On Wednesday, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point announced it was retaining six majors it had previously proposed cutting.
The cuts were proposed as a response to financial issues the institution had been facing. According to UW-Stevens Point, the university faced a deficit of $4.5 million over two years due to declining enrollment and lower tuition revenue.
Enrollment in September of last year was around 7,700, five percent lower than the year before. This left UW-Stevens Point with its fewest students since at least 1973, when 7,900 students were enrolled.
In March 2018, UW-Stevens Point proposed adding or expanding 16 programs in areas deemed to be in high demand, with the goal of utilizing those programs to draw in additional students.
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Programs slated for expansion included chemical engineering, computer information systems, finance and marketing. Programs that would have expanded to be bachelor and advanced degrees included captive wildlife, environmental engineering and business administration.
To fund these changes, UW-Stevens Point proposed shifting resources towards those programs by eliminating 13 humanities majors, including American studies, political science, history and sociology, among others. Students enrolled in any major that was to be discontinued would have been allowed to complete their degrees.
That list of 13 was later whittled down to six — French, German, history, geology, geography and concentrations in art, the Stevens Point Journal reported. If enrollment falls to 7,000 students, deficit projections at UW-Stevens Point will jump to $8 million by the 2021-2022 school year.
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According to a UW-Stevens Point news release Wednesday, however, the plan has been scrapped.
“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,” UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson said. “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.”
The statement suggested the budget reductions from resignations and retirements across the campus helped the university address financial issues. Curricula in the subjects previously slated for elimination have been adjusted, including combining the current geography and geoscience majors to create a new geospatial science program.
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This past year, UW-Stevens Point reduced their workforce by 44 positions, saving the university $3.5 million, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. Between 2014 and 2018, 89 staffers left the school.
“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,” Patterson said.