71 programs on hold at Pa. state schools
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The State System of Higher Education on Tuesday released what it described as the final list of 71 degree programs to be placed in moratorium, including 15 being discontinued.
Those 71 low-enrolled programs on the list represent almost 6 percent of the 1,260 degree programs offered across the State System's14 campuses, which in Western Pennsylvania include California, Clarion, Edinboro, Indiana and Slippery Rock universities.
Jim Moran, State System vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, reiterated a pledge that while the programs will no longer admit new students, all will exist at least long enough for any students enrolled, or newly registered, to finish their degrees.
At least one campus, Mansfield University, notified its employees last month that potential job cuts on its campus may include "retrenchment of faculty." On Monday, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, the union representing the system's professors, charged that cutting faculty jobs was the underlying reason for the State System's first systemwide degree review.
But Dr. Moran said Tuesday that his office had no such plan for faculty cuts and that it is too soon to gauge likely impact on staffing levels.
He also dismissed as incorrect assertions that the State System was retreating from a commitment to language studies, and that majors such as French and German were unfairly targeted.
"They weren't singled out," he said. "In almost all these cases, the courses are not going to disappear."
Meanwhile, he said, some campuses are discussing new Arabic or Chinese offerings.
"There are areas of language that are declining and growing. You've got to adapt to what student interest is and what the need is," he said. "The area of Asian languages is one that, nationally, has been growing."
The State System's enrollment of 117,000 has surged the past decade. But the schools face a host of economic woes including sizable cuts in state funding and the anticipated loss starting in July 2011 of $38 million in federal stimulus aid that had offset reductions in state dollars.
The list of degree programs being put in moratorium indicates that a number are being modified or blended into remaining programs.
For instance, documents released by the State System's Harrisburg headquarters indicated that at Indiana University of Pennsylvania the bachelor of arts in government and public service will move to a concentration in political science.
Lock Haven University's bachelor of science in computer information science will be renamed as a concentration within computer science, the document said.
Others programs are to be re-evaluated in the coming years.
At IUP, Francisco Alarcon, a math professor and vice president of the faculty union's campus chapter, said putting into moratorium IUP's bachelor of arts in mathematics/economics seemed like window dressing to impress state legislators with cuts that are in name only.
"Even if you eliminate that [program] not one single course that is required for that program would be eliminated," he said. "They're all required for majors that are not low enrolled, so all they're eliminating is a choice [of major] for students."
First Published June 16, 2010 12:00 am