Seven MU programs evaluated

Wednesday, September 10, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:54 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

The University of Missouri is considering merging or closing programs on its four campuses — including seven degree programs at MU — because they cost too much or they graduate too few students.

In addition to the seven programs, two MU departments are targeted for evaluation. Lori Franz, MU vice provost for undergraduate studies, said a committee is developing criteria to use in evaluating the programs.

Franz said the review process will finish in the spring. Based on the evaluation, programs could be merged, reorganized or cut — or they could remain unchanged.

The MU programs being evaluated are master’s and doctoral degrees in art history and archaeology; bachelor’s degrees in physics and astronomy; doctoral degrees in theater; and master’s and doctoral degrees in exercise physiology.

The two departments being audited for viability are entomology and industrial and manufacturing systems engineering.

The programs identified by UM system officials and campus representatives matched one or more of three criteria: they graduated fewer than 10 students in the previous year, instructional costs were higher than national norms or they had smaller classes than other programs.

“This is not a cost-cutting measure,” said Joe Moore, spokesman for the UM system. “We are looking to make the best use of the resources we currently have, because it is unlikely that we will receive additional funding in the near future.”

Campuses are responsible for conducting the evaluations with coordination from Stephen Lehmkuhle, UM vice president for academic affairs.

In the event a program is cut, MU will find ways to accommodate students and faculty, Lori Franz said. Targeted programs are encouraged to offer their own evaluations, she said.

Harry White, professor and chairman of physics and astronomy, said there are a few “unhappy campers” in his department because it was selected for review. The physics department is targeted because of its low number of undergraduates who receive degrees.

“It’s not just a problem at the University of Missouri campus — it’s a common problem across the United States,” White said.

White said the department is not concerned about the quantity of its graduates, because the quality is high. “Two-thirds of our students go on to receive a Ph.D or an M.D.,” he said.

Central Missouri State University went through a similar audit process in the spring of 2002 that resulted in 26 degree programs being cut. Jeff Murphy, associate director for the Office of Communications and Creative Services, said the actions paid off because the school reorganized faculty and put them where they are most valuable. Murphy said the school was forced to cut only one faculty member in the process.

“It did give us an opportunity to look at everything we are doing and make sure that we’re operating efficiently,” he said.

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