Last year, the Kansas Regents arbitrarily declared that programs with fewer than 25 enrolled majors were “underperforming.” Taking up this standard, KU administrators recommended the closure of the Humanities program.
We object. Reviewing programs based solely on a major count undercuts the very premise of higher education and KU’s mission. Departments and programs do not exist only to collect majors. Education requires both breadth and specialization. Major requirements can make up as little as a quarter of the credits required for a KU student’s graduation. Students in majors across the university take courses from interdisciplinary programs like Humanities. The proposed cuts take opportunities away from all students and diminish the curriculum at KU, precis
Our colleagues elsewhere recognize the danger. An official spokesperson at Emporia State University publicly rejected the Regents’ definition of performance as a major count, saying that elective courses “serve multiple majors which allows for added efficiency and opportunity – maximizing course value while offering the widest variety of majors to our students.”
At KU, the decision to cancel Humanities had no faculty oversight. If it stands, the move would abruptly terminate the contracts of valued teaching colleagues. It ignores the research and professional service of eight tenure-stream faculty -- 60% of their contracted duties. This is all being done on the basis of an arbitrary metric that bypasses pre-established expectations and any semblance of peer review.
We must stand together to defend the KU faculty and curriculum from this external, senseless attack. No academic program should be evaluated or eliminated based only on one aspect of its work. No faculty, courses, or degree programs should be eliminated without full and meaningful oversight of faculty governance.
OneKU stands in solidarity with our Humanities colleagues, and in support of the principle that faculty set the curriculum.