Smaller majors are under siege
Posted March 10, 2006

The Action Task Force, the in-house body charged with auditing the University of La Verne’s efficiency has submitted all of its 34 recommendations, but some of those ideas – particularly those aimed at examining the necessity of smaller majors for the good of the University - have been causing quite a ruckus among concerned students and faculty members lately, despite President Stephen Morgan’s reassurances that our beloved - yet under populated - majors are not on the chopping block.

Although Task Force members are attempting to ease the fears of the ULV community by claiming that this recommendation is simply a way for the University to revamp offered majors and minors while saving a few bucks, faculty members and students are still worried that some of the majors with lower enrollments, say art history for example, will soon go the way of the men’s volleyball team. You newer students are probably thinking, “Hey, we had a men’s volleyball team once upon a time?” Well, give recommendation No. 23 (a marketing-centric audit of the popularity of current majors and minors) the go-ahead and soon that’s what we may all be saying about art history, philosophy, religion and many other majors in the College of Arts and Sciences, once this liberal arts school we love has become nothing more than a University of Phoenix rip-off.

Of course, it is difficult to predict exactly how recommendation No. 23 will change the campus, what with all the bureaucratese, careful wording and such. On the surface this recommendation is appealing. The Task Force wants to form a team to “assess our current major and minor offerings in relation to the needs of prospective students in the market the University of La Verne serves.”

Lovely, ain’t it?

The Task Force wants to help La Verne attract more students with an improved selection of majors and minors. But later in the same summary of the sixth set of recommendations, our fears are confirmed: “The Action Task Force is aware that this recommendation may result in the elimination of some of the current major offerings.” Call us crazy, but we think this means those majors that aren’t exactly overflowing with graduates and raking in the tuition dollars may not be around much longer.

“President Steve Morgan and many of the University’s Board members have said that the University of La Verne needs to be more focused with regards to major offering and to not try to be all things to all students, that we should be more selective in what we offer and do it well,” the summary continued.

It seems the plan is to monitor a few small majors, see which aren’t benefiting the University by luring in hordes of undergraduates, morph those bite-sized majors into minors, scrap whatever is left - be it students or faculty, and move one step closer to becoming a diploma mill. Sure, after too long we might not have a strong art department but just wait until we’re shooting out business and law majors like nobody’s business. Even DeVry will be jealous.

With a proposed implementation date of fall 2007, recommendation No. 23 will change the face of the University more than we can imagine. If we lose any of our important liberal art majors simply because we need to save a few dollars, we’ll lose more than just a few students or classes. These majors are the core of the University. Not every student who enrolls in this school knows if he will major in business, communications or law. Many first year students come here aware of the University’s liberal arts foundation, knowing they will be able to dabble in many different types of classes: art, philosophy, education or otherwise, before having to choose a major. Sometimes, those students don’t follow the crowd and hope they can squeeze into an almost packed business class. Those students choose the smaller majors knowing that this University will give them that intimate mentorship with a professor that they want.

If we really want to attract more students to the University and keep the retention rate on the up and up, why not stick to the liberal arts plan that we have been following for the last 115 years? Sure, it may seem like a waste to offer a major that only three people will declare, but to those three people and future students who may soon follow their footsteps, it will be money well spent.

Smaller majors are under siege

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