Missouri Western has officially announced plans to discontinue four of its ten two-year programs over the next two years.
The process of discontinuing these programs began in 2005 which just happens to be the same year that Western made the transition from college to university.
According to Cynthia Heider, associate provost and vice president, it was this very transition that brought about the discontinuation of the four programs.
“As a part of legislation authorizing Missouri Western as a university, we agreed to review our two-year degrees and determine if they were essential or duplicative,” Heider said. “We spent two years looking internally at these programs.”
The four programs that have been discontinued are the following: Associate of Science in construction engineering technology, electronics engineering technology, and electronics and computer engineering technology and an Associate of Applied Science in paramedic technology.
The six programs that will be continued are Associate of Applied Science degrees in health information technology, physical therapist assistant and manufacturing engineering technology, and Associate of Science degrees in legal assistant, business and criminal justice.
According to Heider, the discontinuation of the programs was based on a review that either identified duplication of an existing program or low enrollment within the program; fewer than five students were enrolled in the paramedic technology program and fewer than 20 students in the other three put together.
While said situation is an obvious problem for those students, Heider assures that Western has developed a solution that will prevent any problems for those students. Any student who is currently enrolled in one of the four programs will be able to complete their degree at Western.
“We wanted to protect our currently enrolled students,” Heider said. “All advisors were notified last spring and asked to double check with their students. Some decided to declare [while] other students decided to go for four-year degrees.”
Of the four associate programs being discontinued, all three engineering programs can be found at Western in four-year degree programs.
Steve Estes, dean of professional studies, notes that this will give students an opportunity to go the extra mile and get the full degree, which he feels is an opportunity a lot of students are already taking.
“Many of the students stay and complete the program,” Estes said. “They decide to plug away and get that four-year degree.”
As for those in the paramedic technology program who would otherwise feel left behind, Heider reveals that the problem has already been solved. In May this year, Western entered into a partnership with North Central Missouri College and Metropolitan Community College to deliver two-year degree programs, with the paramedic technology program now being offered at both colleges.
Beyond that, Heider notes that Western has formed a three-way articulation with their partners. The business and criminal justice associate programs, two of the six that are still being offered by Western, can also be taken at either North Central or Metropolitan. Furthermore, the health information technology and physical therapist assistant programs will be transferred to the community colleges at some point in the future.
Heider stresses that throughout the whole process, the intention was to make the change in a way that wouldn’t negatively impact the student body in any way, shape or form.
“If I thought there would be any disruption to our students, I would’ve opposed,” Heider said.
Beth Wheeler, director of external relations, agrees citing that the approach they have taken will bring about positive changes for Western and especially the students.
“We’ve made an improvement rather than a sacrifice,” Wheeler said. “The change is going to be invisible to students.”
When it all comes to a conclusion, Heider feels that the discontinuation of the four associate degrees is not a loss; with the steps they have taken to protect those students and the agreement put in place with North Central and Metropolitan, the situation will be a benefit for all involved.
“It’s an opportunity for us to continue offering our most popular associate degrees while giving us more resources to focus on four year and graduate degrees.”