Academic Revitalization FAQ

If your question is not answered below, please contact us.

Why did this process need to happen?

The review of academic programs that occurred through program prioritization is one that should occur on a regular basis to account for how well programs are functioning and to assess whether modifications can/should be made to strengthen them. In addition, a majority of academic institutions undergo this process regularly. Thirty-three academic majors were too many to be sustained by a college the size of Goucher. By phasing out the least viable programs, we will be able to strengthen the 25 that remain and invest in new programs that are in line with evolving student interests.

Is there a financial crisis at the College?

No, in fact, after a very thorough review this summer, the Standard and Poors (S&P) retained its “A-“ bond rating for Goucher. Raising costs and continuing to increase the number of options per student, however, is no longer a possibility. We are determined to offer the best education for a price more people can afford.

How does this affect our future as an institution?

Institutions periodically need to re-balance. These shifts are always in response to student needs. Goucher is a healthy institution but this will help us better serve student needs and that will help position for future success.

What was involved in the Program Prioritization Process and who was on the committee?

This process was entirely controlled by faculty. The Internal Review Team (IRT), made up of faculty members, did a review of every Goucher College academic program. In addition to the IRT members reviewing all documentation individually, they met for over 40 hours in person to consider holistically the results of the rubrics, the opportunity-analysis sections of the program-response template, institutional mission and context, and connections between programs. During these confidential discussions, individual faculty recused themselves from their own programs and any other program for which there could be a perceived bias. They were extremely careful to look at programs, not individuals.

After they unanimously finalized their list of recommendations, they submitted preliminary recommendations, program-prioritization documentation, and program-prioritization data to an external reviewer. The external reviewer endorsed the process and supported the preliminary recommendations. IRT faculty then voted unanimously to finalize their program prioritization decisions.

The Internal Review Team

Mary Adkins (Education)

Elizabeth Ahearn (Dance)

Jason Cherubini (Business Management)

Michael Curry (Theatre)

Mark Ingram (French)

Nina Kasniunas (Political Science)

Germán Mora (Environmental Studies)

Phaye Poliakoff-Chen (Creative and Writing Studies)

Frances Ramos-Fontán (Spanish)

Martin Shuster (Judaic Studies)

Gina Shamshak (Economics)

Scott Sibley (Interim Provost)

Micah Webster (Mathematics)

What does this announcement mean for students?

Current or entering students in Fall 2018 will be able to graduate from Goucher with a degree in any of the majors we currently offer. These changes will be phased in and should provide very minimal disruption for current or entering students. The college undertook the process of reviewing academic offerings, beginning in May 2018, to better meet student needs and assess the present health and viability of all majors and minors. As student needs have shifted, we need to respond by shifting our priorities as well. That means new investments in some programs, the addition of new programs, and the phasing out of majors and minors that have seen falling enrollment. The first part of the process, to determine where we needed to revitalize, has been completed. This fall, the faculty will come together to consider new configurations that speak in exciting ways to Goucher's ideals of social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and an international outlook, and we believe that you, as a student, will benefit from that.

How will this affect alumnae/i who have graduated with majors we are now cutting?

Many people have degrees in Classics, Latin, Greek, and other fields that few colleges still offer. Those are still valued degrees. We do not believe this will adversely affect our graduates.

How will this affect other areas of the college—negatively or positively?

We did this to better meet students’ needs, but also to keep from having to continue raising tuition so rapidly. Making more financial aid available has resulted in our most diverse class in history this fall. We wanted to keep money in services and programming for students and we have. This will all make Goucher stronger.

How will the faculty whose programs are being cut be affected?

At this point we are anticipating that retirements, voluntary separations (or people who leave for another position) and changes in non-tenure track faculty or visiting positions will be enough to align the areas of faculty expertise with student interest. The number of faculty positions eliminated could be a very small number, maybe even none. That is because religion, music, math, and more are not going away at Goucher—those faculty will teach fewer upper division specialty courses with only one or two students in them. That will mean those faculty can teach more First-Year Seminars and Center Pair Exploration courses. Some of them will also teach in new majors.

Is this decision being made because of money being redirected to new buildings and the capital campaign instead of faculty & programs?

No, capital and operating budgets work in very different ways, with different sources of funding. All campuses must maintain their physical buildings (including repairs and deferred maintenance) on an ongoing basis, and periodically replace buildings when the amount of required maintenance exceeds the cost of new construction. This was the case with Stimson, given the condition of the buildings—the new buildings in the First-Year Village will require fewer repairs, and operate much more efficiently. The construction of the new residence halls was very cost-effective. The program prioritization process, however, is quite different, and is about reallocating money from under-enrolled majors to over-enrolled majors and better supporting student needs.

The choice to build new residence halls and dining was also about meeting the needs and expectations of students considering a residential college experience. Building better residence halls with AC and other contemporary amenities, as well as new dining facility that provides more variety and healthier choices, was strategic and informed by data that indicated many students were not choosing Goucher due to the quality of housing and dining that they saw when visiting campus.

Where is the money saved being allocated?

Two things will happen. First, fewer majors will mean fewer upper-division specialty courses with only one or two students in them. That will mean those faculty can teach more First-Year Seminars and Center Pair Exploration courses. Second, a lot of very small classes means class size grows elsewhere, so some students were getting a very personal education and others were starting to see classes grow or were not be able to get in at all. The savings will mean new and more professors hired to teach in over-crowded majors.

How does both savings and quality happen?

