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UI officials look to cut two more programs

BY ARIANA WITT | JANUARY 19, 2011 7:10 AM

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University of Iowa Graduate College officials will seek permission to terminate two programs and consolidate another department at the state Board of Regents meeting in February.

The M.A. in comparative literature and the Ph.D. in women’s studies could be eliminated in the next few years pending approval by regents, said John Keller, the dean of the Graduate College.

Seven students are still enrolled in those two departments. If approved, these areas would join six other programs that were closed last semester due to waning interest.

Officials also wish to merge the graduate department of health and sports studies with American studies and health and human physiology, he said.

“It took us a while to come to this decision because of the students,” Keller said, noting students were still enrolling in those programs when officials decided to cut other ones last year.

Keller said some faculty members were moved to other areas, and he doesn’t foresee any firings as result of the department closing.

Several of these programs have stopped accepting new students.

The regents closed the health and sports studies graduate department last spring while Graduate College officials discussed possible changes.

Sports studies moved into the American studies department in the fall, said Kim Marra, the head of the department. Graduate students in the program are taking courses that emphasize sports studies, but transferring the degrees into the American studies department still needs approval, she said.

The Ph.D. in the UI German department might be next up for termination, Keller said.

All the recommended cuts and interdepartmental changes are the result of a lack of interest from potential students, he said, as well as faculty shortages.

“I think our program being eliminated makes our lives easier because we didn’t have enough people to take care of the students in the program,” said Ellen Lewin, director of graduate studies for the department of gender, women’s, and sexuality studies. “But in the long run, it’s a terrible thing, because they’re downgrading the university.”

Students failing to achieve their Ph.D. after entering the program is part of the reason UI officials want the program gone, Lewin said.

“I actually think that makes absolutely no sense,” she said. “A lot of people get into Ph.D. programs and realize they’re not for them or they want to study something else.”

Like the health and sports studies department, Lewin said, the Graduate College is working to redowomen’s studies, making the program available in other majors with an interdisciplinary graduate certificate.

Graduate College officials plan to send recommendation for removal of the German program to the UI council of provost to review at its Feb. 2 meeting. The proposal would be presented to the regents during their March meeting, Keller said, pending approval.

Regents could not be reached for comment Tuesday.


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