Prioritization results announced: multiple majors to be phased out from PLNU among other cuts

In Latest News by Abby Hamblin

The results of PLNU’s “prioritization” process were announced today and the biggest changes occurring are the phasing out of multiple majors: theatre, family and consumer sciences, Romance languages and philosophy/theology.

“Students in these majors will have the opportunity to work closely with an advisor to ensure that they are able to take the courses needed to complete their degrees,” wrote Chief Academic Officer and Provost Kerry Fulcher in an email sent to students and parents on April 29.

The “prioritization” process was a two year self-study by the university in an effort to cut $2.2 million in campus-wide spending. Two committees were formed to review reports submitted by each department, program or unit of the university and then the committees made recommendations to the university Cabinet.

“The review was driven by a commitment to maintain academic excellence and long-term student success,” wrote Fulcher. “Healthy organizations, like PLNU, review and assess both their strengths and what can be strengthened as part of their ongoing work. This comprehensive self-study was a deliberate, data-driven process that involved the faculty and the staff.”

While some majors will phase out by 2018, others will be reorganized. Starting in the 2016-2017 school year, dietetics and nutrition and foods majors (part of the family and consumer sciences major to be phased out) will likely be moved to the Department of Kinesiology or the School of Nursing. Child and adolescent development students and faculty will be moved to the School of Education.

A new Web page, pointloma.edu/prioritization, has been created to offer information about the process and its results. Further results of the prioritization process can be found there along with a list of frequently asked questions.

According to results posted on the website, the prioritization process identified a total of $3,288,000 in savings, $1,223,400 coming from administrative and support units and $2,064,600 coming from all areas of academic affairs. This total was approximately $500,000 higher than the initial target of $2.7 million, primarily accounting for the addition of faculty early retirements.

Further cuts and/or changes to other areas on campus, taken directly from results posted on the new prioritization Web page include:

Art: Reduce program costs by making changes in curriculum rotation and faculty loading for studio classes.

Communications and Theatre: Redesign the broadcast journalism and media communications majors to significantly reduce equipment and staffing costs. Redesign the portfolio, practicum, and internship system to create classes with a single faculty of record.

Family and Consumer Sciences: As indicated above the family and consumer sciences and fashion and programs will be phased out. After the 2015-16 academic year, the dietetics and nutrition and foods students and faculty will join a new academic home that is connected with their discipline (under consideration are the Department of Kinesiology and the School of Nursing). The child and adolescent development students and faculty will join the School of Education. In the next two years, there will need to be curricular adjustments made to facilitate the integration of these disciplines into their new home departments.

History and Political Science: Redesign curriculum to reduce the number of elective units in history.

Literature, Journalism and Modern Languages: Adjustments in curriculum to reduce the number of units in Spanish, linguistics, writing, journalism, and literature (further details about literature can be seen in the GE changes listed below).

School of Business: Redesign the MBA to have a larger core and fewer elective courses.

School of Theology and Christian Ministry: Redesign curriculum to reduce the number of electives and focus course work on student interests and practical ministry.

Sociology and Social Work: Redesign curriculum for both sociology and social work to reduce elective units.

For departments not listed above, most of the changes or restructuring have to do with curriculum, course rotations and faculty time. These include the Departments of: Biology; Chemistry; Communications and Theatre; Kinesiology; Mathematical, Information and Computer Sciences; Physics and Engineering; and Psychology.

Further, several departures and retirements from this school year will not be replaced. Some general education course changes have been made as well. Some examples include eliminating all five-unit general classes in both the Chemistry and LJML departments.

Before sending out the campus wide email, Fulcher and PLNU President Bob Brower met with multiple departments to present prioritization results.  One of those meetings took place with the Communications Department.

“[Brower] said no current faculty are going to be let go and every student currently at PLNU and those who have been accepted as incoming freshman in the fall will all get to complete their programs,” said Professor of Organizational Communication G.L. Forward. “I wish he would have said that months ago and he could have said that months ago. That probably would have precluded a lot of the negativity.”

The Point Weekly attempted to sit in on the meeting for the LJML Department, but was asked to leave the meeting by Fulcher. Professors of Journalism Dean Nelson and Stephen Goforth, and Professor of German and Literature David Michael McKinney then proceeded to walk out of the meeting after learning students could not be involved.

A meeting with Brower by The Point Weekly’s editor-in-chief on Tuesday, April 29 was rescheduled twice and then canceled.

Students can direct any additional questions they may have to studentquestions@pointloma.edu.

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