Tags: universities | public funding | stevens point | bachelors

Report: Rural Public Universities Shedding BAs For Career-Focused Programs

Piles of books. (Romain Fellens/picture-alliance/dpa/AP)

Sunday, 13 January 2019 03:46 PM

Many public universities in rural America are facing a crisis of lower enrollment, funding and changing demographics — and are looking to eliminate longstanding liberal arts degrees in favor of career-focused programs, The New York Times reported.

But critics say in trying to carve out a sustainable path at rural schools like UW-Stevens Point in Wisconsin — where BAs in history, French and German are getting dropped — administrators are risking the very essence of a four-year college experience.

“Part of the fear is, is this an attempt to really kind of radically change the identity of this institution?” Jennifer Collins, a political-science professor, told the Times, adding she’s worried Stevens Point might become a “pre-professional, more polytechnic type of university.”

Kim Mueller, 21, a senior who hopes to become a history teacher at a Wisconsin high school, told the Times her first reaction to the proposal was: “What is a university without a history major?”

The angst isn’t unique to Stevens Point, where nearly half the students are the first generation in their family to attend college, according to the Times. In large parts of the Midwest and Northeast, rural public universities are hurting for students and money — and facing tough choices.

For example, the Times reported, at Western Illinois University, where there were dozens of vacant faculty positions last year, officials announced they’d lay off 24 professors, including some with tenure. In Maine, the state university system folded a small campus into its flagship and merged some functions at two other remote campuses.

And in Vermont, where state funding for higher education is among the lowest in the country, officials consolidated two small public colleges into a single university to try to save about $2 million a year, the Times reported.

“Everyone is just scared to death about the bottom line,” Dona Warren, a longtime philosophy professor, told the Times. “The suspense movie music has reached its crescendo, and either something’s going to jump out from the corners or something really good is going to happen.”

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Many public universities in rural America are facing a crisis of lower enrollment, funding and changing demographics - and are looking to eliminate longstanding liberal arts degrees in favor of career-focused programs, The New York Times reported.
universities, public funding, stevens point, bachelors
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2019-46-13
Sunday, 13 January 2019 03:46 PM
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