Jessica Pounds
jpounds@txwes.edu
A regularly scheduled academic program review will soon help decide the fate of several degree programs Texas Wesleyan currently offers.
The Provost’s council proposed several changes that include the possibility of eliminating specific programs and modifying others. According to the Office of Provost’s website, all university academic programs are assessed on a regular 3-5 year cycle in order to facilitate good decisions regarding the mix of programs that the university will offer in the future. The primary goal is to continually work toward enhancement of the academic programs offered at Texas Wesleyan and move the university forward into a future with more focused resources.
Degree programs being considered for elimination, based on the current program reviews, are the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in chemistry, bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in biochemistry and bachelor of science degrees in mathematics.
In a proposal concerning the academic program recommendations, Dr. Allen Henderson, senior vice president of academic affairs and provost, offered his reasons to discontinue the chemistry and math degree programs.
“The chemistry programs have been effective in producing quality graduates,” Henderson said. “However, over the last 5 to 10 years, the number of students graduating with a major in chemistry and the student enrollment in upper-level chemistry courses has continued to be very low.”
Aside from low enrollment, Henderson also noted a concern for funding.
“The chemistry program is a high cost program with high resource needs,” Henderson said. “Since the last program review (in 2010) there have been efforts to address the low enrollment and graduation rates. However, these efforts have not produced the desired increase in majors or graduates.”
According to the program review, the mathematics programs have also suffered from low enrollment.
“The mathematics programs have a 10-year history of producing few graduates and having low enrollment in upper-level major courses,” Henderson said. “This observation was made at the time of the last program review, and there is no indication of any change in student interest in the major since 2006.”
Dr. Jane Moore, professor of math, computer science and physics, offered her stance on the proposal.
“Math majors contribute to the university in a variety of ways, since they are typically among the strongest students and do a lot of tutoring [both informally and formally in the Academic Success Center, math labs],” Moore said. “Eliminating the math major will have other consequences; minors such as physics will die, and the computer science major will be the next to go, since they both involve a lot of math.”
Vanessa Tapia, junior EC-6 bilingual education major, feels discouraged by the proposed changes.
“Although I personally may not be affected by these changes, I think it is unfair to students who want to pursue a degree in these programs,” Tapia said. “I chose Texas Wesleyan because of the variety of programs they had to offer and could not imagine having less of an option here.”
Dr. Ben Hale, mass communication professor, said he believes there will be unintended impacts on other programs across campus if these programs are eliminated.
“I am worried that cutting off programs weakens other programs that will in turn appear to need to be cut,” Hale said. “There will always be weak programs and no end to the cutting. If we really believe in the interconnectedness of academia, we need a vision for the whole rather than the blemish on one.”
Other programs that are proposed to be modified are the bachelor of science degree in biology, bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in political science, bachelor of arts and bachelor of music degrees in music, bachelor of arts degree in theatre arts, bachelor of science degrees in athletic training, and the master of education in second language education and culture concentration (SLEC).
Arnold Stubbs, freshman liberal arts major, supports the university if the decision is made to cancel certain degrees.
“I think if the school is spending money on degrees that have not generated much interest it is wasting money that could be spent elsewhere,” Stubbs said. “I feel that the money could be used on degrees that involve more students.”
Other programs were reviewed but had no changes recommended. They were the bachelor of business administration degree in business administration (accounting and finance concentration) and the master of science degree in marriage and family therapy.
The decision to accept or deny any of the recommendations made was originally scheduled to take place April 15; however, it has been rescheduled for some time in mid-May.
“We are about a month behind schedule since we are reviewing a larger amount of programs this year,” Henderson said. “Normally, about five programs are reviewed at a time and this time we are reviewing 11.”