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 [12] 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. 

(4) comments


I agree with you that administrators should receive the same consequences as the employees. The University of Oregon's 12-month Progressive Pay Reduction Schedule looks promising, and "All salaries will be returned to their previous levels at the end of the twelve-month period. The plan may only be triggered once."


Interesting ESUMORE. It seems to be the typical American plan. Protect the bottom, protect the top and try to cure the world’s problems off the backs of the middle. I think it should be a straight 1% for every $10,000 over $50,000. A $200,000 job would take a 16% cut and $300,000 would take a 26% cut.

This is how the KU plan would be implemented at ESU. The inner sanctum would all be given a bit of a pay raise to get them to that $200,000 level. With their raises and that lower cut percentage, they probably won’t even feel any effects of the pay cuts.

You know enrollment problems at ESU aren’t just a result of COVID. ESU Administration has been making bad decisions for years. Walk the buildings. In the 1970’s, the buildings contained classrooms. Today where there once was a classroom, there’s a lounge or study area, not in one location, but in all the buildings. We used to study in the library, now they have sleep pods?

Those that MAKE the decisions should receive the same consequences as the employees. If administration truly knew the definition of leadership, they’d voluntarily accept more of the consequences.


The 2020 KU Model could be a good option... "Employees who make between $50,000 and $59,999 will see a 1% salary adjustment. For each salary increase of $10,000, the reduction for the individual’s pay goes up by 1%. Employees who make more than $200,000 will have an 11% reduction to their salary." This was a much better budget reduction tool than firing staff and faculty (particularly tenured faculty who worked so hard to earn a graduate degree, earn tenure, and having impacted so many students and peers).


With just a quick look at KanView for 2019 in these ESU job positions; President, Provost, Assistant Provost, Vice President, Associate Vice President, and Dean there are 19 people employed for a combined total salary of roughly $2.6 million. There are another 31 listed as directors. If I was a member of the Board of Regents, I know where I’d start making cuts.

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