The University of Akron is proposing suspending - and ultimately eliminating - 55 academic programs after a lengthy academic review. For StateImpact Ohio, Bill Rice reports.
The programs represent about 10 percent of University offerings, and include such things as bachelors degrees in theater arts, classical studies, and Pre-K through twelve French and Spanish, Masters in several education specialties, physics and urban studies, and bachelors AND masters degrees in Music history and literature. About 600 students - or about 2 percent of the student population - are currently enrolled in those programs.
Provost Mike Sherman says it's not unusual for degree programs or PROGRAM TRACKS to be phased out due to insufficient demand, poor career prospects and other reasons. He says while a degree program may be suspended, courses will not necessarily be discontinued.
Sherman: ""The academic review program is not about downsizing the institution. It's not about eliminating positions. It is about assessing the viability the vitality, the sustainability, the relevance of academic programs."
Sherman says interest in the programs being considered for suspension is very low, and students already enrolled would be able to complete their degrees.
The proposal has been sent to the faculty Senate for its review. Its chairman, law professor Bill Rich, says he's troubled that the proposal doesn't offer specific reasons for each suspension. And, he says, the consequence could extend beyond the loss of the programs themselves.
Rich: "Some of these programs involve offerings that are relevant to other academic programs, and one of the things the senate has to look at, and will look at, is if we suspend and eventually eliminate program A, what will be the impact on program B, which we're not eliminating?"
The faculty senate can make recommendations, but has no authority over whether to proceed with the plan. It will submit its feedback in early April.