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UW Adjusts Timeline for Action on Academic Program Reviews

September 23, 2016

The University of Wyoming has adjusted the timeline for implementing potential changes stemming from a preliminary review of close to 60 relatively low-enrollment academic programs.

UW’s Office of Academic Affairs currently is gathering additional information from the university’s deans regarding 16 degree programs and a center recommended for elimination. The university then will begin the official notifications of the affected programs, students and faculty by mid-October, initiating the formal process under UW Regulation 6-43.

That process provides for a 60-day period for responses from department heads and deans in those proposed-for-elimination programs, in consultation with the faculty and academic professionals who serve in the programs and the students enrolled in them -- along with any other people who wish to comment. Provost Kate Miller then will have 10 days to submit the proposals and all comments received to the student, faculty and staff senates. They, in turn, will have 60 days to provide a written review and recommendation to the provost, who will have 30 days to make final recommendations to President Laurie Nichols. The president then will provide copies of all prior responses and reviews, the provost’s recommendations and her recommendations to the UW Board of Trustees, and that is expected at the board’s May or June meeting.

The exact comment deadlines will be publicized after the formal process is initiated.

“It is important that we follow the university regulation with exactness, and that’s why we must vary from the timeline we originally announced,” Miller says. “Everyone in the affected programs will receive official, written notification, and we will update our website as the timeline takes shape throughout the process.”

After initiating academic degree program reviews in March, the Office of Academic Affairs has preliminarily recommended elimination of six low-enrollment bachelor’s degrees, eight master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The recommendations also include proposals to consolidate or reconfigure several academic units, including the American Studies Program, the Department of Statistics, the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Religious Studies, and the Science and Mathematics Teaching Center.

Bachelor’s degrees recommended for elimination are: American studies, Russian, energy systems engineering, art education, modern language education and technical education.

Master’s degrees recommended for elimination are: French, German, neurosciences, philosophy, food science and human nutrition, sociology, environmental engineering, and adult and postsecondary education.

Ph.D. programs that would be eliminated are: adult and postsecondary education, and statistics.

The provost’s recommendations follow two rounds of reviews of 56 programs: undergraduate majors with fewer than 50 graduates total from 2010-15; master’s programs with fewer than 25 graduates from 2010-15; and other programs requested for review by deans. Recommendations were based on additional factors including mission centrality and quality of the programs. Quality factors include external demand for graduates; internal demand for courses; quality of inputs, such as faculty credentials and facilities; and quality of outputs, such as attainment of student learning outcomes, placement of graduates; and grants, publications and scholarly and creative work of faculty.

Students in programs and majors recommended for elimination -- in total, there are just 97 undergraduates and 33 graduate students in those programs -- will be allowed to complete those degrees.

The preliminary proposal calls for the American Studies Program to be consolidated into a Division of Interdisciplinary Studies, along with the Gender and Women’s Studies Program and perhaps others; the Department of Statistics to merge with the Department of Mathematics; and the departments of Philosophy and Religious Studies to consolidate with similar units. The goal is to achieve efficiencies through shared business and administrative services.

The Science and Mathematics Teaching Center, meanwhile, would be reconfigured with a broader role in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education -- becoming a P-16 STEM education center dovetailing with UW’s science, engineering and education initiatives.

Cost savings from the proposed changes have not been analyzed in detail. Although the academic reviews will inform components of a plan to reduce UW’s operating budget by up to $15 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year, the provost’s recommendations are distinct from the efforts of the president and the Financial Crisis Advisory Committee to present an FY 2018 budget-reduction and revenue-creation plan to the UW Board of Trustees in November.

Further details regarding the academic program reviews may be found at

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