- What academic programs are being discontinued and why?
It is important to assure that the academic program remains aligned with our mission even as we update the classes and majors Marietta offers to align with the demand of students today and in the future. This is work that should occur on an ongoing basis. After careful study, the Board has approved the President’s recommendations that, over the next few years, we sunset nine undergraduate programs and one graduate program where enrollments are very low or declining.
- Asian Studies
- Environmental Engineering
- ESL & Linguistics
- Global Leadership Studies
- Land & Energy Management
- Music Education
- Music Therapy
- Vocal Performance
- Master of Athletic Training
- How many students will be directly affected by these changes?
Students majoring in these programs account for 53 (4.5%) of Marietta’s current total enrollment. We will conduct what is known as a “teach out” for most majors, meaning that the students will be able to complete their studies at Marietta. Eleven of our current students will be unable to complete their declared major here because of the program reductions. Though this number is small, we know that every student is important and we are continuing our work to support each student who is impacted by these changes.
- When and why did this process begin?
The recommendations for sunsetting programs began with a strategic planning process in 2022. At that time the Board of Trustees enlisted the assistance of AGB Consulting, which conducted a thorough review of the position of the College, opportunities it could pursue, and the current financial strength of the College as well as the College’s longer term trajectory. The work resulted in 27 recommendations that included a recommendation for a thorough review of all existing academic programs.
In July of this year, the Board of Trustees charged the President with evaluating and prioritizing the AGB-assisted strategic plan and supporting the completion of the academic program review process. This work included recommendations resulting from the internal program review and the assessment of the impact of programmatic decisions on the College.
- How was it decided which programs would be recommended for discontinuation?
During the 2022-23 academic year, the College established an Academic Program Evaluation Task Force to evaluate Marietta’s academic offerings. The Program Evaluation process was led by faculty and included faculty opinions and insight. The Academic Program Evaluation Task Force utilized a data-driven approach (based on the widely respected Dickeson Model) that leveraged internal data, external benchmarks, and raw data sets from regional colleges and universities. Over 10 years of institutional data was included in the evaluation. All programs were evaluated for their strength in four areas. These include:
- Missional Alignment — these included considerations such as the extent to which a program offers courses for the general education curriculum, the historic significance of a program to the College, significant community service, and contributions to other programs on campus
- Quality — this included consistency of faculty, percentage of courses taught by full-time faculty, progressive development of the curriculum, and success in securing external funding, as well as program outcomes
- Cost — this included an evaluation of the costs of maintaining the program determined by an analysis of costs and revenues, as well as our ability to continue the necessary investment
- Market demand — this included an analysis of student interest based on recruitment and enrollment data, as well as job outlooks for students in these majors
The review work was summarized and presented to the Board by the Provost in May of 2023. The evaluation then continued into the fall. After reviewing all the academic program review data, conferring with key campus partners, and considering additional data on programs and the educational marketspace, in September the Office of Academic Affairs made the recommendations on program discontinuation to the President. Faculty Council and the Faculty Curriculum Committee vetted the plan. The Faculty Curriculum Committee has approved the recommended actions on program reduction. In addition, the Graduate Council approved the recommended action regarding the Master of Athletic Training program.
During its meetings in October, the Board carefully considered and then approved the President’s recommendations.
- What will happen to students in the discontinued programs?
Every affected student has been provided with an individualized plan for degree completion. Current seniors, juniors and most sophomores, and some first-year students (as of October 1, 2023) will be able to complete their degrees at Marietta College either in their current major or another major of their choosing. Eleven of our current students will be unable to complete their currently declared major because of the program reductions.
Most students studying in these programs have expressed their intention to finish their degree at Marietta. Some students may wish to transfer to other institutions with comparable programs and pre-arranged transfer credit. We will support every student’s choice to ensure the completion of a successful academic journey.
- Why are program cuts being made?
This plan will allow us to invest College resources in those academic programs of greatest interest to current and incoming students, will offer the highest return on investment as we balance our operating revenues and expenses, and will help us to chart a course toward a thriving future for Marietta College. The plan will help make available resources for other current academic programs that need additional support, as well as start new undergraduate and graduate programs in areas in demand by students and future employers.
Marietta is operating with a balanced budget in 2023-24. However, there are areas that we need to invest in, the expenses for which are not in the budget. We are not alone in facing these types of financial decisions. Colleges and universities across the country, both public and private, are reducing some academic offerings, developing others, and taking other steps in response to a rapidly changing marketplace. We are making decisions and taking action now to ensure a strong future for Marietta College.
The decision to sunset these 10 academic programs was not made because they lacked inherent value or academic rigor, had poor quality teaching, or produced unsuccessful graduates. A significant factor in this evaluation was the number of students declaring and ultimately completing their degrees in these majors.
