More than 20 low enrollment academic programs at Delaware State University have been cut. The goal? To bring in more revenue and increase admission.
Delaware Online reports:
The university board voted quietly in January to “deactivate” the majors starting this fall against the recommendations of a faculty and staff committee that spent more than two years studying the issue.
Representing one of the biggest academic shakeups in the school’s 125-year history, the program cuts in areas like education and romance languages won’t result in layoffs or reductions in staff hours, senior administrators said.
Faced with stagnant state and federal funding, the Dover university had to prioritize programs and reallocate resources to better respond to student demand, university President Harry L. Williams said. More than one-fourth of DSU’s $140 million annual budget comes from the state.
“We have to make the decision in the best interest of our students and the taxpayers of Delaware and the best interest of the university as a whole,” Williams said.
Board members did not respond to requests for comment. Minutes from the January meeting when the board authorized the cuts were not yet available, according to the board’s secretary.
DSU’s decision to ax programs has angered some faculty members who have spent their careers developing specialties now deemed “low productivity, low priority or unnecessarily redundant” by the university. Several departments are petitioning Williams and the board to reconsider.
DSU Provost Alton Thompson left the university shortly after the announcement.
Thompson resigned earlier this month after nearly six years at the school to take a position advocating nationwide for historically black land-grant universities. He had served on DSU’s Academic Program Prioritization Initiative Task Force, but broke rank to recommend cutting rather than modifying the 23 programs, according to a committee report obtained by The News Journal.
Thompson took a sabbatical from DSU this spring. His resignation is not related to the program cuts, Williams said. Thompson could not be immediately reached for comment.
The university has launched a nationwide search for his replacement.
“We were very diligent in taking our time going through this process, and we wanted all the voices heard,” Williams said of the academic restructuring. “We’re looking at it from a very practical business perspective.”
Among the dozen undergraduate majors cut, the majority are education specialties in the sciences, world languages and special education, along with Spanish, French and forensic chemistry.
Of the 11 graduate degree programs eliminated, eight are focused on education, including a master of art in teaching. Others are in applied chemistry, family and consumer sciences and historic preservation.
(Photo Source: Delaware State University Twitter)