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Education

UT to consider 11 programs to cut or partner with BGSU

State instructed university in how to boost affordability

French and German language studies are among 11 programs the University of Toledo could cut or offer cooperatively with Bowling Green State University.

The board of trustees on Monday unanimously approved a list of academic areas to be “considered for action” in response to instructions from the Ohio Department of Higher Education and a governor’s college-affordability task force to review programs offered by public universities located in the same area.

UT officials singled out 11 programs for review from a list of 50 the state said both Toledo and BGSU offer. The other 39 duplicate programs — including such core subjects as English, history, and biology — are not on the chopping block or up for consolidation.

The areas UT will review are: American studies, Asian studies, German, French, digital arts, art history, global studies, general business and commerce, athletic training, geology, and clinical laboratory science.

“These 11 programs are not only duplicative, but they are low enrollment,” said UT Provost Andrew Hsu. “Many of the programs have been looking at themselves and reviewing and discussing for collaboration.”

Options for each program under review include leaving the program intact, eliminating it, or offering it in coordination with BGSU.

The state has asked universities to conduct the review “in good faith” and take appropriate action, said ODHE spokesman Jeff Robinson. State and university officials said the state cannot force schools to shutter or share programs.

UT officials picked the 11 areas after reviewing those programs’ graduation counts from 2012 to 2014.

Most of the programs that will be studied had a dozen or fewer graduates during that period, including three from Asian studies, five from German, and 12 from French.

Factors to be considered include program quality, contribution to the university’s mission, cost-effectiveness, and demand.

Several of the UT programs are already fading away. The business and commerce program no longer accepts students. The athletic training program, whose 54 recent graduates are the most of all programs on UT’s possible action list, is transitioning from a bachelor’s-degree program to a graduate-level offering.

The French and German language programs are two that BGSU and UT could consider teaming up to provide.

Faculty members pointed out concerns about the review during a Faculty Senate meeting last week.

Cutting programs wouldn’t save money for years since tenured faculty would not be fired.

Faculty members also objected to the lack of input some departments had in developing the list of programs where action is possible. Some courses within the targeted programs still would need to be taught because they are taken by students outside the major or must be offered to meet accreditation requirements, professors said.

Faculty Senate President Mary Humphrys said the group did not take formal action regarding the program review. Mr. Hsu plans to work with a faculty committee to develop recommendations for what action, if any, will be taken on each of the 11 programs.

BGSU Provost Rodney Rogers said Bowling Green has yet to finalize the list of programs it will review, but he expects some overlap with UT, including in foreign languages. Mr. Rogers said BGSU likely will examine about a dozen programs’ futures.

“We are all aware of the need to make sure we can be as efficient as possible. I think we are certainly taking this very seriously,” he said.

The list of programs to be evaluated must be submitted to the state by April 30. The state wants universities to make final decisions by Dec. 31.

In other business, UT trustees also formally authorized a couple of leadership changes, including the selection of Steven LeBlanc as interim dean of the engineering college as a search for a leader continues.

Mr. LeBlanc has held that post since early January, after former dean Nagi Naganathan left UT to become the president of Oregon Institute of Technology.

Mr. LeBlanc previously held the title of executive associate dean of academic affairs. His annual salary increased from $224,400 to $265,000 with the interim title. Mr. Naganathan’s salary had been $363,600.

A UT search committee is expected to begin reviewing dean applications this week and will select three to five finalists to visit campus late next month.

A new interim chief financial officer for the University of Toledo Medical Center, the hospital at the former Medical College of Ohio, also was approved by trustees. Sherri Boyle steps in after the departure of the previous interim financial officer, Nickolas Vitale. He held the post for about a year but left for a job in Detroit that reduced his time commuting to work, according to a UT spokesman. Ms. Boyle’s salary is $225,000.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.

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