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Program discontinuance hearings today, tomorrow

Public hearings for seven Emporia State majors or programs under review for discontinuance will be held during the afternoons on today and Friday in the Memorial Union Ballroom, and representatives of some programs plan vigorous defenses.

Mel Storm, chair of the English, Modern Languages and Journalism, said there are two things he wants to address at the hearing, on behalf of the French and German concentrations that are under review for discontinuance.

“I want to address some issues raised in the provost communication to us,” Storm said. “And then, primarily for the edification of the hearing committee, I want to talk about the nature of our program, the importance of what we do with languages and particularly, some plans that we have for enabling students to continue the opportunity to study language.”

The hearings, before the Faculty Senate Academic Affairs Committee, will begin at 3 p.m. each day. On Thursday, the committee will take up the following: French and German, Modern Languages; BS, Information Resource Studies; and MS, Instructional Leadership. On Friday, hearings will include BA/BS, Physical Sciences; MAT, Social Science; BA/BS, Social Science; and BS, Finance.

The defenders of each program will have 10 minutes in which to present evidence and supporting materials to the committee, followed by five minutes of questioning from faculty senators. The hearings are part of a process that began Jan. 28, when official notice of program discontinuance was received by the Faculty Senate. The process is outlined in the university policy manual.

David Cordle, academic provost, recommended ending the programs in response to a Kansas Board of Regents standards for programs at public universities, which call for a five-year average enrollment of 25 undergraduate students and 10 graduate students. The programs under review did not meet these average recommendations, he said.

“The central reason that perhaps all of these have in common is that they serve very few students, and I don’t believe there’s a realistic prospect of that changing,” Cordle said. “That’s a very broad generalization. There’s always, as you might imagine, a different story with every one.”

One program, finance, has no students enrolled, but that’s because the department stopped offering it as an option. French and German, Cordle said, have only five or six students. Among all seven programs, there are around 80 undergraduate and 20 graduate students enrolled.

Cordle said the recommendations start with the programs not meeting the KBOR standards, but it doesn’t stop with just the numbers.

“We have to take other things into account, too,” Cordle said. “For example, some programs might be very important to ESU’s carrying out its mission, even if they are small. Other programs might be small today, but maybe we have reason to think we can grow them later.”

The problem, Cordle said, may not be specifically money, but resources.

“We have to keep in mind…whatever resources we’re using for one program are not being used for another,” Cordle said. “There’s only so much to go around in terms of teaching resources and other resources we have to put in place to offer instruction.”

Storm said that the Midwest is isolated, and internationalization is a huge part of opportunity for students.

“I’m not going to try to convince anyone that our numbers are high, because, clearly, they are not, but there are other issues involved in terms of education, the student experience and the university experience,” Storm said.

The timetable for the discontinuance process, according to Lidzy, includes a report from the committee to be delivered to the Faculty Senate on Feb. 18. By March 4, the Faculty Senate must vote on the discontinuances, and that vote and associated recommendation will go forward to the administration.

“I hope they choose to advise the programs to the president that we be allowed to continue on with our program,” Storm said. “Because I know that both the provost and the president are concerned with giving our ESU students the fullest possible range of educational opportunity, and I hope that if that recommendation goes forward from the hearing committee and from the senate, it will be favorably received.”

President Michael Shonrock will have the final decision on whether or not to continue the programs.

Program Hearing Schedule

Thursday, February 6 – MU Ballroom
3 p.m. – MS, Instructional Leadership
3:40 p.m. – Modern Languages – French & German
4:15 p.m. – BS, Information Resource Studies
Friday, February 7 – MU Ballroom
3 p.m. – MAT, Social Science & BA/BS Social Science
3:40 p.m. – BA/BS, Physical Science
4:15 p.m. – BS, Finance

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