UW-Stevens Point Will Consider Plan To Spare 13 Humanities Majors From Elimination

Shared Governance Group Vows To Consider Student Call To Save Liberal Arts Majors In Face Of $4.5M Deficit

Old Main Hall, UW-Stevens Point
Old Main Hall, UW-Stevens Point. Royal Broil (CC BY-SA)

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point officials say they’ll consider a plan pushed by students to spare 13 humanities majors in the latest round of budget cuts.

Earlier this month, UW-Stevens Point administration announced it was considering cutting 13 majors in liberal arts fields like English and history in response to a projected $4.5 million structural deficit. Students responded on March 21, with a protest and sit-in in which they asked the school’s chancellor and other administration officials to come up with a budget plan that spares the humanities majors.

UW-Stevens Point Provost Greg Summers said a committee of the university’s common council has agreed to come up with a budget reduction approach in line with the students’ request.

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“Our governance groups have decided to try and honor their request and develop such a proposal and to try to meet the timeline they asked for, which was to at least take a look at what something like that might be by May 3rd,” Summers said.

Summers said the proposal to spare the humanities majors will be considered concurrently with the proposal to cut them, adding he will officially introduce the proposal to cut the 13 liberal arts majors in August, which will trigger a 90 day review process per UW System regulations.

Mark Tolstedt, UW-Stevens Point faculty council chair, said he thinks the decision to delay the official introduction of the budget cutting plan was a strategic move by Summers to give the campus more time to come up with alternatives.

“So, in many ways the provost kind of did the campus a favor by announcing this point forward document in March but not bringing it through the formal governance procedure until August,” said Tolstedt.

Tolstedt said he expects the final budget cutting plan to look different than what university administration first proposed in early March. He hopes considering both over the summer will lead to tweaks to the original plan along the way.

“And that’s where I think what this group is doing in the meantime to provide a response to that, I think that that will help provide that impetus for change in the original proposal,” said Tolstedt.

UW-Stevens Point’s $4.5 million budget deficit has been attributed to declining enrollment, recent cuts in state aid, and a six-year tuition freeze enacted by the state Legislature.