The six colleges at the University of Wyoming offer dozens of courses for all students. However, the broad scope might prove problematic in light of a crunching budget.
UW offers many more degree programs than Colorado State University, even though they have more than double the student enrollment — 32,000 students compared to about 13,000 at UW. UW Board of Trustees member John MacPherson said.
“The university offers more degrees than most schools do,” he said.
“Wyoming offers about 200 separate courses whereas CSU offers 150.”
UW offers, in total, 118 degrees, MacPherson continued, while CSU offers 72. After discovering the large disparity, he asked UW administration to look at the individual departments and determine their effectiveness.
“I think it’s something the university administration and the board need to keep in mind and acquire more information about the programs offered and the merit of those programs,” he said.
Reduced funding drives the search for less-productive or low-enrollment degree programs, MacPherson said.
“We were discussing areas in which there might be some potential savings and, as a result, saw that UW offers more degrees than elsewhere,” he said.
Some of the savings could help make up a possible funding reduction by the State Legislature, Trustee Mike Massie said.
“We need to apply the money to areas with the most need,” he said.
Some departments, while they don’t have the strongest enrollment, might be vital to the university as a whole, Massie said.
“Just because a department doesn’t offer a lot of degrees in itself doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable,” he said. “A lot of people point to math — nobody’s going to cut the math department.”
Both Massie and MacPherson said UW is in a unique situation. Provost David Jones said UW’s status as the only four-year university in the state affects the size and scope of programs offered.
“In our effort to meet the needs of all our Wyoming students, we need to offer a broad spectrum of programs of study,” he said.
Colorado has several state universities for students to choose from, allowing a more focused curriculum, Massie explained.
“They can meet all of the degree demands across the state,” he said. “In Wyoming, we’re the only place people can point toward.”
Jones said a process reviewing every program is in the very early stages.
“We’ll decide if we need to restructure some of these programs, or if there are some programs or, departments that haven’t grown at the rate, what’s the cost of those programs,” he said.
Any future cuts or restructuring of departments would not affect students already enrolled in the program, Massie said.
“If the Trustees would want to cut a program, we’d make sure it’s not to the detriment of our students,” he said.
The deans and individual departments will take charge of the review early on, Jones said, which will likely take some time.
“I wouldn’t anticipate anything within this next year,” he said. “We’re going to start moving on doing some review of programs, but it’s not something to say that, as of January 1, we’re cutting this or that.”