Small programs at UF: Their survival

Students who change majors keep certain programs alive

By Jacob King


It’s no secret that majors such as pharmacy, pre-vet, occupational and physical therapy are prominent programs at The University of Findlay, but how do smaller programs compare in enrollment?

Darin Fields, vice president of academic affairs, listed the top majors, in terms of enrollment, at UF: animal science/pre-vet, pharmacy, physical and occupational therapy and business. Although appearing as major fields for students, Fields said these aren’t the only programs that gain significant numbers of enrollment.

“Close on the heels of those programs are an even larger group spread across all six colleges that attract and have enrolled a significant number of students,” said Fields.

Majors like Japanese, Spanish, art or communications don’t gain the same amount of enrollment as the six listed above, however, Fields said that enrollment is not what deems a program successful or not.

“I won’t identify specific programs that fall into what you might term low enrolled programs because number of students in a given program is not the sole determinant of a successful program,” said Fields.

Many factors play into what allows a program to thrive past enrollment, especially how it can serve each student, despite their major.

“A program may have a relatively small number of majors and still serve a very large number of students through general education and required courses in other programs,” said Fields.

Every UF student is required to take general education courses in order to graduate. Nancy Munoz, assistant professor of Spanish, said how general education credit keeps activity in certain programs.

“The majority of my teaching load consists of gen ed. credit,” said Munoz.  “Spanish didn’t use to be a small program.”

It’s not uncommon to hear complaints about how taking a class believed to be “unrelated” to a certain major is unfair, but Phil Lucas, associate professor of criminal justice and forensic science, said it’s the skills one develops from gen ed. classes that can serve students well.

“I think a program in the liberal arts is better suited for oral, written and communication skills,” said Lucas. “We can teach about tires, but how are your communication skills?”

An issue that occurs when associating enrollment figures with success is the rate at which students change their majors.

According to a study conducted by The University of La Verne, 50 to 70 percent of students change their major at least three times.

“I think students declare their major too quick,” said Lucas.

Munoz explained that students who change their major often are the ones that allow smaller programs to thrive.

“We (the Spanish program) are sort of the add-on major,” said Munoz. “We get people that are changing majors.”

Although requiring students to take general education courses to fulfill graduation requirements has increased enrollment in various fields, programs still have to face evaluation.

“It is called Academic Program Review and it assesses all academic programs across four criteria (centrality to mission, quality, demand, and income and cost) according to 28 separate measures,” said Fields.

Fields said that the assessment of programs is conducted every two years with the intension of improving areas in certain programs and to overall “strengthen” academics here at UF.

Despite whether a program has large or small enrollment, every program must be examined in the Academic Program Review.

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