Marquette considers axing College of Professional Studies

    Determined to enhance efficiencies across campus, Marquette University has announced a proposal to phase out its smallest college, the College of Professional Studies.

    Throughout the last two years, the Milwaukee institution has charged nine university committees with reviewing and assessing its enrollment strategies. From those assessments, university officials have determined that the College of Professional Studies, in its current model, is not financially viable.

    The proposal to phase out the college, put forth by provost Daniel Myers, Ph.D. and college dean Robert Deahl, Ph.D., was released to the Marquette community in an email on Tuesday.

    “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,” the email stated.

    The college was launched in 1996 and piqued with enrollment in 1999, when it had more than 250 students, according to university spokesperson Brian Dorrington.

    Today, the college contains 130 students, two full-time faculty members and four administrative staff, according to Dorrington.

    The marketplace of the 1990s “dramatically” differs from today’s marketplace as more for-profit and nonprofit universities in southeastern Wisconsin have created similar colleges and programs and upped competition, Dorrington said.

    The College of Professional Studies is currently home to four degree programs – psychology, criminology and law studies, professional communications, and leadership and organization – and facilitates classes in buildings across campus.

    Under the proposal headed by Myers and Deahl, Marquette would no longer offer students courses of study in psychology, criminology and law studies, and professional communications. The school’s leadership and organization degree program would transition to 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 university email stated.

    During the upcoming academic year, the College of Professional Studies will continue to operate with all four of its degree programs as planned through 2016 commencement, according to the email.

    Incoming College of Professional Studies students who were admitted prior to the circulation of the email will be able to begin their studies this fall. Moving forward, Marquette will no longer admit any students into the psychology, criminology and law studies, and professional communications degree tracks, according to Dorrington. The university will, however, continue to admit and enroll students in its leadership and organization degree program.

    The university aims to do everything it can to help the college’s faculty and staff members find other positions with the university. Faculty and staff will continue in their roles during the upcoming school year.

    The proposal to phase out the College of Professional Studies has involved input from the university’s entire senior leadership team, Dorrington said.

    After announcing the proposal, the university will look to several groups on campus for additional input and approval, including Marquette’s leadership council, academic senate, staff senate, and faculty members across campus. Final approval would be needed by the school’s board of trustees.

    The timeline behind the phase out is not yet clear, according to Dorrington, who said it could be completed in four years to accommodate first-year students.

    The decision to potentially shutter the College of Professional Studies does not reflect any broader financial struggles at the university, according to Dorrington. Rather, it speaks to Marquette’s “strong focus” on being more efficient as part of its strategic plan, known as “Beyond Boundaries.”

    Marquette is focused on looking internally and analyzing what is working and where it needs to improve operations to be as efficient as possible, he said.

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