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UVM Trustees Hear Update On Proposed Arts And Sciences Cuts

University of Vermont Waterman Administration building
Pat Bradley/WAMC
University of Vermont Waterman Administration building

The University of Vermont Board of Trustees received an update on plans to eliminate or revise academic programs with low enrollments in the College of Arts and Sciences.

On December 2, 2020 Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Bill Falls announced a plan to phase out low enrollment programs to help address a budget deficit.  At the time 27 majors, minors and masters were put forward to be considered for termination. Students and faculty have protested the proposed cuts.

Falls says negotiations have been ongoing since he released his initial proposal.

“Some majors are retained," Falls said. "Some are retained and revised. Some that are going to be terminated but then incorporated as tracks in other majors. The second piece is that with my proposal on December 2nd I think a lot of folks got anxious and they really thought that we were talking about eliminating instruction. It was really never the intention but I understand the fear. Faculty are not going to lose their jobs. Faculty are going to continue to teach in these areas even if we don’t have a major in that area. So those are the two things I really wanted to update the Board on.”   

Provost Patti Prelock says they wanted to make sure the trustees understood how the low enrollment-low completion review is responding to student demand while maintaining academic rigor. 

“All of our colleges are going through it but Arts and Sciences seemed to have the most press about it," Prelock said. "And so we felt it was important for them to know that there’s been an incredible amount of progress. Counterproposals have led to some really wonderful outcomes where out of the twelve majors only eight of them will be terminated or deactivated and four are being revised. In terms of minors eleven were proposed terminations and two of those will remain and be revised and one that they’re still working on. We started out with 27 programs and right now we’re only at about two that are contested.”

Dean Falls says he plans to work with faculty in the future for continuous review of low enrollment and low completion programs. 

“One of the things that I’m committed to in my college beginning in the fall is to really engage faculty and say what are the measures that we can use and we can all agree to moving forward that would really get at the health of a program, that would really be that bellwether as to whether we need to revise the program or sunset it," Falls said. "And I think if we can all agree to what those measures are there’s going to be no surprises because we’re going to be looking at them year over year and everybody’s going to have agreed to what they are. And as they see things not going in the right direction in terms of those metrics they’re going to make changes.”

Five other colleges within the University of Vermont face cuts.  On Friday the Board of Trustees approved the termination of 16 secondary education minors in the College of Education and Social Sciences and ended the Sustainable Landscape Horticulture, and the Dietetics, Nutrition and Food Sciences majors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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