Missouri colleges to cut 116 degree programs

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 | 9:20 p.m. CST; updated 11:44 a.m. CST, Friday, February 11, 2011

JEFFERSON CITY — More than 100 degree programs will be eliminated at Missouri colleges and universities as part of a cost-savings review ordered by Gov. Jay Nixon.

The state Department of Higher Education issued a report Wednesday outlining the 116 academic programs slated for deletion at two- and four-year schools because few students pursue degrees in those subjects. Many of the programs are graduate level, and the elimination of a degree program doesn't mean courses will no longer be offered.

The cuts will be phased in to allow students in degree programs faced with elimination to graduate.

MU, the state's largest university, tops the list with 19 programs on the chopping block, followed by 11 at the University of Central Missouri and nine at Northwest Missouri State University. Truman State and Harris-Stowe were the only two of the state's 13 public universities with no program cuts.

Forty-six degree programs at Missouri's 14 community colleges are no more, led by Metropolitan Community College with 11 cut programs. Four community colleges were spared cuts.

The state defines "low-producing" programs as those awarding fewer than 10 bachelor's degrees a year on average. The cutoff is five graduates for master's programs and three graduates for doctoral programs.

Hundreds more degree programs were reviewed but spared elimination, with 24 programs reclassified as inactive and 175 flagged for another review in three years.

Those ranks include the five-man physics department at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, which graduated one lone student each of the past three years. But the department keeps a heavy teaching load with classes that meet general education requirements, school leaders told the state. The school bolstered its case with letters of support from local businesses.

The statewide review highlighted some disturbing trends, said David Russell, the state's higher education commissioner.

"Many fields that have been identified as crucial to the state's economic growth and global competitiveness were among the low-producing degree programs," he said in a statement. "Foreign languages, teacher education and the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — were prominent on the list of fields with few graduates. This is a concern that must be addressed across K-12 and higher education."

The report will be further discussed Thursday by the state Coordinating Board for Higher Education, with a final report provided to Nixon by the end of the month.

Nixon thanked the state's schools for "responding to my call for action."

"This is an important initial step following through on my request for program review, and I am heartened by the institutions working to identify and carry out great efficiencies," he said in a statement.

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Ellis Smith February 10, 2011 | 6:20 a.m.

" - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - " [Among the low-producing degree programs.]

How utterly surprising!

No surprise that there will be no cuts at Truman State University. The surprise would have been if there had been cuts.

(Report Comment)
Carolyn Orbann February 10, 2011 | 3:14 p.m.

Is any information available on how much money (if any) these cuts are projected to save?

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum February 10, 2011 | 3:30 p.m.

In the case of the Natural Resources degree at MU, all those classes were already (and still will be) offered for other majors. It has a $0.00 cost effect. Unless there were some incidental paperwork fees or something...

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 10, 2011 | 5:00 p.m.

Carolyn Orbann:

Lots of luck getting that information! Actually, the dollar savings may not be great, but that doesn't mean the "exercise" isn't worthwhile - and long overdue. We have campuses here in Missouri that "never saw a new program that they didn't want to add." :) They can't handle some programs they already have, but let's be sure to add more. A public university is not supposed to be the equivalent of some Chinese restaurant menu.

One UM System cmpus, without anyone requiring that they do so, has trimmed an entire layer out of their administrative hierarchy. Did that save a bundle of money? No, because it's a relatively small operation and eliminating the layer didn't eliminate that many persons. But that wasn't why they did what they did; the new arrangement speeds up decision making and facilitates communication. How much is that worth?

(Report Comment)

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