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The Sociology-Anthropology Department was faced with the sudden and unexpected cancellation of its three-and-a-half-year-old criminology online program in September, which has left the professors of the department upset and baffled.
“We are feeling frustrated,” said Sharon Davis, professor of sociology and chairwoman for the department. “We haven’t been given a good reason.”
Davis, along with professors of sociology Ernie Thomson and Hector Delgado, and Professor of Anthropology Kimberly Martin, are currently wondering why their program was cut without explanation or the chance to appeal the decision, which came from the office of Provost Alden Reimonenq.
“It stings a little bit more,” Delgado said.
Delgado said the department was not given an opportunity to discuss the decision to cut the program before it was made, or to subsequently appeal the administrator’s decision.
The department feels the provost, by not including the affected faculty, went against the University’s policy of shared governance.
Reimonenq said in an e-mailed interview, however, that his decision was made in the best interest of the University after a meeting with the chair of the department and one other faculty member on July 23.
“I believe I gave faculty adequate time to present their case, and I certainly had enough information to make the decision,” his Oct. 31 statement read. “Some faculty disagree with this, and I respect their position. I am very happy to talk about shared governance, and hope that we can iron out definitions that work for us. In the end, I have to make difficult decisions that some won’t like or respect. My purpose always, however, is to do the best I can for the welfare of our university.”
Yet the sociology and anthropology faculty believe that the provost did not follow the proper procedure outlined in the Quality Management System’s procedures for making changes to existing programs, which would have allowed them to appeal this decision.
In a statement issued through e-mail by Reimonenq on Oct. 9, the provost said, “The criminology online program was created through an agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) 24 November 2004, established between the administration and faculty. Because the MOU was due to expire, a decision had to be made to continue or terminate the online delivery of the program.”
Reimonenq added that the program did not meet the enrollment growth that was projected in the original MOU.
“Although the online program struggled to meet this enrollment growth expectation, in the end, the program did not attract the large numbers of new students we had anticipated,” Reimonenq said in the statement.
The department faculty, however, argued that the program did have substantial enrollment, which generated roughly $200,000 in revenue, with no cost to ULV.
Along with this, the department feels that the program was not marketed appropriately or supported after they developed a plan modeled after a similar program at Rio Hondo Community College.
“At no time have we lost money for the University,” Davis said.
The provost contends, however, that the program was marketed to its full potential but did not meet projected enrollment.
“We have a division of enrollment management that does the marketing for University programs,” Reimonenq said.
“To the extent that money allowed, this program was marketed. An increase in marketing doesn’t necessarily mean more students will enroll in the program. We expected this program to be one with great enrollment growth. That never happened, and I had to decide whether to continue online offerings. I did not think it was in the best interest of the University to continue,” Reimonenq said.
The faculty said they developed a plan that would have proved successful.
“We had a marketing plan,” Thomson said. “RCA (Regional Campus Administration) made us stop our marketing.”
Martin said the plan included ideas to establish relationships with police and fire academies, to talk to recruits and to hand out information about ULV’s programs.
“That is what made Rio Hondo’s program explode,” Martin said.
The faculty felt that RCA did not want the program and did not market the program separately.
“We had known that RCA didn’t like the program and didn’t want it,” Martin said.
“There were differences in opinion,” Fred Yaffe, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said.
Yaffe said he hopes that there will be a re-evaluation of how faculty are encouraged to develop new programs.
He added that this program was the first in years to be developed and used, but the University should be generating more programs.
The shutdown of this program has also affected an administrator, Kim Pomierski, who worked directly with the students in the program, making sure that the homework was turned in, and serving as an adviser.
Pomierski has been given the option to work in another department and is currently in negotiation with upper management.
She is still undecided on whether she will take the position.
Students who are currently enrolled in the criminology online program will be able to continue the coursework through what is called a teach-out.
However, no new students will be admitted.
“We are at the end of what we can do,” Martin said.
Marilee Lorusso can be reached at email@example.com.