President's Statement on Academic Program Review

October 5, 2020

Dear OWU Students and Families,

Over the past 12 months, the Ohio Wesleyan faculty have conducted a rigorous review of the university’s entire academic program. Our goal has been to ensure that we are providing students a vibrant education enriched by the breadth of the liberal arts and the depth of focused expertise in key programs and majors that our students and the world need most.

On Friday, the OWU Board of Trustees approved the recommendations from this academic program review, which include creating some new academic departments, merging others, and discontinuing some majors. The actions will take effect Fall Semester 2021.

The changes include combining some smaller programs to operate more efficiently and to promote teamwork and student opportunities at the boundaries between academic disciplines. For example, we will:

  • Bring together Geography faculty and some Botany-Microbiology faculty to form a new Department of Environment & Sustainability, which will offer exciting academic opportunities and align well with career opportunities.
  • Merge Music with Theatre & Dance to create a Department of Performing Arts structured to provide integrated opportunities for students in the interconnected realms.
  • Consolidate Black World Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies into a new Department of Critical Identity Studies.
  • Consolidate Classics and Modern Foreign Languages into a new Department of World Languages.
  • Consolidate Philosophy and Religion into a new Department of Philosophy and Religion.
  • Consolidate the remaining Botany-Microbiology faculty and the Department of Zoology into a new Department of Biological Sciences.

In addition to combining some smaller programs, we will be eliminating 18 majors and the Bachelor of Music degree next fall, allowing us to devote more resources to further support and promote programs that enroll more students and that represent our core strengths. OWU will continue to offer more majors than most schools our size, and the changes will enable us to embed OWU Connection internship, travel, and research experiences more extensively across all academic areas, allowing students to personalize programs to create their individual pathway within their major.

Effective December 19, 2020, we will no longer accept new students into the following majors: Biochemistry ACS, Chemistry ACS, Comparative Literature, Computational Neuroscience, Dance, Earth Science Education, Earth Sciences, Geology, German, HHK Health Promotion, Journalism, Middle Eastern Studies, Planetary Science, Pre-optometry, Pre-public Administration, Pre-theology, Religion, and Urban Studies. We also will no longer accept new students into the Bachelor of Music program.

I want to assure you that every student who has declared a major in one of these affected areas by December 18, 2020, will have access to the courses and resources they need to complete their degree in the major in a reasonable time. The appropriate departments will contact these students to help them plan the pathway to their degree.

If you have been pursuing, but have not yet declared, one of the affected majors, I encourage you to talk with your academic advisor and faculty mentors in your area. These faculty and staff will be able to help you evaluate where you are academically and what options will best help you meet your education and career goals. The Career Connection staff also is available to help you review your interests and options.

Through the administrative and academic actions OWU has taken during the past six months, Ohio Wesleyan has become a more focused, more efficient university. With the changes, I believe we are appropriately structured to fulfill our educational mission and are far ahead of many institutions just beginning to reexamine their structure and operations in the midst of the pandemic and other issues facing higher education.

We are committed to the success of every OWU student, to a vibrant liberal arts education and key pre-professional programs strengthened by the liberal arts, and to the 178-year history of this great university. We are focusing on institutional strengths and collaboration to create opportunities for research, travel, and learning within and across disciplines. And we are holding down expenses to help keep higher education affordable for our students.

Through our work together as faculty and staff, we will meet the challenges of the future and create for new generations the comprehensive and extraordinary student experience that is the hallmark of Ohio Wesleyan.

Rock Jones, President