Dickinson State University in North Dakota is facing controversy as it considers significant program cuts, echoing recent actions by West Virginia University. While smaller in scale, the moves have raised concerns about the impact on both students and faculty.
President Steve Easton has proposed the elimination of several undergraduate degrees, including English, math, political science, communication, music, theater, chemistry, environmental science, and computer technology management, along with their corresponding teaching tracks.
Faculty concerns rise
This decision, if implemented, would leave degrees in history, biology, elementary education, computer science, and other areas intact.
Faculty members at Dickinson State were taken aback by the severity of these potential cuts, which may lead to the layoff of tenured faculty without declaring financial exigency.
Easton plans to announce the affected programs soon, accompanied by 12-month notices for tenured faculty whose positions won’t be renewed. Approval from the state board would be necessary for full program eliminations.
The university’s Faculty Senate has urged Easton to preserve secondary-level teacher education programs and questioned the estimated $1 million savings from these cuts.
They argued that the reductions would strain an already understaffed faculty, impacting students’ course offerings and learning experiences.
He stated that it is the institution’s responsibility to act proactively and make tough decisions to ensure its long-term stability.
However, Easton has refrained from specifying a target number of faculty positions to be cut, leaving the university community in suspense about the extent of the forthcoming changes.
As smaller universities like Dickinson State grapple with budgetary constraints, the decisions they make can have far-reaching consequences for students and faculty, raising questions about the balance between fiscal responsibility and academic quality.