Another university makes the queen sacrifice

Another American university decided to perform what I’ve been calling “the queen sacrifice.”  Franklin Pierce announced the closure of six programs in order to address financial problems.

Administrators said the decision was made to allow the university to focus resources on programs that “attract, retain and prepare students for the personal and professional futures that await them”.

Note the disciplines selected for sacrifice: “American studies, theater and dance, graphic communications, fine arts, math, and arts management.”  The humanities dominate.

Note, too, the impact on different faculty populations:

While the union was disappointed to see the program cuts, there are no cuts to full-time faculty, and that’s in line with the union’s position…
The administration’s announcement doesn’t address part-time faculty and senior lecturers, who work on a semester-by-semester basis, but [faculty union leader] Ley expects there will be cuts to those staffing levels.

How widespread is the queen sacrifice in American academe this year?  I cannot find good data.  Yet cases like this demonstrate the availability of this strategy to campus leaders.  As Pierce’s president observed,

Birge said in December that the university’s senior administration was in the process of evaluating all majors to help the university overcome challenges that small, private liberal arts colleges are facing, including limited financial resources and strong competition for students.

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6 Responses to Another university makes the queen sacrifice

  1. Joe Murphy says:

    Interesting that Arts Management and Graphic Communication weren’t profitable at attracting, retaining, and preparing students for a professional future…

  2. I wonder how that could have played out.

    • Joe Murphy says:

      I’m certainly hearing a pressure for liberal arts institutions to provide more pre-professional programs. But, if these programs aren’t supported, marketed, and competitive, there’s no reason they’d magically turn into cash cows. Having those programs mostly staffed by adjuncts seems like a sign that they weren’t institutionally valued in the first place, as much as I’d argue that working professionals can make excellent professors in their fields. (Of course I always said that about my library school, which was recently demoted to department level, so what do I know?)

      I can also imagine that, without strong job placements, arts management and graphic communications may not be very attractive options in this economy.

      • Good point about institutional commitment. Building up such programs would take some time, and significant resources, which means establishing political support. I wonder how many campuses are ready to do that.

        Absent such, perhaps we’ll see humanities continue to decline.

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