Board of Governors threatens academic programs, bachelor to doctoral

Destiney Burt/ Staff Writer

A handful of academic programs are under the Board of Governors’ magnifying glass– each at risk of losing funding if they do not increase the number of degrees they award every five years and the students who get jobs within a year of graduation.

Those programs at risk include the bachelor’s degrees of: art teacher education, Portuguese language and literature as well as statistics. They also include doctoral programs such as: educational leadership and administration, social work, dietetics and dietitian, nursing and science.

The listed bachelor’s programs awarded fewer than 30 degrees in the last five years and the doctoral programs awarded fewer than 10 degrees in 5 years.

Some of these programs are few in the nation, or even unique to the University.

“It would be a great loss, because we have so many resources and if they cut back the funding then we have no other option,” said Venkataraghavan Ramamoorthy, a PhD candidate in dietetics and nutrition — a program that is only offered at two other schools in the nation, according to him.

Marianna Baum, a dietetics and nutrition professor, does not think it is a reasonable decision to cut the program either.

“If it’s reasonable or not depends on where you’re sitting from,” Baum said. “Where I’m sitting, it’s not. But from where people who make the decision are sitting, it is and they are calling us low productivity.”

BOG looks at the amount of degrees that are produced in a span of five years, which it thinks should be at least 10. But what it is not considering is the effort it takes to produce those degrees, Baum said.

“It is not easy to graduate ten PhD students with a high quality degree,” she said. “What we aim for is high quality dissertations. We don’t give PhDs to people who want them — we give them to people who deserve them and it’s a long and difficult process.”

Provost and Executive Vice President Douglas Wartzok said he has known about BOG looking at low productive programs for a few years now.

“We’ve been working with the deans and the departments to lay out a plan for how we want to improve the programs,” Wartzok said. “We have taken some of them off the list through improving them and getting more graduates out of the programs.”

But Augusta Vono, director of the Portuguese program, said she was shocked to open the University-wide memorandum from Wartzok and President Mark B. Rosenberg on Jan. 20.

“You can imagine how I felt when I opened that email and saw the Portuguese program on the list,” Vono said. “I said it doesn’t make any sense. I was caught by surprise.”

Vono has been the director for 10 years. Five years ago she was operating the department on her own. She said the program has seen major growth that would only continue.

“I worked very hard to bring the program to what it is now,” she said. “There are five of us now, but five years ago the program was myself. I was teaching literature, linguistics, everything.”

The Portuguese program at FIU is the only one in South Florida and Vono said it could not be in a better position because it’s expanding and outreaching with partnerships inside and outside of the University.

“We have very good relations with the Brazilian consulate in Miami and the Brazilian embassy in Washington,” Vono said.

Another amongst the remaining 14 programs being monitored is the University’s statistics program.

Hassan Zahedi, an associate chair and director of the statistics department, thinks that with the proper support the program could increase enrollment.

“The statistics department isn’t having a hard time graduating their students, but difficulty recruiting them,” Zahedi said. “We teach on average about five classes, we are very active in our department, we are not professional recruiters and we don’t have as much time to dedicate to that.”

According to Zahedi, when statistics students graduate, most get high-paying jobs within a year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for statisticians is $75,560.

Still, the program doesn’t cut it under BOG’s criteria.

Wartzok said the low performing programs were publicly announced because the chairman of the board said in his speech that rather than leaving everyone to wonder what the at-risk programs are, BOG better just go ahead and identify them so no one is left guessing.

Despite the threat and concerns of the programs being cut, Wartzok said he is optimistic that most of the programs will show the proper level of growth.

Be the first to comment on "Board of Governors threatens academic programs, bachelor to doctoral"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.