• September 4, 2015

U. of Iowa Lists 14 Graduate Programs at Risk for Cuts or Elimination

Worried faculty members at the University of Iowa now have a report from a provost-appointed task force that names 14 graduate programs — half in the humanities — that could be restructured or eliminated as the university seeks to save money.

In a process that began last spring and triggered some angst among faculty members, the task force categorized the institution's 111 graduate programs into five groups. The 14 programs are in a category called "additional evaluation required" and have "significant problems," with no "viable plans for improvement," the report says.

The programs the group said needed to be evaluated further are: American studies, M.A. and Ph.D.; Asian civilizations, M.A.; comparative literature, M.A. and Ph.D.; comparative literature (translation), M.A. and Ph.D.; film studies, M.A. and Ph.D.; German, M.A. and Ph.D.; linguistics, M.A. and Ph.D.; educational policy and leadership studies (educational administration), M.A., Ed.S., and Ph.D.; educational policy and leadership studies (social foundations of education), M.A. and Ph.D.; health and sport studies, M.A. and Ph.D.; teach and learn (elementary education), M.A. and Ph.D.; stomatology, M.S.; integrative physiology, Ph.D.; and exercise science, M.S.

The task force is one of six panels that have been working to help the institution chart its course through 2015. Deans, faculty members, and students will review the report, and then the provost and other administrators will decide what recommendations to make to the Board of Regents in September.


1. drhypersonic - February 17, 2010 at 03:38 pm

I hold no competency in elementary education, educational policy, health and sport studies,stomatology (???), physiology and exercise science, so cannot judge the task force's conclusions about them. But American Studies, Asian Civilizations and German??? Given the increased interest in who we are as a nation (expressed from across the political spectrum), Asia emerging even more strongly as an area of critical significance, and a unified Germany having emerged as the most prominent and influential of European countries, the prospect that these three graduate programs would be cut is alarming. Surely the University of Iowa can find some bloat to cut elsewhere--say in its administrative staff, executive compensation, and perks--rather than the muscle of these particular programs.

2. speterfreund - February 17, 2010 at 03:59 pm

Unless Iowa wants to go to the length of declaring financial exigency, the elimination of these programs will result in very few reductions in faculty lines--the only ones that are currently fair game are the lines for probationary tenure-track and and contingent faculty, if there are any of the latter. Where savings could be realized is in consolidating a number of programs and reducing support staff, and in eliminating programs the performance of which is truly abysmal, with the understanding that the tenured faculty teaching in those programs will most likely need to be reassigned.

3. bertnb - February 17, 2010 at 04:30 pm

I wonder how many more programs will find themselves on the chopping block as administrators do anything to call attention away from "bloat" that drhypersonic refers to. This seems to be a sad and scary time to be in academia.

4. erweintraub - February 17, 2010 at 04:32 pm

Is there not a disconnect revealed in the comments between this story and the recent CHE essays on the failure of humanities departments to self-limit their programs in order to avoid turning out graduates with no expectations for employment? If the faculties of these programs will not take responsibility for their actions in exploiting graduate students for several years and then having them pass over hurdles which end in no employment, then a third party needs to step in to impose a new regime that self-interest seemingly will not produce: "Let them (the admin?) kill the other program, not mine." It will thus take a courageous Provost to say "Enough of this madness."

5. v8573254 - February 17, 2010 at 05:12 pm

If the flagship unnivresity in a State throws off its humanities programs, especially two which have brought it attention, i.e. film making and translation, things are in a sad state. Iowa has other universities to offer the education courses.

6. unusedusername - February 17, 2010 at 06:03 pm

Looking a the list, I think University of Iowa did a pretty good job. Any major ending in the word "studies" is a complete waste of time. Stomatology has been replaced by dentistry. Hardly anyone learns German anymore. You're better off with Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. I'll shed some tears for linguistics and some of the kinesiology majors, but I'd rather the cuts come from this list than History, Chemistry, or the Fine Arts.

