November 1, 2014  

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Southern Miss Program Appeals Complete; Panel Makes Recommendations

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Editor Note: The letter given to President Martha Saunders may be accessed in PDF form at: www.usm.edu/budget. One paragraph has been redacted for matters of personnel privacy.

A committee of deans and faculty members at The University of Southern Mississippi has completed the appeals process for programs slated to be eliminated and presented its report to President Martha Saunders.

The committee recommended retaining 10 programs, eliminating 11 programs and retention of resources – faculty or graduate assistants – for two other eliminated programs. The University Priorities Committee (UPC) had initially recommended the elimination or consolidation of  programs on both the Hattiesburg campus and at Southern Miss Gulf Coast. Based on recommendations from the UPC, the Executive Cabinet initiated cutting/eliminating 27 programs. Only 23 programs were appealed. These appeals were heard by panels comprised of five faculty members and four deans not overseeing the program under appeal.

According to the letter containing votes and recommendations – signed by Dr. Shiao Wang, chair of the Program Elimination Appeals Committee and a biology professor – and addressed to Saunders, the committee claims adoption of its recommendations will result in $2,860,240 of the Executive Cabinet’s projected savings of $3,020,369 or a 94.7 percent savings.

“I am grateful to the members of the appeals committee for their hard work on what most certainly was a difficult task,” declared Saunders. “We will continue to work together toward solutions in the best interest of the University, our students and our employees.”

The original UPC recommendations from August 2010 called for selected degree programs and academic initiatives to be eliminated in all five of the academic colleges. Twenty-nine faculty members were notified that the current academic year would be the terminal year on their contracts. All state universities have been mandated by the IHL Board of Trustees to prepare and present budget cuts for the 2011-2012 academic year. At Southern Miss the anticipated decrease for 2012 is approximately $15 million

“I sat in on every meeting of the Appeals Committee as it listened and deliberated the fate of the 23 appealed programs,” explained Southern Miss Provost Dr. Bob Lyman. “The process was extensive and exhaustive. I respect each of the individuals involved in the process, their dedication and their opinions. The committee recommendations are now under review and final action will soon take place on the programs in question.”

The Program Elimination Appeals Committee recommendations are as follows:

·         Program: Art, BA

Recommendation: Retain program with $75,520 in support from alternative sources in

the College of Arts and Letters

Votes: 8 Support Appeal with alternative sources of funding; 1 Deny Appeal

This degree option is an important alternative to the BFA for those students who decide to pursue post‐BA academic and professional options rather than become practicing artists. Furthermore, there is no faculty line that is specifically associated with this program, and loss of both faculty lines will jeopardize accreditation of the highly regarded BFA degree.

·         Program Art Education, BFA

Recommendation: Eliminate Program

Votes: 1 Support Appeal; 8 Deny Appeal

The program has been consistently low in the number of graduates produced over the past seven years. It was the only program slated for elimination in the College of Arts and Letters that did not receive the dean’s support for retention.

·         Program: Philosophy, MA

Recommendation: Eliminate the degree program but retain faculty with $121,528 in support from alternative sources in the College of Arts and Letters

Votes: 9 Support Appeal with alternative sources of funding; 0 Deny Appeal 2

Philosophy is a discipline that is vital for any comprehensive university. The faculty lines in question are associated mainly with the undergraduate course offerings in philosophy, rather than with the graduate degree that is targeted for elimination. To adequately support this important undergraduate program, the faculty lines should be maintained.

·         Program: Religion, BA

Recommendation: Retain program with $227,404 in support from alternative sources in the College of Arts and Letters

Votes: 8 Support Appeal with alternative sources of funding; 1 Deny Appeal

This relatively new degree program should be given an opportunity to develop. Beyond simply the number of majors and graduates, it is clear that knowledge and understanding of the world’s religions and cultures is becoming ever more important in this age of globalization. Elimination of this program, which plays a vital role in USM’s internationalization efforts, would severely curtail the opportunities of USM students to gain a global perspective.

