Carol Biliczky

A faculty panel at the University of Akron would jettison geography and urban studies and keep family and consumer science and guitar.

Those are four recommendations in a UA Faculty Senate report released Monday that looks at administration proposals to shelve 55 academic programs.

The full Faculty Senate will consider the committee recommendations Thursday.

“There may be some changes to it, but I think it overwhelmingly will pass,” said Bill Rich, Faculty Senate president and a law professor.

Provost Mike Sherman brought the administration’s proposal to eliminate 55 academic programs at all levels to faculty in February.

Sherman said the programs have low enrollments or job placement rates after graduation. He said any money saved would be redeployed into growth areas — nursing, integrated biology and speech language pathology and audiology.

About 600 students now in the programs would be allowed to complete their studies and graduate. So the programs could continue for as long as six years, the typical timeline to earn a bachelor’s degree, Sherman has said.

On Monday he said he looked forward to the faculty committee’s review of his office’s work.

“These recommendations will help to inform decisions on academic program review anticipated later this month from our Board of Trustees,” he said in an email.

The Faculty Senate’s Academic Policies Committee took a more complicated view than the administration on how to streamline the university’s academic offerings.

For example, the panel agreed to the elimination of 22 programs, to halt admissions to 20 programs temporarily in the hope that they could be revitalized, to suspend seven that were not originally on the list and to retain 13 that the provost sought to eliminate.

The panel agreed with the administration to halt admission to the bachelor’s and master’s programs in theater arts — but only temporarily.

That would give faculty time to strengthen the programs and “demonstrate that the resumption of admissions is warranted,” according to the panel.

The faculty committee also would keep some programs in the College of Education that the administration would ax. These included the doctoral degree programs in elementary and secondary education, which made their way to the elimination pile through miscommunication with the administration, the faculty panel suggested.

The master’s degree program in physics also should get a reprieve, although the focus should change to a “specialized master’s degree program in materials physics.”

The physics faculty has “made a commitment” to propose such a program, which would need to be approved by UA’s trustees and the Ohio Board of Regents.

Meanwhile, the faculty panel would suspend the bachelor’s degree programs in the piano harpsichord and organ, neither of which were originally on the list. The organ program has to go “because of the unavailability of funds to repair the necessary equipment.”

Meanwhile, the faculty panel would reverse the recommendation to scuttle the bachelor’s degree program in guitar performance.

“Although small, this program has achieved national recognition for its excellent quality, thanks to the acclaimed work of Professor Stephen Aron,” according to the faculty panel.

He was the only faculty member named in the faculty recommendations and is the only guitarist on the faculty at the UA School of Music.

The UA trustees are expected to take action on the program suspensions at their next meeting on April 23.

Carol Biliczky can be reached at cbiliczky@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3729.