Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.
• The small degree program kerfuffle hit the fan last week in Missouri.
University of Missouri leaders announced that they would be combining and eliminating programs at that school, resulting in a net loss of 16 programs, pending approval of a new list of programs that features some combination of existing offerings.
MU Chancellor Brady Deaton detailed the cuts in a letter to the Missouri Department of Higher Education, which had asked for a review of small degree programs in response to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s request. Kansas Gov.-Elect Sam Brownback has mentioned that perhaps Kansas should undertake a similar review.
But what might that look like at a major research university?
Granted KU and MU have some very different programs, so it’s not a direct apples-to-apples comparison, but I still think it’s interesting. Here’s a rundown, courtesy of the Columbia Daily Tribune.
• Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Spanish and French should be combined to create new Romance languages bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Spanish was not considered a low-producing degree, but the department agreed to take in the French program.
• Three master’s programs within the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources should be rolled into one catch-all degree covering forestry, parks, recreation, tourism, and soil, environmental and atmospheric sciences.
• On the doctoral level, two programs — forestry and soil, environmental and atmospheric science — should become one PhD.
• In the School of Medicine, pharmacology and physiology medicine master’s and doctoral programs should be combined into one degree.
• Exercise physiology and nutritional area master’s programs in the School of Human Environmental Sciences should also be rolled into one degree.
MU is proposing to eliminate the following programs:
• Education specialist and doctoral degrees in career and technical education, and a specialist degree in special education.
• Communication sciences and disorders doctorate and a clinical laboratory sciences bachelor’s program within the School of Health Professions.
Nowhere in Deaton’s letter did I see a good accounting of how much money the cutbacks saved the university. KU has offered a variety of reasons for keeping programs around, even when the numbers of graduates are small, for other compelling reasons. So I’d be curious to know how much money this has saved in the long run, as a major expense for many of these programs is in the faculty required to support them — most of which have tenure.
If this ever gets rolling in Kansas, it’ll be interesting to watch, as I’ve made extensive mention of in this space before.
• Co-worker and police reporter extraordinaire George Diepenbrock pointed me to a page of a book he’s been reading on his new Kindle that seems to come down on the Journal-World’s side on the issue of “Kansas University” versus “The University of Kansas.” Laura Hillenbrand (author of “Seabiscuit”) makes a reference to KU miler Glenn Cunningham that includes the phrase “Kansas University” in her new book “Unbroken.”
I get asked that question — “Why do you call it Kansas University instead of The University of Kansas?” — seemingly once every two weeks or so. Some folks get pretty worked up about it. So here, for all those who have been wondering, is the short answer.
I always start by saying that the decision on what to call the university is made well above my pay grade. And, in fact, it’s been part of the Journal-World’s style for a long, long time, predating nearly everyone at the newspaper (maybe even everyone). But, even though the university uses “The University of Kansas” in official communications, you can find “Kansas University” in a number of different places, too, including on the university campus . Enough so, that I really think it’s commonly known by both names. In addition to Laura Hillenbrand books, you can find it on the sign outside the KU Endowment Association, on the website of KU Physicians, Inc., which employs doctors practicing at KU Medical Center (the website uses both names) and in a number of other places, too.
And “KU” has to stand for something, right? I mean, it’s not like the letters were chosen at random. And don’t tell me that the University of Kentucky took “UK.” Ohio State University, Oregon State University and Oklahoma State University all seem to find ways to use “OSU” without too much consternation.
But I get that it frustrates some (maybe more than some) people, and that this explanation won’t satisfy them. But, hey, at least now I can provide an easy link back to this discussion instead of typing 20 of these e-mails every year.
• Catching up on a bit of news from last week, the U.S. Senate passed a short-term budget bill that protected the Pell Grant maximum of $5,500 per year, at least until March 4, according to Inside Higher Ed.
That maximum grant award is a figure closely watched by low-income students who benefit from the bill each year. The program may be a target of the newly-elected Congress as they target programs for cuts. President Obama had sought to increase the levels of aid this year to $5,500 from $5,350 as part of his budget provisions in 2009.
• I take tips for Heard on the Hill from all degree programs, regardless of size. (I heart you, Slavic Languages and Literatures!) Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.