University of Wisconsin - Stout

Our responses to the recommendations are as follows:

Recommendations to the Program Director

  1. Develop and implement a plan to improve participation and communication with the key instructors and the Program Advisory Committee.
  2. Continue efforts to eliminate course overlap and duplication.
  3. Continue positive work to improve advising.
  4. Continue to help students have a realistic understanding of the pros and cons of their chosen career field.
  5. Conduct a program specific follow-up analysis to determine why [many] students would not enroll in the same program after they have been in the field for several years.

Response from the Program Director

Improve communication between Program Advisory Committee and instructors

The program director is planning a variety of actions/events designed to improve the participation of and communication among the program director, key instructors and members of the Program Advisory Committee.

The location of the Program Director’s office and assigned laboratory responsibilities distant from key retail faculty makes frequent contact difficult.  In lieu of face-to-face contact, the program director sends an average of 40 e-mail messages to the RMM academic advisors (key retail faculty) each academic year.  These advisors have been strongly encouraged to attend Advisement Day meetings with the students.

At this time, the Program Advisory Committee is in place, fulfilling the university’s membership required positions.  Regular input from these members has been sought by the program director on an individual basis.  Future formal meetings of this committee plus a broader cross section of representatives from the retail industry will be held each semester to foster greater collegiality among key program advisors and provide greater interaction with RMM students.  At this time, the program director has scheduled this meeting for Tuesday, April 30, 2002.  An attempt will be made to meet once or twice a month for lunch with key retail faculty, as advisement and teaching responsibilities of the program director allow.  The PRC program review process has better informed the program director as to information that should be shared with the Advisory Committee.

Course overlap and duplication

As a part of the program revision process scheduled for 2002-03, the program director and key instructors will examine course objectives and concepts and revise plans to eliminate course overlap and duplication.  A survey of all RMM majors is presently underway to more thoroughly identify any areas of concern.  The results of this survey and the student survey conducted by the PRC for this review will be the focus of this process.

Improve advising

A portion of the student survey underway at this time will more specifically identify the quality of program advisement.  Any areas of concern identified will be dealt with appropriately.  The program director will continue the following:

  1. Regular e-mail messages to majors and RMM academic advisors regarding program-related issues.
  2. General advisement informational meetings on Advisement Day by concentration or classification (Interior Decorating majors, other RMM majors with <30 credits, other RMM majors with 30 or more credits.)
  3. Sharing information with other RMM academic advisors to be passed on to their advisees.
  4. Encouraging other RMM academic advisors to the general advisement informational meetings on Advisement Day.
  5. Using the Course Sequence Charts by RMM concentration and the Semester-by-Semester Plan for Graduation as advisement tools.
  6. Offering advisement to any and all RMM majors by open appointment, regardless of their assigned academic advisor.

Additionally, the program director will regularly meet with other RMM academic advisors to clarify expectations and curricular issues related to their academic advising responsibilities.

Understanding of career choice

The program director will enlist the help of the key retail instructors to accurately reflect the duties and responsibilities, both rewards and challenges, of a career in retailing in each retail-specific course.  Frequent guest speakers from the retail industry will also be advised to do the same.  The Retail Careers unit of BURTL-105 Introduction to Retail Merchandising and Management will be revised to better convey the advantages and disadvantages of a retail career.

Follow-up analysis

In preparation for the upcoming program revision, an expanded follow-up survey of RMM graduates will be conducted to obtain greater detailed comments as to the responses given, particularly to the question “Would you enroll in this program again?”  Key retail instructors will also be consulted for advice as to why students may have responded negatively in the past and how this might be avoided in the future.  Findings will be used to implement changes in the career unit in the BURTL-105 Introduction to Retail Merchandising and Management course and in other retail courses where appropriate, to better reflect a realistic view of a career in retailing.

Recommendations to the Department Chair

Discuss classroom and lab facilities with key faculty to get recommendations on improvements.

Response from the Department Chair

Key faculty involved in the Retail Merchandising and Management program will be surveyed to determine recommendations for program improvements related to the classroom and lab facilities.  Avenues to pursue funding to make the improvements will then be pursued.

Recommendations to the Dean

Identify and seek approval for appropriate space to replace space that will be lost in Home Economics.  (A possibility would be converting the Micheels Hall’s computer lab as the laptop program replaces the need for a large computer lab.)

Response from the Dean

In 1990-91 the university experienced a restructuring that condensed the four colleges into three.  Subsequently, the newly formed College of Technology, Engineering & Management received two undergraduate programs, Apparel, Design/Manufacturing and Retail Merchandising and Management, previously housed within the School of Home Economics.  Both of these programs and their respective faculty were located in the Home Economics Building.  Due to a lack of adequate laboratory and office spaces, both of these programs and many of their faculty continue to be located in the Home Economics Building.  Attempts to secure adequate space for faculty offices and laboratories have been impossible within the current building availability.

All of the Retail Merchandising and Management faculty with the exception of the program director are housed within the Department of Business.  Office space has been made available for the program director.  However, with the laboratories for the program, Visual Merchandising and the retail laboratory, the Niche, that person has elected to maintain an office in the Home Economics building, due simply to logistics.

The suggestion from the PRC to assume the Micheels Hall computer lab and relocate the Visual Merchandising and retail laboratories is encouraging to the program director, department chair, and dean’s office.  Every effort will be made to secure this space and use it to house the laboratories and faculty offices for the Retail Merchandising and Management program.