University of Tulsa is the Latest University to Drop Liberal Arts Programs


The University of Tulsa will reorganize the Harry Kendall College of Arts and Sciences by reducing 15 departments and 68 degree programs to three divisions and 36 degree programs.  Undergraduate degree programs in philosophy, religion, and Russian and Chinese studies were cut.

Undergraduate minors in Ancient Greek, Classics, Latin, Linguistics, Russian, Digital Studies, Classical Studies, and Medieval and Early Modern Studies were cut.

Graduate programs in history, women’s & gender Studies, and anthropology also bit the dust.

Read more here.

Here is a taste of Inside Higher Ed’s coverage:

“The overarching objective … was to focus and pivot around student success as the core of what the university is about,” [provost Janet] Levit. “Objective one of our strategic plan is for us to focus on retention and graduation rates, which frankly look similar to rates at a school like University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University rather than a small private university that attempts to distinguish itself from public schools.”

According to College Scorecard, Tulsa has a graduation rate of 71 percent and an 89 percent first-year retention rate. Levit said the alterations made will allow the university to refocus some resources toward retention programs through a student success center opening this summer, including an academic entry point for all incoming freshmen called “university studies,” in the hopes it will decrease retention risks….

Levit had previously said during a presentation to faculty and staff members that Tulsa had tried for too long to be “everything to everyone” and had spread itself too thin, making part of the strategy to determine what kind of institution Tulsa will be.

However, the decisions have been met with resistance from some members of the faculty who aren’t fans of the new direction.

“Tulsa is essentially becoming a sort of pre-professional school,” Tulsa philosophy professor Jacob Howland said. “The writing’s on the wall — they’re just destroying the liberal arts, natural sciences and humanities at TU.”

Howland has been outspoken in his displeasure with the university’s decisions, and he said students will suffer from a lack of liberal arts on campus.

“You’re not giving students an education that allows them to adapt to changing economic circumstances. You train people for these jobs, and if there’s technological development in five years and suddenly the jobs are gone, what have you done to these kids?”

Read the entire piece here.

I hope everyone sees what is happening here.  The Provost defines “student success” in purely economic terms.  These cuts will, to use her words, “determine what kind of institution Tulsa will be.”  Exactly.

3 thoughts on “University of Tulsa is the Latest University to Drop Liberal Arts Programs

  1. We’re not going to have a health democracy if we’re going to cut history and more. Part of the reason you go to school is to be educated. Cutting back on Russian and Chinese makes no sense either. Russia and China are emerging powers. Could you imagine during the Cold War cutting back Russian language programs? This is backward for Tulsa and Oklahoma.


  2. I’m wondering if this isn’t a function of the marketplace. Post-secondary education has gotten so expensive that those who wish to purchase it are looking for an immediate return on the investment. Unlike computer science, architecture, accounting, or engineering programs, there is no obvious high paying job awaiting the history, English, or philosophy major. Without the high paying job on the other end to pay off the debt incurred to pay the university, students select against the liberal arts.

    Universities have used the earning power of a baccalaureate degree holder versus a high school graduate or college dropout to justify the ever rising cost of tuition. Maybe it’s time universities priced their product accordingly and charged less for a BA in History than a BS in Computer Science.


  3. Every time I hear of this happening, the phrase “Learn to Code” comes to mind. (Spoken without lifting the eyes from the App.)

    I’ve been a code monkey for 42 years, and “Learn to Code” is NOT the cure-all for Life, the Universe, and Everything.


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