KY Gov suggests cutting degrees like interpretive dance

Kyle Perisic
Leadership Institute Intern

  • Facing a $200 million deficit, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin wants state college and universities to cut programs that don’t fill high-wage, high-demand jobs.
  • Bevin specifically singled out "interpretive dance" as a skill set that is not in particularly high demand, echoing President Barack Obama's past criticism of art history majors.
  • Facing an estimated $200 million deficit, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R) encouraged his state’s universities to cut unnecessary degree programs to help balance the state’s budget.

    In a speech to the Conference on Postsecondary Education Trusteeship on Tuesday in Louisville, Kentucky, Bevin suggested that the universities and colleges could "find entire parts of your campus...that don't need to be there.”

    "There's not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with [interpretive dance] as a skill set."   

    He suggested eliminating programs because of the potential cuts the state could make and because they don't produce graduates filling high-wage, high-demand jobs.

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    “Either physically as programs, degrees that you're offering, buildings that...shouldn't be there because you're maintaining something that's not an asset of any value, that's not helping to produce that 21st century educated workforce," he said.

    “There's not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with [interpretive dance] as a skill set," Bevin pointed out, echoing his previous criticism of French literature majors.

    "There's a whole lot of kids sitting in their parents' basements and competing with people for jobs that are minimum wage or a bit better who have four-year degrees, some of them graduate-level degrees," the Governor said. "I challenge you to say to yourselves, 'If we're graduating 250 people out of our engineering school...why is it 250 and not 1,000? And what are we going to do between now and 2030 and a whole lot sooner to make sure it's 1,000?’”

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    Kentucky spent $1.2 billion on postsecondary education in its 2017 fiscal year budget, about 12 percent of all appropriations and the state’s third largest expenditure.

    In response to cuts worth roughly $40 million in 2016, about 4.5 percent of the state’s budget, the state’s colleges and universities raised tuition.

    The University of Kentucky's 2017-2018 operational budget for the College of Fine Arts was over $18 million, while Murray State University's operational budget was over $13 million. Morehead State University's 2017-18 budget for the College Of Arts,Humanities and Social Sciences is over $11 million.

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    Executives criticizing liberal arts programs is nothing new. In 2014, then-President Barack Obama said, “I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.”

    Obama later apologized for his comments.

    Greg Postel, University of Louisville’s interim president, said that adding more students to the engineering school would be a “natural fit." However, he said cutting programs would be “dramatic” and that doing so would “require an awful lot of thought.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @KyleOnCampus



    Kyle Perisic

    Kyle Perisic

    Leadership Institute Intern
    Kyle Perisic is a Leadership Institute Intern, and reports liberal bias and abuse on college campuses for Campus Reform.
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