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MWSU proposal would eliminate nearly 50 majors

Administrators say because of needs for budget cuts, they recommend cutting almost half of all the programs they offer students

Posted: Apr 6, 2020 10:59 PM
Updated: Apr 7, 2020 11:32 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- Missouri Western administrators are considering a wide-ranging $5 million in budget cuts.

If enacted, it would stretch across campus, eliminating about 50 programs in which students can currently earn a major. 

Budget problems have gotten so bad that the Griffon campus isn't just bleeding black and gold, but also red--as in a lot of red ink.

"The university can not continue in its current state," said MWSU Provost Douglas Davenport. "What we have tried to be for a number of years, I think we've done it reasonably well is to be all things to all people. Many institutions are stepping back from that to say we can no longer sustain all the programs we now have."

The degree programs proposed to be cut include everything from English to mathematics to sciences like biology and chemistry to economics and even physical education. Davenport said these majors were selected due to their low enrollment, the faculty time necessary to teach these subjects and the practicality of these degrees helping students get good jobs in today's workplace.

"The ability to offer all these programs for every student simply is not sustainable," Davenport said. "Yes, definitely, we will have students that will not select Missouri Western, there are options around.

Davenport blames the budget problem on funding from the state, which he says has been relatively flat over the past ten years, and enrollment, which has decreased from 4,400 students to about 3,500 over that same time period.

Added to that are about $2 million in state funding cuts recently approved by Governor Mike Parson as part of a $180 million reduction in spending due to the coronavirus.

"Even though we've had declining enrollment, we've added faculty in a number of areas, added staff in a number of areas," Davenport said. "Along with that, the cost of healthcare, utilities,benefits, those costs continue to escalate year over year."

Instead, Davenport says the university will invest in other areas where they're strong, like the school of business and others.

"We will focus on our strengths and ensure our graduates are prepared to compete and to provide a positive impact in businesses and our community," he said.

Some in the community have questioned these budget cuts occuring at the same time that Missouri Western has been growing its sports department, adding teams in track and field, cross country, lacrosse and even e-sports.

Davenport explained that funding for those sports come from other revenue streams. Also, he said that sports plays an integral part of a student's positive experience at the university.

"The student experience is an important priority. The academic experience is one piece, there's also the social side of things. You can't simply cut your way to prosperity," Davenport said.

The program eliminations would come after two years, allowing students currently enrolled in those programs to complete their bachelor's degree. Davenport said the Academic Review Board first looked at programs that are not graduating at least ten students per year.

For now, the cuts are only being discussed. A final recommendation of programs for elimination will be made in the next two weeks.

The final decision will be made by the Missouri Western Board of Governors.

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