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Chronicle: Citing ‘unprecedented’ financial challenges, Miami U. tells low-enrollment majors to change

Miami University

Excerpt from the Chronicle of Higher Education

Seventeen low-enrollment undergraduate majors at Miami University in Ohio, many of which are in the humanities, have been directed to reinvent themselves, potentially by merging with other programs.

It’s not professors’ fault that the university can no longer afford to support its current lineup of academic programs, the office of the provost wrote in a document that was shared with affected department chairs earlier this semester. Rather, the “unprecedented fiscal, societal, and political challenges” that Miami faces are part of a “larger troubling higher education landscape.”

Faculty members in flagged undergraduate programs need to make plans to change. The document outlines four broad options: develop or focus on a minor or certificate program; propose “creative and exciting” new courses or learning opportunities; merge stand-alone majors into one major with multiple concentrations, or work with other departments to create a “super” major.

The university provided The Chronicle with a list of affected programs. Among them are American studies, French and German language programs, classical studies, critical race and ethnic studies, Spanish education, and health communication.

While one state over, West Virginia University has undertaken program cuts criticized by its faculty for being top-down and drastic, Miami administrators are eyeing a much more moderate reform. But their plan signals that, for many colleges, predictions of needed belt tightening ahead are starting to become reality.

Like many universities, Miami is maneuvering through a thicket of difficult statistics. At a recent Faculty Assembly meeting, university leaders discussed Americans’ waning interest in going to college, Ohio’s drop in college applications, and flagging state appropriations to the university, among other problems, The Miami Student reported.