UW-Stevens Point Outlines Potential Program Cuts, Additions
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point have announced a plan today to potentially cut 13 of its programs, while expanding on and adding others.
After declining enrollment and lower tuition revenues, the university faces a $4.5 million dollar deficit over the next two years. However, this is due mostly in part to state budget cuts, which has seen $9.6 million leave the table since 2011. This also includes half-a-billion in university budget cuts statewide since that time.
According to university officials, resources will likely be moved from programs with lower enrollment, such as traditional humanities and social sciences programs. Majors could be eliminated in these programs, though some courses would remain to be taught in the fields, including the offering of minors and certificates.
“This repositioning is necessary because of declining financial resources, demographic changes with fewer students in K-12 schools and rising competition among public and private universities,” said Greg Summers, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “A significant increase in graduation rates recently has also contributed to overall enrollment declines.”
“A broad, liberal arts education continues to be critical,” UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson said in messages to students, faculty and staff today. “Importantly, we remain committed to ensuring every student who graduates from UW-Stevens Point is thoroughly grounded in the liberal arts, as well as prepared for a successful career path. It is critical our students learn to communicate well, solve problems, think critically and creatively, be analytical and innovative, and work well in teams. This is the value of earning a bachelor’s degree.”
UWSP will look to expand the following programs that according to the university, have “demonstrated high value and demand in the region”
-Computer Information Systems
-Conservation Law Enforcement
New bachelor’s (or advanced) degree programs will be proposed for the following:
-Ecosystem Design and Remediation
-Geographic Information Science
-Master of Business Administration
-Master of Natural Resources
-Doctor of Physical Therapy
“The recommendations recognize a growing preference among students for majors with clear career pathways,” Summers said. “UW-Stevens Point is committed to strengthening our academic offerings while improving our liberal arts core to ensure students graduate with the knowledge and skills they will need to be successful in the future.”
The following programs will likely be discontinued according to a university press release:
-Art – (Graphic Design will continue as a distinct major)
-English – (English for teacher certification will continue)
-History – (Social Science for teacher certification will continue)
-Sociology — (Social Work major will continue)
Students enrolled in any major that is eventually discontinued will have the opportunity to complete their degrees. This includes students who enroll in fall 2018. Courses would continue to be taught in these fields. Minors in English, Art, History and Philosophy are among those continuing.
“Additional programs in humanities and social sciences that have clear career pathways will provide opportunities to major in liberal arts fields.” said Summers.
These proposals must first be reviewed by a campus governance committee, followed by the chancellor and university System Board of Regents. As a result of the discontinuation of these programs, some tenured faculty members may experience layoffs. In such a case, the UW Board of Regents policy will be followed.
The process for these proposals are expected to begin in August. According to the university, if cuts are seen among tenured staff, such cuts would occur no sooner than June of 2020.
According to the university release, Summers described these program discontinuations as ‘difficult, painful and necessary.’
“If we accept the need for change, and we confront and solve the financial issues currently facing the institution, we can create a new identity for the regional public university,” said Summers. “UW-Stevens Point can move forward with fiscal stability, new opportunities to build programs and grow enrollment, and renewed capacity to improve our service to the students and communities of central and northern Wisconsin, which are complex, diverse and ever changing.”