History major at UW-Stevens Point could become...history

The University of Wisconsin -- Stevens Point could soon drop several majors, including history, because of students’ lack of interest, according to a cost-benefit analysis recently proposed by UW-SP Chancellor Bernie Patterson. 

The chancellor proposed that the university “must become a new kind of regional university” by adapting its current programming to better suit the surrounding community and the educational demand of incoming students.

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The proposal includes “realigning” and merging several current degree programs and departments to save costs, which include eliminating six majors: history, German, French, geoscience, geography, as well as portions of the current art program.

Enrollment in the history major at UW-SP has dropped by 48 percent over the past five years, leaving class enrollment at an average of 13-19 students per course. 

“There is no indication that the number of students enrolling in these programs will increase,” the proposal states.

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Along with the reduced “upper division courses” that will occur if the major is discontinued, the proposal estimates that four of the current 14 faculty members in the history department will be let go. The remaining faculty would then be absorbed into other related departments.

“The overall cost to educate for the History major is not high compared to other professional majors,” the proposal adds. “However the small enrollments in upper-level courses make the program unsustainable.”

“In an era of fiscal constraints, UW-Stevens Point can no longer be all things to all people,” the chancellor wrote. “Instead, we must focus on our strengths, prioritizing those programs that best help the communities of central and northern Wisconsin become more vibrant, healthy, prosperous, and sustainable.”

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