Declining enrollment forces tough decisions for PSU

Psus Gorilla

PITTSBURG, Ks. – Manny Vazquez is a PSU senior who came from a big high school where plenty of his fellow classmates made a different choice when it came to higher education.

“Yeah, coming from Dallas, I graduated with about 1400 people, so I knew a lot of people that decided to go straight into the workforce,” said Vazquez.

That’s one reason enrollment has been down at PSU and many other colleges across the country.

“Well, the demand for higher education nationwide is not what it once was. There’s just not as many graduates from K-12 schools obviously, and so, really, we’re all going after the same students,” said PSU Provost Howard Smith.

As a result, PSU is continuously monitoring which of their academic programs are popular and which are failing to attract students. And while it’s not fun, sometimes the college needs to discontinue programs which don’t have many students enrolled.

“We need to be good stewards of our finances and of our resources. And so every organization that’s successful typically goes back and does that kind of self-evaluation and reflection,” said Smith.

At a presentation to a subcommittee of the Kansas Board of Regents, Provost Smith addressed which programs should be discontinued and which should carry on.

Some of the discontinuations include the Clinical Science/Medical Lab Tech major, Bachelor of Arts degrees in mathematics and history, and various teacher education majors.

But the term “discontinue” can be misleading  because many of the programs would be transitioned into or combined with other more popular programs.

“Of the programs that we have on there, I would say at this point, we’ve merged most those programs and then created emphasis so that we could still sustain some of the needs,” said Smith.

Provost Smith also wants to make it clear that any student enrolled in a major that’s ultimately discontinued will still be able to complete it and earn their degree at PSU.