UW-Casper reviews certificate, degree programs

The University of Wyoming’s ongoing program review — a new effort to regularly assess whether current degree programs are worth offering and whether new programs are needed — is not limited to the main campus in Laramie.

UW will also evaluate the program offerings available through its satellite campus, UW-Casper, Director Jeff Edgens said.

“This is something that we want to continue across the university,” he said. “Academic program review is something that will be an ongoing process — probably not annually, but it would certainly be looked at, and I think they’ll put a process in place to figure out how to do the frequency of program reviews.

“And I know that will be the case here in Casper as well.”

Throughout the 2016-2017 academic year, a review of UW’s nearly 200 certificate and degree programs identified 56 for closer consideration, based on the number of graduates produced annually. UW Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kate Miller recommended — and the Board of Trustees approved — some of these for modification and five programs for elimination.

Laramie lost four programs — the bachelor’s degree program in Russian, the master’s degree program in French, the master’s degree program in German and the master’s degree program in neuroscience. UW-Casper lost the bachelor’s degree program in secondary education for industrial technical — a program offered only through the satellite campus.

Students enrolled in any of the eliminated programs will be allowed to finish their degrees — thanks to “teach-out” plans mandated by university regulations — but UW will not allow new students to enroll.

UW President Laurie Nichols told the State Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee about UW-Casper’s inclusion in the program reviews during the committee’s meeting Dec. 7.

“So, I think that review of the academic program portfolio needs to happen,” she said. “It is happening, actually, as we speak, and I think you can expect to see some refitting of the academic programs and I think you can expect to see us bring up a couple of new programs there that are tied to the economy and will be workforce-kinds of programs for the Casper region.”

The continual review process also entails assessing new program need, Nichols added.

“We really need to analyze our academic program offerings at UW-Casper and make sure that we’re offering programs of interest and that students will opt to enroll in,” she said. “Currently, we are offering a few that are not — quite honestly — that heavily enrolled and we may not need to offer those. On the flip side, there’s a few programs up there we could be offering that we’re not right now.”

Edgens said UW-Casper would focus on regional workforce needs as it considered new programs to offer. He added student demand — specifically Casper College transfer student demand — would also be taken into consideration.

“What we want to look at here in Casper is to orient UW-Casper to a greater workforce responsiveness with our degree programs,” Edgens said.

“We haven’t decided on anything at this point and I think there are some things that have to go through the process before we can really say what we want (them) up here.

“But I think we are looking at, within the next academic year or so, having new academic programs beginning here in Casper.”

The satellite campus will also seek to differentiate itself from main campus in Laramie, Edgens said.

“We want to have a more unique identity and purpose for UW-Casper, so we’ll see programs here that will be unique to us that will not be offered in Laramie,” he said.

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