By Joe Bachman, Stevens Point News, Editor
STEVENS POINT — University officials have announced that plans to discontinue thirteen liberal arts majors are now off the table.
Such a decision was made after lengthy discussion with university and community members. According to a press release, “UW-Stevens Point is taking new steps to position itself for the future.” UWSP Chancellor Bernie Patterson notified staff of the change in direction early this morning.
“I am pleased to report that the elimination of majors in Point Forward is off the table,” Patterson said in a news release. “Working through our shared governance process has provided us opportunities to innovate as we restructure and retain majors, creating a new direction for UW-Stevens Point. We are committed to collaborating with faculty and staff members, the community and our regional partners to build programs that help our students succeed and our region and university to thrive.”
Not only will programs slated for discontinuation remain, but tenured faculty in these areas will also stay put. According to the release, budget reductions across campus from resignations and retirements helped the university financial challenges.
Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) issued a statement regarding the move:
“For over a year, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members have expressed thoughtful concerns and scrutiny in response to the administration’s Point Forward proposals. While I believe they should have been brought into the discussion prior to the proposal garnering national attention, I’m pleased that their poignant feedback was heard. Their voices are and should always be the guide post for decisionmaking on campus.
“I especially appreciate the students, staff, and faculty who spent long hours on more than a half dozen committees to review the proposals and offer alternatives. Their dedication to preserving the mission of the university – the Wisconsin Idea – is eminent,” said Shankland.
“Now we must move forward. The budget deficit is real and our three UWSP campuses face significant challenges, so we need all hands on deck to support and strengthen UW-Stevens Point.”
“We all must vociferously advocate for fair funding for the UW System in this budget and beyond, starting with Governor Evers’ proposal to invest $150 million in new funding above the base budget. We also must recommit to shared governance and be unafraid to search for solutions in the most obvious of places. I encourage UW System and UWSP leadership to conduct listening sessions and brainstorming sessions with students, staff, and faculty about what’s next for UWSP, and I look forward to working with everyone as we turn the page on Point Forward.”
An updated curriculum was released regarding the programs as follows, courtesy of the university:
- French and German: These majors will be retained. World Languages and Literatures faculty anticipate partnering with colleagues at other UW institutions to offer these degrees in a collaborative format.
- Art BFA, 2D and 3D options: Faculty members in Art and Design and Interior Architecture have approved a new School of Design. It will include two new bachelor of fine arts degrees in graphic design and integrative studio practice, which will offer expertise in physical and digital multiple media.
- History: UW-Stevens Point will retain a history major with revised curriculum that strengthens the social science teaching option, partnering with the School of Education. A non-teaching option being developed by faculty will prepare graduates to integrate historical research, analysis and writing for various professions including public policy, nonprofit management, business and health care.
- Geography and geoscience: The university will combine the existing geography and geoscience majors to create a new geospatial science program focused on preparing graduates for careers that apply geospatial technologies to address social and environmental issues.
New programs offered at UW-Stevens Point branch campuses in Wausau and Marshfield:
- Associate degrees in applied finance, health sciences, information science, environmental science and management, human services, leadership and project management
- Bachelor’s degrees in social work, business administration
- MBA in applied leadership and decision-making
On the main campus, five new programs have been launched. These include approved majors in:
- Finance, marketing and management in the School of Business and Economics
- Master of Natural Resources in the College of Natural Resources
- Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in the School of Health Care Professions
“The liberal arts will be integrated across the curriculum at UW-Stevens Point,” Patterson said. “We will offer our students and the region an education that builds on our strengths and prepares graduates for success in their careers and in life.”
“Financial challenges prompted the university to explore options for the future. The process has engaged faculty, staff and student leaders as well as the UW System to update curriculum and offerings in innovative, intentional ways.” said Patterson.
“Our new direction has been crafted by many voices,” he said. “We have all listened and learned. I am grateful for the dialogue and look forward to collectively implementing these bold changes on behalf of our students and our community.”