Emory University on Friday announced that it would close three academic departments, reorganize several programs in its College of Arts and Sciences, and suspend admissions to four related programs in the Laney Graduate School. The changes are part of a restructuring plan that will begin at the end of this academic year and conclude in 2017.
The programs facing closure are the division of educational studies, the department for visual arts, and the department of health and physical education, which is already being phased out. Emory’s degree-granting program in journalism will also close. Graduate-student admissions will be suspended in economics, educational studies, Spanish, and the Institute of Liberal Arts.
The university said no tenured faculty positions would be eliminated, and tenured faculty members in the programs to be closed would be offered “comparable positions in other academic departments.” Non-tenure-track faculty members in the affected departments will not have their contracts renewed, “so their employment either will end at the completion of their contractual term or be extended to support current students continuing in specific majors,” according to the announcement. Twenty staff positions will also be eliminated in the next five years.
Although Emory has one of the largest endowments in all of American higher education—at $5.4-billion, it was the 16th-richest in 2011—Robin Forman, dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, wrote in a letter explaining the changes that many departments’ resources had been overextended.
“We have too many departments and programs where resources are stretched to the limit, leaving us in danger of falling short of providing a world-class education for our students,” Mr. Forman wrote.
“While our financial challenges add urgency to these decisions,” he added, “these are fundamentally academic decisions about the size and scope of our mission.” He wrote that the moves were not a sign that Emory’s financial pressures were increasing, “but rather an indication that we are emerging from the yoke of those pressures.”