7. tonycontento - February 17, 2010 at 06:06 pm

I live and work in Iowa. The State has been cutting budgets for over 18 months now. In some ways, it is a good thing. Many citizens in the state are pointing to our 40-60% brain drain, as students graduate and leave Iowa, and they're asking "why are our state tax dollars being spent on graduates for Illinois, Indiana or Minnesota?" So, the state schools are being forced to ask themselves: "What are we doing well?" At UofI, that's medicine, biological research, law, and the arts. At ISU, it's argiculture and agricultural research, engineering, and design. Right now, schools can't afford to maintain dozens of specialized programs.

However, the professors will be kept, in most cases. I don't feel that these reallocations of resource are based on anything other than numbers (how many graduates/publications/student contact hours per year). They're not getting rid of departments, they're getting of programs. The professors might even continue teaching the same courses, but the students will have less options. It's a menu change, not a policy-shift against the humanities.

Tony Contento

PS: Stomatology is the study of the mouth, in association with dentistry. I had to look that up, but I thought I'd share.

8. victorl - February 17, 2010 at 06:12 pm

Without seeing the report, it's hard to know precisely why these 14 graduate programs were deemed to have "significant problems." I will say regarding erweintraub's remark (#4), that it does not strike me as irresponsible (yes, I know I'm in a minority) for a university to offer graduate programs that have limited employment opportunities. To the extent that this is made plain to students who enroll in these fields, there should be a different matrix for evaluating the importance of scholarly disciplines than, strictly, vocational preparedness. Is the only value to studying linguistics at the graduate level the likelihood of getting a job teaching linguistics to others? Maybe. My point is that there could be importance to these disciplines (one would hope) beyond their prospects in academia. To use this one example, what value is there to identifying, documenting, and understanding a language that is dying out? Probably not a money gusher for scholars, but we can understand the importance this will have to others without insisting on the yardstick of "the job market," or "the business model."

Recognizing the importance of a scholarly discipline's contributions may not be financially remunerative to a university. But why shouldn't a university adopt a different model (not a "business," but, let me suggest, a "non-profit" one) that would permit them to justify supporting less profitable (to the university) fields of scholarship by those moreso. Maybe Iowa could allow the rising tide in some of its cash cows to lift a few of the smaller boats, as well.

9. sdryer - February 17, 2010 at 07:04 pm

No place can be good at everything. I wonder how many students actually received degrees in stomatology at Iowa recently? Or German literature? On the other hand, I wonder how much eliminating these programs will really save? For example, eliminating the presumably interdisciplinary integrative physiology degree program doesn't mean you eliminate the department of Physiology and Biophysics.

10. bardprof - February 17, 2010 at 07:19 pm

Thank you drhypersonic. Neither would I judge these programs, particularly since the bare list doesn't show possible areas of overlap with saved programs. One thing that gets overlooked in concerns about the budget is the rise in administrators (and their pay) along with the other services and expenses that become necessary when students approach colleges as consumers.

unusedusername-- wouldn't Mandarin Chinese come under "Asian Studies" or "language studies"?

11. trterry - February 17, 2010 at 08:46 pm

With few job prospects there are many students paying or borrowing big money for 3 years to get law degrees.

If someone wants to pay to get a PhD in a field with poor job prospects they ought to be able to do it. However, "that is not the way things are done" in most fields. Maybe its time to change.

12. cwinton - February 17, 2010 at 08:49 pm

Cutting or consolidating programs should serve to reduce administrative overhead. If that isn't part of Iowa's reasoning, it should be. Any program contributing to a Ph.D. glut should expect to be put under a microscope. While Ph.D. candidates don't want to hear this, perhaps it's time to raise the bar. There are far too many Ph.D. programs, many offered by institutions of little note, and far too many programs provide too short a path to the degree.

