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UWS suspends 25 academic programs

(Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

The University of Wisconsin-Superior announced Tuesday that its leaders have suspended 25 academic programs.

The move is an effort to positively affect student success and position university to continue to remain responsive to regional needs, according to a news release issued by UWS.

UWS spokeswoman Jordan Milan said a total of 121 students are enrolled in the suspended programs. They will be assisted in completing their program of study, but no new students will be admitted into these programs.

The majors being suspended include broad field science, teaching broad field science, forensic chemistry, journalism, communicating arts media studies, political science, sociology, theater and history. Currently, 74 students, or three percent of the school's undergraduate population, are majoring in these programs.

In addition, the masters in art therapy program will be suspended along with the 15 minors — computer science, teaching computer science, earth science, geography, teaching geography, global studies, health and human performance, teaching history, journalism, legal studies, media communication, photography, physics, teaching physics and teaching psychology.

The decision was not based on budget, Milan said. Instead, it's focused on student success.

The more choices students are given, she said, the more overwhelmed they can get. Streamlining options provides more focus and can increase graduation rates. It also frees up resources for programs that are more in demand.

"No faculty will be laid off as a result of the suspensions," Milan said, although she was unsure if there would be any faculty loss due to attrition — a staff member retiring and not being replaced.

With the suspensions, UWS still offers a little more than 50 majors and a little more than 40 minors, Milan said.

However, a number of additional academic programs been put on a warning status. Although UWS will continue to accept students into programs on warning status, changes in curriculum are required. Action plans must be developed by June 1 for the programs.

Programs on the warning list include the following majors: Broad field social science, broad field social science (teaching), chemistry, chemistry (teaching), computer science, economics, history, history (teaching), mathematics and mathematics (teaching).

The following minors have also been put on the warning list: Biology (teaching), chemistry (teaching), English, English (teaching) and mathematics (teaching).

UWS students learned about the program suspensions Tuesday morning.

“My personal thought process is that this hurts and this sucks, but if we want to see the well-being of this campus continue, there needs to be cuts somewhere,” said Ben Damberg, a senior majoring in business administration with a focus in management.

A number of the programs being cut had minimal participation.

“It comes down to allocating your resources, and while we have these programs that no one’s really participating in, if we can instead remove them and use those resources to allocate to areas that are being used, and we provide a better experience for the students and stronger support, it will lead to a better outcome,” Damberg said.

Nikola Kumanovski, a senior double majoring in math and computer science, said the loss of these programs will affect others.

“I saw that the physics minor got cut, and there was no phsyics major, so we essentially don’t have any physics students anymore,” he said. “What are people in the physics department supposed to do? They’re probably going to leave. This is going to hurt other programs, too, because programs like premed depend on a few physics courses to get to grad school.”

Senior Nicole Nath, who is majoring in psychology with a business minor, pointed out that the loss of teaching minors in areas like history, physic and geography limits the options for students in the university’s education programs.

Kumanovski questioned why cuts were made to the academic side of the equation instead of the administrative.

“You can’t cut something completely, like physics or math, you need to have some courses,” said Kumanovski, an international student from Macedonia. “You can do it, but I don’t know if you can call it a liberal arts college afterwards.”

Nath, a Madison native, questioned the abrupt decision to suspend the programs. The Madison native was concerned about the lack of student input. She said teachers were surprised by the news Tuesday, as well.

Senior Jordan Smith, a communications major minoring in theater and art, said she understood that the programs getting suspended had low enrollments, but their loss could make UWS less attractive to prospective students.

“It might lessen why more people come here,” said Smith, who traveled from Janesville, Wis. to attend UWS. “But I could also see it helping other tracks that we have.”

It is, she said, a give and take.

“I mean it hurts, no one wants to do it but I think just looking at the long term this will help benefit us,” Damberg said.

Chancellor Renee Wachter is hosting listening sessions on the program suspensions for staff and faculty Wednesday and Thursday, as well as an open forum for students Friday at the Yellowjacket Union.

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