Administrators at the University of Vermont (UVM) have proposed cutting more than two dozen academic programs as part of a major restructuring of its College of Arts and Sciences. Citing a 17% reduction in enrollment in liberal arts classes between 2010 and 2016, officials said the cuts were necessary to address a budget deficit of $8.6 million for fiscal year 2021.
A dozen of the College’s 56 majors were slated for termination in Wednesday’s announcement, along with 11 of its 63 minors and four of 10 master’s degree programs. The criterion for being put on the chopping block was low enrollment in the programs or a small number of graduates (defined as an average of fewer than five graduates per year over the past three years).
According to the plan, as reported in the VT Digger, the university would eliminate its departments of geology, religion and classics. Among the majors that would be discontinued are regional studies, romance languages and cultures, Latin, Greek, German, Russian and Italian.
In another cost-cutting move, the departments of Art and Art History, Music, and Theatre and Dance would be consolidated into a single School of the Arts. In addition, the departments of Asian Languages and Literatures, German and Russian, and Romance Languages and Cultures would be collapsed into a School of Languages.
Master’s programs in classics, geology and historic preservation also are among those that would be terminated.
The university indicated that the programs slated for discontinuation would be phased out over time so that students enrolled in them – reported to be 122 in number – would be able to finish their degrees.
College of Arts and Sciences Dean Bill Falls said that existing structural defects were being “amplified” by the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, UVM anticipated budget deficits of $27.9 million over the next three years. The cuts proposed Wednesday are aimed at reducing expenditures by $5 million by fiscal year 2023, Falls said. In addition to the program cuts, it’s anticipated that UVM will put incentives on the table to encourage faculty in the College to retire.
As reported in the Burlington Free Press, UVM Provost and Senior Vie President Patricia Prelock said the “decisions were the result of careful thought and consultation over the last several years, and were informed by data and guided by a strategy to focus on the future success of the College of Arts and Sciences.They also reflect UVM’s commitment to providing our students with an array of properly resourced programs that can maintain strong enrollments and foster the vitality necessary to achieve a high-quality academic experience.”
Faculty and students did not sound convinced by that rationale. Reactions to Wednesday’s announcement ranged from shock to dismay. Julie Roberts, the faculty union president and a linguistics professor at UVM was quoted in Seven Days, a