By Karen Farkas
The University of Akron has proposed suspending 55 academic programs following several years of review.
While some programs are specific within areas, such as guitar performance in music, students will no longer be able to receive a bachelors degree in theater arts or geography or a masters degree in physics or urban studies.
The suspensions represent about 10 percent of the university’s offerings and will affect about 600 students, approximately two percent of the student population. President Luis Proenza will present the proposal to the Faculty Senate on Thursday and ask senators to provide feedback at the Senate’s April 3 meeting.
The administration will review the input and make a recommendation to trustees at the board’s April 23 meeting. The university will notify students currently in programs being considered for suspension that they will be given the opportunity to complete their degree.
No faculty will lose their jobs, the university said. If a program is suspended courses may still be offered. For example, theater courses will likely be offered in the school of communication, the university said. Theater students have opposed the suspension of their program.
Students who have applied for admission into the programs under consideration will also be contacted and given information how they could enroll in a similiar course of study in another program or college. About 115 students, amounting to less than one percent of the applicant pool, may be affected.
A review committee looked at several factors of each program, including demand, completion rates, placement rates, level of research and scholarship and established or potential partnerships and collaborations. The recommendations were finalized in the spring of 2013 and submitted to academic leaders and faculty for review.
It is recommended that 11 associates, 13 bachelor’s level, 27 master’s level and four doctoral programs be suspended. The report said since 2005 the university has inactivated 21 associate, 42 bachelor, 21 master and two doctoral academic degrees, specializations or tracks.
The university said the academic review may lead to other programs being enhanced, perhaps with increased investment in faculty.
While the program suspensions are underway as part of what the university called a quality enhancement process, they may result in some cost savings. The university has undertaken several budget-cutting measures since last fall to overcome shortfalls due to an enrollment decline. However, the board approved $100,000 in bonuses to Proenza today.
The board, as required by Proenza’s contract, considered a one-year performance bonus of up to $25,000, a two-year performance bonus of up to $40,000 and a retention bonus of $60,000. Proenza waived any consideration of the one year bonus, citing “challenging financial times” for the university. The board awarded the maximum amount of the other bonuses.