May 21, 2008

Cougars to Downsize?

By Randy Hodgins

Here’s a story that popped up in a number of state newspapers this morning, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Since the arrival of President Elson Floyd last year, Washington State University (WSU) has been looking critically at its current academic structure with the notion of focusing limited resources on its highest academic priorities, particularly in those areas where WSU can play a leadership role.

Last week, retiring Provost Bob Bates issued a report which takes a comprehensive look at each of the university’s academic areas and making specific recommendations to curtail on increase activity.  By eliminating a lot of low demand majors and courses, the school hopes that core majors and courses can be improved.  Some of the recommendations include:

  • Create an area focused on Environmental Sustainability by using resources currently invested in the School of Earth and Environmental Science, the Department of Natural Resource Sciences and the Department of Community and Rural Sociology.
  • Dividing the College of Liberal  Arts into three divisions — social and behaviorial sciences; arts, culture and humanites; and interdisciplinary programs and area studies.
  • Phasing out the undergraduate major in forestry.
  • Reducing geology and focusing it on general education courses, basic science teaching and environmental research.

The next step is for each college to submit a preliminary plan to the Provost by June 15.  A final plan is due by September 26.

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