University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton has proposed a prudent course for these hard times in reducing degree offerings. According to the 2008 report of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Mizzou had discontinued only four programs while adding 14 new ones. Now, academic program prioritization is more urgent than ever, and the University of Missouri shows us both the obvious tool of termination—sometimes the only valid choice—and the creative one of consolidation.
Departments or groups of colleges can share resources to deliver low-enrollment but important academic majors. It is noteworthy that Missouri would continue to have French and Spanish, merged into a single Romance Language program, while leaders at the State University of New York-Albany, the University of Southern California and Louisiana State have sent theirs to the guillotine. “Join or Die,” Ben Franklin’s famous political cartoon, should become the motto of higher education.
The challenging economy offers opportunities for trustees, administrators, faculty and students to make strategic choices that will serve students.