University of Montana plans to cut majors and staff numbers

Humanities subjects set to be hardest hit by restructure

May 9, 2018
University of Montana
Source: iStock

The University of Montana has become the latest US university to announce plans to discontinue several humanities majors, in a move in which 50 full-time academic positions may also be axed.

The draft proposals outline a major restructure of the organisation, with changes taking place across several departments and disciplines, but the humanities are the hardest hit.

For example, the university plans to discontinue majors in French, German, Spanish, Russian, Classics and area studies and instead “consolidate” the programmes into Asian studies and European studies majors, following a 44 per cent decline in the number of language degrees awarded by the university.

In total, the plans estimate that 50 full-time academic positions will be cut, including six English scholars and 7.5 modern and classical languages and literatures academics.

The university also expects to merge several departments in the College of Humanities and Sciences to replace 23 department heads with 10 division heads.

The proposals from the Missoula-based institution seek to plug the university’s $10 million (£7.4 million) deficit over the next three years, following years of declining enrolment and state budget cuts.

The draft strategy was announced by the university’s recently appointed president, Seth Bodnar, who took over the helm of the institution in January, after spending six and a half years in managerial and executive positions at General Electric.  

The move follows a similar announcement by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in March, which plans to remove 13 humanities and social science majors and replace them with programmes “in areas with high-demand career paths”.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

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