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University of Pittsburgh

April 19, 2012

3 departments halt grad admissions

In a budget-cutting move, three graduate programs — classics, German and religious studies — have been ordered to suspend admissions, according to Provost Patricia Beeson.

The suspension covers  master’s and doctoral programs, including joint and cooperative programs housed in the departments.

In an April 5 memorandum to Arts and Sciences department chairs and directors, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Dean N. John Cooper stated that all currently enrolled students in these three programs would be able to complete their degree requirements.

According to the departmental web sites, there are nine students enrolled in classics grad programs; 10 in German grad programs, and 19 in religious studies grad programs.

“The decision to suspend admission to these graduate programs was a difficult but necessary step given the current budget situation,” Cooper wrote, “and was made in consultation with, and informed by the input of, our deans, members of the Dietrich School Council and our planning and budget committee, as well as the recommendations submitted by our chairs and directors.”

In response to a question at the April 11 Senate Council meeting regarding the decision to discontinue graduate admissions in the three departments, Provost Patricia Beeson elaborated: “That decision was taken after much study by the Arts and Sciences Council, which is composed of faculty, students and administration.”
The Graduate Council also was consulted, she said.

Beeson added that the A&S Council would continue to review the three A&S graduate programs.

She continued: “This is just the first step that initiates the review, which is to engage the departments affected as well as their graduate students in a discussion of how we move forward. This is not a closing of the department, but rather a beginning of the discussion.

“I think we all want to see a discussion that involves all the interested parties in moving forward with the programs. So it’s not a decision to close the programs, but rather a statement has to be made at some point that this is under consideration, so that it could be reviewed appropriately,” the provost said.

Department chairs in classics and religious studies did not respond to University Times requests for comment.

John Lyon, chair of the German department, confirmed that a meeting of the three chairs with Cooper and Stephen Carr, acting associate dean of Graduate Studies, had taken place, but he declined to comment on specifics. “I can say that all this came out of the blue, with no advance warning, and that none of our faculty was consulted about it [beforehand],” Lyon said this week.

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature, Volume 44 Issue 16

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