(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Missouri Western State University officials are discussing the possibility of cutting certain majors and minors in the next few years.
In an email sent out to Missouri Western students Saturday afternoon, school president Matthew Wilson explained the possible changes.
"As part of this review process, we convened an Academic Review Board (ARB) to assess each major and minor that does not meet the state’s annual graduation guidelines (10 students/year) or sustainable enrollment levels. The ARB reviewed data such as enrollments, graduates, student credit hours, faculty counts, etc. together with external employment data to better understand student demand for majors/minors, program viability, and career prospects," Wilson wrote.
The phasing out of certain majors and programs would take place over the next two years. Wilson added that the campus community will be discussing and making written comments about the proposed actions. The Board of Governors will vote on some of the recommenations at the end of April.
Wilson said that university provost Douglas Davenport released his recommendations to suspend new student enrollment and phase out certain programs on Saturday.
In the email, Wilson noted that this should not impact current students and more than 75% of the student body is enrolled in higher enrollment programs and not affected by the recommendations.
If a major or minor is phased out, courses in the impacted programs will be offered for a couple of years.
Wilson also addresses several other possible concerns throughout his email:
What happens if a program is designated to be phased out due to insufficient enrollments?
• Note that courses in the majors/minors approved to be “phased out” will continue to be offered during the upcoming academic year.
• If a program falls into the “phase out” category, two things will happen upon Board approval:
o New student enrollments into the program will be suspended. (Phasing out a degree does not necessarily mean that courses will no longer be taught in a subject, just that a student will no longer be able to major or minor in that subject.)
o We will have a pathway for students to complete degree requirements if they have already declared their major in a program designated for phasing out. Students will have two years to finish any program requirements. We will carefully guide and direct students through the process.
What if I am in one of the programs affected?
• You do not need to change degree programs if you have declared your major in one of the programs designated to be phased out.
• We have a pathway to degree completion for you. You can complete that program through a teach-out arrangement here on our campus or through one of our partner institutions.
• You will have two years to finish your program requirements.
• Please be assured that we will do our best to minimize any negative impact on students while helping them obtain a Missouri Western degree.
• If the Board approves the recommendations, a plan will be implemented to assist an impacted student with advising, academic progress and degree completion.
Why is the University phasing out certain programs?
• We need to make MWSU more efficient, responsive, and effective in light of financial pressures caused by lower enrollments, higher expenses, reduced state assistance, and other factors, including COVID-19.
• We are trying to keep tuition and fees reasonable. Unfortunately, student tuition from the programs with larger enrollments can no longer be used to subsidize many of the degrees where we have small enrollments. As a result, personnel adjustments have become necessary in programs with insufficient enrollments.
• Just over three-quarters of our graduates (76%) come from less than one-third (31%) of our majors. By phasing out degrees with lower enrollments, we can intensify our efforts on the larger programs and better serve our students overall.
• In short, we cannot be everything to everyone. Rather, we need to focus on areas where we have strong enrollments, majors that attract and graduate students, and applied learning opportunities that directly lead to careers.
• Of note, other universities are experiencing these same challenges and the pandemic has made them even more immediate and serious.
• Note that phasing out a degree does not necessarily mean that courses will not be taught in a given department; it only means that a major, for example, will no longer be available.
What is the process?
• Input about suspending enrollment into the majors listed below will be taken until April 15th when the Provost forwards his final report to me in my capacity as President.
• Wilson will then make his recommendation to the Board of Governors for final approval by the end of the month.
When will the decision be made about phasing out programs?
• April 29th is the anticipated date.
• All recommendations have been and will be made based on objective data, financial considerations, and employment opportunities. At the same time, feedback is being solicited from the campus community until April 15th. The Student Government Association has received a full copy of the report. It can receive feedback and present this to the Provost.
Here is a list of the majors and minors that could potenially be phased out:
Music Performance & Industry
Music Technology & Industry
Speech and Theatre
Cinema (Minor in cinema remains)
Biology (Three main degrees remain)
Chemistry (Med. Lab Science remains)
Natural Science- Chem/ChemBus
Natural Science- Chem./Forensic Science
Natural Science- Chem./Health Professions
Communications/Journalism (Strategic Communications remains)
History/Teacher Certification (B.S.)
Applied Computer Technology
Computer Science/Com. Info.
English/Language & Culture
Political Science (B.S.)
Psychology (Psychology/General (BS) remains)
Psychology/Psyc Org Leadership
Criminal Justice/Juvenile Justice
Recreation Sport Management
Physical Education/Teacher Ed.
Health Information Management
MAS App. Science/Eng. Tech. Mgmt.
Minor Musical Theatre
Minor Speech Communication
Minor History European
Minor History US
Applied Computer Technology
Minor Computer Info. Systems
Minor Creative Writing
Minor English Education
Minor English Studies
Minor Technical Communication
Political Science - Am Gov
Political Science - Int'l Studies
Recreation Sport Management
Health Informatics & Info. Mgmt.
Gender and Power Studies
Peace and Conflict Studies
Minor International Studies
"Even though we are gradually phasing out these majors and minors, please remember that you will still have access to these majors and minors for the next two years. Also, even when these majors and minors are no longer available, classes in many of these disciplines will still be offered with respect to other majors, minors, or general education sections," Wilson added in his email.