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The Baker Orange

Baker University eliminates five majors

Story by Amanda Helm and Rachel Hawkins

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University President Pat Long released a statement Tuesday to the Baker University community regarding the reduction and reallocation plan. The academic personnel and program changes will be in effect for the 2010-2011 school year.

The changes include the elimination of five majors; computer information systems, physical education (non-certification track), molecular bioscience, wildlife biology and political science.

“The Trustees, Provost, CAS Dean and I sincerely commend the members of the Joint Committee for their work in accomplishing a very difficult undertaking with clarity, fairness and civility,” Long said in her e-mail. “We also appreciate the cooperation of our colleagues who have agreed to take on new roles, where possible, within the institution.”

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Rand Ziegler also addressed the issue in a statement to The Baker Orange.

In his statement, Ziegler announced that the plan included “roughly nine faculty positions (including several incented retirements) and the elimination of the following five majors; Computer Information Systems, Physical Education (non-certification track), Molecular Bioscience, Wildlife Biology and … Political Science.”

A joint committee assessed Baker’s programs over a six-week period and made recommendations to Long. The final outcome was approved by Long and the Board of Trustees.

“As the quite natural immediate reactions subside, I am hoping that the broader Baker community, including students and alumni, will come to appreciate the difficulty of the committee’s assignment and thank its members when provided the opportunity,” Ziegler said in the statement.

In her statement, Long addressed the process made by the faculty joint committee and its recommendations on programs and majors. Recommendations about positions were also included.

Randy Miller, assistant professor of biology, will complete his teaching through June 30 and will “become coordinator of student research in biology.” Norm Mast, instructor of computer science, will complete his contract and his teaching responsibilities will end at the end of this academic year. Jean Johnson, professor of mathematics, will serve part-time in the records and registration office and will hold a part-time teaching position next year.

In her statement, Long also addressed some faculty changes. Four faculty members chose “to exercise the option of beginning retirement next year,” and their positions will not be replaced.

Eugenia Askew, assistant professor of health, sport and human performance, Lee Mann, professor and chair of the art department, Lucy Price, professor of English, and Bruce Woodruff, associate professor and chair of the theater department, are all professors affected by the changes.

In the e-mail, Long also announced that Judy Smrha, assistant dean for institutional effectiveness, will take on a new role next year in a teaching position with “additional responsibilities related to student retention, engagement and success.”

In her e-mail to Baker University faculty, students and staff, Long reflected on the changes that have happened to Baker in the past year.

“Over the last year, the Baker community has come together to sustain and uphold its mission of academic integrity,” she said. “We have made many difficult choices but our commitment, since we began this process, is to ensure that our students continue to receive the quality education that has been our trademark for over 150 years.”

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