After faculty spoke out in opposition to a UW-Stevens Point’s proposal that would cut 13 humanities majors in order to expand or add 16 STEM programs, over 20 national societies have penned a letter in opposition.
-American Anthropological Association
-American Comparative Literature Association
-American Historical Association
-American Musicological Society
-American Philosophical Association
-American Political Science Association
-American Schools of Oriental Research
-American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
-American Society for Environmental History
-American Sociological Association
-CAA – Advancing Art and Design
-Latin American Studies Association
-Linguistic Society of America
-Medieval Academy of America
-Modern Language Association
-National Communication Association
-National Council of Teachers of English College Forum
-National Council on Public History
-North American Conference on British Studies
-Organization of American Historians
-Rhetoric Society of America
-Shakespeare Association of America
-Society of Biblical Literature
In a statement about the proposal, UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson told the Stevens Point Journal the school would shift resources from programs with lower enrollment to expand programs with “high-demand career paths” to try and maintain enrollment. Coupled with a $4.5 million deficit and less state funding, Patterson said that the university has done all it can — with the exception of cutting programs — to deal with the debt.
“We have implemented cost-savings, increased workloads, raised class sizes, reduced administrative spending, and nearly eliminated budgets for supplies, equipment, technology and facilities,” Patterson said. “We have restricted travel and professional development, reduced students activities, and declined for years to invest in salaries for our faculty, 95 percent of whom are paid below national averages.”
The UW-Stevens Point chapter of the College Republicans agreed, encouraging the university, Board of Regents and Chancellor Bernie Patterson to take “necessary actions to maintain the reputation of this great University,” according to their statement released Monday.
While the associations said they acknowledged that change was needed, they argued UW-Stevens Point’s proposal would leave students without solid preparation for changes in their career over time.
“All colleges and universities benefit from strong programs in the humanities, and it is especially important for regional public institutions, which serve large populations of first-generation college students, students of color, and students from families of limited means, to provide access to in-depth education in the full range of humanities and social science programs,” the letter said.
The associations also called on Patterson to reconsider the plan, adding that tech and business leaders say that humanities degrees are not only valuable, but also have comparable employment and job satisfaction rates, according to the data from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
“Access to humanities studies is essential for all students, no matter their career paths, as is the opportunity to major in these disciplines,” the letter stated. “It is deeply misguided to eliminate humanities majors based on an inaccurate presumption that they do not prepare students for high-demand careers.”