Alumna organizes forum regarding program changes

Alumna organizes forum  regarding program changes

Gerrit Van Genderen

A panel forum to discuss program prioritization at Appalachian State University was held Monday in Belk Library.

Approximately 50 students, faculty and community members attended the forum.

The event, titled “Healing the Divide: Academic Engagement and Best Practices in the 21st Century,” was meant to address the impacts that program prioritization can have both positively and negatively regarding students, faculty and the community, said 2013 alumna Amanda Moore, who organized the event.

The panel consisted of Professor of Anthropology Gregory Reck and Professor of Government and Justice Studies Matthew Robinson, Special Assistant to the Provost Mary Reichel, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Mike Mayfield and Moore.

Reck said everyone must unite against the program prioritization issue.

“The pressure to produce prioritization is part of a national attack on public higher education,” Reck said. “We need to recognize that this is part of that attack that is coming along with reduction in budgets and pressure to turn higher education into a vocational education.”

Reck said that while people may be concerned about criminal justice, global studies or the Department of Languages, Culture and Literature, everyone needs to unite on this issue and see it for what it is, rather than protecting their own departments and concentrations.

Twenty-six programs were recommended to either be eliminated or consolidated, according to the Academic Program Review and Prioritization Final Report published Dec. 16, 2013.

These recommendations included consolidating the undergraduate programs of Appalachian studies, women’s studies and global studies into interdisciplinary studies, which Moore said creates further difficulty for those students to find specific jobs.

“As a global studies graduate, it does not make sense to me to push that major into the realm of interdisciplinary studies,” Moore said. “For what I want to go into, I would definitely like to have the actual global studies degree rather than having it in something else that will make it complicated to explain to my employers.”

Nine of the 26 programs mentioned in the Prioritization Final Report were recommended for elimination, including the criminal justice and criminology graduate program that Robinson teaches.

“I am not sure how this will impact Appalachian State University, but I can tell you that I am, as an individual, very upset that one of the programs in which I teach, is being eliminated,” he said. “We have a program that is unique in the state, being that it is the only program with a social justice focus.”

The criminal justice and criminology graduate program was recommended for elimination based on insufficient demand at Appalachian and the fact that the overall program was offered at three other UNC system institutions, according to the Prioritization Final Report.

“It has taken an amazing collective of faculty and administrative thought to come to this point,” Reichel said. “I know that individual decisions are questioned and not agreed with, but faculty have been involved in this process all along.”

Mayfield said students have spoken with their feet, referring to the number of students enrolled in certain programs.

“When the deans made their rankings, numbers really mattered,” Mayfield said. “When you have low numbers of students who decide to major in a particular program, that says a lot about the decision.”

The Program Prioritization Final Report can be found at

Story: Gerrit Van Genderen, News Reporter