LVC is making changes to its academic offerings, as recommended by a faculty task force and approved by the LVC faculty (November 2018) and Board of Trustees (February 2019).
Please see this message from President Thayne about the initiative.
Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions, including details related to the initiative.
What is happening?
In March 2018, the Executive Committee of the board approved a resolution directing the LVC administration to work jointly with the faculty to reduce academic program and organizational costs by $1.6 million. This resolution charged the faculty with developing the recommendations. Vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty Michael Green led a task force of two faculty members from each division of the College. The group analyzed data, reviewed faculty input, met with faculty from every academic department, and compiled a report of preliminary recommendations for faculty review. Program elimination recommendations were based on any program with fewer than 10 majors in the last five years.
This preliminary report was shared with the faculty Aug. 23, 2018. Following an input phase of review, the faculty voted on the proposed changes on Nov. 29, 2018, endorsing the proposed elimination of French, German, Philosophy, and Religion as majors, but preserving 100- , 200-, and, in some cases, 300-level course offerings in these disciplines.
The proposal was approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees on Dec. 5, 2018, and the full Board of Trustees on Feb. 8, 2019.
Why focus on the instructional budget?
At more than $16 million, academic instructional costs, including the costs of fringe benefits, are the largest budget category within the College, representing 29% of the $55 million operating budget. This budget has grown by 26% in the last five years while the average total student full-time equivalents from Fiscal year 2014 through Fiscal year 2018 has declined 5%. On a per student full-time equivalent basis, instructional budgets have increased 28% or $1,975 from Fiscal Year 2014 through Fiscal Year 2018.
Will administrative budgets also be reduced?
Yes. Other divisional budgets have also already experienced realignments. For example: In Fiscal Year 2018, the board-approved a budget of $56,193,139, including $2,154,607 in new investments. Projected revenue was not sufficient to cover these new allocations, so every division made reductions and realignments to support new investments. The net effect of the new resource allocations and realignments resulted in just under a $600,000 increase for instructional units within academic affairs, while all other divisions experienced net reductions totaling just under $1 million. Administrative divisions are further identifying $1.4 million in reductions to be effective for the 2020 Fiscal Year, for a total of $3 million in reductions when combined with the instruction reductions.
Why is this happening?
LVC remains in a strong financial position, but the College is tuition-dependent for the majority of its operating revenue. The fall 2018 incoming class exceeded enrollment goals to become the largest class in LVC history. The Fiscal Year 2019 operating budget includes net tuition and fees (including Graduate & Professional Studies) at 57% of revenue and room and board at 26% of revenue.
Additionally, the College is providing significantly more financial aid to our students. Budgeted gross tuition and fee revenue (prior to financial aid) grew $11 million from Fiscal Year 2014 to Fiscal Year 2019. However, financial aid has grown over the same period by $14 million resulting in less net tuition and fee revenue for Fiscal Year 2019. The College is making changes now as a way to ensure long-term sustainability.
How did the campus community give input?
On Aug. 23, Michael Green, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the College, presented at a faculty workshop the parameters of the recommendation report, the process for input, and the timeline for a final report and vote on endorsement. Faculty had an opportunity to ask questions as part of the presentation.
• A survey was sent to faculty to assess what the report may have overlooked, identify recommendations that could significantly harm a large number of students, and identify where the recommendations can be strengthened. After the survey, the task force released the results.
• Departments held meetings with the task force to discuss recommendations.
• Staff and students had discussions with Dean Green and Dean Krikorian.
What will be changed?
French, German, philosophy, and religion will be eliminated as majors. Courses will be taught in at least some of these disciplines, but these low-enrollment majors would no longer be available to incoming students starting with the Fall 2019 incoming class. A new concentration in French and German has been developed and is going through the faculty approval process. More information on this concentration will be forthcoming in the next month or two.
The following minors will be eliminated: American studies, art & visual culture, art studio, French, German, global studies, philosophy, religion, transdisciplinary specialization, world classics.
How many students are in the majors under consideration for elimination?
Currently enrolled at LVC are:
2 Philosophy majors
2 Religion majors
3 German majors
4 French majors
These include students who have enrolled in these programs as first, second, and third majors.
These students will be able to complete their degrees at LVC on time.
LVC will continue to teach 100- and 200-level courses in many or all of these areas to serve a broad cross-section of students.
How much of the budget will be reduced?
The target for reductions in overall costs is $1.6 million effective beginning in the 2019-20 academic year. This is 10% of the total instructional budget of $16 million for Fiscal Year 2019.
What was the task force’s process?
The task force reviewed the instructional budget, the results of a Spring 2018 faculty survey, institutional research data, and reports and articles; met with representatives of every academic department; identified programs that met low enrollment and completion thresholds; and shared minutes, data, and reports with the faculty on Canvas starting in April 2018.
The recommendations will help prioritize programs and initiatives to align with the current and future needs of students. The following guidelines were used to frame the specific recommendations:
• programs that are distinctive and will drive enrollment, student demand, employability/graduate school;
• programs that are sized appropriately for resources (e.g., staffing, course enrollment, majors, minors, service to other programs);
• programs that provide flexibility to improve the student experience (e.g., scheduling classes, double majoring, transfer students);
• programs and initiatives that emphasize experiential, hands-on, immersive experiences; and
• programs that lead to career/graduate school opportunities.