- Is Marietta discontinuing its entire music program?
No. We remain committed to offering the Bachelor of Arts in Music degree. The College will also maintain its musical ensembles and groups like choir and band. As before, students in every major are encouraged to participate in these co-curricular activities.
Of note, students who currently have music scholarships will continue to receive that funding per their award letters. Marietta stands behind its scholarship commitments to support our students' passions.
- Will these decisions impact the development of the Center for Earth, Energy and the Environment (CEEE)?
As we look to further program innovation, we will build upon the considerable strength and reputation of the Petroleum Engineering program as we seek opportunities to prepare our students for emerging career opportunities in alternative energy strategies. In addition, we will seek ways to enhance our environmental programming through distinctive inter-disciplinary work. We hope to hire a director to lead this curriculum development in the spring/summer of 2024.
- Will Marietta offer any Language instruction?
Yes. We will continue to offer courses in Spanish and American Sign Language. In addition, we are part of a Consortium that allows our students to enroll in language courses at other private institutions to further their language study.
- Does the discontinuation of the Global Leadership major affect the McDonough Leadership Program?
No. The Global Leadership Studies Program is an inter-disciplinary major that very few students have completed. The McDonough Leadership Program had record enrollment this year, bringing in its largest first-year class ever. We continue to support and invest in the McDonough Leadership Program and see it as an area of potential growth for the College.
- Will positions be eliminated?
Not immediately. The two- to three-year “teach out” process in most affected majors will lead to the eventual elimination of teaching positions in those majors. No tenured faculty member will lose their position through this process.
- Will positions be added?
A list of five strategic initiatives comprising a new strategic plan titled Marietta Forward have been proposed to and approved by the Board of Trustees. These strategic initiatives are key to our building a strong Marietta College for the future. The plan centers on building a future-focused academic program, becoming a student-ready college, encouraging personal leadership, and developing personal and community strength through belonging. Some proposed programs will require the addition of academic and professional colleagues.
We will review every proposed expense to evaluate its return on investment and impact. Any request to fill an open position or staff a new position will continue to be carefully reviewed.
- Will there be more cuts in the future?
The plan for sunsetting programs is part of the larger Marietta Forward strategic initiative designed to put the College on a strong and sustainable path as we anticipate and respond to ever-changing external conditions. We must regularly review our progress to ensure that we are meeting our goals. As a result, our strategies may evolve over time as we measure the impact of decisions made.
Ongoing program review for all programs and departments is a critical component of institutional success. To support this work, an Academic Program Review Committee is now a regular part of our institutional structure. This committee is responsible for overseeing the regular review of our academic programs and making recommendations to the Provost.
- What about prospective students who were interested in the discontinued programs?
Our enrollment colleagues are reaching out to all prospective students who have expressed an interest in one or more of the impacted programs, explaining the changes and sharing important information about other campus programs that may meet each of their academic and career goals. We know that a Marietta College education can benefit every student and positively affect their future, and we look forward to welcoming new learners to our campus, just as we have since 1835.
- What will happen to campus spaces that currently house the impacted programs?
For now, nothing will change as we continue to support students in completing most of these programs. In the future, we will evaluate each area as part of our planning for facilities usage. Some spaces may be reallocated or modified for use by other academic programs to support growth.
- Will these changes affect alumni who hold degrees in the discontinued programs?
Definitely not. Every degree granted by Marietta College will remain as legal and binding as the day it was issued. The sunsetting of these majors is not about the rigor of the programs, the quality of the faculty, or the experiences of alumni who hold these degrees. The timeless value of a Marietta degree is evident in the considerable success of our graduates.
- What about restricted gifts and endowed funds that support one of the discontinued programs?
As these programs are phased out over the next two to three years, College leaders and our Advancement colleagues will work with donors who have supported the affected programs. These generous supporters will be encouraged to redirect their investments in Marietta College for alternative uses that continue to benefit the College and our students. Any funds previously earmarked for a discontinued purpose will continue to be used in a way that best meets the needs of that program and its students, and in a manner that is consistent with the donor's intent.
- Going forward, what are the highest impact ways for me to direct future gifts?
We appreciate your generous support of the College. Gifts to The Marietta Fund remain our highest priority as they provide essential resources and flexibility. When you make a gift to The Marietta Fund you are supporting every aspect of our students’ college experience, including excellent academic and co-curricular programming that directly benefits them. Please visit www.marietta.edu/give to make a gift today.
We are grateful for the many ways that our faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, and friends contribute to making this great college even stronger for our students. Thank you for your continued support. We look forward to working with you in moving Marietta Forward!
Updated on October 24, 2023