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This item originally appeared in the April 29, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.



Staff Writers

Four undergraduate programs and five graduate programs are in danger of being cut due to a low number of graduates in the last five years. Each of the programs is being reviewed by the university and the Board of Regents.

"This process occurs on a five-year cycle to look at production of graduates in the degree programs," Dr. Kenneth Rea, vice president of academic affairs, said.

The degree programs being reviewed are Bachelor of Science in plant science; Bachelor of Science in wildlife conservation; Bachelor of Science in speech, language and hearing therapy; Master of Science in microsystems engineering; Master of Science in family and consumer sciences; Master of Art in speech with concentration in theatre; Master of Science in mathematics; Bachelor of Science in geology; Master of Science in physics; and Master of Fine Arts in art.

The Board of Regents adds programs to the list for review based on set standards: undergraduate programs must produce a minimum of 40 graduates in a five-year period, while master's degrees require at least 25 graduates and doctoral degrees require at least 10 graduates in a five year period.

"If [the program doesn't] meet the level, you have to provide justification for continuation. That's where we are right now," Rea said. "We feel the process will be that the university will respond to each of the low-completers, and make a decision regarding it. The Board can agree or disagree, and it will probably make its decision between now and fall."

Rea said if any program does get cut, students currently enrolled will be able to complete their degree within a four-year time span.

"We never look forward to losing programs," Tech President Dr. Dan Reneau said. "I hope we can keep all of them."

Reneau said if any of the programs do end up getting cut, the university will not be extremely affected by it. However, he said the university would lose some of its prestige and students if the degrees were no longer offered.

"Louisiana Tech will make every effort to do what's best to keep these programs," Reneau said.

Dr. Terry McConathy, dean of graduate school and research, said the arguments Tech will give to the Board of Regents will be based on the qualitative assessments of the programs up for review.

"The Board appears to base [the review] on the number of graduates," McConathy said of the quantitative assessment that serves as the primary criterion. McConathy said Tech will also look at program goals, learning outcome, curriculum, faculty and resources when arguing for keeping the programs.

"We are pro-active," she said. "I feel in my heart we will argue to keep [these programs]."

Deans of the programs' colleges are meeting with Rea and Reneau within the next few weeks to plan arguments to submit to the Board.

Dr. Edward Jacobs, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said he is in support of keeping the Master of Fine Arts in art and Master of Art in speech with theatre concentration, the two programs in his college.

"I feel like if we lose these two programs, we lose a part of the whole college," Jacobs said. "It's like losing a hand. You can still function without it, but it's easier if you have it."

Jacobs also said if the Master of Arts in speech with a theatre concentration gets cut, the community will suffer.

"The theater has a significant effect on the community," Jacobs said. "If we lose this dimension, it is a loss to the community."

Jacobs said the students in the program will lose jobs and opportunities.

"The graduate students are mentors to the undergraduate students, and if we lose the program the effect will be immeasurable," Jacobs said.

Macy Hounds, a graduate student of theatre, said she agrees that getting rid of the program is a bad idea.

"We do not graduate the right amount of people because it's central that the theatre program remain small," Hounds said. "If we have too many graduate students, it takes away from the undergraduate students, so it is essential for this program to remain small."

Hounds also said she thinks if the program is cut then it would be "detrimental to the university."

Dr. Stanley Napper, interim dean of the College of Engineering and Science, said, "We have very strong arguments in support for retaining our programs."

Napper said the argument being made for the master's degrees in physics and math are "feeder programs" to the Ph.D. program.

"We have very active research faculty who work with graduate students in those programs," Napper said.

"As of yet, no final decision has been made," Rea said. "Our administration and faculty are aware of it."

Rea said a few of the programs may be taken off the list, including the Master of Science in family and consumer science, which was put on the list because of an error in reporting

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