13. mark900 - February 17, 2010 at 09:14 pm

No stomatology? There goes my dream of a dissertation on bicuspids.
Asian civilizations? Are there any Asians in Iowa?
Those exercise/health programs sound like something they had for the football players.
Film? Now the world will be deprived a scholarly inquiry into the Dukes of Hazzard.
A shame about German, comparative lit and lingusitics, all good fields, but which are probably starving for students.
I bet the University's enrollment drops by as many as 12 or 14 students as a result of these cuts.

14. dmaratto - February 17, 2010 at 09:28 pm

I further bet that zero administrators and tenured professors will be out of their jobs as this happens.

15. 22238751 - February 17, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Dropping stomatology? Apparently, they don't want to put their money where their mouth is.

16. 11274135 - February 17, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Looks to me as if Iowa, like most resesarch universities, is suffering from degree creep--that is, the tendency for an emphasis area to morph into a discrete degree program, producing graduates too highly specialized to thrive in this world. When the purge comes, these programs get whacked because they have spread their enrollments too thinly across too many programs.

17. markabonta1 - February 17, 2010 at 10:35 pm

<Comment removed by moderator>

18. watermarkup - February 17, 2010 at 11:23 pm

From the most recent disciplinary report, the Iowa German program has five tenured or tenure-track faculty and one lecturer. Twelve majors and six minors graduated last year, with 28 more enrolled at the time the data was collected. Two MAs were awarded, and four MA students and 4 Ph.D. students are enrolled.

At first glance, that looks like a reasonably healthy program. A lot depends on what enrollments in the basic language program look like. Perhaps there isn't a crying need for a Ph.D. program there, but it's the only M.A. program in the state now, I believe. High school German teachers in Iowa (serving, among other things, a sizable German-descent population) really do need the M.A. program for their training.

19. acostaa - February 18, 2010 at 12:52 am

# 6 (unusedusername) and #13 (mark900): I imagine that it is easy to pile-on the negativity towards those programs at risk here. I'm also pretty sure that you think you can arbitrate between what counts as knowledge and thought and what doesn't. However, the very question #13 poses ("Are there any Asians in Iowa?") leaves no doubt of the self-imposed ignorance and cultural insensitivity among our ranks, and represents therefore the best example of the critical importance of these programs and why they should NOT be cut.

20. tomwistar - February 18, 2010 at 12:53 am

You're right, Mark900 -- there are no Asians in the state of Iowa, and film studies is devoted to explicating the Dukes of Hazzard and other Jessica Simpson movies. Smart comments, buddy.

FYI, the Iowa film studies and American studies PhD programs are both "top ten" in the US in their respective fields, and they've been around for a half century. Doesn't sound like "degree creep" or a "low bar" to me. In fact, it's a bit stunning that the university would seriously consider eliminating such highly respected programs (nationally and internationally). Kinda scary red flag for the humanities in general, as other universities and colleges face their own budget cuts.

But as my dentist (stomatologist?) remarked when I told her I was pursuing a graduate degree in English: "Who really cares what color of socks Shakespeare wore?" Caricaturing the humanities as useless seems to be the prevailing attitude these days.

21. eleraama - February 18, 2010 at 04:13 am

Well played, Mister unusedusername, you have managed to perfectly capture the ignorance of the uneducated man with your comment, a feat for which I applaud you, despite the fact that you obviously are aware that Mandarin is the most widely-spoken language in the world with over a billion native speakers, and that German is the tenth most widely spoken language, used more than any other language in the European Union. So too have you expertly managed to convey your (obviously affected) complete disdain for and dismissal of a nation that has existed continuously for over ten thousand years and is set to be the world's economic superpower in less than a decade.

当然您可以读中文, 您很聪明的人。

22. jffoster - February 18, 2010 at 07:51 am

If unusedusername is "aware" (as per elerama No 21) that Mandarin is "the most widely spoken" language in the world, he is aware of something that isnt true. English is more "widely" spoken than Mandarin, although Mandarin has the largest number of speakers and native speakers. Indeed, Spanish is more widely spoken than Mandarin.
Elerama claims that German is the tenth most widely spoken -- that might be true though I doubt it but I would have to check the latest available statistics. But he also claims it is "used more than any other language in the European Union". Again that might possibly be the case, but are you sure? More than English?

