UM University of Montana campus

A University of Montana panel will continue the difficult task Saturday of prioritizing what programs to keep and which to drop after identifying seven programs Wednesday, including classics and French, to consider eliminating.

The proposed cuts are in response to enrollment declines that have forced the university to look for ways to decrease its payroll to bring expenses in line with revenue.

The task force, part of UM's Academic Program and Administrative Services Prioritization project, is charged with recommending to the administration which academic programs need additional investments because they offer the potential for growth and which programs should be consolidated or eliminated. It reviewed 120 programs Wednesday and recommended 10 for additional investment and growth. Another seven were placed in the potential elimination category.

The seven included the undergraduate programs in classics and French, graduate programs in ecosystem management and modern languages and literature, the two-year electronics technology and energy technology programs, and the administrative systems management minor.

The 10 identified as having growth potential were undergraduate biochemistry, biology, environmental studies, music, and wildlife biology degrees, as well as the graduate programs in counselor education, creative writing, physical therapy, social work and the organismal biology, ecology and evolution program.

More than 70 of the already graded programs fell into the middle prioritization category, calling for potential investment, the development of a plan to improve, or consolidation and restructuring.

The APASP task force met again at 10 a.m. Saturday on the third floor of Missoula College to discuss and vote on additional programs. According to the agenda for the meeting, Saturday’s prioritization process will include categorizing 19 programs including chemistry, political science, mathematics, resource conservation, history and film studies.

The process will put each program into one of four categories: priority for development and growth; consider for development or modification; priority for substantial modification, or insufficient evidence, which means there is not enough evidence to provide a specific recommendation. Most new programs fall into the latter category.

There will be a 15-minute period for public comment at the end of the meeting.

A final meeting to decide which category to place programs into will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday in the Gallagher Business Building, if needed. No agenda has been released for that meeting.

Before the task force's final recommendations are sent to President Sheila Stearns, the heads of each of the programs will have an opportunity to respond. Stearns will review the recommendations and present her decisions to the campus for feedback before putting together plans for implementation.

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