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PSU Altoona cutting six programs | News, Sports, Jobs

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Penn State Altoona is ending at least six college programs for which enrollment has been declining lately, a move that is part of college-wide cost-cutting, according to a memo sent to local college staff Thursday. .

Programs to drop include Integrative Arts, Math, Science, and Political Science; the associate of science degree program and minors in math and dance, Penn State Altoona Chancellor Lori Bechtel-Wherry wrote.

In keeping with the hiatuses, the college is not renewing the contracts of eight faculty members for the 2022-23 academic year, Bechtel-Wherry wrote. Additionally, searches have been canceled or postponed for eight faculty positions that had become vacant and left vacant due to COVID-19 – although searches may be reactivated and vacancies should not be awarded to the “current budgetary situation” University spokeswoman Lisa Powers wrote in an email.

The college will “to teach” curricula halted for students already there, Bechtel-Wherry wrote.

No other student can enter these programs “without authorization” and the only students who will receive clearance are those whose remaining classes align with the remaining classes of students already enrolled in the programs, according to the memo.

“The formal academic consultation process to close these programs will begin in the near future,” Bechtel-Wherry wrote.

The college is making cuts to comply with the university’s requirement to cut the overall budget here by $4.7 million over two years, Bechtel-Wherry wrote. The plan is to make two-thirds of the cut this year and the rest next year – with “efficiency check” ongoing thereafter, she wrote.

The cuts reflect a much bigger problem, according to Bechtel-Wherry.

“Public (P) colleges and universities across the country are under severe financial strain due to years of declining enrollment,” Bechtel-Wherry wrote. “The overall downward demographic trend has severely affected Northeastern institutions and is evident at Penn State Altoona, where we have experienced a 23% (-811) reduction in student numbers over the past five years. »

“(The) sharp decline in enrollment has negatively impacted revenue, undermined our long-term financial stability and threatens our ability” to meet the needs of students, she writes.

Integrative arts, mathematics, science and political science emerged as problematic, “even in the context of the overall decline in enrollment at Altoona College”, according to Bechtel-Wherry: “(They) have the lowest enrollments of all of our programs and have consistently remained the lowest enrolled programs for years.”

Three of the four have been targeted for more than a decade.

A 2011 university-wide review of academic programs recommended phasing out math and science degrees, and also recommended “assess viability” of the political science degree, suggesting it should be phased out by 2013, Bechtel-Wherry wrote.

The university is “Facing unprecedented times”, Bechtel-Wherry wrote. These times require “painful and difficult decisions” she stated.

“The closure of programs is unfortunate and represents a loss for our university community,” she wrote. “(But the closures are) in the best long-term interest of our college.”

No further faculty layoffs are planned for this fiscal year, which ends June 31, according to Bechtel-Wherry.

Frustrated students

The shutdown of the political science program will not disrupt the education of political science major Adam Fogle, as it is already declared.

But students who might have considered the program now have their options restricted, according to Fogle, who spoke to the Mirror on Wednesday.

Students who have not declared themselves but have shown an interest in political science might be able to join, he said.

They are in a “grey” area, he added.

The budget cuts go beyond the courses and programs that will be available, according to a member of a student body focused on preparing members for a post-graduate profession.

The association had to cancel social activities, said the student, who asked that her name not be used.

The professors whose jobs are being cut are those with the least seniority, said Mike Fleury, a freshman at State College.

It’s a stressful time for at least some of them, Fleury said Wednesday.

But in class they were “very positive,” he said.

“(They) are quite good at separating their personal feelings from teaching,” he said.

The shutdown of Integrative Arts is forcing an unwanted change in the plans of a college student who posted about it on Facebook earlier this week.

“I’m forcing an English major with a concentration in creative writing,” writes the poster. “I don’t want to major in English. I chose Integrative Aarts for a reason. I’m frustrated that my choice now doesn’t matter.

The only campus program the poster has loved is the one she has to leave, she wrote.

Likewise, the plans of a friend who hoped his studies on campus would allow him to teach music come to fruition. “ruin,” writes the poster.

The cuts to the program look particularly glaring against the high salaries of the university’s president and head football coach, the poster added.

Plans for budget cuts are “continuous and fluid” Bechtel-Wherry said in a note sent to staff last week and later shared with the Mirror.

“Everything is going fast” said Fogle.

Until wednesday, “It’s been very quiet, hush,” Fogle said before telling a Mirror reporter: “I’m glad someone asked questions.”

The Mirror’s staff writer, William Kibler, is at 814-949-7038.



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