And to claim that there has been a Germany or German-speaking peoples or Mandarin Chines have been "a nation that has existed continuously for over ten thousand years" is extremely misinformed or else uses "nation" in a weird and solecistic way.

And I agree with unusedusername that you could get rid of most programs or departments whose name ends in "____Studies" and improve the academic program.

23. jffoster - February 18, 2010 at 08:57 am

Re my last paragraph in 22, ...or if not get rid of them, require a disciplinary major and allow the ...Studies only as a minor or ancillary or second major.

24. racerboy - February 18, 2010 at 09:58 am

Just for the record, Iowa took in more S.E. Asian refugees per capita than any other state in the 1970s and has several thriving Asian communities in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids in particular.

The three Regent's Universities have already slashed the state's Extension program, reducing or eliminating access to agricultural consulting, among other things.

But, no new taxes!

25. charlesr - February 18, 2010 at 10:17 am

The world will not end.

26. rachel312 - February 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

I am an Iowa graduate who majored in Comparative Literature (B.A. 1991). I'm now an associate professor of linguistics at a large private university on the East Coast.

1) Some of these programs slated for "evaluation" have deep impact in research, teaching, and publishing outside of academe. I know PhD's in American Studies and in Comparative Literature from Iowa who are running cross-cultural research firms, one is U.S. diplomat, one is high school principal at an American school in Italy, several are editors and writers in major publishing houses. Other graduates of course are successful college professors.

2) There are not enough graduates in linguistics to teach in programs that teach teachers how to teach language arts. That need runs the gamut from elementary school literacy to English-As-A-Second Language. It includes demand for faculty at all levels of education. And I'm not even going to talk about cognitive science, machine translation, and so forth. M.A.'s (and in many cases PhD.'s) in linguistics are extremely valuable degreees in many contexts.

3) These programs cost little, and they impact upon other programs -- notably, Rhetoric, English, Creative Writing, various Communications and Journalism degrees, and moveover, the grad students in Comp. Lit. and Linguistics often teach service courses of great value to the University (Spanish, French, Chinese, for example). All of these programs are internationally recognized as TOP NOTCH. They all train and place students in good jobs where they want to be.

4) Film Studies is really important. It's a major part of life around the globe and a major mode of American influence. Film studies scholars get jobs inside and outside the academy very easily. Undergraduates love to take film studies classes too where they learn about how film affects economic, social and class relations -- a richer Film Studies program w/grad students will affect undergraduate quality too.

U of Iowa has a mission, or well, at least a deep obligation, to provide humanities training to students within its aegis. No other public university in the state has that history and that obligation. Another way to put this is that states have obligations to the arts and culture of their residents, and especially to give their students opportunities for a rich education. I got that education as an UNDERGRADUATE in large part because of the richness of the Comp. Lit. department as whole, and from the multiple courses I could take in many of those programs both from profs and from grad. students.

27. bkoch - February 18, 2010 at 10:31 am

#21 last sentence reads "You certainly can read Chinese, you very clever person."--Just for the records...

28. victorl - February 18, 2010 at 10:36 am

Regarding No. 7's (tonycontento)comment: "Many citizens in the state are pointing to our 40-60% brain drain, as students graduate and leave Iowa, and they're asking 'why are our state tax dollars being spent on graduates for Illinois, Indiana or Minnesota?'"

