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UW Seeks Input, Forms Committees to Advise on Academic Restructuring, Other Changes

August 5, 2021

The University of Wyoming is moving forward with the process to gather input on proposed reconfigurations and reductions of academic programs that are part of a plan outlined to the UW Board of Trustees last month.

In addition to accepting feedback through an online survey available to campus and off-campus stakeholders, the Office of Academic Affairs has established committees for each of the major recommendations for program discontinuance, reorganization, consolidation or reduction. Those committees, their charges and membership may be found here.

Comprehensive information about UW’s academic restructuring plan and program reviews under UW Regulation 2-13 is available at www.uwyo.edu/acadaffairs/program-review/current/index.html.

“Faculty, staff, student and constituent feedback is essential for the university to emerge from this process with the best possible outcomes. Such input helped shape the plans presented to the Board of Trustees in July, and it will inform our work as we refine the details of the final plan to present to the board in November,” Provost and Executive Vice President Kevin Carman says. “We encourage people to engage in the process by completing the online survey. The work of the review committees will be vital in moving the new organization and academic units forward under a new structure. Additionally, there will be opportunities in the weeks to come to participate in listening sessions or town-hall meetings.”

Academic program reorganizations, consolidations, reductions and discontinuances are governed by UW Regulation 2-13, which requires a period of review to seek feedback from stakeholders including the Faculty Senate, the Staff Senate, the Associated Students of UW and other interested parties. This process was initiated last month, with the deadline for feedback Oct. 1. Under that timeline, the finalized academic and administrative reductions and reorganizations are slated to be presented to the trustees in November. 

Specifically, the plan presented to the board calls for changing the College of Engineering and Applied Science to the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. Currently in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Departments of Chemistry, Geology and Geophysics, Mathematics and Statistics, and Physics and Astronomy would move to the newly named College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. The Departments of Computer Science, and Electrical and Computer Engineering would be discontinued, but those degrees would continue to be offered under a new academic unit. Likewise, the Department of Chemical Engineering would be discontinued, but its degrees would be maintained under a reorganized unit that includes the current Department of Chemistry. The Department of Geology and Geophysics would be reduced in size, and it would join the Department of Petroleum Engineering in a new unit to include geological sciences and preserve geological, geophysics and geosciences degrees. 

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources would become the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Moving to that college from the College of Arts and Sciences would be the Departments of Botany and Zoology and Physiology, and the Life Sciences Program. The Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics would be consolidated with the Department of Economics in the College of Business while maintaining degree programs in economics and agricultural and applied economics. The program in agricultural communications would move to the Department of Communications and Journalism. The Department of Family and Consumer Sciences would be reduced, with the nutrition program moving to the College of Health Sciences, and early childhood education moving to the College of Education.

The College of Arts and Sciences would become the College of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts -- bringing UW in line with the way many universities organize those disciplines. The new structure would facilitate greater emphasis on core liberal arts disciplines that are critical to a comprehensive university education. The Creative Writing Program would be consolidated into the Department of English, and the Department of Visual and Literary Arts would be renamed to the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and add the Departments of Music, and Theatre and Dance. The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies would be reduced. The American Studies Program would move into the School of Gender, Culture and Social Justice, with a number of low-enrollment degree programs in that school combined into a single degree with various concentrations. 

The School of Counseling, Leadership and Design would be discontinued in the College of Education, and the college would be reorganized.

A number of low-enrollment degree programs have been identified for discontinuation as well. 

The proposed academic changes, along with the launching of new initiatives, are part of an overall plan that aims to better serve Wyoming, adjust to economic shifts, respond to a changing higher-education landscape and deal with state budget cuts.

The proposed changes would reduce expenditures by more than $13 million annually, as the university seeks to address budget cuts and restructure to better support its students and the state economy, and to grow new revenue streams. The restructuring and budget reduction would lead to the elimination of as many as 75 faculty and staff positions at the university, including up to 10 department heads. Programs that are not discontinued or reorganized, including UW-Casper, would receive a 3 percent budget reduction.

The proposed changes to academic programs have been informed by an in-depth review considering enrollment and graduation numbers; scholarly output; external grant funding; constitutional and statutory requirements; private support; and relevance to the state’s economy and goals. Students currently enrolled in programs eyed for discontinuation would be able to complete their degrees.

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