Faculty, students respond to program elimination

Dr. Enette Larson Meyer, an associate professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, sits Thursday in a Family and Consumer Science laboratory.

SHANNON BRODERICK/Boomerang photographer

SHANNON BRODERICK

At the University of Wyoming, there are now 16 programs under review for possible elimination.

“I do think it’s safe to say that universities across the country have had to make tough decisions and eliminate some programs in recent years,” said Chad Baldwin, UW’s associate vice president for communications and marketing. March saw the beginning of the first program review that’s taken place at UW in likely more than a decade, Baldwin said.

All degree programs were up for review by UW’s Academic Affairs department, with the first groups considered for elimination triggered by low degree production. Some programs are being eliminated to allow departments to focus on different levels of degrees for those programs, while others could be consolidated under other departments, Provost Kate Miller says in a UW news release.

Students currently enrolled in the degree programs proposed for elimination would be allowed to complete their degrees.

In any case, the academic affairs department has been firm in its position that, “There will be no adverse impact on students,” Miller says in a news release.

Baldwin said he knows there’s no way to eliminate programs and keep everyone on campus happy. As a whole, he said he doesn’t think eliminating the programs currently on the chopping block would be a downgrade for UW.

“I don’t think eliminating 16 out of more than 200 is substantial (enough) that it would lower our standing in any way at all,” Baldwin said. “We’re not doing a wholesale elimination of anything as far as I can see. I think if you look at our lineup of degrees, we’re still — for our size — offering a whole bunch, relatively speaking.”

Even with the trigger to identify programs focusing on low degree production, Baldwin said numbers of students enrolled and degrees earned was not the only consideration. Rather, he said the process did and will employ a comprehensive array of considerations.

“There’s a whole list of considerations in this process from the numbers of graduates produced to the centrality of the program to the university’s mission to job market issues,” Baldwin said. “This is about identifying low enrollment programs and seeing if they can be improved. At a certain point, we have to ask, ‘Why are we doing this if the numbers aren’t there?’ Close to 50 were reviewed, and all but 16 are being maintained.”

In a news release, Miller says cost savings of degree program elimination are not being considered as UW looks to cut another $15 million in the 2017-2018 budget.

“I think there was the idea that it was tied in with the budget cutting exercise we’re going to have to do, but the provost made it clear this is not about financial savings, per se,” Baldwin said. “It’s about making sure we’re meeting the states needs the best we can.”

The rationale for each dean’s recommendation for the provost is available at www.uwyo.edu/acadaffairs/program-review. In the upper left hand corner of the page, all of the documentation used in the degree program review is available to the public, Baldwin said.

“It gives you a narrative for each dean as to what and why they are proposing what they are,” he said.

During a meeting with the Laramie City Council, UW President Laurie Nichols said UW is looking to boost the state’s economy by encouraging students to major in programs that would drive growth, such as computer science, Nichols said. Additionally, as UW looks to eliminate programs, Nichols said cut programs could be replaced with some more applicable to employment sectors relevant to economic growth, including potentially offering degrees in tourism and expanding entrepreneurial degree programs.

Reactions on campus have run the gamut from alarm to understanding to indifference. Part of UW’s regulations calls for a 60-day period for responses from department heads and deans, as well as anyone else wishing to comment. Miller then has 10 days to submit the proposals and comments to student, staff and faculty senates for review.

Though the deadline for the comment period was initially set for Nov. 19, a second news release came Sept. 23 extending the deadline. Baldwin said the beginning of the comment period is triggered when written notifications are distributed to all students and faculty in the programs proposed for elimination — something that did not happen with the first news release Sept. 20.

A final timeline is yet to be determined, but Nichols’ tentatively plans to present Miller’s and her own recommendations to the Board of Trustees during its May or June meetings.

(7) comments

waitasec

What a bunch of nonsense and double-talk. "Encouraging" students to major in programs that promote growth? Majoring in any course of study does not equate to economic growth. That's a very selfish and one-sided statements. So, if students don't have any interest in petroleum engineering or computer science they should look elsewhere? Not everyone is interested in engineering or computers or life science...that's the beauty of a diverse student body. "You will study engineering because it's better for Wyoming." I don't think that's going to sell.

clipper

"I don't think that's going to sell." What do you mean? Decisions are being made by executive management according to what appears to be sound criteria. Those decisions will then be implemented. There is nothing to sell.

waitasec

This isn't China. Students come to institutions to study what interests them personally. They don't take a course of study to help some economic growth or to help fix a disastrous economic situation in one state. Students do not owe the state nor it's economic growth.
It's discouraging to see that Food science and Human nutrition is on the chopping block, considering the epidemic of food borne illnesses and deaths as well as epidemic obesity in the population.
Environmental Engineering also on the cut list? That's great considering all the fracking that's occurring globally.
But, that's OK. Students who are interested in these and other fields will attend other institutions and take their tuition monies elsewhere.

clipper

China?? I know it's hard for you but please try to stay on topic.

"They don't take a course of study to help some economic growth". They absolutely do, their own economic growth.

"It's discouraging to see that Food science and Human nutrition". Maybe for you but that's alway been part of high school curriculums.

"But, that's OK. Students who are interested in these and other fields will attend other institutions and take their tuition monies elsewhere." For those who are awake (not you) the Big Ed bubble is popped and cuts are being made at institutions all across this country.

Matthew Brammer

You can't have diversity just for diversity's sake if the money isn't there to fund it, though. If a program already has low enrollment, then it's obviously not needed as much and goes on the chopping block.

waitasec

Take a look at the current organizational chart for UW- it's available online. There are 9 vice presidents and as many associate VPs. How many millions in salaries does that encompass? How about trimming the long-time-top-heavy university from the top?

pastrez4urinfo

this last comment/discovery has real meat-on-bones that people should see and pay attention to. These very layers of "fuzzy" upper admin types would be critically evaluated as a priority of my earlier stated offer of 90 days/$10 million budget savings I alluded to.....simply no justification for this many VPs and asst. VPs......really??
The aforementioned bid ed bubble is very real.....finally that unaccountable trough of continual funding is finally under review ( and embarrassing many a state in comparison....) and MOST state colleges are under exactly the same (finally...) business criteria and resultant decisions......public funds are all of a sudden valuable when the are not available so haphazardly as before...

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