Proposed revisions to a UW system policy that some say could make it easier to close low-enrollment programs was reviewed by a UW-Parkside committee this week.
The policy puts graduate and baccalaureate programs with fewer than five graduates per year on average over a rolling five-year period onto a path that either results in improvement of the numbers or discontinuation of the program. The proposed revisions appear to put teeth into the policy and limit discretion.
Degreed programs in jeopardy at UW-Parkside include philosophy, molecular biology, international studies and environmental studies, according to members of the school's University Committee.
Committee Chairman Stuart Hansen said it's probably good to have the system policy clarified. But there's a danger in eliminating programs that shouldn't be. "The value of having these programs is not just how much they cost or how much we pay the faculty," Hansen said at Wednesday's committee meeting. "The value of having these programs is they make society better."
The committee made several recommendations to administration on how to improve the policy.
The discussion comes just days after officials at UW-Stevens Point announced that more than a dozen majors could be eliminated to cope with a projected budget deficit of $4.5 million over two years. Last fall, UW-Superior suspended 25 programs, including 9 majors, 15 minors and one graduate program.
Hansen doesn't believe that Parkside is facing such dire straits. "Superior and Stevens Point have seen declining enrollments," Hansen said. "Our enrollments haven't been great but they've been stable so our budget has been fairly stable as a result," he said.
Even if majors or minors would be eliminated, courses in the targeted subject areas could merge with other departments and still be taught.
The last program to be eliminated at Parkside was a German studies offering which was cut a couple of years ago.
Over the past 8 years, some 100 graduate programs, majors, minors, certificates and concentrations have been added to Parkside's line up.