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Prioritizing Academic Programs and Services: Reallocating Resources to Achieve Strategic Balance, Revised and Updated Hardcover – Jan 26 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 2nd (second) edition (Jan. 26 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470559683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470559680
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.3 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #95,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Dickeson has no illusions about the difficulty of achieving 'strategic balance,' but his single-minded focus on identifying and eliminating those programs that require resources that could be used by higher priority programs can provide clarity to those about to undertake an institutional review, and his insistence that an institution can make informed and defensible judgments about programs will reassure those who are in the process of institutional review." (Continuing Higher Education Review)

"This book is a 'must read' for higher education leaders or those who aspire to become higher education leaders. Only Bob Dickeson, with his many years of higher education experience, could have incorporated so much information in such a concise and informative manner." (James E. Walker, president, Middle Tennessee State University)

"This is a succinct and understandable guide to the very complex issues surrounding restructuring and prioritization. Every board member, president, and provost will find it essential to their own work." (Jessica S. Kozloff, president, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania)

"Dickeson reverses the death of common sense. He challenges the prevailing assumption that all academic programs are of equal value and then demonstrates how to base resource allocation decisions on the merits of each." (Gary H. Quehl, president, Quehl Associates) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

ROBERT C. DICKESON is senior vice president for Corporate Advancement of USA Group, Inc. He heads the USA Group Foundation-a philanthropic organization dedicated to improving higher education. He is president emeritus of the University of Northern Colorado. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book exemplifies all that is wrong in university administration today. In this sense it is well worth reading, as it will help one understand why shortsighted and dull-witted university administrations have practically driven once proud institutions into the ground (as they nearly did in Regina until they were stopped by faculty). Program prioritization only makes sense when you have a clear sense of your institution's academic mission, something too many university administrations nowadays clearly lack.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bob Dickeson has definitely got his 'finger on the pulse' of our current crisis in sustainability being experienced at colleges and universities across North America. This book is clear, concise and compelling in its prescription for change on our campuses. A great read!
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Format: Hardcover
Dickeson's book is a comprehensive manual for academic administrators at all levels who need to maximize resources because of cutbacks. Since the most likely source for needed resources is reallocation of existing resources, he suggests a means to prioritize programs so administrators can make well-informed decisions. Dickeson's ideas have a firm basis in practical applicaitons. He has served as a university president and is currently president of a consulting firm that has guided hundreds of colleges and universities through program prioritization. This book contains checklists at all stages of the planning process plus samples of actual priortizing plans and is a very useful resource not only at the institutional level but for any program undergoing review.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Provides a step by step approach to rationalization of programs at Universities - a must read for all University Administrators
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa7691b34) out of 5 stars 16 reviews
51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa79c21d4) out of 5 stars A Former College President Revenges Himself on the Professors Nov. 2 2013
By archprof - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fundamentally unserious book that avoids major issues driving up the cost of higher education. You will look in vain for any sustained discussion of athletics programs and their massive deficits; bloated administrations that continue to bloat even more; increased numbers of non-academic staff; borrow-and-spend binges to create luxury dorms, expensive student unions, 5-star fitness centers, elaborate landscaping rivaling the gardens of Versailles, frequently remodeled and plush administrative offices, etc.; staggering tuition discounts, especially at private institutions; and, of course, the use of expensive consultants, of which Dickeson is certainly one, rather than hiring competent administrators who actually know how to perform their jobs from the outset. Some of these issues are mentioned in a perfunctory manner, concealing what major problems they have become. The pretense here throughout is that higher education's problems are primarily the fault of those pointy-headed proffies.

