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UMW dropping professional studies degree

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The University of Mary Washington’s board of visitors eliminated a degree track for nontraditional students Friday.

The board also received an updated on what they call their “strategic resource allocation,” currently underway on the Fredericksburg campus.

The bachelor of professional studies degree, which was officially closed by a unanimous vote of the board of visitors, was intended for students who want to complete a bachelor’s degree through evening classes.

The decision to close the program was first discussed by the board two years ago.

The degree program, which requires a large number of business classes, would make accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business difficult for the College of Business, which was established without heavy restructuring.

Staff decided that another UMW program, the Bachelor of Liberal Studies, which also serves nontraditional students, could serve the needs of that student population.

All professional studies students were notified of the proposed program closure by letter in April 2010. The students were notified twice more that the program would be phased out between 2010 and now.

Students still enrolled in the program will be able to complete the degree.

There are currently 95 active professional studies students. Of those students, 48 are enrolled in courses in the fall 2013 semester.

Thirty nontraditional students will earn professional studies degrees through May 2014.

Potentially, 65 students will still be eligible to complete their degree after that date, according to reports presented to the board.

According to the provost’s office, the closing of this degree program will have no impact on staff or faculty used.

The professional studies program wasn’t the only one at UMW under consideration recently.

Debra Schleef, chairwoman of the University Faculty Council and faculty representative to the board, updated the board about the strategic resource allocation, which has been controversial on campus since it began in March.

The university said the goal of the resource allocation is “to look internally for resources that will be used to make UMW more distinctive through strategic investment in existing programs and/or the creation of new ones that increase our competitiveness,” said the allocation website.

Faculty members filled out questionnaires provided by a task force in charge of the restructuring.

These questionnaires, which will help the administration decide where to invest and where to pull back funding, will be reviewed by the middle of next spring.

Schleef said the comparison of programs is not strictly numbers-based. In her presentation, she said the task force encouraged staff to look at the programs under review “holistically.”

Areas of the university other than instruction are also under review.

Provost Jonathan Levin told the board that the resource allocation process will not be easy.

“I’ll be honest,” he said. “This is about strategic resource allocation, and those will be difficult conversations. But the staff, they are looking at things constructively.”

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976