Every five years, in an ongoing effort to steward the University's resources, the Academic Council reviews majors to determine whether they are meeting goals and are sustainable. The review considers both quantitative and qualitative data, including the number of current majors, enrollment trends, and faculty loads.
As of January 8, 2013, the University had just nine students majoring (or double-majoring) in philosophy in all four years of study. Unfortunately, there had also been a downward trend in philosophy enrollments in the past four years.
At the conclusion of the fall 2012 program reviews, the Academic Council made the difficult choice to recommend that both the B.A. in philosophy and the B.A. in physics majors be concluded at the end of the 2012–13 academic year.
At its January 25, 2013, meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the recommendation of the Academic Council, and assured students of its commitment to philosophy courses and their contribution to critical thinking skills in this prepared statement.
“In line with the University’s stated objective to equip Cedarville graduates who think broadly and deeply, the Board affirmed that the philosophy minor should continue and be strengthened, that philosophy courses will be available to all students as part of general education, and that the Honors program should continue to be a priority. All current philosophy majors will be able to complete their programs, as required by our regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.”
As you can imagine, the decision to eliminate any major is difficult, but Cedarville University is not alone in this process. A recent The Wall Street Journal article described the fiscal challenges facing higher education. The article referenced nearby Wittenberg University (Springfield, Ohio) and its working through a similar process.
More recently, Inside Higher Ed reported on a Moody’s Investors Service pessimistic forecast for colleges and universities. Acknowledging there will be opposition when tough choices are made, this report, too, emphasizes the importance of institutions making difficult decisions to reduce their costs and increase affordability for students.
Higher education is changing. New expectations. New priorities. New pressures. Cedarville University is not immune. It must adapt in order to thrive in the 21st century. Cedarville is making strategic (yet sometime difficult) choices while focusing on affordability and investing in student scholarships.