Academic cuts proposed in light of enrollment decline


It is no secret that budget cuts are happening, but where the cuts are happening is still a mystery to students. While athletic cuts have already been announced, academic cuts are still unknown.

A proposal from the Office of the Provost, called the Academic Cost Containment Proposal, became available to view by faculty on March 20. The proposal is just that, and no part of it is finalized at this time.

Academic cuts will most likely be finalized at the May board meeting, according to David King, university president, at the March 19 Student Senate meeting.

According to the Academic Cost Containment Proposal, the February 2014 Board of Trustees created a list of directives to aid in reducing university

President King said academic cuts will most likely not be finalized until the May board meeting. (Photo by Autumn Berry)

costs. Among other things, the directives identify a target student-to-faculty ratio, program elimination, consolidation of majors, a reduction of faculty positions, reconfiguration of academic structures, and improvements in the General Education program.

There are four parts to the proposal which list possible changes to academic programs and the rationale behind the proposed changes.

Program Reductions

Part one lists possible program reductions to be implemented in fall 2015.

According to the proposal, program reductions are recommended based on undergraduate programs with insufficient students to support the program (less than 25 students per year or less than 15 students per every full time faculty member); graduate programs with less than 25 students in the entire program; undergraduate programs where less than 20 percent of students finish; undergraduate programs where fewer than five students graduate each year (based on three-year-average); consistent low enrollment in program courses; course enrollment below the minimum fiscal threshold; programs with low incoming student demand; and programs with excessive costs.

Programs that fall into this section of the proposal include the journalism track of communication arts, art education, Spanish, Spanish education, physical education, school health education, master of arts in theological studies, master of arts in education in classroom-based counseling and advocacy, and master of arts in education in reading.

All tenure and tenure track professors have already been offered a position for the next academic school year, according to Steve Jensen, chair of Faculty Senate and professor of English, at the March 19 Student Senate meeting.

Program Revisions

Many science courses are up for revision rather than elimination. (Photo by Autumn Berry)

Part two lists possible program revisions to be implemented in fall 2015.

Programs in this category would not be eliminated, but rather, they would be revised to improve their effectiveness.

Programs that fall into this category are chemistry (with the possible elimination of pre-pharmacy and pre-medicine), the theatre track of communication arts, computer science, education licensure tracks (integrated science, life science education, physical science education, life science/chemical education, integrated language arts, integrated social science, integrated mathematics), mathematics, music programs (music, music ministry, music production and music education), and philosophy.

General Education

Part three lists possible program reviews and revisions to General Education, which would be implemented fall 2016.

The goals for General Education classes will be reviewed. The General Education Committee will look at the possibility of reducing the number of menu options available, when courses are offered, total expenses and learning outcomes of General Education courses.

Other Cost Saving Measures

Part four lists other possible cost saving measures to be implemented fall 2016 and as determined by review.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, the provost, deans and academic programs will work together to consider alternative scheduling and course delivery options. They will also consider three-year completion options, the necessity of various minors and collaboration between related academic programs.

Impact of the Cuts

One of the plans to increase student enrollment is the addition of three new theology majors. (Photo by Autumn Berry)

The Academic Cost Containment Proposal estimates a savings of $450,000 to $500,000 in 2014-2015 due to faculty transfer and reductions, an estimated savings of $250,000 to $300,000 in 2015-2016 due to program eliminations and revisions, and an estimated savings of $200,000 due to revisions in general education.

It is unclear how much the other cost saving measures in part four of the proposal will save.

Students affected by the academic cuts will be able to finish the program in which they are enrolled, according to King at the March 19 Student Senate meeting.

Increased Programs

While the largest focus of the budget cuts has been about what programs are being eliminated, investments are going to be made in some programs in order to improve student enrollment.

New programs will be offered, including a hybrid master’s degree in nursing, an associate’s to bachelor’s degree in social work and three new theology majors, according to a university press release.

Also according to the press release, the university is seeking to increase the number of summer programs for non-college audiences, like high school students.

Learn more about why Malone is making budget cuts here.

 Kaylee Riley is the news editor for The Aviso AVW.

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