A committee has been formed to recommend which MU programs should be “modified, consolidated, suspended or discontinued,” according to a campus email Thursday from MU Provost Latha Ramchand.

Creation of the Program Audit and Restructuring Committee is another response to MU’s budgetary challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other responses include layoffs, pay cuts and a hiring freeze.

Committee co-chairs will be Matthew Martens, associate provost for academic programs, and Alexandra Socarides, chair of the English Department and a faculty fellow in the Office of the Provost.

The seven other committee members represent different academic units across the university. They are:

  • Kate Anderson, head of the Zalk Veterinary Medical Library.
  • Libby Cowgill, director of graduate studies and associate professor of anthropology.
  • Kristofer Hagglund, dean of the School of Health Professions.
  • John Middleton, professor of food animal medicine and surgery, veterinary medicine and surgery and incoming chair of the MU Faculty Council.
  • David Mitchell, associate dean for academic affairs and Ruth L. Hulston Professor of Law.
  • Pat Okker, dean of the College of Arts and Science.
  • Clark Peters, associate professor in School of Social Work, outgoing chair of the Faculty Council.

Later Thursday at an MU Faculty Council meeting, some expressed concern about representation, as there are not committee members from every school and college.

“The committee does represent a large constituency, but it’s also nimble enough so that they can get to work and come up with results in a timely manner,” Interim MU Chancellor Mun Choi responded.

Choi said the committee will get input from “a variety of stakeholders throughout the process.”

According to Ramchand’s email, the committee will work over the next few months to gather data on program and course enrollment, graduation rates, program and departmental research productivity and relevant fiscal information. It will also look at past reviews such as the 2018 Academic Programs Task Force report.

The group is meant to operate with the overarching goals of improving education quality and MU’s capability to withstand financial challenges as well as acting with transparency.

Recommendations will be made to Choi and Ramchand. Choi will make the final decisions.

Earlier this year, the UM System Board of Curators heard a 2020 report about degree programs that are not meeting enrollment goals. Two degree programs at MU were classified as needing “special attention”: the Bachelor of Health Science in athletic training and the Master of Laws in American law.

On Friday, the same day MU Health Care announced it had laid off 32 people, Choi continued to lay the public groundwork for changes coming across the system.

“We must respond in fundamental ways, re-evaluate our structure and invest in priorities that are important to our future,” he said in an email. “This will mean re-alignment, restructuring and loss of positions.”

For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • Education reporter, spring 2020. Studying news reporting. Reach me at lge7kn@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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