this project now?

WSSU must look carefully at and understand how it uses existing resources. This review will help WSSU enable good stewardship of resources by identifying opportunities to harvest and reallocate efforts toward strategic goals.


How will this project be conducted?

WSSU selected rpk to assist us with this project. rpk has previous experience working with institutions nationally to develop replicable frameworks that leverage institutional data. rpk will work directly with WSSU’s project leaders, and members of the project’s Data Team and Steering Committee.


Is this project focused on the elimination of academic programs?

Program elimination is not a focus of this project. The project will provide a framework and tools to allow stakeholders to understand the entire academic portfolio, including student success across programs and how current academic offerings and structures contribute to WSSU’s financial health. Any decisions regarding the academic portfolio will follow WSSU’s established governance procedures.


How long will this project take?

We anticipate that the total project will take approximately eight months.