The process Dickeson prescribes is a one-size-fits-all program in which academic programs are slotted into five categories, essentially winners to losers, with the losers slated for elimination or consolidation. The numbers going into each category are supposed to be approximately equal, so that, even if only 5% of the programs are really problematic, another 15% must be tossed into the lowest category, regardless of their real situation. Other than Dickeson's astoundingly crude categories, obviously cribbed from the so-called "vitality curves" or "rank-and-yank" practices of some large corporations, there is really nothing original or striking here: universities can and should be constantly evaluating their programs, trimming those which no longer attract students and have no likely prospect of doing so in the future, creating new programs, etc. This is the kind of process a senior university administrator should know how to lead without having his or her hand held by an extremely expensive consulting firm. At the end of the day, Dickeson short-circuits his entire tough-guy schtick by saying that only the governing boards should have authority to close programs (p. 103), which is the situation nearly everywhere at present. This continues to allow trustees or regents, many of whom have very particular interests indeed, to swoop in and rescue their beloved programs--of which, by the way, athletics is often the focus--regardless of data concerning cost, reasonable future prospects, or the results of the actual prioritization study. If Dickeson were serious, which he most certainly is not, he would have provided an extended discussion of how many of the most non-viable programs remain in existence precisely because they are supported by senior administrators and trustees against all reason. He knows perfectly well who writes the big checks to his firm, after all. In my many years in higher education, I have yet to see a faculty line advertised without the authorization of a senior administrator, typically the president of an institution, a paycheck bearing the signature of one of those rank-and-file pointy-heads, or a new program created without the approval of the board.

The intention of mechanically slotting 40% of an institution's programs into "eliminate/consolidate" or "reduce support" categories is simply to scatter the attention of faculty and students between so many threatened programs that effective resistance becomes impossible. Departments with perfectly healthy programs by any reasonable standard are compelled to spend time defending themselves and their students' educations rather than responding to unreasonable threats to other programs. The more or less inevitable consequence of Dickeson's approach is a "bunkered" institution, in which other departments are seen not as potential partners, but outright adversaries.

Dickeson, like many consultants and administrators, is fond of evaluating outcomes, as opposed to inputs. Surprisingly, however, he offers absolutely no empirical evidence that his approach has measurably improved actual academic outcomes anywhere. One would think that by now, Dickeson, who has been flogging his approach for a long time, would be able to point to dozens of studies establishing a direct link between his prioritization process and positive gains in measurable student learning outcomes. Of course, he cannot.

After his presidency ended at Northern Colorado, during which time his unjustified firing of many faculty landed that institution on the AAUP's "Censured Institutions" list, Dickeson did not obtain further employment as a university president. Despite his flackery about his experience, the reality is that he has not held a line management position in an institution of higher education for over 20 years. He has spent the rest of his career attacking university faculty as lazy, disinterested in the viability of their institutions, and wholly resistant to change. His caricatures of faculty members bear as much resemblance to reality as some faculty members' opinions about administrators, who of course come in competent, so-so, and incompetent flavors. Readers should understand that this book is essentially an advertisement for his expensive consulting firm's services. It is written to appeal to politicians, board members, and in-over-their-heads administrators, using the very short sections and numbered/bulleted lists that are typical of this genre of management manual.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7ace720) out of 5 stars Don't do this Sept. 21 2013
By Ididit - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The book sounds good. BUT - I worked at a college in Chicago that tried this approach. It was a major pain and it failed miserably. We used the author's consulting company. They cost a lot of money and the whole process took a year. I must say the end result was not good. Why? Well the process he proposes does not take into consideration the culture of the college. It does not follow good change management processes. This did a lot more harm than good. Consider yourself warned.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7969b70) out of 5 stars The wrong way forward Nov. 24 2013
By Leo Groarke - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A very problematic approach to the issues facing universities these days, which has undermined morale and caused damage at many institutions.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7aab018) out of 5 stars books by Dickeson Feb. 19 2014
By hugh mcpeck - Published on
Format: Hardcover
His prejudices for freedom for faculty runs high. He has a agenda for getting rid of Tenure and freedom to teach classes as one sees best. Bob's efforts to not blame any costs on the administration is so obvious and wrong..
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7dcaa68) out of 5 stars One Star Aug. 15 2014
By Gillian Moore - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rubbish, and very badly written.