Carroll College's board of trustees approved a long-range plan that includes the elimination of five majors and the creation of a new school of professional and graduate studies, along with more than a dozen other objectives.
College President John Cech presented a draft of the program prioritization plan to faculty, staff and student leaders earlier this month, and all 21 board members voted in favor of an updated version of the proposal Friday afternoon.
With declining undergraduate enrollment contributing to a loss of revenue at Carroll College, along with other colleges and universities throughout the country, the plan includes 17 objectives intended to help attract more students and strengthen the school's financial health while maintaining a commitment to the liberal arts.
Although the college plans to eliminate five majors, 10 minors, three certificates and one associate's degree, all 78 students currently enrolled in one of these programs will be allowed to finish. A special adviser will be assigned to each of the students to help with the process.
The five majors that will be eliminated are classical studies, ethics and value studies, engineering science, environmental outreach and interpretation, and environmental policy and project management.
The 10 minors that will be cut are anthropology, arts management and administration, classical studies, economics, European studies, Latin American studies, music, public relations, social media, and TV production.
The three certificates being discontinued are geographic information systems (GIS), project management and social media. The associate of arts degree in English, which currently has no students enrolled, is also being eliminated.
Eight instructional FTE positions will be phased out next year, partly through scheduled retirements, voluntary departures and leaving some vacancies open. However, 4.3 instructional FTE positions are expected to be added back.
The plan also includes a net decrease of seven non-instructional FTE positions.
Carroll College leaders said all faculty and staff members who will be affected have been notified. The college plans to offer them personal and financial counseling, as well as job-placement services.
“As would be expected, with the consolidation and restructuring of academic and administrative programs, the most difficult part of this process was the hard decisions we had to make to trim faculty, staff and administrative positions,” Cech said in a press release. “As a community, Carroll is sensitive to the impact this has on the campus and the individuals involved, and we are working to help ease the transition for those employees affected.”
Through its new school of professional and graduate studies, Carroll College plans to engage faculty from across the campus to develop both undergraduate and post-baccalaureate certificate programs as well as new graduate programs. New degrees already being considered include a master of social work, master of genetic counseling, master of physician assistant studies, and graduate level nurse practitioner.
"The new school will work with our faculty and work with our academic infrastructure to identify programs that fit within the economic needs of not only Montana, but also looking at the territory we serve," Cech said, adding that 80 percent of the school's enrollment comes from Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.
Because the college updated its accreditation to implement a master's degree in accountancy last year, Cech said, adding additional graduate degrees will be "much, much easier for us.
"We've already gone through that heavy lifting," he said.
Cech set a goal to grow enrollment from 1,353 in 2018 to 1,600 by 2024, largely through the expansion in graduate and professional programs. He also set a goal to increase transfer student enrollment by 100 per year by fall 2020.
"It's good for an institution like Carroll College to just take stock of what we're doing and how we're doing it and ask ourselves: 'How can we do better?'' Cech said.
Additional objectives identified in the program prioritization plan include:
- Recognize the new reality of private post-secondary education, which will require the college to "be nimble and aware of the value of partnerships and new funding streams" and be open to exploring and developing new academic programs.
- Continue to revitalize new student services, enrollment and the marketing division, including redoubling efforts to engage students through digital media and high-touch programming.
- Make Carroll College the first choice for students wishing to transfer from other colleges in Montana and surrounding states.
- Develop a long-term academic master plan that meets the needs of students and is financially viable.
- Restructure academic programs in schools to foster collaboration and innovation.
- Revitalize the summer session, which could help students move through academic programs more quickly.
- Replace the vice president of student life with a dean of students and retention, who will be responsible for all things associated with the students' quality of life, well-being and success; and add a counselor in the Student Health Center.
- Create a one-stop commons for student intake and enrollment.
- Increase opportunities for authentic cultural exchanges both abroad and domestically.
- Seek funding for innovation and new program development.
- Establish funds to support undergraduate academic research, scholarly inquiry and creative endeavors.
- Enhance auxiliary services to create a model for future growth opportunities, increase coordination with external and internal partners, improve visibility and increase net revenue for the college.
- Develop a repository for data concerning graduates, graduate outcomes and cost/benefit analysis, and better organize the college's communication databases.
- Create a standing Mission Committee to increase breadth of mission oversight.
- Request permission and approval from the Bishop of Helena to invite an Order of Sisters to work on campus and engage students.
- Continue streamlining academic and administrative processes and programs to identify further efficiencies, revenue generation and cost reductions.