Holly Feola & Taylor Viles – News Editor & 1851 Staff
Over the past few years, the university has seen changes in the majors offered to students. The higher education system is evolving and some programs have either been restructured or removed. However, when such changes are made, there is a process to determine how programs are assessed.
In 2017, the Program Resource Optimization team (PRO) was created to take a deeper look into the academic programs Lasell offered. “Academic and Student Affairs was evaluated, development was evaluated, the mailroom, HR. Everything was really assessed,” said Dean of the School of Health Sciences Cristina Haverty.
The committee consisted of individuals from a variety of departments on campus, such as the Business Office, Office of Undergraduate Admission, Residential Life, Student Financial Planning, and Office of Academic Affairs.
Dean of the School of Humanities Sciences Lori Rosenthal was a member of the PRO team. When asked what the team’s task was, she said, “We went through absolutely everything the college did. We went through every program and looked at things like, what are the strengths and the weaknesses of each program? What do people think of as being particularly effective about this program? What complaints have people made?”
One program that has been cut is athletic training, but this one wasn’t for the same reason as any of the other programs. “The reason for that is that the industry has gone totally master’s level,” said Associate Vice President Steven Bloom. “Our students are now taking the health science major as preparation to go into the master’s program in athletic training…We offer a master’s now.”
However, when a major is typically cut, it is usually due to the low numbers of students enrolled. A few other majors eliminated over the years are human services, art management, applied math, and environmental studies.
Human services was discontinued because it followed the same four-year plan as the psychology major, with the exception of two courses.
Lasell has also done some restructuring to majors in recent years. Literature and creative writing used to be concentrations within the English major. These were last offered in 2017. Instead, both were taken away and now students may only major in English, giving them a broader span of the subject.
One student who declared a creative writing concentration before the restructuring was senior Skylar Diamond, who shared her thoughts about the reworking of her major. “I think it’ll give future English majors a little bit more freedom to cross over literature focuses, as well as creative writing focuses without necessarily being stuck to one versus the other.”
Even if a major is altered or discontinued, Lasell still honors students who were already enrolled in that program. In Diamond’s opinion, Lasell’s grandfathering system works. “Because I’m a senior, anything that could have possibly affected me I had already completed…way before this change happened,” she said. “There’s nothing other than my capstone that I had left as far as requirements are concerned.”
Just because this course restructure didn’t affect Diamond, it doesn’t mean it won’t affect underclassmen whose majors get changed or discontinued. “If we have freshmen or sophomores in that major, we will probably try to advise them into another related major, but if they’re dead set on it, we will follow through on it,” said Bloom.
For junior athletic training major Cory Neal, the discontinuation of her major has affected her experience with classes, since the major was nationally removed from undergraduate teaching.
“Last semester, I had to take two courses that I [would] usually take as a senior, but [athletic training majors] had to take them early because [of the change]. It just shifted things to the point where I had to push things…to this semester that I should have done next semester,” said Neal.
The 2017 PRO team not only looked at courses to take out of the curriculum but “it also called for us to reallocate those resources to start some significant new majors and to invest in some of our strongest areas,” said President Michael Alexander. “Particularly, one was health sciences, which you’ll see now is one of our fastest-growing majors.”
The growth of the School of Health Sciences can be seen with the additional majors that have been added such as fitness management, which was introduced in the academic catalog for the 2016-2017 academic year, and both biology and forensic science were added in 2018-2019.
Since the campus-wide study, Lasell has not conducted an analysis of programs as large as the original study, as they have developed another method to evaluate major enrollment more often. “On a regular basis, whether it’s the end of every year or two,” said Haverty, “We are taking the time to see what’s working and what’s not.”