Higher Education Department Evaluates Low-Producing Degree Programs At Missouri Colleges

October 5, 2010

Jesse Hall at the University of Missouri-Columbia The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that public colleges and universities in Missouri must reevaluate all "low-producing" degree programs.

According to the Columbia Missourian, the Missouri Department of Higher Education gave the state's flagship school, University of Missouri, until October 21 to decide what to do with programs deemed as low-producing. The mandate, which was handed down by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, is part of Governor Jay Nixon's recent call for a comprehensive review of higher education in the state.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported that the board deemed any undergraduate program with fewer than 10 graduates a year, master's programs with fewer than five students per year and doctoral programs with fewer than three students each year as low-producing and must be evaluated. Campuses are to decide whether a program should be eliminated, merged or can defend its existence. The goal is to make universities more efficient.

The state, however, does not have the authority to make a university eliminate a program. According to Paul Wagner, deputy commissioner of higher education, "The institution will be asked to provide their commentary or rationale for whatever they recommend happen to a program... But the ultimate decision of whether or not to end a program or to scale it back rests with the institution's governing board."

An email from Provost Brian Foster was sent to all MU deans informing them of the mandate. Foster also attached a list of 75 programs that were considered low-producing. The Columbia Missourian noted that many foreign language programs as well as science degree programs were on the list. Sixty three of the degrees were graduate programs; several of which were included in the National Research Council's rankings of American doctoral education, noted The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Foster expressed disappointment that so many foreign studies and languages programs were under scrutiny. "One of the big problems the U.S. faces today is we don't do enough of that. We live in this monolingual culture, and we're not well prepared to be effective in a global business world or a global political world," he said to the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Foster also explained that MU simply does not have enough resources to take on more students in certain programs. "Give us 30 percent more faculty, and we can handle 30 percent more graduate students... In essence, what we've done is to curtail graduate enrollments because we don't have the money and faculty to support them," he said.

According to the Columbia Missourian, Foster requested a preliminary response from MU deans by October 15. All Missouri campuses will have to submit their proposed actions to the board by October 21. The higher education department will submit a report to the coordinating board on December 2 and a final report will be given to Gov. Nixon and the board in February.

Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin


"Less popular MU programs under scrutiny," columbiatribune.com, October 4, 2010, Janese Silvey

"Missouri Campuses Are Asked to Account for 'Low-Producing' Degree Programs," chronicle.com, October 4, 2010

"UPDATE: MU must evaluate 75 'low-producing' degree programs," columbiamissourian.com, October 4, 2010, Walker Moskop

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