ALLIANCE, Ohio — Based on the outcomes of a thorough, yearlong Academic Program Analysis, the University of Mount Union has announced its plans for a transformation of its curriculum, which includes two new schools and the discontinuation of seven majors, seven minors and one concentration.
The modifications, approved by its Board of Trustees on May 7, place a continued focus on the success of current and future students at Mount Union by offering in-demand programming.
Background of the Analysis
“The Academic Program Analysis is not a one-time effort but the launch of a regular reassessment of academic programs, ensuring that the University continues to offer degrees that students seek while retaining and building on its strengths,” said Dr. Jeffrey Breese, vice president for academic affairs and provost at Mount Union.
A parallel effort to identify curricular opportunities for the future – which has thus far resulted in strategic additions in engineering, health and medical sciences, education and business – continues at Mount Union. As a result of the success of these additions, the University is launching a School of Business and a School of Education to complement its existing School of Engineering.
The Analysis, which involved more than 100 members of the Mount Union faculty and staff throughout the process, was data-driven and focused on myriad factors, including: market data and demand of various academic offerings; data points of various academic offerings, including the number of majors and minors, credit hours generated and graduates per discipline; and course efficiencies such as rotation of offerings, course enrollments, optimal course capacity, and aligning courses with student demand. The transfer friendliness of Mount Union was also examined so that it would continue to grow as a result of the process.
“Because Mount Union is in the unique position of undertaking this analysis from a position of strength as opposed to one of necessity, the process allowed for a more thoughtful, inclusive and strategic approach,” said Mount Union President Tom Botzman. “The analysis seeks to increase the recruitment and retention of students by increasing the interaction between first-year students and full-time faculty, as well as providing clear and efficient pathways for transfer students.”
The recommendation resulting from the Analysis included the discontinuation of majors in financial mathematics, geology and health. Majors in communication studies, philosophy, religious studies and writing will also be discontinued, but will still be offered as minors.
The discontinuation of seven minors included Earth science, geology, health, middle childhood education, physical education pedagogy, pre-ministry studies and public service. Additionally, a concentration in astronomy will be discontinued.
“Throughout its history, Mount Union has regularly assessed the majors and minors it offers; new majors have been added while others have been phased out, transformed or renamed as they have evolved,” said Botzman. “It is also important to note that all full-time faculty positions will be retained as a result of this outcome.”
Teach-out plans will be developed for all students currently enrolled in discontinued programs so that they are able to complete the necessary degree requirements. No discontinuation will result in the withdrawal of the entire discipline from Mount Union’s curriculum, as several programs will continue to exist as minors and/or contribute to the Integrative Core, Mount Union’s general education curriculum.
To go along with the introduction of schools and discontinuation of programs, Mount Union has announced a reorganization of its academic departments within its three academic colleges.
The College of Arts and Humanities will now include the recently-created Department of Justice, Diversity and Interdisciplinary Humanities (merging the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies); Department of Literature and Communication Arts (merging the Department of English with communication studies); Department of Performing Arts (merging the Department of Music and Department of Theatre); and Department of Visual Arts and Media (merging the Department of Art and integrated media). The Department of World Languages and Cultures will continue to exist independently within this college.
The College of Applied and Social Sciences will include the recently-created Department Mathematics and Computer Science (merging the Department of Mathematics and Department of Computer Science); Department of Social Sciences (merging the Department of History, Department of Political Science and International Studies and Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice); School of Business (merging the Department of Business and public relations); and School of Education (formerly known as the Department of Education). The School of Engineering will continue to exist independently within this college.
The College of Natural and Health Sciences will include the recently-created Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences (merging the Department of Biology and Department of Earth and Environmental Science) and Department of Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Physics (merging the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Department of Physics and Astronomy). The Department of Exercise, Sport and Nutrition Sciences; Department of Nursing; Department of Physical Therapy; Department of Physician Assistant Studies; and Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Human Development will continue to exist independently within this college.
“In contemporary higher education, it is common practice for the Board of Trustees to task the Academic Affairs Committee with exploring signature program strengths, which was the driving force behind this effort at Mount Union,” said Breese. “While savings and program retraction may be an outcome of this work, curricular efficiency and instructional capacity were foremost in this analysis.”
Additional work related to this study will continue this spring with the examination of other efficiencies across the University.