·         Program: Latin & Greek courses

Recommendation: Retain courses and faculty with $72,361 in support from alternative

sources in the College of Arts and Letters

Votes: 9 Support Appeal with alternative sources of funding; 0 Deny Appeal

A comprehensive university should include Latin and Greek as options for the study of

language. Data on student credit hour production show that demand for Latin and Greek courses remains consistently high. Additionally, these courses are taken by students from a broad spectrum of majors.

·         Program: German courses

Recommendation: Retain courses and faculty with $82,461 in support from alternative

sources in the College of Arts and Letters

Votes: 9 Support Appeal with alternative sources of funding; 0 Deny Appeal

A comprehensive university should include German as an option for the study of language. German courses are important to several BA programs in the College of Arts and Letters and across the University, Music (Vocal Performance) majors, and students engaged in historical research where primary sources are written in

German.

·         Program: Management Information Systems, BSBA

Recommendation: Eliminate Program

Votes: 0 Support Appeal; 9 Deny Appeal 3

Enrollment in the program has declined precipitously over the last decade. This appears to be a nationwide problem as many universities have already eliminated similar programs. Efforts to recruit more majors and to modernize the curriculum were apparently not successful.

·         Program: Instructional Technology, BS (AC, BTE & ITD Emphases)

Recommendation: Retain but move program to the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education with $375,375 in support from alternative sources in the College of Education and Psychology

Votes: 8 Support Appeal with alternative sources of funding; 1 Deny Appeal

The program is important to the University’s historical and current strength in teacher

education, especially on the effective use of modern instructional technology to enhance student learning in P‐12 classrooms. The program’s accreditation by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) attests to its quality.

·         Program: Instructional Technology, MS (ITD Emphasis)

Recommendation: Eliminate Program

Votes: 4 Support Appeal with alternative sources of funding; 5 Deny Appeal

By a slim majority, five committee members voted to deny the appeal due to reservations concerning the centrality of the program to the University’s mission. They support the college dean's plan to reorganize the graduate programs into CISE and encourage the remaining faculty to consider creating an emphasis within other existing degree(s) that would better utilize university resources. The goal is to effectively provide high quality graduate research and training that closely align with educational research and theory rather than technology.

Four of the committee members supported retaining the program. The college dean offered funds, from various sources, to compensate for the savings projected by the Executive Cabinet. Elimination of the program would therefore not result in any further savings at the University/budget cut level. The three tenured faculty members who teach graduate Instructional Technology courses are very capable and the employment outlook for instructional coordinators is excellent (23% expected growth over the decade 2008‐2018). A graduate program in IT is important in teacher preparation and educational leadership at our University.

·         Program: Instructional Technology, PhD (ITD Emphasis)

Recommendation: Eliminate Program

Votes: 2 Support Appeal with alternative sources of funding; 7 Deny Appeal

The majority of the Committee has strong concerns about the level of resources required to staff a quality PhD program relative to resources available in the department and the appropriateness/relevance of a doctoral program dedicated solely to instructional technology. The majority did not believe that a sufficient external demand existed for the program or that sufficient resources could be committed to the program to ascertain quality.

The minority view is that the program should be retained because it plays an important role by preparing future university faculty in instructional technology who will in turn prepare undergraduate teacher education students to use technology effectively to enhance student learning in the classroom. The doctoral program is designed to build upon and recruit the best students in its master’s program that was ranked as a “Tier 5” program by the University Priorities Committee (UPC) as well as other master’s students in the area. Additionally, the program was approved to admit students only one year ago in fall 2009 and thus was not ranked by the UPC. The program should be given more than one year to demonstrate that it can accomplish the goals that were outlined in its degree program proposal. Finally, the college dean stated clearly that the program is central and critical to the college’s strategic vision of providing the best teacher education programs in the State and region by providing doctoral prepared faculty in instructional technology who will teach at various universities. The statement is backed up by the dean’s willingness to provide $241,711 from alternative sources to support the Instructional Technology graduate programs and move the programs and faculty to the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education.

