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Regents may OK cutting 25 UA majors

Citizen Staff Writer



New students enrolling at the University of Arizona will have 16 fewer undergraduate majors and nine fewer graduate study areas to choose from next year under proposals that the UA Faculty Senate and the Arizona Board of Regents are expected to approve.

Undergraduate majors proposed for elimination include bachelor of arts degrees in engineering and all secondary education majors. Graduate degrees to be cut include French and the professional science master’s in mathematical sciences.

Students currently enrolled in the majors proposed for elimination will be able to finish their programs, but no new students will be allowed to enroll.

The proposed eliminations are not a direct result of expected the 5 percent to 20 percent budget cut UA expects to get in state funds next year.

They are indirectly related, however, in that they are the next step in the university Transformation Plan reorganization launched last fall by UA President Robert N. Shelton in an effort to improve the university in the face of declining state support.

Deans were notified of the proposed changes – which also include the creation of 10 new majors, eight program mergers and the renaming of four majors – within the past few weeks, according to Gail Burd, UA vice provost for academic affairs.

The proposals will go for review by the regents’ Academic Affairs Committee Wednesday and back to the Faculty Senate for final approval.

“At that stage, it either happens or doesn’t,” said Wanda Howell, faculty senate president. “If the senate approves, it goes to (the Board of Regents) for final approval, but if the senate votes against it, it would be dead until the provost asks us to consider it again.”

Howell said she thinks the program eliminations will “sail right through the senate” because they were based on low enrollments.

Together, the 16 undergraduate majors proposed for elimination have a total enrollment of 319 students. The nine graduate majors have an enrollment of 25 students.

One of the most controversial of the proposed cuts is eliminating 10 undergraduate programs within secondary education. Burd said most of the “push back” is because of students “not quite understanding the options available and the value of getting a degree in your content area.”

“It makes more sense because of No Child Left Behind for students to get a degree in their subject area and then be certified to teach or get a master’s (in education) than have a bachelor’s in secondary education,” Burd said.

The federal No Child Left Behind law requires secondary education teachers be “highly qualified,” with a bachelor’s degree in the subject they will teach.

A program targeted for elimination by Eller College early in the Transformation Plan will find salvation by moving to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences under the proposals. The School of Public Administration and Policy will merge with the Political Science Department and become the School of Government and Public Policy.

“The head of political science and I had talked about this before but clearly, after the Transformation proposals came down and we were a target, it became a much more urgent proposal,” said Brint Milward, director of the School of Public Administration and Policy. “There are a number of things to be worked out, but if this is approved, we think it will be better for the students because it will be a school far more concentrated on public service than in the business school, which is naturally focused more on business.”

Burd could not put a dollar-saved amount to the proposed eliminations and mergers, but said savings will be realized in the allocation of faculty time.

“We won’t be eliminating the faculty (tied to the eliminated programs), but in some cases, those faculty will be teaching other things so we won’t have to hire adjunct (instructors),” Burd said. “And maybe there will be some administrative savings.”

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