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Dive Brief:

  • The State University of New York at Potsdam said Tuesday it is now seeking to cut nine academic programs instead of the originally planned 14 as it tries to close a $9 million budget shortfall. 
  • Degrees that SUNY Potsdam administrators initially picked to eliminate — bachelor’s in biochemistry, chemistry, and public health, and a master’s in public health — will continue. Top officials decided financial goals established for those programs are attainable and that they have adequate demand, Alan Hersker, interim provost, wrote in a message to the campus Tuesday.
  • The university will also preserve a bachelor’s in art management, though the program will go inactive, meaning it will not enroll new students for three years. SUNY Potsdam may revise or drop the art management degree later. 

Dive Insight:

SUNY Potsdam’s enrollment has tumbled in the last decade or so, from 4,400 students in fall 2012 to about 2,500 today, according to institution data. The university is part of SUNY, one of the nation’s most prominent public higher ed systems, which has seen its overall headcount fall. 

To correct financial problems stemming from the enrollment decline, SUNY Potsdam has started phasing out programs. Earlier this year, it ended four programs with low enrollment, including ones in computer science education and geographic information science.

Last month, it unveiled deeper cuts, identifying the 14 programs that it would likely drop. But after faculty consultations, administrators decided to only shed nine degrees over the next three to four years, Hersker wrote in his message. They are:

  • Art history. 
  • Chemistry. 
  • Dance. 
  • French.
  • Philosophy.
  • Physics.
  • Spanish. 
  • Theatre. 
  • Music performance. 

All of the degrees up for elimination are bachelor’s degrees except for music performance, which is a masters-level program.

SUNY Potsdam has said it will need to lay off faculty in conjunction with the academic consolidation, but has not disclosed how many.

“It is also important to note that just because a program is discontinued does not mean that all positions associated with that area would be eliminated,” Hersker said in his message. “The process can take several years, and even after it is complete, we will need to maintain some positions in impacted areas to support our General Education Program and other coursework needs.”

The university will need SUNY system and New York State Education Department approval to move forward with the cuts. 

Other public colleges in recent months have also sought to trim their academic offerings to bridge budget gaps. They include Dickinson State University, in North Dakota, and West Virginia University.