Professors and programs on the chopping block at NDSU

There’s been no let-up in the enrollment decline affecting many college campuses over the last several years. Institutions waiting for the trend to turn around have held off making budget, staff and program cuts for as long as possible. But the time of reckoning has hit home for administrators at North Dakota State University. Forum News says a more than $7.5 million budget deficit driven by falling enrollment left the school with no other option than to streamline future operations.

North Dakota State University President David Cook has outlined cuts to academic colleges, programs and faculty to deal with $7.6 million in funding reductions for the 2023-2025 budget biennium.

The proposals include reducing NDSU’s seven academic colleges to five, cutting more than 34 full-time positions — including some tenured faculty — and eliminating or “teaching out” as many as 24 degree programs, which will affect around 100 current and 50 prospective students, Cook said.

NDSU Athletics will also absorb a 4.2% cut, or more than $200,000, from its $25 million budget. Athletics receives about 27% of its funding from institutional funds and student fees and 73% from donors, ticket sales and advertising.

Cook made it clear the NDSU would be undergoing a significant restructuring months ago. But the extent of the consolidation of departments, elimination of programs and faculty departures still had to be a shock to many.

Effective July 2023, the university will reduce its seven academic colleges to five, a process first announced in November and led by [Interim Provost David] Bertolini after meeting with deans and gather campus-wide feedback.

…The bulk of the financial savings will come from eliminating the positions of those two college deans, he added.

Strategic reductions in faculty and programs will follow, with a focus on low-enrolled, high-cost programs, he said.

Moving forward, NDSU intends to focus on programs and degrees that are more responsive to market forces and skills in demand in the workplace.

Ten recently proposed teach outs include majors or minors in hospitality and event management, geology, geography, German and agriculture systems management

New academic programs to meet workforce needs in the state are also in the mix to cut the deficit, including an executive MBA, cybersecurity, data science, project management, strategic communications, robotics and information technology.

The changes reflect the reality of the increasing competition between colleges and universities for a smaller pool of customers. During the transition, administrators acknowledge enrollment could continue to slip. Yet almost gone are the days when institutions of higher education could try to be all things to all students.