Back in March we covered the goings-on at the University of Wisconsin Stevens-Point. See our coverage here and here. At that time the university proposed cuts to the following programs: American Studies, Art, English, French, Geography, Geoscience, German, History, Music Literature, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, and Spanish.
Eight months later, it looks like seven of these departments avoided the chopping block. History was not one of them. Read all about it here. A taste:
As for the history department, it has seen a 48-percent drop in the number of majors over the past five years, from 146 to 76 students, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
The department remains on the list of cuts to help meet budget reductions, said Lee L. Willis, a history professor and department chair.
The history department has 14 full-time faculty members, including 11 who are tenured. The department will most likely be reduced to 10 faculty members, and at least one tenured professor will be let go, he said.
The changes are ultimately a response to the evolving demands of career-oriented students, Summers said.
“Our students are laser-focused on the cost of higher education and the return they’re going to get on their investment,” he said. “They’re looking for careers with multiple pathways and the skills they know they need to succeed in those careers.”
Read the entire piece here.
Of course I don’t know the details of what is going on at Stevens Point, but I have a few comments/questions:
- If I am reading this correctly, it looks like American studies, sociology, political science, English, philosophy, and music literature survived the cuts, but not history. Why? Was this merely an issue of numbers (of majors)? I would love to hear from a member of the history department. (You have an open invitation to explain what happened at this blog).
- I am saddened that Stevens Point is dropping history, but I am not surprised. Universities now operate on a completely business-oriented model in which students are consumers. Universities no longer give students what they need to contribute to a healthy democracy. Instead, they provide students with professional skills to contribute to American capitalism with minimal commitment to the development of citizens. While we certainly need people with professional skills, we also need educated women and men who can contribute to our democratic life together. And we need them more than ever in the age of Trump.
- What will all of this mean for liberal arts colleges or colleges with distinct missions to prepare students for life in church and society? How long before these kinds of colleges start dropping humanities programs?