What criteria were used for the recommendations to discontinue majors?
Majors were reviewed using the following thresholds in one or more of the following categories:
a) First-time, full-time enrollments in majors under 10
b) Three-year Enrollment Funnel Trends (2016-2018)
c) Full-time majors at census under 10
d) Retention in first major below 80%
e) Completions in majors below five (completions captured migrations from other majors)
f) Load hours per full-time faculty full-time equivalent at 450 or lower (average is 560)
g) Low enrollment in upper-level courses below seven
h) High school programs and levels of interest in areas of study
i) Reduction or re-assignment of full-time positions on faculty retirement
j) Other variables specific to the major
What criteria were used for the recommendations to discontinue minors?
Minors were reviewed using the following criteria: 1) the recommended elimination of the corresponding major eliminates the courses needed for the minor, 2) minor that has independent coursework with low course enrollment, 3) smaller numbers of students in the minor.
Are faculty being eliminated?
Tenured faculty will not be eliminated.
What happens to students whose majors are being eliminated?
Majors will not be completely phased out until students within those majors graduate. LVC will ensure that current students in any eliminated major will be able to complete their degree 1) through high-quality courses and 2) on time. An advising structure will be in place to guide affected students through the process.
What happens to students whose minors are being eliminated?
LVC may not be able to offer courses in some of the eliminated minor areas. Advisers will work with students to identify alternatives and solutions in these cases.
When will all of the changes occur?
The changes will be phased in to affect fiscal year 2020. Majors will not be phased out until students graduate—but we will stop admitting new students to those majors.
Is LVC moving away from the liberal arts?
No. Majors and departments have evolved consistently during LVC’s 152-year history, with low-enrollment programs needing to be discontinued at times to sustain the business model. The College’s Carnegie Classification is Master’s College & University: Small Programs, a category for schools that balance offering in the arts and sciences with professional and graduate programs. LVC educates every undergraduate through Constellation LVC, a core curriculum that prioritizes the liberal arts outcomes of critical thinking; writing, reading, and analytical skills; and synthesizing ideas and information across disciplines.
Are majors being eliminated because of the new health professions programs?
No. New student enrollment in the health professions majors (athletic training, communication sciences & disorders/speech-language pathology, exercise science, and physical therapy) has outperformed Envision 2020 projections. In Fiscal Year 2018, $7.8 million in revenue generated a surplus after direct expenses of $4.8 million. This surplus was used to offset the costs of Constellation LVC courses taken by health profession majors and other expenses. Even after the costs of the new Arnold Health Profession Pavilion are included, the health professions provide a significant surplus to offset other costs in the college.
Are the costs of the new Arnold Health Professions Pavilion the reason for academic reductions?
No. The facility is being funded through $13.6 million in philanthropic gifts leaving approximately $6 million to be financed through long-term debt. Even after accounting for the costs of the debt and operations of the building, our projections show that enrollment in new programs will generate a surplus to offset the costs of Constellation LVC courses taken by health profession majors and other expenses.
Why did LVC add varsity eSports when it is cutting academic programs?
The proposal for eSports approved by the Planning & Resource Allocation Committee in December showed projected undergraduate enrollment growth at five students for Fiscal Year 2019 and increasing to 12 by Fiscal Year 2020 and 35 by Fiscal Year 2023. The initial investment of $40,225 in Fiscal year 2019 was projected to lead to surpluses of more than $12,000 in future years. The pro forma did not include the additional revenue the College would receive through student housing or meals.
As of Aug. 21, 2018, LVC enrolled 14 new students via eSports recruitment—nine new students higher than our goal. The total roster is currently 34 students. New student majors range the disciplines: athletic training, biology, business administration, computer & data science, digital communications, exercise science, history, music, physical therapy, and physics.
Additionally, the program received more than five sponsorships totaling at least a $30,000 reduction in costs, discounts, and free products and $5,000 in cash.
The College is now projecting $155,436 in surplus for the program in Fiscal Year 2019.
What was the full text of the board resolution?
“The members of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees do hereby direct the Administration to work jointly with the Faculty of the College to develop specific plans to achieve and sustain the academic and financial health of the College. This plan is to be prepared for delivery to the Executive Committee no later than December 5, 2018. The Executive Committee further directs that the plan for sustainability include reductions in the academic infrastructure of the College and identification of opportunities for revenue enhancement consistent with the academic mission.
The target for reductions in overall operating expenditures for the academic program is $1.6 million effective beginning in the 2019-20 Academic Year.
The critical urgency of this initiative dictates an aggressive timeline as discussed in our meeting of March 14 and articulated below:
• Process Report – Board of Trustees Meeting, May 4-5, 2018
• Progress Report – Board of Trustees Retreat, August 17, 2018
• Progress Report – Board of Trustees Meeting, October 19-20, 2018
• Final Report and Recommendations – Executive Committee of the Board, December 5, 2018
• Implementation of Recommendations – following the February Board of Trustees Meeting”
Can’t we use endowment funds to save the programs?
The endowment is vital to the College’s long-term strength. LVC draws 4.75% of the endowment balance annually. To go beyond that for a short-term solution would negatively affect the overall endowment balance and its ability to support operations long-term.