The fact that Iowa is attracting scholars from all over its region (nation? world?) to the programs of studies it offers seems like quite an asset, and not something to bemoan. Do those students coming to Iowa not eat, sleep, live (& pay tuition) in the state? Universities are economic forces in their states which contribute to the prosperity of all residents. Tangible, financial benefits derived from university strengths should not be the only measure of their success--not even the primary one, in my opinion. But I hardly imagine that the University of Iowa (or even its film studies program) is a blood-sucking parasite draining the life force from its state's economy. Just as well to close all the hotels in the state because so few of their "guests" remain in those towns as permanent residents.

And even if the university was a money pit, it still should keep the linguistics program.

29. rjtsai - February 18, 2010 at 10:39 am

Have top executives ever thought about cutting their office size or reducing their pay? In Korean government, people on the top cut their own pay first.

30. tee_bee - February 18, 2010 at 10:51 am

Wow, look at all the oxen being gored! And at least some of the comments suggest that administrative bloat is the problem. Prove it. In fact, this thread reads like the usual wailing at any single university when cuts are contemplated. Usually, the volume of the wailing is inversely proportionate to the possession of actual data on enrollments, employment prospects, etc.

Sure, Iowa has "excess" administrative costs, just like everywhere else. But is there so much "bloat" that cutting that out would yield savings? Focus the institution on more promising trends? These are all questions to be raised, not "facts" that can be claimed without proof.

For what it's worth, my spouse has a film degree from Iowa, so it stings to see what they are planning to do to the film program. But everyone's got their sacred cow.

31. rachel312 - February 18, 2010 at 10:57 am

On the Comp. Lit. and Film department graduates page, there are...

15 graduate students listed in Comp. Lit.
14 in Translation
13 in Film and Video Production
34 in Film Studies

These are not "underenrolled" programs. Many of the names appear to be international students.

32. ksusasw - February 18, 2010 at 12:51 pm

What is sad is that cutting programs has become necessary because our public universities are being financially squeezed to the brink of being ruined. In fact, the term "public" university is really a misnomer today as I'm sure that like all other states, the state of Iowa now only pays for a small part of the university budget. Twenty nine years of the conservative movement, with its emphasis on cutting and limiting taxes and discrediting and defunding public institutions, have led us to this point. Today, the funds required to keep the former public universities viable come primarily from the students who attend them at the moment (tuition increases which necessitate students' incurring debt from loans and working while trying to attend school), and from begging the wealthy to provide donations via sports marketing, in addition to other sources (e.g. grants & contracts, returns from intellectual property). Many of the comments above reflect the shortsightedness and stupidity of conservative arguments, where economics always provides the paramount criteria by which things are judged -- Universities should be run like businesses and be made to run as efficiently as possible. If knowledge does not have economic value then resources should not be invested in producing it or inculcating it in others. Why should universities be debased to this level? Universities play a much broader and important role in society than simply their role in the economy. They help make us a civilized society. Knowledge of any kind about the world we live in, whether or not it has economic value, or whether it is in great demand at the moment, should be valued for it's own sake. Public universities represented something that was truly great about America because they allowed citizens from all socioeconomic classes the opportunity to become highly educated on an affordable basis. This is in process of being destroyed. If the objective of the conservative movement is to create a nation of uneducated, ignorant peasants that are compliant and willing to work for low wages, then continuing to support the financial dismantling of our public universities will certainly help. However, this does not say much for the future of our country given that talent and intelligence are not limited to the wealthy.

33. intered - February 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I make no claim to understanding the value proposition associated with the programs that may be cut at UI. To me, most seem like good programs for which there is potential need.

What I do suggest is that we examine the program review process and consider:

1. That each university has finite resources such that they cannot necessarily offer all programs for which there is a market (i.e., students desiring this degree independent of being persuaded by an instructor). If all programs were profitable (positive unit level margin plus reasonable administrative overhead allocation) a university might be able to offer all programs for which there was a market but some programs we deem important to our society are not profitable and we need profitable programs to underwrite such programs.

2. That some programs offered have no market beyond the desires of someone on faculty, and that this is especially true in publicly funded universities.

3. That the process of annual program review, with termination being one of many possible outcomes, is a good thing, if it is a rational process guided by the full range of relevant metrics.

