CWU News

Task Force Minimizes Impact on Students, Faculty in Final Report

For the past five years, Central Washington University has been engaged in an in-depth review of its 197 academic majors, minors, and specializations. The goals have been to streamline departments to reduce inefficiencies and duplications, as well as to reduce costs. The Academic Task Force completed its evaluation this summer, with the last round of program cuts designed to minimally affect both students and faculty. A final report on the task force was made to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and will be presented to the Faculty Senate.

In the third phase of the Academic Program Task Force (APTF III), five programs were eliminated:
• Advanced Programs, Master of Education in Instructional Leadership
• Engineering Technologies, Safety, & Construction, BS Technology Education, Major
• Language, Literacy and Special Education, BA in Education, Special Education K-12 Broad area
• Nutrition Exercise, and Health Sciences, BAS Food Service Management
• Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences, BS Food Science and Nutrition, Nutrition Science Specialization

“In each of these programs, low—or even, no—enrollment was a factor in their elimination,” said Lori Braunstein, chair of the APTF III, and director of Academic Planning. “If there are any students in these programs, they will be able to finish their degree.”

Two tenure-track faculty positions were also eliminated; the positions were vacant at the time, so no faculty members were terminated. Additionally, funding for the positions at the non-tenure-track level was provided through 2015.

“This last phase of the task force was accelerated by a Board of Trustees directive,” continued Braunstein. “With the continued lack of state support, it was essential that we find immediate cost-saving measures.”

APTF III evaluated programs by a variety of metrics, including the number of enrolled students, the number of degrees granted, program uniqueness and employment growth potential.

“We met with departments and their faculty and collaborated on these decisions,” said Braunstein. “We took a very conservative approach to program elimination and worked together to make sure that current—and future—students would not be affected by the cuts.”

Four programs were provisionally continued, since even though they had low enrollment numbers, they showed a concrete plan of action and were moving forward. They were:
• Engineering Technology, Safety and Construction, Technology Education Broad Area
• Language Literacy and Special Education, Master of Education, Special Education
• Film and Video Studies, Cinema Studies
• Theatre Arts, MS Theatre

APTF History
In 2009 the APTF was launched to prioritize programs and to assess areas of budget reduction. The first phase eliminated some programs and had some modest cost savings. In 2011 the second phase was focused on streamlining programs. Programs were grouped into one of three categories: continue, revise/refocus, or eliminate. Ultimately, 20 programs were eliminated, 35 programs were asked to revise/refocus with a further analysis in 2015-2016, and more than 140 programs were continued. The elimination of the 20 programs was the first step in the focusing of CWU academic offerings and was achieved without any corresponding elimination of faculty positions.

In April 2014 the third phase of the task force was directed by the CWU Board of Trustees to accelerate the evaluation of the 35 programs and make recommendations to Provost Marilyn Levine in May 2014.

In addition to Braunstein, APTF III members included Rodney Bransdorfer, associate dean, College of the Arts and Humanities; Tim Englund, associate dean, College of the Sciences; Kathryn Martel, dean, College of Business; Jesse Nelson, associate dean, Student Achievement; Rob Perkins, chair, Family and Consumer Sciences; Bret Smith, professor, Music; and Stevan DeSoer, vice president of University Operations.

The Academic Planning Task Force has been dissolved; deans of the colleges are now in charge of streamlining their program offerings.

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,

October 15, 2014