Twelve majors at Emporia State University are at risk of being cut as the Kansas Board of Regents explores cost-savings measures amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
There are approximately 61 majors across Kansas public universities that KBOR is looking to cut in order to save money.
ESU Provost David Cordle is working on a case to highlight the importance of the programs.
"The Board of Regents is conducting what they are calling 'strategic program alignment reviews,'" Cordle said. "These are reviews of all the undergraduate academic programs at the six universities that have low enrollment."
KBOR defines low enrollment to be having on average fewer than 25 juniors and seniors enrolled as majors in the specific program. The purpose of KBOR's perspective is to determine if the programs are productive enough to be viable or if they should be considered for discontinuation as a way of efficiency and cost saving.
"Now, for ESU, we have  programs on the list," he said. "We are in the process of taking a look at those programs using the criteria that the Board of Regents established and we will be presenting our findings and recommendations to the board in February."
Listed below are the majors at ESU under consideration:
* Business and Innovation/Entrepreneurship Teaching Education
* Health Teacher Education
* Foreign Languages and Literatures, General
* Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
* Physical Sciences, General
* Chemistry, General
* Geology/Earth Science, General
* Physics, General
* Econometrics and Quantitative Economics
* Political Science and Government, General
* Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts, General
* History, General
"The important thing for us to do when we present our findings is to point out that the number of students enrolled in a program does not tell the whole story," Cordle said. "Small programs are not necessarily inefficient programs. We believe and I believe we can demonstrate that some small programs actually offer very good value at a very low cost."
KBOR asked universities to review the number of students enrolled in the programs at stake, but Cordle provided examples of factors other than enrollment that should also be considered.
"Some small programs teach mostly general education courses for students who are not majors in the program," he said. "When you look at the number of courses they actually teach their own majors, sometimes that number is very very small. ... That can be a very productive program.
"Some of the programs on the list are what we might call 'multidisciplinary.' Now, what I mean by that is this would be a program where if you look at the required courses in the program they are offered by other programs. In other words, they are already being taught. In that situation, the program may have little or no instructional costs on its own. ... In some cases, they are not actually free standing majors at all. In some cases, it is simply a framework for a student to earn a teaching licensure in a second field. In that situation, it costs basically nothing to offer that opportunity."
Cordle explained that his examples illustrate the need to look beyond a number to understand if a program is truly adding value to the university and students or not.
Four out of the six universities have already done their presentations to KBOR, with ESU and Pittsburg State being the last to present.
"It has been very useful and very informative to observe the four presentations that have already taken place," he said. "First of all, it has been helpful to me to observe how the other universities approached it. Also, even moreso, it has been very instructive to listen to the questions the regents asked and to sort of gauge their reaction to the information they are hearing.
"What I can tell you is that the regents have been very open to hearing the additional information. I think they are very much aware that there is more to this consideration than just looking at a single number and trying to draw a conclusion from that."
While Cordle works on a case to present at the KBOR meeting on Feb. 17, he believes that the majority of the programs listed are viable programs and that ESU can make a good case that the programs should be retained.