·         Program: Allied Health, BS (Hattiesburg & GC) (Allied Health Management Emphasis)

Recommendation: Eliminate program

Votes: 1 Support Appeal; 8 Deny Appeal

The department does not oppose elimination of the program. Rather, the appeal was to retain funding to maintain accreditation in the three emphasis areas in the graduate Master of Public Health (MPH) program. The majority of the committee thinks that maintenance of the MPH program accreditation is an issue best addressed via a separate avenue.

·         Program: Education of the Deaf, BA

Recommendation: Retain the program

Votes: 5 Support Appeal; 4 Deny Appeal

Five committee members recommend retention of the program because it is the only deaf education program in Mississippi and it fills a critical State need. Although the number of majors has declined, the program has been productive, graduating 57 over six years. The quality of the program is affirmed by being one of only 33 programs accredited by the Council on Education of the Deaf in the nation. A reduction in the cost of the program may be possible in the future by providing the program as an emphasis area in Special Education as is done at many institutions. Four committee members feel that the current trend in the discipline toward support of early intervention efforts rather than traditional deaf education does not support retention of the program.

·         Program: Early Oral Intervention, MS

Recommendation: Eliminate program

Votes: 1 Support Appeal and make program self‐supporting; 3 Support Appeal without

changing the funding mechanism; 5 Deny Appeal The Committee recognizes the importance of the program to the State and agrees with its characterization as a signature program within the college. However, the majority question the proposed funding mechanism to retain the program. No assurance was provided that the proposed conversion of the program to a self‐sustaining auxiliary supported by external and tuition dollars is possible. Another complicating factor is that such a conversion would result in tenure stream faculty solely supported by “soft” money.

Three committee members are of the opinion that the program, as a signature program in the College of Health, should be retained without changing its existing funding mechanism. The program is unique to the State and Southeast and is in fact one of only three in the nation. It has been well‐funded by grants historically and, after being targeted for elimination, it was awarded a $1.1 million grant from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Clearly, the Early Oral Intervention program represents the future in the field of deaf education. USM should support this program both to service the children of the State as well as to keep our foothold as leaders in this innovative area.

·         Program: Nursing, MS (Psychiatric Nursing Practitioner Emphasis)

Recommendation: Retain program with $77,824 in support from alternative sources in

the College of Health

Votes: 9 Support Appeal with alternative sources of funding; 0 Deny Appeal

The program was identified by the School of Nursing after a two year review as a valued

program that meets workforce needs, particularly by servicing mental health and geriatric populations in community health settings. Increasing demand for Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioners is anticipated due to the aging population and return of veterans from the on‐going conflict in the Middle East.

Most (60%) nurse practitioners specializing in this area in the State have trained at USM, and USM will be the only program offering this specialty in the State going forward. Without USM’s program, a vulnerable population could lose much needed services. Furthermore, the faculty line targeted for elimination contributes to the Bachelor’s program (BSN) and, if the position is eliminated, fewer undergraduate students would be admitted to the BSN program because of the need to comply with accreditation standards. IHL and CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) mandate a faculty to student ratio (all nursing programs) of 1:15.

·         Program: Interscholastic Athletic Administration, MS

Recommendation: Eliminate program

Votes: 0 Support Appeal; 9 Deny Appeal

By unanimous consent, the Committee finds that the program does not meet the

University's expectations for quality and centrality to its missions. The Committee does not believe that the proposed plan to modify the degree for executive/online delivery and to require that it become self‐sufficient with own‐source revenues and fees is in the best interests of either the program or the University.

