College deans make recommendations of which programs to suspend

A student walks in front of Cherry Hall on Feb. 22.

Emma Austin

Following departmental reviews of programs within each college, each dean submitted a list of program recommendations to Academic Affairs on Friday as part of the Comprehensive Academic Program Evaluation. 

The lists include proposals to either “grow/enhance,” “maintain,” “transform” or “suspend” each program. Recommendations will now be evaluated by two members of the CAPE Committee, neither of whom is in the college under review, according to information from Academic Affairs provided by Director of Media Relations Bob Skipper via email.

The committee members evaluating each program will present their findings to the CAPE Committee, and the committee as a whole will then make decisions based on those findings.  Representatives from any program recommended for suspension will be invited to address the CAPE Committee. Decisions will not be final until the end of the CAPE process after the Board of Regents reviews all recommendations.

“[W]e are at most halfway through the CAPE process, and while we are beginning to have a sense of how most programs may ultimately fall out, all recommendations at this point are advisory,” the email from Skipper stated.

Skipper said the lists of programs sent by college deans to Academic Affairs are not being made public because the review is still in progress. Skipper said it’s up to the dean of each college how they notify their departments of the recommendations for their programs.

The list of recommendations for Potter College of Arts and Letters was sent out to faculty in the college on Friday. The college recommended 40 programs be suspended, including 20 majors and 20 minors.

Programs recommended for suspension include the minors in French, German and Spanish, as well as the German major, which had 11 students enrolled in 2017, according to the WKU 2018 Fact Book. The Department of Modern Languages had already announced in August that the French major would no longer be available by Fall 2021 due to low enrollment, but the French minor was still going to be available. The French major had 22 students enrolled in 2017.

The philosophy major was one of four programs recommended by the college to “transform/suspend.” The philosophy major had 25 students enrolled in the program in 2017, down from 33 in 2013, according to the 2018 Fact Book.

Some programs listed as “suspend” have already been phased out or replaced by new programs and were empty or slated for elimination, but most were not, Potter College Dean Larry Snyder said in an email to Potter College faculty on Friday.

“You will see that we are making hard choices, likely with more to come down the line,” Snyder said in the email.

Ogden College of Science and Engineering Dean Cheryl Stevens said departments in Ogden

College have been notified of whether their programs were recommended to maintain, transform or suspend, and they went back to their faculty to talk about those results.

“I don’t want to put something out there where I say I recommended this and then they change it because people get upset about this,” Stevens said. “I’m just not gonna do that.”

Stevens said Academic Affairs distributed data related to enrollment, degree production and credit hour production for each program for colleges to consider in their evaluations. She said they were not provided with a target number for the recommendations.

“What we were told was that you did not recommend to enhance or grow a program in a way to get positions back that were lost a year ago when we had the cuts,” Stevens said. “You recommend to grow a program when your enrollments have been going up and you need to grow to be able to serve that growth.”

Cathy Carey, interim dean of Gordon Ford College of Business, said in an email she informed department chairs of the program recommendations she provided the CAPE Committee. The Herald called the offices of the deans of the Colleges of Health and Human Services and Education and Behavioral Sciences and has not yet received comment. 

An update on the program evaluation from Provost Terry Ballman is on the agenda for the Board of Regents committee meeting on Friday.

Engagement Editor Emma Austin can be reached at 270-745-0655 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @emmacaustin.