Smart leaders know they must change with the times or get left behind, and there’s no lack of intelligence among Carroll College’s administrators.

Whether it’s because the bachelor’s degree has lost some of its value, because the job market is luring students away from postsecondary education, or because of these and countless other factors, undergraduate enrollment has been declining nationwide for six straight years. At Carroll College, total enrollment decreased from 1,373 in 2016 to 1,353 in 2018.

With lower enrollment comes a decrease in revenue, forcing colleges and universities to face a harsh reality: The status quo is no longer an option.

In an effort to get ahead of the curve, Carroll College recently established two task forces that evaluated all of its degree programs and made suggestions about whether they should be expanded, reduced or eliminated.

Carroll President John Cech then released a draft of a comprehensive plan aimed at driving enrollment and strengthening the college's financial health while maintaining the college’s commitment to the liberal arts. The board of trustees is slated to vote on the plan later this month.

A highlight of the plan is the creation of a school of professional and graduate studies, which would make the college more attractive to a wider range of prospective students. The college is also planning to significantly expand its health care programs, which will likely be in high demand in the coming years due to a shortage of doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants throughout the state.

But with progress often comes sacrifice, and the current proposal also includes the elimination of four majors, 11 minors, three certificates and one associate’s degree.

Though the 26 students currently enrolled in the four majors on the chopping block will be allowed to complete their degrees, these changes will undoubtedly be difficult for some of the college’s faculty, staff and students. And we trust the school’s administrators will continue to be open and honest about their future plans with those affected and do whatever they can to ease the blow.

Change is never easy, but it is necessary for any institution that hopes to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

Carroll College did not become one of the best in the West by doing things the same way for the last 110 years. And it must continue to redefine its role in our community, state and region for the next 110 years and beyond. 

This is the opinion of the Independent Record editorial board. 

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