The University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point is proposing the elimination of 13 academic programs and the addition or expansion of sixteen others as part of the solution for a $4.5 million budget shortfall over the last two years.
Programs that would be expanded because of their value to students and demand in the region include:
Computer Information Systems
Conservation Law Enforcement
Ecosystem Design and Remediation*
Geographic Information Systems*
Master of Business Administration*
Master of Natural Resources*
Doctor of Physical Therapy*
*= These programs would be expanded into majors and would offer Bachelor’s degrees or advanced degrees.
Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Greg Summers says those programs show the potential to grow the student population on the campus, which has shown a steady decline in recent years. “We’re seeing enrollment growth that we would like to take advantage of. We already offer majors in those areas.” While areas like Management and Graphic Design have the potential to become big draws for the campus. “We think there’s enrollment potential there that we’d like to build out by converting those to full majors.”
The programs that would be phased out include:
*= English and Social Science teacher certifications would continue even if these programs are cut. Additionally the Social Work major would not be phased out.
“We’re seeing some pretty clear trends in enrollment that are down over a period of years. For that reason we are contemplating moving resources from those programs both to repair our budget and to invest in the growth areas that we’d like to take advantage of,” said Summers.
He added those programs have modest enrollments. “They’re not failing per se, but the trend lines have been generally downward.”
The proposal still needs approval from officials on both the Stevens Point campus and at the UW Board of Regents in Madison. Summers says the University will continue to admit students to the programs that are on the chopping block until a final decision is made. Should the program officially be discontinued, students would be allowed to complete their degree.
Even if the measure is approved, Summers says it will take several years before the budget begins to turn around. “It’s not going to be a quick pivot. It will depend on how quickly we can stand-up some of these programs and see some enrollment growth.” He adds that some of the financial woes have come from a good place. “We’re graduating students at a much more rapid clip. Our four-year graduation rate has gone up substantially in recent years, meaning we are graduating students much faster with lower costs.”
Officials say the soonest that any cuts to facility would be made is June of 2020.