4. That few universities, no publics that I know of, possess the full range of metrics necessary to make rational program retention decisions. http://www.intered.com/higheredbriefing/2010/1/26/an-alternative-to-begging-how-our-state-universities-can-do.html

5. That in a metrics rich program review, we will learn that some programs need to be added, others need to be modified, and only a few need to be dropped. As stakeholders in the institution and the public processes that support it, we should welcome these processes and should not behave like selfish children if our pet program is cut.

6. That the rancor associated with this issue rests largely on the fact that UI lacks the full range of performance metrics and an established process for program review.

No one wants to see their favorite program disappear but most of us can accept the loss gracefully if we understand the issues because we can see the metrics for ourselves and we agree with their conceptual foundation.

Robert W Tucker
InterEd, Inc.

34. ksusasw - February 18, 2010 at 01:12 pm

Mr.Tucker, Thank you for illustrating my point. #32

35. joegold - February 18, 2010 at 02:14 pm

Almost all of those degrees can be folded inside of another existing degree at the university. This would likely work more like a restructuring or reorganization than it would elimination of programs at a smaller less-affluent university/college.

36. intered - February 18, 2010 at 02:17 pm

To anyone who ascribes not-to-be-scrutinized, not-to-be-monetized, always-to-be-instantiated in the rear view mirror good to any and all programs a public institution may have ended up offering, irrespective of the basis for the original decision to offer, I ask if such individuals would submit to the care of a surgeon whose training advanced under the same "standards."

I never cease to be amazed by our willingness to abandon rationality when we approach this particular kind of resource allocation problem. We don't get all worked up about installing a grey water recovery system to better allocate water resources.

Personally, I'm a sucker for boutique programs in certain areas of philosophy but I never delude myself into believing the civility or the very survival of Western culture rests on my favorites. Neither do I believe that the construct of a liberal education stopped evolving when I got mine. A good (civilized) citizen in 2010 must have far more training in mathematics and science than did the good citizen of 1910, when the curricular notions seem to have stopped evolving and gained cult status that still persists to some degree.

I don't see UI proposing to eliminate the new liberal foundation courses. Good for them. In fact, I don't see any compelling pattern of bias on the part of UI. To assess that claim, we would need the metrics I referred to above. If you don't like metrics in your life, put down your cell phone, an understanding of quantum mechanics was required to make it. If you don't want to participate in the economy, stop cashing your paychecks. No one will mind. For the rest of us, like it or not, the economic point of view is one of a half dozen key perspectives necessary to performing a rational evaluation of a complex social issue.

37. acostaa - February 18, 2010 at 04:01 pm

I too am constantly amazed by those trained with calculators who all think that they would 1) be good administrators and 2) tout economic rationality as both commonsensical and a virtue. The whole "like or not, but its reality" attitude which governs this kind of logic is ultimately the abandonment of all thought. Letting the numbers do the talking is letting the numbers do all the thinking. Calculations do not lead any more to truth than they do to more numbers. So please stop with your pronouncements over what you would or would not cut. I've done my "metrics", and it tells me exactly what programs you would cut before it even occurs to you.

38. pmcgraw - February 18, 2010 at 05:26 pm

I'm in administration. I'm a grant writer actually. I've looked all over my office and can't find those perks people keep talking about.

39. eleraama - February 18, 2010 at 06:04 pm

Jffoster, in the interest of promoting facts-based discourse, the sources I used were the Encarta estimates and the Weber estimates, as the Ethnologue estimates are widely considered to be inaccurate. According to Weber, Mandarin Chinese has an estimated number of native speakers somewhere in the area of 1.1 billion with 20 million second-language speakers, while English has native speakers of approximately 330 million with an additional 150 million ESL speakers. Spanish is 300 million / 20 million.

