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UI may cut six more grad programs

BY ARIANA WITT | NOVEMBER 11, 2010 7:20 AM

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The University of Iowa Graduate College could soon shrink even more.

The college plans to send six more graduate programs to the state Board of Regents for possible termination, said John Keller, the dean of the school.

The six programs have not been decided upon, but they are among those determined to need further review by the February task force report on graduate education.

The regents approved the termination of six graduate programs Oct. 26, including M.S. in oral and maxillofacial surgery, and M.S. and Ph.D. in preventive medicine and environmental health.

"The first [programs] approved by the regents were probably the most straightforward to deal with," Keller said. "The others require more thought."

For one thing, they still have students in them, unlike the six programs cut. For another, the departments have brought in specialized faculty over the years.

Among programs under current review is the M.A. in comparative literature.

There are only around three graduate students in the program at present, said Russell Valentino, the head of the cinema/comparative literature department.

Valentino said the department is preparing for the possible closure — working to reclassify students.
If they qualify to go into the Ph.D. for comparative literature, for example, they will be placed in the program. The other option, Valentino said, is a general interdisciplinary study.

"We don't want to be unfair to any of the students who are enrolled in good faith," said Regent Robert Downer. "We want to ensure they can complete their programs, perhaps in more similar programs."

Keller said possible consolidation of programs might replace termination, but the decision will rest on student interest and level of faculty expertise in the areas under review.

"Just because a field was built on a certain expertise doesn't mean we still have it," Keller said. "Faculty could have moved on or the program's core might have changed."

Valentino said he feels a new provost might affect the decisions to end graduate programs.

"The task forces were put into effect, and they did all their work under the provost who just left, so cuts might require more thought across the Graduate College, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the UI," Valentino said.

Still, available funding will play a role in deciding whether or not the programs will be cut, Downer said.

State appropriations account for only 39.7 percent of the general education fund, according to a report presented at the Sept. 16 regents' meeting by the regents' chief business officer, Patrice Sayre.

"Unfortunately this is the kind of thing we're going to see more often than we'd like if we continue to see the present trend in funding," Downer said.

He said it's difficult to fund continuing programs with one-year funding options like the stimulus, which totaled $35.5 million at the UI.

"We have to make sure that we're not kidding ourselves in terms of what funding will come along," Downer said.

Keller said he hopes the programs will be presented to the regents before the end of the academic year.


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