Next semester will see a series of program changes, including the discontinuation of a masterâÄôs degree in Arabic, despite a growing program in Arabic studies at the University of Minnesota. All in all, the University will offer 12 new programs and will be cutting three after the Graduate School sent in the most program proposals in recent years. The three programs on the chopping block are a doctorate and masterâÄôs degree in Recreation, Park and Leisure Studies, and the masterâÄôs in Arabic. The Board of Regents Educational Planning and Policy Committee approved of the program changes at a Feb. 12 meeting in which it cited the discontinuations as âÄúthe result of declining student interest and inability to attract faculty,âÄù according to the meeting docket. The masterâÄôs in Arabic was discontinued because the program hasnâÄôt had a student applicant since 1991, and no faculty are assigned to teach the course work, University spokesman Daniel Wolter said in an e-mail. Nationwide, enrollment in Arabic classes have more than doubled from 2002 to 2006, according to a 2007 Modern Language Association study. While discontinuation of programs might sound like a great money-saver, the only money saved is through the time administrators spend to keep an unpopular program afloat, Shirley Garner, Graduate School associate dean, said. âÄúI think the financial savings are negligible, if any,âÄù she said. âÄúThe director of graduate studies doesnâÄôt have to be on mailing lists; we donâÄôt have to continually pay attention to it.âÄù And while programs like Spanish rely on graduate students to teach many of the undergraduate classes, Garner said not all programs are reliant on graduate-level teachers. No one has come forward saying the Graduate School needs to do something to save the Arabic program, she said. Garner added that some of the courses from the discontinued leisure studies programs may be shifted to other programs.
Many new additions, regardless of recession
Despite the recession and a deep cut in state funding, the Board of Regents approved several new academic offerings, including a first-of-its-kind dental offering. The University School of Dentistry will offer a bachelorâÄôs and a masterâÄôs degree of dental therapy, similar to a physicianâÄôs assistant, Dean Patrick Lloyd said. Lloyd said the new program calls for expansion of current facilities and the hiring of new faculty, which will incur expenses to the University. But most of the new approved programs will not cost the University big dollars, John Ziegenhagen, director of strategic projects in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, said. âÄúIt doesnâÄôt necessarily mean that more faculty are being hired or more space is being required,âÄù he said. According to the Board of RegentâÄôs Education Planning and Policy Committee documents, the committee approved the creation of 29 new programs and the discontinuation of 18 for 2007-08. Ziegenhagen said the number of approvals and discontinuations fluctuates, but the Regents are becoming more âÄústringentâÄù on what they approve. âÄúAs the University is facing not only limited resources but cut backs in resources, we do have to look at every program and make sure itâÄôs the highest quality and a good use of âÄòUâÄô resources,âÄù he said.