Delaware State University purges more than 20 academic programs

(photo courtesy Del. State Univ)

(photo courtesy Del. State Univ)

Delaware State University has voted to deactivate 23 academic programs, according to a report published Monday by The Wilmington News Journal.

The contents of the report were confirmed independently by the university.

Most of the jettisoned programs are in education and the humanities. The move–which focuses on “low-enrollment” majors, according to university spokesman Carlos Holmes –will save DSU $900,000 by 2020. DSU says it will reinvest that money in growing fields such as Mass Communications, Sports Management, Nursing, Biology, and Neuroscience.

Delaware State’s board approved the restructuring at its January meeting. Minutes from that meeting are not yet available. School officials say the reduction in majors will not trigger layoffs.

In the teaching sphere alone, DSU voted to eliminate undergraduate majors in English Education, World Language Education, Science Education, Elementary and Secondary Special Education, Biology Education, Physics Education, and Chemistry Education. The university did target the Teaching English as a Second Language major for growth, as well as a graduate degree in Educational Leadership.

“In just about all cases these were low enrollment programs,” said Holmes. “We weren’t attracting a lot of students in those degree programs. Sometimes you have to do housecleaning like that.”

Holmes said The News Journal article was “basically accurate,” adding, “I don’t have a problem with the article. This is what we’re doing.”

He did, however, dispute the notion that cuts were made “quietly,” a word used by The News Journal to describe the move. He noted that the decision stemmed from a two-and-a-half-year process, culminating at an open board meeting in January.

“I was at that meeting,” Holmes said. “It wasn’t done quietly. There was a lot of discussion. It was quiet to The News Journal because they didn’t attend the board meeting, which they could have because it’s an open meeting.”

Holmes also noted that the programs were being “deactivated,” not eliminated outright. By deactivating the majors, DSU can reactivate them without going through the typical process for creating a new academic program.

Students who are already studying toward one of deactivated degrees can continue with their studies. The decision applies only to future students.

The move will eventually eliminate 76 classes from DSU’s course roster, according to Holmes.

Delaware State is one of just two, four-year public universities in Delaware. The historically black college has seen enrollment bloom in recent years, while other HBCUs have struggled to stay afloat.

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