I will amend my statement about China's history, as the Erlitou discoveries have placed verifiably continuous history as beginning somewhere near 2000 to 1500 BC, a mere four thousand years. I say "continuous" because they use a common written language and shared cultural tenets such as ancestral worship and the dynastic cycle.

Regardless, it is painfully obvious that Chinese and Japanese language and culture are vastly important to our nation's future.

(Weber's article: http://www.andaman.org/BOOK/reprints/weber/rep-weber.htm)

40. timebandit - February 18, 2010 at 06:42 pm

Not to bash the humanities--which I love, or Iowa's high reputation in some of these departments listed--I would like to ask whether every state university needs to have X major or X master's/PhD program? Is it totally unreasonable to think that potential students couldn't go to a good program for X in another city or state?

I don't think we should wantonly cut the humanities, but I'm not convinced that all major universities need to pursue all possible subjects...

41. jffoster - February 18, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Elerama, in your original claim about Mandarin Chinese, you said "most WIDELY spoken" [caps for italics mine: jff] So the reference you looked up and cited is beside the point. I stipulated in my No 22 that Mandarin had the most speakers and the most native speakers. But it is not the most "widely spoken" language in the world -- English is. Japanese is even less "widely spoken" -- it's among the top dozen or so for number of speakers but the vast majority of them are in the islands of the Japanese archipelago and the Nansei Shoto (Ryukyus.). "Widely spoken" generallly refers to geographic distribution and number of speakers together.

Yes, Chinese and Japanese are both "important to our nation's future". That does not mean that every state university should offer extensive study in them. It does not even mean that every state should have a/some university which does. And I believe Iowa has a reciprocal tuition agreement with Minnesota so that Iowa students can go up to Minneapolis and study Chinese with the Gophers.

42. duece - February 19, 2010 at 01:26 am

@USC158, some of the more interesting quantitative scholarship on human development is being done by colleagues in education (see e.g., University of Iowa's College of Education's Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations). There are a good number of methodological techniques developed by education researchers that are now widely used in a range of fields. Your experiences are bounded and do not reflect the very best thinking in the field. I thought it was interesting that you equated the doctoral education of educational leaders with the current state of K-12 education. It is not feasible to make sense of your statement in light of the tenure of school boards and district leadership as well as the multitude of outcome measures in play. However, fortunately a few well trained education researchers have defined a problem space and developed appropriate measures to begin to bring clarity to the matter of leadership and important outcome measures.

43. the_hanged_man - February 19, 2010 at 01:55 am

For anyone who is interested here is the link that contains the entire report. The appendices are especially interesting as they contain both the individual program narratives and the task force's opinion of them.

44. mavky - February 19, 2010 at 07:55 am

Having been through this at my university, I can say that the choices are not made on educational or economic or humane measures. What happens is that cuts are coming down, so units subvert each other to maintain or gain resources. Task forces are highly political entities in which the representative of one unit may covet the resources of a smaller, more vulnerable unit (not represented at the table). The upper administration operates in a public relations mode, offering up buzz words like "excellence," insulting many hard working people on campus. Concocted by people with slim to no academic credentials themselves, "excellence" is prevalent across the country, repeated like an empty advertising mantra. An agenda is carried out that pleases developers and other corporate entities--the large buildings continue to go up and satellite projects are emphasized. These may very well fail because they are speculative projects. The humanities actually produce a great surplus of instructional revenues (even 200% over instructional costs) that help fund other projects, and one of the things happening here is to make humanities teachers teach even more students by eliminating their graduate programs. Class sizes balloon, and no writing can be taught in a class of 200 students even thought it makes money for the university. There is nothing lofty going on here. Appalling and depressing, to say the least.

45. shallot - February 19, 2010 at 09:45 am

Is 15 really a healthy enrollment for an MA and PhD program? Since a PhD takes a minimum of 5 years in that field, probably longer, isn't that only a few students a year? Maybe it's just that I come from history, a bigger field, and got my PhD in a program with about 30 entering students a year, which meant that nearly 200 students were in the MA/PhD program at any time....