 

·         Program: Recreation, BS (Recreation Administration Emphasis)

Recommendation: Retain program

 

Votes: 6 Support Appeal; 3 Deny Appeal

 

The department does not contest the loss of $28,160 (the projected savings by elimination of the program) hence elimination of the Recreation Administration emphasis in the Recreation BS program would not result in any further monetary savings. Moreover, elimination of the emphasis area would handicap the ability of the School of Human Performance and Recreation to attract undergraduates interested in careers as recreation workers, often in national and state parks.

 

Three committee members are of the view that the relatively low number of majors and

graduates do not justify retention of the program.

 

·         Program: Engineering Technology, MS (CMT, ACV & LMT Emphases)

Recommendation: Eliminate program but maintain $30,212 for GAs from alternative

sources in the College of Science and Technology

Votes: 9 Support Appeal with alternative funding for GAs; 0 Deny Appeal

The department does not appeal the elimination of the program. The Committee

supports the request to retain funding for GAs needed in the MS program in Logistics, Trade, and Transportation (LTT) which is especially important to workforce training on the Gulf Coast. The College supports the appeal by providing $30,212 from alternative sources.

 

·         Program: Marine Science, BS

Recommendation: Retain program with $75,589 in support from the College of Science

and Technology

 

Votes: 9 Support Appeal with funding from the College of Science and Technology; 0 Deny Appeal

 

Maintaining this relatively new undergraduate program will help USM, a sea grant university, to firmly establish its dominance in the field of marine/coastal sciences in the state.

 

Furthermore, elimination of the program appears to counter the spirit under which the program was established, i.e., the U.S. Navy to provide the initial funding to establish a program that will be supported by USM. A spirit of cooperation is essential for continued funding from the U.S. Navy to the Marine Science graduate program, a flagship program of the University.

·         Program: Geology, MS

Recommendation: Retain program with $34,090 in support from alternative sources in

the College of Science and Technology and elimination of one tenure‐track faculty line

Votes: 5 Support Appeal with alternative funding; 4 Deny Appeal

The University can realize the targeted savings of $127,305 without elimination of the MS in Geology. A majority of the Committee is convinced by the argument that the program is essential for attracting graduate students to the University and that graduate assistants are vital to the delivery of undergraduate labs in Geology.

Four committee members question the sustainability of two programs (BS and MS) with

two tenure‐track faculty and an instructor. This does not appear to be sufficient to sustain a quality graduate program.

·         Program: Sport & High Performance Materials, BS

Recommendation: Eliminate program

Votes: 0 Support Appeal with alternative sources of funding; 9 Deny Appeal

The low enrollment, less than five per year since 2007 in the School of Human Performance and Recreation, indicates the program is too specialized, particularly at the Bachelor’s level.

 

The mission of the program may be better served through research collaboration of faculty in both the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials and the School of Human Performance and Recreation (perhaps even through an established Institute that focuses on Sports and High Performance Materials).

 

·         Program: Sport & High Performance Materials, MS

Recommendation: Eliminate program

 

Votes: 0 Support Appeal with alternative sources of funding; 9 Deny Appeal

 

The continued low enrollment in the program argues against retention of the program.

The yearly average over five years was three students in the School of Human Performance and Recreation and three students in the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials. A better option may be to provide the program as an emphasis area in the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials.

 

·         Program: Sport & High Performance Materials, PhD

Recommendation: Eliminate program

 

Votes: 0 Support Appeal with alternative sources of funding; 9 Deny Appeal

 

The continued low enrollment in the program argues against retention of the program.

The yearly average over five years was less than two students in the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials. The School of Human Performance and Recreation had one student in the program in fall 2009. A better option may be to provide the program as an emphasis area in the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials.

·         Program: Library Web Services Management

Recommendation: Eliminate Program

Votes: 1 Support Appeal; 8 Deny Appeal

The majority believes that the Library can function efficiently without a separate Web Services Management entity. The appeal, affecting a single individual, appears more suited for a Faculty Termination Appeal rather than a Program Elimination Appeal.

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