Academic program review update

May 16, 2018

To the campus community:

Thank you to everyone for your continued engagement and patience as we worked through the academic program review. I am grateful to the 17-person Task Force on Academic Program Analysis, Enhancement and Opportunities that worked so diligently to begin the evaluation process for our academic programs. I also appreciate the deans, chairs, faculty and students who have all contributed to the process since the release of the report.

Today I am announcing three broad areas of changes that we will implement as a result of this effort: 1) inactivation of 12 programs; 2) the initiation of a process to establish a College of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies; and 3) approving 15 draft plans for improvement that were submitted.

Of the more than two dozen programs the task force recommended for inactivation, there are 12 programs that we plan to inactivate. This includes a host of programs and departments that are merging and the planned development of several new programs. (Specific details of the changes in our programs are provided here.) I want to emphasize that any student who is accepted to or enrolled in programs slated for inactivation will be able to complete their degree.

One critical theme that emerged through this program review effort was the need for a more robust graduate and interdisciplinary education infrastructure. Our goal is to promote greater collaboration not just across disciplines but within them. This is what makes the development of a College of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies so important.

The task force report – and subsequent discussions across campus – spurred exciting proposals for change in many programs and departments. The responses focused on strengthening our programs in ways that will benefit our students, encourage collaboration and, of course, increase our scholarship. We can better serve more students when we build strong programs and, ultimately, generate more resources.

Ideas like these are possible because of a willingness of our deans, department chairs, faculty and staff to think innovatively about the future of the University of Missouri.

Several of the proposals mentioned earlier result in programs and departments that are merging, enabling us to create interdisciplinary opportunities that better meet the needs of our students. For example, chemical engineering is merging with biological engineering. Similarly, the French and Italian programs in the Romance Languages department are developing a plan to combine with German and Russian Studies to create the new Department of International Studies.

Other programs looked beyond our campus for ways to increase the quality of our offerings. For example, faculty leaders within Art History and Archaeology have proposed to collaborate with other University of Missouri System campuses on a potential system-wide master’s program. They, like several others, are temporarily suspending admission into their doctoral program while they develop program plans.

This academic review process demonstrates our ability to be more nimble and to better meet the needs of our state and the world. We will make this level of innovation and analysis routine, not intermittent. With the help of the staff, faculty, chairs, deans and provost, we have a solid foundation that we will refine as we review our programs on a regular basis. We will work with faculty and campus leaders later this year to develop a routine mechanism that is consistent with our Collected Rules and Regulations.

The task force recommendations for growth areas and the innovative responses that we received inform us as we continue to work through our strategic planning process, identifying large-scale collaboration and investment opportunities.

An undertaking of this scale to review graduate education and research is remarkable. I am impressed by the thoughtfulness, collaboration and innovation that went into the official responses from programs as a result of the academic program review process, and that is reflected in my acceptance of many of those proposals. I am proud and excited to be the living laboratory that will redefine higher education for the future.


Alexander N. Cartwright