Updated: Mar 4, 2021
With the sudden cancellation of programs at New York Tech, many students worry about their future at the University. Reaching out to the Vice President for Strategic Communications, Nada Anid, and the Provost, Junius Gonzales, they shed some light on what led to the cancellation of these programs, as well as what the currently enrolled students should expect as they finish their years at NYIT.
Many students were surprised to hear at the start of Spring 2021 that programs such as Communication Arts were shutting down. While this decision may seem sudden to most, Gonzales talked about how this process began long before the COVID-19 pandemic. Disclosing that the talk started during the second half of 2018. She shared that it started with a series of meetings with the departments and deans, along with in-person retreats with program directors and the chairs. Data such as student persistence and retention, as well as enrollment, was constantly shared between the groups to evaluate how these programs were performing.
President Hank Foley declined an interview, unlike last December.
When judging whether or not a program is sustainable, Gonzales said many factors go into the decision. Some of these factors consist of judgments about the future contributions of the program to the institutional identity and focus, potential for external funding, enrollment projections for the program, opportunity costs, and interdisciplinary opportunities. Fall 2019 is when chairs and directors began to meet about the enrollment declines of these programs, and that was when a call to action was presented. Gonzales showed a glimpse into some of this data in a letter to faculty, saying “Some of these programs saw drops in applications over five years of nearly 50% and some had nearly a 50% to 60% drop in total enrollments. While some long-established programs had single-digit new enrollments. Others had volatile retention rates for graduate students and negative changes in student-to-faculty ratios. Finally, some programs did not generate yearly revenues that matched direct expenses. Before the call to action, the enrollment declines have been regularly talked about in meetings with chairs and program directors, along with the negative financial impacts that came with those declines.
A formal program review process was announced in summer 2020 and was said to begin in the upcoming fall semester. It was at this point that after reviewing their data, chairs and directors took it upon themselves to recommend ceasing admission into several programs, with most of those being implemented for Summer or Fall 2020. This consisted of programs such as B.S. Political Science, B.A. English, and more as they continued their review. The school finally launched The Domestic Academic Program Portfolio Review and Right Size (DAPPRR) in October 2020, which was a committee that consisted of seven faculty members, assisted by staff from the Provost’s office, that was tasked with doing a thorough analysis and review of the academic programs that needed to be evaluated. The first set of programs to be reviewed were based on enrollment factors and other factors that were not mentioned. During this two month process, the committee continued to meet and review the data they were receiving, while also following general criteria. That criteria consisted of centrality to the New York Tech mission, the quality of the program, and the viability and sustainability.
Once the committee finished, they sent their detailed report to Provost Gonzales. Gonzales and the deans reviewed the report, and collected any more necessary data, before finally sending a formal recommendation to New York Tech’s president, Hank Foley. The recommendation provided actions that should be taken, such as the potential program admission halts. This is what led to the cancellation of those academic programs at New York Tech.
While the process that led to the decision was extensive, one question that remains is whether or not this will affect students already enrolled in these programs. The school promises to help currently enrolled students finish out their degrees, but it remains to be seen how they plan to continue to do this. There are rumors that New York Tech is considering having other universities “teach-out” the remaining courses to students starting in fall 2021, however, both Gonzales and Anid did not comment on this. When asking Anid if she had any words for students worried about their future at the school, she said, “As to the future of NYIT, it is bright and full of promise. We just created 13 brand new in demand degrees to prepare students for the jobs of the future.” More news about the methods of “teaching out” should come to light as we get closer to the fall 2021 semester.
Photo By Yimli