Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Marquette Axes College of Professional Studies

A message from the Provost:
As we approach the beginning of the academic year, we are writing to share a few academic updates. Over the past two years, nine university committees have conducted great work in collaboration with our partners from Huron Consulting to actively review and analyze our enrollment strategies. These efforts, combined with ongoing academic Program Reviews, have put us in a strong position to determine how we best move forward.

Our extensive analysis of the College of Professional Studies revealed that while we have a high quality product, the college is not financially viable in its current model. We cannot continue to compete without a major influx of resources in a market where competition has increased dramatically in recent years. Our strategic plan, Beyond Boundaries, calls for all of us to ensure our valuable resources are sustainable and to be responsible stewards of these resources. Therefore, we will now work with the University Leadership Council, the University Academic Senate and faculty leaders across campus to review a proposed plan to phase out the college’s operations.

For this current academic year, the College of Professional Studies will continue to deliver all four of its degree programs as planned through 2016 Commencement. Beginning fall 2016, the College of Professional Studies Leadership and Organizations degree will be housed administratively in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences. This move will continue to provide wonderful opportunities for adults seeking an accessible undergraduate degree at Marquette.
The College of Professional Studies is one of the great bad ideas the Marquette administration has ever had.

Lured, apparently, by the hope of making a lot of money, Marquette decided to jump into a burgeoning market: Degrees ‘R Us operations catering to “non-traditional” (read, older) students who want a Bachelor’s degree.

For many years at Marquette, departments were under pressure to offer a certain number of evening courses, in order to accommodate such students. We taught our share, and the vast majority of students were always the traditional collage-age undergraduates. But there was an integrity to the process. The non-traditional students paid the same tuition, took equally demanding courses, and met the same requirements as traditional students. When they got a degree, it was a bona fide Marquette degree.

But the sight of institutions offering cut-rate degrees at lower cost with much laxer requirements lured Marquette into trying to compete in a market in which it was not well-prepared to compete, offering an education inferior to its traditional one, doing something sharply removed from its distinctive competence.

We heard accounts, from the few regular Marquette faculty teaching in the College of Professional Studies, of being pressured to reduce course demands far below the level required of traditional Marquette students. Thus the College of Arts and Science refused to accept credits from Professional Studies toward graduation requirements (except in a few rare special cases).

Political Science was particularly unhappy that Professional Studies offered a section of POSC 2201 (American Politics). Our view what that we “owned” POSC 2201. If that sounds like bureaucratic turf protection remember this: Political Science had a strong vested interest in maintaining the quality of 2201, just as (say) Nikon has a vested interest in maintaining the quality of cameras that bear its brand name. The Professional Studies version of 2201 was taught by faculty that could not possibly have gotten a tenure track job in Political Science, nor even an adjunct position.

Political Science complained to various Deans of Arts and Sciences, but none took up the cudgel for us on that issue. OK, Deans have a lot of battles to fight.

But this whole business is an example of how institutions like Marquette should not go running after the latest fad in higher education. Admittedly, the bloated ranks of administrators at Marquette (as at other institutions) creates a huge incentive to find “initiatives” to justify a small army of assistant deans and associate provosts and all the other staff that the “initiatives” require.

Admittedly, Marquette’s whoring after a huge raft of politically correct “diversity” initiatives has been more damaging than the millions of dollars the College of Professional Studies lost, since the former has involved trashing Catholic teaching on a variety of issues. But broadly considered the issue is the same: when you sell a lower quality education (as when you offer a secular education while calling yourself “Catholic”) you squander the value of the brand.

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Blogger Walter-marie Miller said...

Had a secondary publication - above and beyond the Marquette magazine - sent to the house. Appears that Lovell is doing his best to counter the McAdams-driven narrative. But no extra publication can counteract internet traction, which McAdams has.

I don't know how on Earth Lovell thought he was going to find success by overplaying his hand against McAdams, but it has not worked out.

With the new school year upon us and the Milwaukee Magazine's announcement that the McAdams hearing will be in September, Lovell has some more storm to weather.

We'll see how this academic year goes.

10:32 AM  

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