Regents name programs to be changed or cut

The board annually trims less popular or outdated majors.

Taylor Selcke

Every September, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents Education Planning and Policy Committee releases program changes for the year. This year’s list was released last week and includes new programs, changes to existing programs and discontinuations as the school year begins.
Radiation therapy and respiratory care, bachelor degree programs in the College of Continuing Education, will be moved to the University’s Rochester campus, which is partnered with the Mayo School of Health Sciences.
“The agreement was that we would continue to enroll students and maintain our partnership with [the Rochester campus] until they got its program to a place where they were able to take those students from us,” said Robert Stine, the Associate Dean for Academic Programs in CCE. “The programs will be very similar to what they were in the past: The Rochester campus will just be admitting them instead of us.”
Other undergraduate major programs that are being formally discontinued or changed at the Twin Cities campus include Bachelor of Science degrees in education and human development, technology education, geophysical sciences and geology, as well as the B.A. and B.S. in the program for individualized learning.
It’s difficult to eliminate programs, and those who work in them can get worked up, Stine said.
“No one wants to admit that something they are doing isn’t important enough to attract students,” he said.
This process is guided by a number of principles, procedures, approval levels and criteria which are used for every program change, said Joseph Shultz, the assistant to the provost. “The point is to ensure that all of the proposals get good scrutiny and review before bringing it to the board.”
There are a variety of reasons for program changes, such as curriculum reform, market changes, accreditation standards, new knowledge, coordinate campuses and timely graduation.
 “Program changes are a constantly happening process. It’s a very dynamic and nimble curriculum so actually students should want programs to be changing because the world is changing,” said Sharon
Reich Paulsen, associate vice president and chief of staff to the provost.
However, students already in the discontinued programs are not in trouble.
Departments need to devise a plan for current students before discontinuing a program, Paulsen said. The students are given a timeline for finishing the program.
“We always have to give students an opportunity to finish the degree program that they started,” said Stine.
The departments of potentially discontinued programs have a timeline as well.
Regents consider program changes eight times during the year. Within the process there are many levels of approval, which can be lengthy depending on the department and the program being considered for discontinuation.
 It is impossible to say how long the process of discontinuation will take because it starts from the bottom up and each level has its own set of hoops, Paulsen said.
The process for approval starts at the departmental level and works its way up to the Board of Regents.
 Changes to programs keep the University at the cutting edge, Paulsen said.
“We want a curriculum that is current for students so that we can ensure they are getting the best education possible, and the best opportunities available.”