46. intered - February 19, 2010 at 09:52 am

usc158 may wish to review the life work of Michael Scriven with respect to his pronouncements. Measurement scientists, statisticians, and methodologists such as I have education programs to thank for some of our better conceptual and methodological tools.

I take the specific problems observed by usc158 at face value, I see similar problems myself in other disciplines, and ask why his assent, tacit or explicit, is affixed to work he judges to be a joke.

Robert W Tucker
InterEd, Inc.

47. elgato1204 - February 19, 2010 at 11:26 am

Here's the actual report:

Note (page 4) that the committee had 21 members, of whom 18 were faculty (including one dean -- of the College of Education!!) So it's not an edict from the administration.

From the Executive Summary (page 3), it appears the process was quite open and rational. And the report doesn't actually recommend closing any programs.

48. unusedusername - February 19, 2010 at 11:33 am

eleraama, you need to brush up on your reading comprehension skills. Read my first post again, and see if you can figure out the mistake you made. Try it. I believe in you.

49. zefelius - February 19, 2010 at 12:26 pm

#15: Funny, very funny! Classic dorky academic humor at its best! :)

50. amccormick - February 19, 2010 at 01:11 pm

"Any time you are wondering about why the K-12 system is in its current condition, go sit through a dissertation defense in one of the education programs. These explain a large amount of the variance in overall school performance (along with parental involvment)." --usc158

Now that's a remarkable assertion from someone who professes concern for methodological rigor! All of usc158's claims about the defenses s/he has participated in may be true, but her/his generalizations from that experience (to all scholars and scholarship in that field, and to the "variance in overall school performance") are truly astonishing. It sure would be nice if we had such a reliable predictor of school performance.

51. mwilsonk - February 19, 2010 at 04:19 pm

Part of the faculty's problem with the task force's report at Iowa has to do with a faulty process. After the initial rankings, departments were allowed to supply additional information that might cause the task force to reconsider their original assessments. After numerous departments (including departments that were not among the targeted fourteen) worked to refute some of the negative rankings, the committee refused to consider any additional information. Much of the commentary here assumes that the original report is fundamentally correct in its evaluations of Iowa's programs. However, many Iowa faculty members find the assessments faulty on a number of levels. It isn't just "whining" that pet programs are on the chopping block.

52. lindelltyann - February 19, 2010 at 05:17 pm

usc158 - In what state was your "data" collected on the rigor of education dissertations? May we please see your peer-reviewed paper on this?

I am from Iowa, returned here 20+ years ago, and am still here. What brought me back was the quality of education and the quality of life. I am not decrying the proposed cuts in the education master's and doctorates at the U of I because we have two other state universities with strong education programs: the University of Northern Iowa, a highly-regarded leader in PK-12 education and educational leadership, and Iowa State, highly regarded in student affairs and student development.

We are in a new era folks. We as academics need to demonstrate educated, rational thinking as we approach decisions. It never fails to amaze me when educated Ph.D.'s throw all reasoning out. The faulty reasoning on many of these posts would never be accepted in most first-year courses!

We are in a shift from state-supported universities to state-located universities. The trimming has been done. Now it is time to amputate and that is painful and political.

BTW, I'll tell my Asian Iowa friends they don't live here and even if they did we should not be teaching about their cultures.

53. lindelltyann - February 19, 2010 at 05:32 pm

12. cwinto

The average time to a humanities Ph.D. is now 9 years - see Louis Menand's The Marketplace of Ideas. Mendand takes complex issues and examines them with DATA.

54. drmink - February 20, 2010 at 03:30 pm

I would think there is a demand for school administrators with advance degrees. However, I wonder what the demand is for bartenders and cabdrivers with doctorates in linquistics and American studies.

Add Your Comment

Commenting is closed.

  • 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
  • Washington, D.C. 20037
subscribe today

Get the insight you need for success in academe.