STEVENS POINT, Wisconsin, March 21, 2018: In response to 5-6 percent enrollment decline and a massive $4.5 million deficit, the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point made the decision to eliminate 13 humanities and social science majors due to under-enrollment and the lack of career paths for these graduates. Subsequently, the University plans to add STEM oriented programs that offer “clear career pathways.”
The University of Wisconsin Stevens Point proposal targets liberal arts and humanities degrees because the school needs to focus on meeting the state’s workforce needs by teaching the hard skills currently in demand instead of the soft skills that increasingly lead to post-graduate unemployment or underemployment.
The school released a statement saying that while “soft” majors would be removed, liberal arts and humanities courses – primarily English – will remain available, along with minors or certificates. This addresses the continuing need for select coursework that contributes to degrees in education.
New University of Wisconsin – Stephens Point STEM emphasis
The newly planned programs at Stevens Point are heavily STEM focused. They include:
- Chemical Engineering
- Computer Information Systems
- Conservation Law Enforcement
- Fire Science
- Graphic Design
- Captive Wildlife
- Ecosystem Design and Remediation
In like manner, the school plans to move resources from less attended programs to the STEM focused programs.
Stevens Point is allowing students already in these majors to complete their degrees. The review period for the proposal begins in August and the university will likely reduce the number of tenured faculty associated with those academic programs currently on the chopping block. Later on, during the transition period, these moves would occur sometime after after June 2020.
Consequently, the message being sent is clear. Working class and middle class students should focus on skills that will place them into the gaps in the state’s workforce. This proposal comes as the country struggles over whether colleges are properly supplying graduates with the talent needed by employers who are becoming more technology driven.
Students and faculty at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point do not support this plan. In fact, some students held a sit-in on Wednesday to protest the changes. The National Council on Public History has called on Chancellor Bernie Patterson to reconsider this plan. During a town hall meeting, some claimed the plan would reduce enrollment, instead of increasing it. However, he offered no evidence to support that claim.