Academia: Universities can find courses to drop

Members of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, which represents the Buckeye State’s public universities, want more money from the state and the opportunity to ask more money of its students. Predictably, officials at some of those universities are warning that if they do not receive additional state funding, and are forced to continue to live within a tuition cap, they might have to (shudder) reduce course offerings.

They paint that as a bad thing, claiming it might make it difficult for students to graduate on time, therefore costing students more money in the long run.

Everyone can point to the modern equivalents to Underwater Basket Weaving 101 that still pepper course catalogs. Those should be struck immediately, if money really is an issue. But others need reorganization and reprioritization, too.

The University of Toledo offers Accounting 1200 — Quickbooks: “This course will introduce students to QuickBooks software.” Or, Law and Social Thought 3860 — “Gender and Geography: Traces the development and institutionalization of gender roles and how these influence spatial decisions and the formation of perceptual landscapes.”

Kent State University offers Fashion and Design Merchandising 30013 — “Fashion and Pop Culture: An examination of the relationship between different types of design and popular culture in America and Europe in the 20th and 21st centuries.” This from a school that has managed to convince 1,500 students to enroll in courses to prepare them for a job market that, according to Kent State’s own website, has a total of about 23,100 jobs nationwide. There are 29 faculty members for the School of Fashion and Design Merchandising within the College of the Arts.

Kent State’s College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology has a faculty of 26.

Administrators who decide to will find a way to make sure the valuable courses students need to graduate are available, while others are perhaps offered less often, combined or eliminated.

Council President Bruce Johnson told The Blade that Ohio has been “underinvesting” in higher education for 50 years. The group wants a 4.5 percent subsidy increase that would cost Ohio taxpayers another $89 million next fiscal year, despite Gov. John Kasich’s warnings of impending budget stresses.

Lawmakers, parents, students and taxpayers should respond by asking public universities to take a long look at the way things have always been in academia and change them, fast. The rest of us had to, long ago.

COMMENTS