LARAMIE, Wyo. (RELEASE) - After initiating academic degree program reviews in March, the University of Wyoming is considering elimination of six low-enrollment bachelor’s degrees, eight master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees, under recommendations released Monday by UW’s Office of Academic Affairs.
The recommendations also include proposals to consolidate or reconfigure several academic units, including the American Studies Program, the Department of Statistics, the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Religious Studies, and the Science and Mathematics Teaching Center.
Under UW Regulation 6-43, the recommendations are open for comment from UW faculty, staff, students and other interested parties through Nov. 19. The faculty, staff and student senates then will have the opportunity to provide responses by Jan. 27. Provost Kate Miller plans to review the responses, weigh them and make her final recommendations by Feb. 26 to President Laurie Nichols, who will offer recommendations to the UW Board of Trustees.
“Academic program reviews are an important process for any university to undergo to assure that its offerings are in line with its mission -- and that it is providing students with the education opportunities and curriculum that prepare them for the future,” Miller says. “I have made these recommendations with extensive input from academic deans and department heads, and with a focus on academic quality and a commitment to continue providing a first-rate, modernized education for our students.”
Bachelor’s degrees recommended for elimination are: American studies, Russian, energy systems engineering, art education, modern language education and technical education.
Master’s degrees recommended for elimination are: French, German, neurosciences, philosophy, food science and human nutrition, sociology, environmental engineering, and adult and postsecondary education.
Ph.D. programs that would be eliminated are: adult and post-secondary education, and statistics.
The provost’s recommendations follow two rounds of reviews of 56 programs: undergraduate majors with fewer than 50 graduates total from 2010-15; master’s programs with fewer than 25 graduates from 2010-15; and other programs requested for review by deans. Recommendations were based on additional factors including mission centrality and quality of the programs. Quality factors include external demand for graduates; internal demand for courses; quality of inputs, such as faculty credentials and facilities; and quality of outputs, such as attainment of student learning outcomes, placement of graduates; and grants, publications and scholarly and creative work of faculty.
Miller notes that in a number of cases, she has recommended elimination of master’s degrees so that departments can focus on bachelor’s degrees, and vice versa. In addition, some remaining degree programs would be adjusted to incorporate eliminated courses of study.
Regardless, students in programs and majors recommended for elimination -- in total, there are just 97 undergraduates and 33 graduate students in those programs -- will be allowed to complete those degrees.
“There will be no adverse impact on students,” Miller says.
The proposal calls for the American Studies Program to be consolidated into a Division of Interdisciplinary Studies, along with the Gender and Women’s Studies Program and perhaps others; the Department of Statistics to merge with the Department of Mathematics; and the departments of Philosophy and Religious Studies to consolidate with similar units. The goal is to achieve efficiencies through shared business and administrative services.
The Science and Mathematics Teaching Center, meanwhile, would be shuttered and reconfigured with a broader role in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education -- becoming a P-16 STEM education center dovetailing with UW’s science, engineering and education initiatives.
Miller says cost savings from the proposed changes have not been analyzed in detail. She notes that although the academic reviews will inform components of a plan to reduce UW’s operating budget by up to $15 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year, her recommendations are distinct from the efforts of the president and the Financial Crisis Advisory Committee to present an FY 2018 budget-reduction and revenue-creation plan to the UW Board of Trustees in November.