The Shrinking of SHAE



The SHAE School experiencing potential program cuts.

Like a report at the end of the year for workers in the workplace, schools including Roger Williams University conduct a study that gives them a list of what majors and minors worked well in the previous year and which ones should be cut due to either inactivity or lack of interest among students. During this study, staff members carefully examine how well a certain major is doing and who, of the student population, will be most likely to participate in it in the upcoming years. If it does not pass the thorough discussion, it is not something that will be moving forward in the future. 

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Education (SHAE) is rumored to have some possible majors shutting down due to a lack of interests in the Arts such as Philosophy, Foreign Language, and Performing Arts Majors. 

Although this may come across as a concern for current students, the university will allow those who are already part of these majors to continue; it just won’t be open to incoming freshmen. 

According to the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Margaret Everett, “No decisions have been reached to close programs. We are still in the process of assessing which majors we can grow, sustain, and transform, and all academic departments will be involved in the decision making process.” 

She then went on to say, “If we do not believe we can sustain a program due to very low enrollment, we will develop a plan to teach them out without impacting current students.” 

While it is a shock that these majors may not make it in the future, RWU is expecting to continue to teach many of these subjects as a part of minors and for their general education programs. This means that the information and knowledge stored in these programs will be transferred to classes which can become a minor or even taken just for extra credits. 

There is also an emphasis on current students who have declared a major, as well as incoming students who have applied to study a particular major, that they will have the opportunity to complete that major at RWU. 

Universities worldwide are required to provide programming that has been promised to enrolled students, and RWU takes this very seriously. But one thing to remember is that students are not the only ones who will be affected by these changes. Faculty, mainly professors, are thought to be affected by the changes that the school believes is the right decision. 

Everett states that, “Faculty in majors that we determine need to be taught out may continue to teach courses in that subject area, may teach courses for other majors, and/or may contribute courses for our newly revised general education program.” 

Everett said that, “RWU has no plans to eliminate faculty or staff positions in relation to program prioritizations. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Education is the university’s largest school in terms of faculty, the second largest in terms of student course enrollments, and the largest contributor to their general education program.” 

SHAE’s curriculum and faculty embed critical self-development and rigorous scholarship with experimental learning. It is an important opportunity for all of the schools at RWU to reflect and adapt to the changes and challenges facing higher education. 

Although these closings are just a current rumor that is being passed around faculty, staff, and students, that does not mean that it should go unnoticed. In order to know and understand what is happening to the majors at RWU, not only in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Education, it is important to question every aspect of this process, especially if it is something that you think has potential in the future. 

Student opinions and inquiries would help during the decision making process, and may even help the university make final movements that could help certain majors stay open for longer. This process usually takes place at the end of the school year going into the summer, so a main factor is time.

In order for students to continue to gain insight on this subject, it is important to make your voice heard and let your professors and members of the university know your opinions.