Several academic programs being considered for potential future changes

Emily Henbest, Reporter

Faculty, administration and the curriculum commitee revise the offered major, minor and emphasis programs at California Lutheran University for potential additions and changes. Academic programs such as environmental sciences, liberal arts, film and television, public health and musical theater are being considered for future changes.

“I can tell you some of the proposals that are being looked at, and I must qualify it by saying that these aren’t approved,” Timothy Hengst, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences said. “We have a couple of classes right now that are offered in public health, whether we expand that or not, as is being looked at, and of course, expanding and broadening the scope of our Liberal Studies in Education Program.” 

Discussions about scaling back curricular programs are also taking place within this ongoing dialogue. Such considerations may be prompted by a decrease in student enrollment within a specific program.

“A part of the program review process has some reassessing, what they do, how they offer and what are the requirements,” Associate Vice President of Academic Services and Registrar Maria Kohnke said.

The musical theater emphasis is one program currently under consideration to be scaled back. Drama professor Michael Arndt said there are discussions about whether or not the program can feasibly continue given the current conditions.

“The classes that we offer in the program have very low enrollment,” Arndt said. “We intend to continue to offer music, theater and hope to do music theater productions, but the number of students is almost not really supporting the emphasis.”

However, when asked about these potential changes to the musical theater emphasis program, Hengst said he was unaware of these discussions.

“I know there is ongoing collaboration between music and theater, and the arts and dance department, but I’m not aware of any concrete proposals that are currently going on,” Hengst said.

Programs being considered for expansion include environmental science, as well as the film and television programs, which students have demonstrated an increasing interest in.

“There’s a proposal for a BA in environmental sciences. Right now we have a BS, so it’s more science-oriented, this would be more social-science-oriented,” Hengst said. “We have a major that’s a couple years old now in film and television, which is actually very popular. And that one is undergoing some revisions. They’re going to propose a stronger emphasis in film production.” 

The act of creating and adding new major, minor and emphasis programs to Cal Lutheran begins with a proposal, usually drafted by  a faculty member. Hengst said this process usually takes at least a year, sometimes longer if it’s an extensive program.

“Administrative approval starts with the Office of the Provost looking at administrative things to see if we have the necessary resources to offer a new program. And then there’s the academic curriculum part of the approval that goes through one of the curriculum committees so the actual academic content gets reviewed and approved. Then the faculty do the ultimate final approval, making sure everyone’s OK with it,” Kohnke said.

Expanding and adding new health management and computer engineering programs to the curriculum may be in the future for Cal Lutheran. 

“Computer engineering, data analytics and biotechnology are areas that are quite interesting to look at for the future. We’re in a location here that has a lot of commercial enterprises in those areas. Health management is another area,” Hengst said. “Ones that I mentioned earlier, certainly earth and environmental sciences, are a very popular and a growing area right now because of all the issues we have going on in the world.”

Variables like change in student interests, technological advancements, environmental issues and fluctuation in workforce projections make proposals to expand or scale back a major or minor program common practice.