published Sunday, February 28th, 2010

UTC picks 5 academic programs to drop

After picking through its academic programs for nearly a year in search of cost savings, UTC administrators identified five under-producing academic majors to cut.

The UT board of trustees in June is expected to vote on UTC's proposal to drop its math education, theater education, foreign language education, music education and art education majors.

"They are not producing enough graduates," University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Provost Phil Oldham said. "It's stuff we're doing that shouldn't be done."

The majors are among 14 UTC programs that produce fewer than 10 graduates each year over a five-year period, according to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Fewer than 50 students will be affected when the programs disappear, Dr. Oldham said.

UTC was the only campus without planned academic program terminations in the last budget cycle. Trustees had been concerned that the campus wasn't doing enough to identify low-producing programs that could be eliminated.

Last year, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville cut a minor in dance and two master's degree programs. UT Martin consolidated six programs and discontinued one major.

"The UTC academic cuts are the end work of a long process. I support that," said Jim Hall, a UT trustee from Chattanooga. "We are going to have to look very closely at operations. We need to make sure the programs are effective and productive."

UT campuses have been pushed to tighten their academic offerings as they move into harsher budget climates.

UTC will have another 6 percent, or $2.8 million, cut from its budget this year. Since 2008, UTC has lost 13.9 percent of its state appropriations, a total of $8 million.


Administrators said no faculty will lose their jobs as a result of the change, and over time, the move will help the school reduce overhead costs.

All UTC students currently enrolled in the discontinued programs will be able to graduate in their areas of study. Future students interested in teaching math, theater, foreign language, art or music will pursue majors in those areas and a minor in education for certification purposes, Dr. Oldham said.

"They will still be able to pursue a track like that," he said. "Chattanooga will still need foreign language teachers."

Tyler Forrest, a UTC student and UT board member, said he has been impressed with how thorough officials have been in examining low-performing academic programs.

"I don't think there is a major net loss," Mr. Forrest said. "It's not like it's a huge displacement of students."

about Joan Garrett McClane...

Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...

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timoshenko said...

From a first look, these cuts seem to make sense. But, I am unclear how much money will be saved or if any education employees will be cut.

There are many other low-producing programs at UTC that are also low-producing nearly everywhere else in the UT/TBR system: geology, physics, and math among the sciences and foreign languages, art, theater, music and philosophy among the arts. I would not suggest closing such programs, but why can't they become service departments instead of degree-granting ones? Wouldn't that save some serious money? These groups could have the coursework to support general education and perhaps minors in the field, but not degrees. The question becomes then---does every public university need to have bachelor's degrees in these low-producing areas? Couldn't the regional universities just designate one regional school to be the performing arts place, etc.?

March 3, 2010 at 5:37 p.m.
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