ASU program eliminations, consolidations announced
by Anna Oakes
Appalachian State University Chancellor Ken Peacock and Provost Lori Gonzalez on Tuesday announced decisions to consolidate nine undergraduate and graduate programs and eliminate nine programs as a result of the two-year program prioritization process.
"Decisions involving resource allocations are always difficult, but this challenge has been especially hard given the implications for the faculty, staff and students on our campus," an email message to faculty from Peacock and Gonzalez stated on Tuesday.
The program prioritization process began in December 2011, culminating in a deans' retreat with the provost Oct. 21 and submission of a draft report to the chancellor Nov. 25.
"The program inventory at Appalachian will decrease by 26 programs at the completion of the process," the email said. "Many of these programs will be consolidated with other areas, and students enrolled will be allowed to complete their degree programs."
Gonzalez said the total of 26 includes program reductions recommended as part of the 2012 low-productivity program review as well as the reductions announced this week.
Academic administrators said the program prioritization review considered such factors as graduation rates, uniqueness in the University of North Carolina system and other quantitative and qualitative measures, in addition to low productivity (low enrollment numbers).
Undergraduate programs identified for elimination are business education; family and consumer sciences, secondary education; and technology education. Graduate programs slated for elimination include child development: birth through kindergarten; romance languages; gerontology; criminal justice and criminology; music education; and history education. Music education and history education could be incorporated through the addition of a Master of Arts in Teaching degree, the report noted.
The rationale given for eliminating programs includes insufficient demand, availability of the program at other UNC institutions and appearance of the program on the UNC General Administration's biannual low productivity review.
Undergraduate programs to be consolidated include:
• Appalachian studies, women's studies and global studies, to be consolidated with interdisciplinary studies;
• mathematics, secondary education, to be consolidated with mathematics;
• languages, literatures and culture, secondary education, to be consolidated with languages, literatures and cultures;
• apparel design and merchandising, to be moved to the College of Fine and Applied Arts and reviewed in 2016;
• biology/ecology, evolution and environmental biology, to be consolidated with biology; and
• art management, to be consolidated with studio art.
The graduate middle grades education program was also identified for consolidation with the graduate elementary education program.
In addition, the report recommends that a number of undergraduate and graduate programs continue to be monitored, with reviews scheduled in 2015 and 2016.
In a section describing the context for the program prioritization review, the final report mentions an evaluation of missions and degree offerings conducted as part of the development of the 2013-2018 UNC system strategic plan.
"That report highlighted ASU as having the largest number of degree programs of all the comprehensive masters schools in the system and the largest number of degree programs per 100 students in the entire system," the program prioritization report said. "There is a widely held perception that ASU suffers from curriculum bloat more than any of the UNC schools."
Faculty members raised concerns this semester that they were not invited to provide input in the latter stages of the prioritization process.
Jim Denniston, chairman of the ASU psychology department and the university's Council of Chairs, said some report recommendations were expected but that others were surprising -- including the placement of two graduate psychology programs on a list of programs to be monitored in 2015 and 2016. Denniston noted that one of the programs, industrial-organizational psychology & human resource management, had not been on the past three low productivity reports. The other, general experimental and clinical psychology, is a recent combination of two previous programs.
"We'll be happy to work with the administration to ensure that we're meeting whatever benchmarks are set," Denniston said.
Changes to graduate programs could have implications for undergraduate programs as well, Denniston noted. More than half of the psychology faculty would be impacted if ASU makes changes to the two graduate programs slated for further review, and the same faculty also teach undergraduate courses. Psychology is the largest undergraduate major at ASU.
Denniston said he did not know to what extend department chairs were consulted about programs that were being considered for elimination or consolidation.
"I know that I was not (consulted)," he said.
The report does not identify specific programs being targeted for enhancement but notes that "as program prioritization moves ahead, programs targeted for enhancement may receive those reallocated resources." A process for developing enhancement recommendations will begin in spring 2014, it said.
Gonzalez acknowledged it would be difficult to find resources to enhance programs with funding cuts from the state and reductions mandated by the UNC strategic plan.
"If we end up with more significant cuts, enhancement is going to be more difficult," she said.
However, attrition could free up additional resources, she indicated: "If faculty members leave in one department, it may be that a dean decides not to put that position back there, so another program could be enhanced."
To view the full report,