UW-Stevens Point proposal shifts liberal arts funding into science programs

By Bremen Keasey, The Daily Cardinal

UW-Stevens Point proposed Monday to cut 13 humanities majors and possibly cut faculty positions while adding or expanding 16 other programs to address their $4.5 million dollar deficit.

In a statement about the proposal, UW-Stevens Point would shift resources from programs with lower enrollment to expand programs with “high-demand career paths” to try and keep up enrollment.

Most of the programs losing resources are in the humanities or social sciences. The full list of majors that could be affected are as follows:

-American Studies
-Music Literature
-Political Science

Courses will still be taught in these fields and minors will be offered in English, art, history and philosophy.

“These are not programs that have been failing per se, but the enrollments are modest, and have been trending downward for a number of years,” UW-Stevens Point Spokesperson Greg Summers said.

Enrollment at UW-Stevens Point has steadily declined because of fewer students in K-12 schools and increased graduation rates also contributed to the overall declines, according to school officials.

Some critics of this move are worried cutting liberal arts education would hurt enrollment. State Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, voiced her disappointment at the proposal.

“I’m saddened to see that the humanities are on the chopping block at UW-Stevens Point when they have contributed to so many people's successes – including mine,” said Shankland in a press release. “Half a billion dollars of Republican budget cuts have had devastating impacts on UW-Stevens Point, especially with regard to faculty retention, course availability and time to degree.”

While cutting humanities programs may hurt enrollment in the short term, Summers said that the cuts will allow the university to better meet the needs of students.

“We had identified needs that our students are expressing that we simply couldn’t meet because we didn't have resources to invest where we needed to,” Summers said. “This financial restructuring we hope will put on on solid footing so we can actually invest in those opportunities and see some enrollment growth.”

The programs set to be expanded are chemical engineering, computer information services, conservation law enforcement, finance, fire science, graphic design, management and marketing.

Other existing programs that would be expanded to majors include:

-Captive Wildlife
-Ecosystem Design and Remediation
-Environmental Engineering
-Geographic Information Science
-Master of Business Administration
-Master of Natural Resources
-Doctor of Physical Therapy

Despite the potential cuts, UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson said in a statement a broad liberal arts education “continues to be critical.”

“We remain committed to ensuring every student who graduates from UW-Stevens Point is thoroughly grounded in the liberal arts, as well as prepared for a successful career path,” Patterson said.

The proposal to discontinue programs will be reviewed by a campus governance committee, Patterson and the UW System Board of Regents.

Luisa de Vogel and Andy Goldstein contributed to this report.