- Associated Press - Sunday, January 24, 2016

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - Every academic program at the University of Wyoming Board will be reviewed to see if it needs restructuring or elimination.

UW President Dick McGinity said the review is significant.

“This conversation and the way it has proceeded is among the most important I have participated in since becoming president,” McGinity said. “There really has been, in my opinion, no strong impulse on the part of, at least many parts of the university, to ask themselves how are we doing and can we do better.”

In search for possible budget reductions, the UW Board of Trustees this week assigned the task to David Jones, vice president for academic affairs.

“One issue related to (fiscal stresses) is how big we are in terms of the programs the university has to offer to the students,” Jones said. “It would appear the University of Wyoming is offering many more areas of study than universities that are larger than ours.”

Students have 118 degrees to choose. In comparison, Colorado State University offers 72, the Laramie Boomerang reported (https://bit.ly/1WCaGkr).

As the only public four-year institution in the state, Jones said UW has offered as many different options as possible instead of focusing on a specific area, such as engineering.

“Things have evolved to the extent that we have tried to offer as much as we could to students and high school graduates from the state, but the question that arose is, ‘Do we need to start looking at the number of programs we have to offer here and do we need to think about perhaps restructuring the academic side in terms of the number of programs?’”

Low student enrollment is a sign a program might not be working as it should, Jones said. He explained creating minimum graduation thresholds at either five or 10 bachelor’s degree graduates a year could be one way of determining poor enrollment.

“We tend to start with looking at the programs on this campus that have low enrollment,” he said. “The thought is, what kind of costs are involved with maintaining a program where we maybe don’t have many students enrolled in the program.”

Other review criteria include program accreditations, faculty credentials, program reputation, program uniqueness and student credit hours taught, among other factors.

A program critical to the state workforce, even with low enrollment, could be important enough to keep, Jones said.

College deans will begin reviewing individual programs. Their review could take the rest of the semester, after which incoming UW President Laurie Nichols would get involved, Jones said.

If deemed necessary, the earliest a program could begin the termination process is the fall semester of 2016.

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Information from: Laramie Boomerang, https://www.laramieboomerang.com

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