Current Planning: Colleges
The proposed document Point Forward: Reimagining Our Curriculum for the Future sent to the campus on March 5, 2018.
Among the most important and most difficult challenges we face is to reshape our academic program array to better align with changing market demands. Each college has experienced fluctuations in enrollment differently and their programs and budgets are structured differently. Consequently, each college is navigating its unique situation in varying ways.
The College of Natural Resources (CNR) has seen steady and even growing enrollment despite the demographic pressures confronting the university. It programs have long been signature components of UW-Stevens Point’s regional and national identity, and career preparation and applied learning are already deeply ingrained in the educational experience of CNR students. Under these circumstances, the central challenge within CNR is to find opportunities for further growth. The college is exploring ways to trim administrative expenditures sufficiently to fund additional faculty lines and programs. Launching a new Master’s of Natural Resources, which has already been approved by UW System, and exploring the possibility of an Environmental Engineering degree are two current projects. The college will also seek to elevate the existing Wildland Fire Science option within the Human Dimensions program to a full major.
The College of Professional Studies (CPS) has also experienced relatively steady enrollment, albeit with greater variability among its programs. Majors in business and health have performed well and promise strong continued growth, while some areas of education have seen greater variability. CPS has a strong record of integrating career preparation and applied learning in the educational experiences of its students, as these are typically required for professional certifications and job placements. The college’s principal challenge is to shift resources to areas of potential growth. CPS plans to elevate three options within the current business degree to full majors: marketing, management, and finance. The college is also working on a variety of new graduate offerings, including the recently launched EdD, a new MS in Athletic Training, and a proposed Doctorate of Physical Therapy.
The College of Letters and Science (COLS) faces perhaps the biggest challenge among the university’s academic units, since its programs have collectively experienced the largest enrollment declines. These declines, in turn, likely reflect the difficulty students have in envisioning the career potential of some traditional majors in the liberal arts and sciences. Shifting to meet these changing expectations among students does not have to mean giving up on traditional disciplines, but it does require re-imagining them and their role in a twenty-first century college education. Many of the skills most requested by employers, for example—including critical thinking, speaking and writing, creative problem-solving, and the ability to work in a diverse society—are squarely in the domain of COLS and its faculty. The challenge is to find ways to package these skills to emphasize their importance to opening career pathways for prospective students. Given that COLS teaches 70% of the university’s General Education Program (GEP), this shared curriculum represents a major opportunity to integrate career preparation and applied learning as central, visible components of a UW-Stevens Point education. Likewise, the creation of minors and certificates can also play an important role, especially when thoughtfully paired with majors in high-demand areas. Finally, the development of new degrees related to key areas such as information science and aquaculture/aquaponics are also being explored.
The College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) faces challenges similar to those in COLS in that some areas have experienced enrollment declines in recent years while others show potential for growth. Although applied learning is integral to most programs student demand has shifted in ways that may require adjustments to program offerings. Because some programs within COFAC have highly individualized teaching loads, the college is exploring how to structure learning experiences in new ways to accommodate students with fewer resources. In addition, faculty are considering key distinctions between professional programs and broader degree offerings, and the relative requirements expected in each. Because of these discussions, the current Graphic Design option within the Art program will likely be elevated to a full major. See additional information for further changes.
University College houses a number of programs and services that provide students opportunities for career preparation and applied learning, including the academic and career advising center, internships, cooperative learning, undergraduate research, and civic engagement. Several opportunities to enhance these efforts stand out:
- Centralized academic and career advising is in its second year of implementation, and among the key challenges ahead will be to better integrate career planning into advising discussions regarding academic pathways, especially for first- and second-year students.
- The General Education Program offers numerous opportunities to demonstrate the value of a broad, liberal education for career preparation through skill development in writing, quantitative literacy, critical thinking and broad understanding of diverse perspectives. The Assoc. Dean for General Education is engaged in discussions with the university’s General Education Committee on a variety of possible revisions to the curriculum.
- Recent efforts to build internship, honors, and undergraduate research programs must be maintained despite budget challenges.
One key change that affects both COLS and University College is the decision to move portions of the Office of International Education (OIE) into the unit. The opportunity to restructure arose with Eric Yonke’s transition from Director of Study Abroad to Interim Dean of the College of Letters and Science. OIE will be divided in three ways: the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program will move to the College of Letters and Science, where it will be paired with our existing programs in languages and ESL teacher training; international recruitment will move to the Admissions office to better integrate with our enrollment management structure; and the Study Abroad program and international student advising will be moved to University College, where it will be integrated with other student support and experiential learning activities within Academic Affairs. The staffing and budget details of this reorganization have yet to be finalized, but the moves will take effect on July 1, 2018.