March 4, 2011
A message to ULM faculty and staff from ULM President Nick J. Bruno
I regret I failed to provide you with this communication earlier. However, I wanted to provide you a more comprehensive account of our response related to the low completer issue.
As you are aware, actions by the Board of Regents (BoR) and the University of Louisiana System (ULS) regarding low-completer and duplicate programs have made news recently.
The BoR is constitutionally mandated to periodically review degree programs provided by the state's postsecondary institutions and recommend those that should be continued, consolidated, or eliminated. The standards used to identify low-completer programs in the current review are listed below.
• Undergraduate programs: average 8 completers/year or a minimum of 24 completers in 3 years
• Masters/Specialist programs: average 5 completers/year or a minimum of 15 completers in 3 years
• Doctoral programs: average 2 completers/year or a minimum of 6 completers in 3 years
Using these stricter guidelines and shortening the period of examination from five to three years produced 450 low completer programs, 212 of which were in the ULS and 32 of which were at ULM. Programs which were excluded from previous low completer reviews were included for this review; some examples were chemistry, mathematics, secondary education.
Campuses could request one of three alternatives for each program: terminate it, combine it with other programs, or continue it. Information about fiscal impact was required for any program recommended for termination or consolidation.
Reports were due to the Regents on February 28, and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Stephen Richters and his staff worked diligently with the deans, the department heads, and especially the faculty to determine the recommendations for our campus. I hope that you will join me in thanking them for this exemplary effort.
The recommendations we submitted are the following.
Appeals for continuation (10)
• BA Communication Studies
• BA Political Science
• BM Music
• BS Atmospheric Sciences
• BS Chemistry
• BS Computer Science
• PBC Gerontological Studies
• MA English
• MEd Educational Technology Leadership
• MEd Multiple Levels K-12
Program consolidation (15)
• Consolidate the BA in Art Education (K-12) as a concentration in the BFA in Art.
• Consolidate the BA in English Education (6-12), the BA in Social Studies Education (6-12), the BS in Biology Education (6-12), the BS in Chemistry Education (6-12), the BA in French Education (6-12), the BA in Spanish Education (6-12), and the BS in Earth Science Education (6-12) into concentrations within an MEd in Secondary Education.
• Consolidate the BA in French and the BA in Spanish as concentrations in the BA in Modern Languages.
• Consolidate the BME in Music Education-Instrumental (K-12) and the BME in Music Education-Vocal
(K-12) as concentrations in the BM in Music.
• Consolidate the BS in Mathematics Education (6-12) as an option in the BS in Mathematics.
• Consolidate the EdD in Educational Leadership into the EdD in Curriculum and Instruction.
Request for termination (7)
• AA Criminal Justice
• BME Music Education-Vocal/Instrumental (K-12)
• BS Family and Consumer Science Education (6-12)
• BS Health and Physical Education (K-12)
• BS Speech Education (6-12)
• MA Substance Abuse Counseling
• MS Pharmaceutical Science
The consolidation of several programs designed for teachers of grades 6-12 into a single MEd in Secondary Education returns ULM to a structure used five years ago before the statewide redesign efforts instituted by the Louisiana Department of Education.
Additionally, the BS in Health and Physical Education (K-12) had been minimized already by a similar concentration in the BS in Kinesiology, and the MA in Substance Abuse Counseling had previously been consolidated into the MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
All recommendations for termination include a phase-out plan for majors that should allow most or all students to complete their degrees within two years. The seven programs recommended for termination contain a total of 27 students (2 masters, 14 bachelors and 11 associates).
No terminations of tenured or tenure-track faculty are anticipated if our recommendations are followed. However, the Regents have made it abundantly clear that programs recommended for continuation will have to be vigorously defended, so all programs on the low-completer list are at risk of termination.
While we feel confident that our arguments for these programs are sound and well-formed, the Regents have the authority to decide their fate and faculty terminations in affected programs likely would occur if the Regents do not accept recommendations for continuation of certain low-completer programs. Issues related to any faculty termination notification, should they occur, will be consistent with ULS Program Discontinuance policies.
Since this is an externally initiated review, the BoR actions regarding these low-completer programs will not be reviewed and approved by the Board of Supervisors for the ULS. The timeline for the BoR staff to present final recommendations to the Board's Academic Affairs Committee is April 27, 2011. This will be the final opportunity for any faculty or students who may potentially be affected to speak up on behalf of their programs.
You can be assured that I will keep you informed as the process unfolds. Meanwhile, I request that you continue to deliver the high quality classroom experience ULM prides itself. I remain positive that ULM has a great future through our combined commitment and efforts.
Nick J. Bruno, Ph.D.