Deans at the University of Montana will review programs poised for cuts and changes Saturday with the president and newly selected provost.
The University Planning Committee, tasked with setting UM’s academic priorities through a redefined mission, identity and recommended program cutbacks, has forwarded a list of undergraduate and graduate degree programs to the deans for “further consideration.”
This list of programs contains roughly 47 percent of all degree programs at UM, according to law school dean and acting provost Paul Kirgis. The list contains more programs than is necessary to make the $5 million in cuts President Seth Bodnar has called for, but the idea is deans will remove some from the list Saturday and others would potentially be reduced rather than cut entirely.
Jon Harbor, the newly selected provost, isn’t set to officially begin work at UM until August, but he will join the deans and Bodnar on Saturday. Harbor will oversee the implementation of any program changes in the coming years, so he was invited to help make decisions, Bodnar said.
The UPC organized programs based on program data including enrollment trends relative to the overall decline, cost of faculty, research grants generated and student credit hours produced. Programs were plotted as anonymous points on a multivariable graph, and then the UPC collected anonymized programs with poor trend data and high costs as compared to similar programs at other universities. The programs reviewed by the UPC were kept anonymous so the committee, made up of faculty, staff and students, could remain unbiased.
The list of previously anonymous programs will have names reattached so that deans can further analyze the effects of eliminating or shrinking specific programs, and how that could affect interdependent programs and general education offerings. The deans can then remove programs from the list of at-risk programs. Deans will also consider the UPC’s redefined mission and identity of UM, and how programs align with that vision.
The narrowed list will then be sent to Bodnar, who will use the deans’ input to create a final set of program changes to be reviewed by Faculty Senate beginning April 17.
Program changes must be reviewed by Faculty Senate per university policy, but they have little power to make changes beyond recommendations to Bodnar.
Bodnar can then use any Faculty Senate recommendations to shape program changes he presents to the Board of Regents for approval in May.