Another American university has decided to attempt a queen sacrifice. This time the institution in question is the University of Akron, whose provost asked its board of trustees to consider ending fifty-five (55) academic programs.
The nominal reason for making these cuts is the same we’ve seen at other institutions so far: saving money to help support the school as a whole.
“These are hard times, and everything cannot be sustained,” said Chand Midha, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences…
Said programs are apparently not drawing large numbers of students, also as per usual for the queen sacrifice gambit:
[Provost Mike] Sherman presented trustees with a report identifying that he said no longer are popular or relevant to UA’s mission.
Akron’s website says the total number of students involved in these programs is relatively tiny, “[a]bout 600 students, approximately 2 percent of our student population”.
Intriguingly, local media also quote provost Sherman as supporting these cuts in order to “correct institutional drift”. This suggests management strategies of alignment. It also implies the school is not shrinking its programs, but merely shifting resource allocation.
Which programs are up for the knife? Local media offers one list., which conforms to a U Akron document (pdf). Once again the humanities dominates: Classical studies, theater arts, music history and literature, guitar performance, social/philosophical foundations of education; clothing, textiles and interiors; urban studies and public affairs. If we connect this with Akron’s traditional focus on STEM (Wikipedia) and Sherman’s comment about “drift”, perhaps we’re seeing the institution shed some humanities to refocus on the sciences.
The targeted programs also cut across educational levels, including “11 associate, 13 bachelor’s, 27 master’s and four doctoral degree programs”.
Note that this isn’t a snap decision. Akron has been pursuing program review for a decade, presumably under financial pressure. Press reports and the U Akron document linked above take care to acknowledge faculty participation in this administrative process.
How many more American colleges and universities will announce similar sacrifices this spring?