UCF Trustees debates cost, value of 3 degree programs
The UCF Board of Trustees discussed three degree programs that are under review by the state government for low productivity levels on Thursday.
The programs that are under review are the foreign language education bachelor's degree in the College of Education and human performance, the forensic science master's degree in the College of Sciences and the environmental engineering Ph.D. degree in the College of Engineering and computer science, said Christine Dellert, UCF’s senior director of internal communications.
Trustees debated over the costs of offering the programs versus the value of keeping them around given each program’s low graduate rates. Within the last five years, 19 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in world language education, seven students graduated with a master’s degree in forensic science and eight students have graduated with Ph.Ds. in environment engineering.
Though they are under review, the programs are not at risk for being canceled or replaced. “This is a low productivity review…done at the state level,” Dellert said. “Universities have to continuously evaluate their educational or degree programs [and they] look at the number of students in the courses. It’s more a means of having the available faculty,” she said.
The programs under review have a limited number of faculty members who teach the classes within each program, and those classes tend to fill up quickly, said Dellert.
Trustee chair Olga Calvet added that students with majors outside of the three programs under review take classes offered within the programs. “Those programs are going to continue … since those classes [and] courses are required classes for other majors, they will be kept on because those students need that class,” Calvet said.
Dellert presented the Future with a low productivity report that discusses the needs and mechanics of each program. According to the report, all but two courses within the foreign language education program are shared with other programs within the College of Education and Human Performance and require limited additional resources. The college has two supporting faculty members, however, both faculty members teach other programs within the college.
Enrollment for the forensic science master’s degree program has been limited for years because the College of Sciences only had two graduate forensic science faculty members. However, the college recently hired an additional faculty member and plans to hire a fourth this summer, in addition to improving recruiting efforts, according to the report.
The low completion figures for the environmental engineering Ph.D. program coincided with the reassignment of two faculty members to national and international activities. The faculty members have since returned and five Ph.D.s were awarded in the 2014-15 year with another graduate expected this summer. Within the last 16 months, the program will have graduated 75 percent as many Ph.D.s as it has in the previous five years—six graduates in the last 16 months and eight graduates in the previous five years, according to the report.
“Program productivity is tied to enrollment and degrees [awarded]” said Dellert. “It’s not a question of quality.”
Eric Gutierrez is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @atticus_adrift or email him at EricG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.