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Regents eliminate humanities program


By Lisa Rich
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 4, 2004
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Humanities, Liberal Arts programs cut under Likins' Focused Excellence plan

TEMPE - The humanities program and Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree was officially eliminated from UA curriculum last Friday.

The Arizona Board of Regents approved the elimination proposed by UA President Pete Likins in 2003.

George Davis, UA provost, said the humanities program had merely become an "outliner program" because it was intended to serve students in University College whose majors were undeclared.

Since the initial proposal for elimination in 2003, students have no longer been able to enroll in the program. Davis said in January 2003, 17 students remained in the program, and 13 have since changed majors. The remaining four students will be the last students to graduate with the BLA, with approval from Richard Poss, director of the humanities program.

Davis said evaluating and relocating 13 humanities program faculty was one of administration's top priorities, eventually resulting in three members choosing to leave the university and one being dismissed.

"This is a situation where faculty is transferred, if possible. It makes sense to have faculty in true academic departments," Davis said.

Davis said eight faculty members were transferred to departments that coincided with their academic interests.

"The departments are embracing enthusiastically the faculty that has been transferred," Davis said.

The Classics Department received four transferred faculty members, Media Arts received two, and the English and astronomy departments both received one.

"At this stage, the faculty are integrating themselves and seeing themselves at their new department," Poss said. "They're now working on bringing new culture into the separate departments."

However not all faculty members have completely accepted the change.

pullquote
Students are being severely harmed

- the best-taught, award-winning general education classes are gone, all humanities courses are gone, a program fostering excellence in teaching is gone.
- Bella Vivante, humanities professor

pullquote

"(There is) no other interdisciplinary program or courses like those of the humanities program," said Bella Vivante, humanities professor. "Students are being severely harmed - the best-taught, award-winning general education classes are gone, all humanities courses are gone, a program fostering excellence in teaching is gone."

However, Davis said, instead of discontinuing humanities courses offered in the program, the university intends to reduce specific course availability.

Downsized courses will be offered by utilizing former humanities program faculty, reducing the availability of courses thus creating competition for certain classes, Davis said.

"The courses that were offered in the humanities program are still on the books. Realistically, those courses are being taught by fewer faculty," Davis said.

Most of the humanities program courses will still be offered to meet general education requirements but will be directed under different departments, Davis said.

The decision to eliminate the humanities program and BLA was determined from a series of program evaluations, initiated by Focused Excellence - a plan intended to narrow the emphasis of university programs to provide more specialized education, Likins said.

UA colleges and programs were evaluated for more than two years, resulting in recommendations to eliminate 17 programs and merge seven. Focused Excellence has since allowed the university to reallocate $5 million, but Likins said the humanities program has not been cost-saving because the faculty, including non-tenured positions, have been relocated rather than dismissed.

No eliminations beyond those proposed in 2003 will be suggested, and all affected departments have notified faculty of possible eliminations. Department evaluations are complete, and the university will now be focusing on how to improve specific departments, Likins said.

The university follows an explicit faculty-senate reorganization policy to discuss and determine reallocation of faculty and courses. The directors of programs expected to be eliminated work closely with administration, faculty and students to determine the best solution for course requirements, major transfers and faculty relocations, Davis said.



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