Officials re-examine impacted majors

Officials will soon undergo a process to update which majors the college classifies as impacted, Rameen Mohammadi, associate provost said.

A major is classified as impacted if the amount of students enrolled in the program exceeds the number of faculty and resources. However, there are programs that have been on the list for over 20 years.

"We have to create an actual process because none exists to review programs, to see whether they are qualified to be impacted, to see if they need to have criteria for entry," Mohammadi said. "And then after a particular program is identified as such, there’s got to be a process of review that ensures that they continue to be deserving of that category."

"It shouldn’t be the case that for 20 years a program doesn’t have enough faculty or doesn’t have enough laboratories and doesn’t have enough resources for it to be delivered," Mohammadi said. "We should be trying to fix that. So instead of just putting the name of a program on some list and just keeping it in that state for indefinitely that just doesn’t make any sense."

There are also programs on the list, such as education, that require a minimum 2.5 grade point average for students to transfer and stay in the program. This is due to the fact that they are accredited or have certain state requirements they must meet.

"…they have some requirements for entry and the reasons for the requirements may have nothing to do with the fact that there are too many students in the program or there are not enough faculty," Mohammadi said.

Mohammdai believes that there has to be a process for review, one that includes the number of students in the given major, number of faculty for that major, number of lab requirements, credits, and other faculty responsibilities.

"Unfortunately, it’s not that simple," Mohammadi said. "In the context of the work we’ve done so far, basically we’ve looked at the information, data, talked to people who perhaps were here when certain majors became so-called impacted."

The phrase "impacted" implies that the majors have an excess number of students, and does not refer to accreditation.

Another major that is on the impacted majors list is business administration. Charles Spector, professor and chair of accounting, finance and law within the School of Business, was chair of business administration when it first appeared on the impacted majors list.

"We were a new program and we had half the faculty members we have now," Spector said. We hadn’t been able to keep adding faculty members compared to the number of students that were trying to come in. We had growing pains."

The business administration major had to come up with a formula to see if students could transfer since they didn’t have enough spots for everyone who applied. They came up with a summer program for students to take the bulk of business classes in the summer, allowing transfers to come into the program. In order for transfer students to be in the program, they had to commit to going to school and come for at least one or two summers.

Other impacted majors include broadcasting and psychology. Broadcasting finds itself on the list of impacted majors because the demand for the program outweighs the facilities and faculty used to support it, said Fritz Messere, dean of the college of communication, media and the arts.

"The reason its been impacted is because essentially we’re limited by facilities," Messere said. "We can only handle so many students. It’s not just a question of hiring more faculty if my studios are filled."

Broadcasting was first listed as an impacted major in the 1977-78 course catalog. Messere said that broadcasting’s impacted status shows the success of the program.

"I think it should keep its impacted status until such time that there are either fewer students in the program or there are more facilities to serve more students," Messere said. "I don’t want to say yes to every student and then not be able to deliver a high quality program."

The creation of the cinema studies major has also impacted the broadcasting major. It became a full-fledged major after it was approved last year, Messere said. It was expected that broadcasting majors looking for a more specialized program would transfer into cinema studies. However, the program grew faster than anticipated.

"What’s actually happened is people are coming to Oswego for cinema studies but that hasn’t decreased the interest in broadcasting," Messere said. "So we’ve gotten more students than we thought we were going to have and it hasn’t relieved the pressure of the number of majors we have in broadcasting."

The number of lab space available is why the psychology major finds itself on the list of impacted majors, said Karen Wolford, chair of the psychology department.

"One way to address it would be costly involving building more labs and adding more faculty," Wolford said in an e-mail. "Another way is to look at curricular changes that might make the program more flexible and more current and free up faculty to address core curriculum needs in innovative ways."

Psychology was first listed as an impacted major in the 1989-1990 course catalog.