By reducing the number of very small classes at the upper levels in small majors, faculty who teach those courses will now be available to teach more students in entry level classes and in those classes with more demand, thus reducing costs. One common strategy at other schools for saving money is to hire more part-time faculty to replace full-time faculty. (https://www.air.org/sites/default/files/downloads/report/Shifting-Academic-Workforce-November-2016.pdf) Goucher has chosen to go in the opposite direction and hire more full-time faculty; the savings achieved by program discontinuance will allow us to continue moving in this direction, and we believe this will increase the quality of a Goucher education.

If faculty members leave, then who will teach the majors being phased out?

All current students who are already pursuing (or who intend to pursue) a major that is being phased out will still be able to do so, including first-year students. The college will ensure that the majors continue to be taught (which means students already pursuing a major will continue to be taught) in a robust way by the highest quality faculty.

Will there still be music on campus?

Yes. The vast majority of the students who participate in musical activities on our campus (in lessons, classes, performing groups, and in concerts) are actually not music majors. These opportunities will continue to be offered. We may even add more activities, opportunities, and ensembles, based upon student interest. Also, our performing and creative arts programs are already working on new, interdisciplinary approaches to meeting student needs in this area. They will be asking for student feedback, since meeting more student needs is what this is all about.

Will we still have music, theatre, and art classes?

Yes, we will continue to offer classes for those interested in music, theatre, and art. If anything, this will enhance the arts. Majors often require very specific courses set up by national accreditors. So a music major HAS to have particular elements, even if students don’t want them. So to have a major, we have to require specific types of music history and music theory classes. But students today often want to mix and match. They want to take art and digital art or music and theater, or film and music. They want to write songs, but they end up having to choose between what they want and the requirements of the major. The arts faculty are hard at working thinking about new ways to meet these student needs. Students will also be consulted and when that work is done in a few months, new configurations, majors, programs or options will be revealed to all.

WHAT ABOUT MATH? IS THAT REALLY GOING AWAY?

Absolutely not. Math is one of our great programs and we expect that to continue. In fact, we have expanded our math requirement for all students as “data analytics,” opened a new quantitative reasoning center, and recently hired more math faculty. Upper level courses in a pure math degree had low enrollment—most students wanted to be able to do more applied math and we are making that shift, not eliminating all math classes. We have also just launched a new support Center for Quantitative Reasoning. The math and comp sci faculty are already thinking how a new major might allow students to do the work they want and combine computer science, statistics, applied math and data analytics.

What is going on with Education?

While the special education and elementary education majors will be phased out, students who are in those majors or who enter in Fall 2018 will be able to graduate with those majors. Certification in secondary education, which is available for a number of academic disciplines, remains. Additionally, we will continue to offer all existing degrees through our Graduate Programs in Education at the Welch Center for Graduate & Professional Studies.

Goucher is top ranked in study abroad. Will students still be able to study languages?

There is significant student interest in Spanish, French, and Arabic at Goucher, so we will continue to offer those languages on campus. The small class size at Goucher means we can’t offer the same range of options as larger universities do (often with much larger minimum class sizes). As student interests changed, the class sizes in German, Russian, Hebrew, and Italian grew too small and were not sustainable. We are committed to being a global campus and are looking into a variety of options to allow students to have the widest selection of languages possible.

What will happen to religion and Judaic studies?

Religion and spiritual belief systems are an important part of every culture and Goucher is building a new interfaith center on campus to support students who want to pray in different ways or simply learn more. Goucher will continue to offer courses in a variety of world religions, including Judaism, and these courses will continue to be part of several other majors on campus. We will be building the Goldsmith Interfaith Center starting this year.

Can students still graduate in majors that are being phased out? What should students do?

Yes. This will happen over several years. Current Goucher students will be able to complete degrees in their chosen major.

For students who have not yet declared a major, can they still choose majors that are being phased out?

As current students, you will still have your choice of our current majors. If you are interested in one of the low-enrollment majors that are being phased out, we will be asking you to tell us that in the near future. All students must (in any case) declare a major by the fourth semester (of credit hours).

Who will advise students affected by phasing out majors or minors?

Your advising will continue in the same way for now. The college’s associate provost for undergraduate studies and the assistant provost for integrative learning initiatives will work with students (and their advisors) in the smallest majors and minors where there might be an impact. Seniors (planning to graduate in May 2019) in these majors should be able to complete their program of studies with no alteration to their current plan. Juniors and sophomores will receive correspondence from the associate provost of undergraduate studies inviting them to either a group or individual session to share information regarding the impact of the phasing out of their course of study. This will occur in the first couple of weeks of the semester. Students should also discuss this with their assigned academic advisor.

How long do students have to finish their major? Will it take longer?

The college will work with you to develop an individualized plan that will allow you to finish requirements on time.

Students in Premedical Studies need math and physics. Will there still be math and physics on campus?

Yes. While the majors and minors will be phased out, Goucher will continue to offer physics and math classes, especially those required for pre-med and other science majors. We will also continue to offer computer science and will be looking at other related fields in the future. Our plans for a new Science Research Center addition to Hoffberger will continue and, in 2019, we will begin construction of much-needed new lab space for biology, chemistry, and environmental science.

How does this affect academic paths and alter the student college experience?

Goucher will make sure these shifts happen gradually, so majors will not be phased out until students graduate. We will simply stop taking in new students in those fields—but those numbers were low to begin with (which is why they are on the list.) The vast majority of students will start to see a benefit as class size falls in popular majors, which will mean more professors and more time for personal advising.

What will the college leadership do to uplift morale through this time?

Loss is hard. We are working with individuals and with programs to create new and exciting opportunities. Colleges and college faculty are generally happier adding than subtracting—we like to propose new courses and new majors. But eventually that means costs go up and there needs to be some assessment of where to make changes. A process for new programs to get new hires has already begun.


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