By Brent Harker
Nearly 60 program changes largely recommended by BYU academic departments and approved by the administration have received support from the BYU Board of Trustees.
Academic vice president Alan L. Wilkins said university leaders recently presented to board members the proposed elimination or combination of about 50 programs and the addition of seven. “The board sustained our decisions,” he said.
“Because the changes were quite comprehensive, the administration wanted to share with the board the pattern of recommendations made by department, evaluated by the Strategic Planning/Self-Study Committee, and approved by the administration.”
Reasons for the changes included three main objectives: 1) to reduce and refocus programs with lower demand, lower quality, or duplicated efforts; 2) to strengthen offerings by replacing multiple emphases with minors and by organizing for faculty strengths; and 3) to simplify programs so life would be easier for students.
Students in degree programs not being continued will be allowed to graduate before their programs are phased out, Wilkins said. No faculty jobs are threatened by the changes.
A number of program changes emphasize consolidation to focus faculty effort and improve quality. For example, the BS in recreation management and youth leadership consolidated three possible emphases into a single youth leadership emphasis. The BS in dietetics combined two programs into one and eliminated the practical experience requirement. That experience will now be gained on the job, eliminating about 1,000 hours of supervision by instructors. The Department of Physics and Astronomy will eliminate the nuclear energy emphasis in its PhD program, which will consolidate the research and focus faculty effort in core areas.
Several changes will make room for improved offerings. “The BA in international relations was eliminated so that a new BA in international politics could be added,” Wilkins said. “In addition, the university plans to eliminate all international emphases in the engineering departments with a view to the development of a minor in international studies.”
Joint programs with the College of Engineering and Technology and the School of Management were eliminated, and interested engineering students will be encouraged to take a management minor instead.
The BS in botany with a biotechnology emphasis will be replaced by an improved focus on plant genetics and breeding.
New programs include a BS in physics and astronomy, a BS in computer engineering, and an MS in information systems management.
Efforts to simplify programs include changes in medical and dental preparation.
“BYU will no longer offer special pre-medical or pre-dental degrees,” said Wilkins. “Rather, we will identify the courses and skills needed to qualify for medical and dental school, but we will advise students to complete regular degrees.”