Jon Taylor

Elimination of UCM's College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Jon Taylor
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March 27, 2018

We are writing to express our disappointment with the proposed reorganization that results in the elimination of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Central Missouri that was released to faculty on March 13, 2018. Although we understand the need to closely examine academic programs in the current fiscal situation, we have the following concerns:

I. The proposed elimination of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Central Missouri under the current reorganization plan released on March 13, 2018, fundamentally changes the mission of the university. If approved, UCM will devolve from a regional comprehensive university grounded in the liberal arts, as prescribed in the 2003 mission statement adopted by the Board of Governors, to a school more narrowly focused on channeling scarce resources into its professional and technical training programs -- which would be inconsistent with the 2003 mission.

II. We believe the proposed reorganization devalues and weakens the liberal arts by scattering disciplines across colleges, making it extremely difficult to offer a coherent program, and advocate for the liberal arts and potentially puts accreditation at risk for some programs. The reorganization also sends the message that the liberal arts are less valuable than disciplines in the other three schools and will discourage prospective students from considering UCM as a place to study the liberal arts. At a time when society faces a critical need for the perspectives and proficiencies of the liberal arts disciplines, this reorganization will deprive the university of the opportunity to participate in the intellectual development and growth of future liberal arts students. This matters because one of the most important founding principles behind the creation of the regional comprehensive universities was to allow students of middle and lower income economic status to be able to obtain an affordable liberal arts education. If UCM moves forward with its plan to eliminate the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, those students will not be able to obtain a quality liberal arts education, including those first-generation and traditionally underrepresented student populations that UCM has prioritized in its recruitment in recent years. Moreover, UCM will be the only regional comprehensive university in the state that does not have a college devoted to the liberal arts.

III. Furthermore, the proposed reorganization would require a mission change, which would involve significant planning and UCM is not following the recommended guidelines that are commonly utilized by institutions of higher learning for involving faculty in determining the direction of the university as outlined in the American Association of University Professors’ statement on Government of Colleges and Universities found in Section 2: The Academic Institution: Joint Effort; point C titled Internal Operation of the Institution.

Because the proposed reorganization changes the fundamental mission of UCM, we believe that a robust discussion among all stakeholders must take place with the board, faculty, current students, prospective students, and perhaps most importantly, among the thousands of alumni/alumna that have graduated from the University of Central Missouri and its liberal arts programs over the years. Those discussions should have taken place prior to Tuesday, March 13, 2018, when the administration unveiled its proposal to eliminate the college of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

IV. We acknowledge the need for belt-tightening and creative problem solving on budget matters and we confirm our willingness to do our part. However, we should also stress that the burden of cuts should be borne equally -- across all colleges, disciplines, and programs, as well as between academics and administration--and not by one college--the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

Dr. Micah Alpaugh, Associate Professor of History, UCM

Dr. David Babcock, Professor of Graphic Design, UCM

Dr. Karen Bradley, Professor of Sociology, UCM

Dr. Kristy Boney Associate Professor of German, UCM

Dr. Robert Fernquist, Professor of Sociology, UCM

Dr. Sean Kim, Professor of History, UCM

Dr. James Staab, Professor of Political Science, UCM

Dr. Julie Stephens-DeJonge, Professor of Spanish, UCM

Dr. Sara Sundberg Professor of History, UCM

Dr. Jon E. Taylor Professor of History, UCM

Dr. Eric G. Tenbus, Professor of History, UCM

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