The University of Northern Iowa will close a total of 58 academic programs with low graduation rates and restructure 19 programs, as the final part of the plan to trim $5 million from the university’s budget. The programs represent less than two percent of the degree granted in the 2010-2011 school year. U.N.I. Provost Gloria Gibson says the changes simply had to be made.
“I have very consistent in saying that there would be program closures. There is no way to sustain that level of cut, year after year after year, and there not be an impact, it’s virtually impossible,” Gibson says.
Programs on the list to be closed include: Geology, Geography, Applied Physics, Teaching of Philosophy, and several French and German programs. Programs to be restructured include: Humanities, Art History, Philosophy and Religion Studies. Gibson says students who are currently enrolled in those programs will be able to complete those studies.
Gibson says some of the foreign language majors may be replaced with others as U.N.I. does not currently offer Mandarin Chinese and Arabic, and she says these are two important languages globally that will eventually replace some of the cut languages.
U.N.I. President Ben Allen says the decisions made over the last several weeks, including the plan to close the Malcolm Price Lab School, will improve the Cedar Falls school. “In the transition time here, there is always some uncertainty about how that would affect the perception of where this university is going,” Allen says. “We remain committed to being the top…undergraduate institution in the state.”
Allen says U.N.I. is not the only school to undergo changes like this. He says they want to be sure to keep the core broad educational experiences because they believe in the liberal arts core, but beyond that they will be asked to be limited in what they do.
Last Friday, U.N.I.’s faculty gave Allen and Gibson a vote of no-confidence, primarily due to the lack of collaboration with the faculty. Allen says they’ll work to improve that area. “I think that message was received in that they thought we did not do certain things correctly, but I think moving forward we’ve all committed to making sure that this collaboration and consultation is going to be stronger,” Allen says.
Earlier this week, the State Senate Appropriations committee approved an $11 million boost for U.N.I.’s budget next year. Allen says that would help greatly going forward.
By Scott Fenzloff, KCNZ, Cedar Falls