University of Northern Colorado adds degree programs in health sciences and arts, closing French and German

New academic degree programs in health sciences and the arts are on the way to the University of Northern Colorado in the fall, while the university will begin to phase out majors in French and German.

The UNC board of trustees on Friday morning approved a new health science bachelor of science degree in the college of natural and health sciences. The program will have an emphasis on health care administration and another emphasis on public health.

The board, during an in-person meeting on campus, also signed off on new bachelor of fine arts degrees in the school of theatre arts and dance in the college of performing and visual arts. The BFA will be offered in acting, theatre design/technology and musical theatre.

UNC is phasing out foreign language bachelor of arts programs in French, German and European languages and cultures because of “longstanding issues with single-digit enrollments,” according to Director of News and Public Relations Deanna Herbert.

There were seven students total enrolled in all three programs in the 2021 fall semester, according to UNC. It will accept no more enrollments in those majors. The high total of enrolled students in all three programs recently was 15 in fall 2019. There were eight in fall 2020, 14 in fall 2018 and eight in fall 2017.

GREELEY, CO – JANUARY 07:A pedestrian walks along a bicycle and walking path a day and a half after a storm dropped several inches of snow at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley Jan. 7, 2022. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

“It’s not a sustainable model,” interim provost and chief academic officer Lisa Vollendorf told the board of trustees on Friday morning.

Herbert said the university will help the students who remain in the programs graduate in a timely fashion with the degree they selected. Deans will work with students to develop individualized plans to allow them to complete their degrees.

“When a program is discontinued, some students may choose to transfer but our goal is to serve our students here,” the university said in a statement. “We’re positioning our staff to serve students first and we will ensure we have faculty in place to teach each program out.”

Herbert declined to give information on the academic year levels of the remaining students in the foreign language programs because of concern for privacy given the small numbers.

The dean of the college of humanities and social sciences shared information with the university community Feb. 8 on the phasing out of the three programs. Laura Connolly said there is “little prospect for growth” with the three programs despite hard work from faculty.

“Although I believe languages are a critical component of the liberal arts education, the status quo is no longer sustainable,” Connolly said. “WLC (department of world languages and cultures) will still offer majors, minors, and courses in Spanish, Chinese and Japanese.”

The new degree programs were recommended and approved to begin this fall, with the start of the 2022-23 academic year.

Vollendorf said the programs will help the university attract new students in remarks to the board during her presentation on the programs.

“The general discipline of Health Sciences is a rapidly growing field with a multitude of jobs that appeal. to this generation of college student’s desire to give back to and serve in the communities in which they live,” according to documentation and information for the board.

The health sciences major is designed to serve as a starting point for students who enroll at UNC and have a desire to enter into the competitive nursing program. The health sciences program will allow for a path to a career in health care, even if a student is not admitted to the nursing program.

The addition of the BFAs will lead to the discontinuation of the bachelor of arts in musical theatre. The university will have a musical theatre BFA only. A bachelor’s in theatre arts will continue with two emphases: a theatre studies emphasis for non-performance students with a general interest in theatre; and a kindergarten through 12th grade drama teaching emphasis for students pursuing a K-12 teaching license.

Officials added the BFA degrees occurred because of information from external accreditors and from the UNC admissions office. Admissions reports that performing arts students do not apply to the university or choose not to attend after earning admission because of a preference for a bachelor’s of fine arts degree.

“Elevating these programs to B.F.A. status will enable our students to be even more competitive when seeking professional employment or admission to graduate programs in the performing arts,” according to information from the university.

‘We want a clean audit next year’

The board of trustees finance and audit committee held an in-person meeting Thursday on campus. The committee heard from an independent public accounting firm on the university’s audit for the fiscal year ending in June 2021.

As a state university, and a government entity, UNC’s financial statements are audited annually following internal preparation of financial statements.

The information led to multiple comments from university representatives about a couple of the findings, what are referred to as lower-level significant deficiencies. These were the result of erroneous calculations with federal funds including COVID-19 relief money, according to senior vice president and chief financial officer Michelle Quinn.

Quinn said with a variety of “complex and changing guidance,” money was underreported. Rubin Brown picked up on the miscalculations, and they were corrected. The university was not subject to any fine or penalty.

Quinn and several other university officials said UNC will work toward a clean audit for fiscal year 2022.

“We take very seriously our responsibility as a public entity to be completely transparent,” Quinn said. “There was an obligation on the part of Rubin Brown to let the finance and audit committee know. We hold ourselves to the highest standard.”

Starbucks is coming back to campus

On Friday the entire board of trustees welcomed vice president for student affairs Cedric Howard, who joined the university in November. The board also welcomed new trustee Annette Martinez.

Howard later reported on the progress of UNC’s impending new, multi-million dining contract with food and facilities management company Sodexo. Howard said the deal “should be closed in a few weeks.”

With this, a full Starbucks will be operated in Holmes Dining Hall on the west side of campus. Empire State Pizza, Crisol Latin, Bowlful (rice, pasta and salad bowls) and Burger & Co., a sports lounge, will operate in the renovated University Center.

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