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Some majors could be cut at UA

Citizen Staff Writer



University of Arizona deans have been given a report on majors in their colleges that run the risk of elimination because of failing to meet the Arizona Board of Regents guidelines for “productive” programs in terms of degrees produced.

In the worst-case scenario – eliminating every major that doesn’t meet the requirement – UA students would see about 20 fewer undergraduate degrees and about 20 fewer graduate degrees offered next fall.

That’s unlikely to happen, though, since deans are being given the opportunity to explain why a particular major might be underproducing.

The report examines the number of undergraduate, professional and graduate degrees granted by major and college for the past three years.

It is the latest step in UA’s Transformation Plan, which President Robert N. Shelton announced last fall. Shelton said then that UA needed to become more efficient to strengthen its academic endeavors.

Some majors the report highlighted as low-degree producing are crop production, Judaic studies, genetic counseling and applied and industrial physics.

UA leadership wants to hear from deans by March about solutions, said Gail Burd, vice provost for academic affairs.

“Deans are working with the department heads to figure out how to deal with these under-producing programs,” Burd said. “Maybe they want to beef up recruiting, maybe they want to close the program, maybe merge some programs.”

Cost-savings would be realized in closing some of the majors through “redeploying” tenured faculty from closed majors to high-enrollment areas, reducing the need for adjunct instructors, Burd said.

“We would redeploy them but in ways appropriate to their expertise,” she said. “We wouldn’t take an English professor and make him teach math.”

UA employed nearly 400 adjunct instructors last fall, according to salary data obtained by the Tucson Citizen. Burd said UA will work to negate the effect of closed majors on students.

“If they are freshman, could they be moved to another degree program that would work for them? Are they close enough to graduating that maybe we would close it for new majors but keep it open for those in it to graduate?” she asked.

“We would like to close these majors unless we get a justification as to why they shouldn’t be closed from the deans,” she said.

In the case of two degrees listed as underproducing in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the data is wrong.

“The agriculture resource and economics major no longer exists,” said David Cox, associate dean for academic programs in the college.

Agriculture resource and economics was combined with agricultural economics and management to produce an agribusiness economics and management major in a prior reorganization, Cox said.

Another problem with the data, said Fabian Alfie, associate professor of Italian, is that double majors appear to be counted against departments. The report shows Italian as having only 18.5 undergraduate degrees awarded over the past three years, but Alfie said the department has actually awarded at least 25.

“I understand they need to cut . . . and it is patently unfair to dock a program because a student is a double major,” Alfie said, adding that an academic policy manual on the provost’s Web site states that double majors should be considered graduates of each major.

Burd said those issues of how to count the majors would be resolved by March.

UA looks at eliminating some undergraduate, graduate majors


The Arizona Board of Regents has set a threshold for defining productive programs depending on the type of degree.

For an undergraduate major at UA’s main campus to be considered productive it must award 24 or more degrees in three years.

For a masters degree, the threshold is nine or more degrees in three years.

For a doctorate, the threshold is six or more degrees in three years.

For degrees at UA South, the threshold is slightly lower, at 15 for undergraduates and six for masters degrees. There are no doctoral programs at UA South.


Some of the top “loss-leaders” at UA, based on Arizona Board of Regents’ definition of “productive” data collected by UA’s Office of the Provost

• Environmental and water resources economics (bachelor’s degree)

• Crop production (bachelor’s degree)

• Environmental hydrology and water resources (bachelor’s degree)

• History and theory of art (graduate)

• French (graduate)

• Gerontology (graduate)

• Mathematical sciences (graduate)

• Judaic studies (bachelor’s)

Majors under review

The list of majors under review. Degree level in parentheses: Bachelor’s – bacc, Master’s – mast, Doctorate – doct.

Agricultural Systems Management (bacc)

Agricultural & Resource Economics (bacc)

Enviromental & Water Resource Econ (bacc)

Animal Sciences (doct)

Entomology (mast, doct)

Family & Consumer Science Ed (bacc)

Plant Sciences (bacc)

Crop Production (bacc)

Pathobiology (mast, doct)

Bilingual/Bicultural Education (mast)

Early Childhood Education (bacc)

Language, Arts and Social Studies (bacc)

Educational Administration (doct)

Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering (bacc)

Engineering Mechanics (mast, doct)

Engineering (bacc)

Enviromental Hydrology & Water Resources (bacc)

Mining Engineering (bacc)

Mining Geological & Geophysical Engineering (mast, doct)

Engineering Physics (bacc)

Engineering Mathematics (bacc, doct)

Reliability & Quality Engineering (mast)

History & Theory of Art (mast)

Theatre Arts Education (bacc)

French (doct)

Italian (bacc)

Russian (bacc)

General Business Administration (bacc)

Genetic Counseling (mast)

Gerontology (mast)

Nursing Practice (doct)

Astronomy (bacc)

Biochemistry (bacc)

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics (mast)

General Biology (mast)

Mathematical Sciences (mast)

Biochemistry & Molecular & Cellular Biology (doct)

Applied & Industrial Physics (mast)

Anthropology & Linguistics (doct)

Information Resources & Library Science (doct)

Journalism (mast)

Judaic Studies (bacc)

Near Eastern Studies (doct)

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