Laurentian has done away with what are considered core university programs, like philosophy and physics, and will likely have to reintroduce some to attract students and provide a well-rounded education, prominent post-secondary experts say.
The school, still in shock after becoming the first Canadian public post-secondary institution to look to the courts for creditors protection in February, has cut a number of degree programs deemed essential, the professor said. Glen Jones of OISE, the Ontario Institute for Educational Studies at the University of Toronto.
In total, the University of Sudbury has cut 58 undergraduate programs – about a third – many of them in the humanities, as well as 11 graduate programs. It now offers 107 undergraduate programs and 33 graduate programs. Some 130 teachers and 30 support staff were also made redundant.
“What has clearly happened is that the balance has changed,” said Jones, a higher education expert and former dean of OISE. “It has changed in an interesting way; the humanities – the fact that there is no longer a philosophy program, the fact that many language programs have disappeared – but also the absence of mathematics and physics. The concepts of philosophy, mathematics and physics are very often considered as fundamental disciplines.
Considering the “reduced opportunities” for students who can no longer pursue studies in these fields, “this will clearly change over time,” Jones added. Laurentian “moved so fast and moved with such a heavy hand, I think this is one of those situations where in a year or two years, they can decide that there are gaps in the programs that they must fill along the way. “
Earlier this year, Laurentian executives asked courts under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to give it time to restructure while dealing with its debt, which stood at $ 321 million. dollars, with loans of $ 107 million in addition to the $ 214 million in other amounts owed. to creditors and employees. In fact, at the time, he didn’t even have enough money to pay his teachers and staff beyond the month.
What followed was the elimination of programs such as archeology, concurrent primary education degrees, music, physics, environmental sciences, political science, geography, labor studies and the very popular midwifery program, as well as a number of programs in French, including history, theater and zoology.
Laurentian President Robert Haché said by email that the school “has focused its programs on health sciences, education, arts, business, science, engineering and architecture, while being firmly committed to a solid interdisciplinary experience for our students ”.
But with a dearth of humanities offerings, experts are wondering how this is possible.
“The story is really about what a high quality liberal education is, and is Laurentian able to organize itself so that it can offer that, depending on what is left,” the Minister asked. Professor Charles Pascal of OISE, who is also a past president of Sir Sandford Fleming College in Peterborough.
“Has Laurentian lost the soul of what a great modern university is? The answer is yes, “he added.” The relationship between the arts and mathematics, the relationship between music and mathematics, these problems related to today’s modern problems … will not be solved with a one discipline at a time You need many disciplines that contribute what they can to something that is greater than the sum of the parts.
He wondered how the school made decisions “that destroy the very building blocks” of a university. “What vision could they have (for the future) due to the fact that there was no vision that motivated the decisions they have already made? “
The school could have, for example, looked to work with another university or college to deliver what it no longer covered given the level of cuts needed to restore financial sustainability, he said.
Eliminating so many humanities programs was short sighted, added Carol Merriam, dean of the humanities faculty at Brock University.
“I know the focus is probably on employability and training students for a job, but the humanities disciplines are critical to that employability for many students,” Merriam said, adding that companies clearly had indicated that they valued the empathy, communication skills and versatility that students learn in the humanities.
And for those who follow programs such as health sciences, engineering or accounting “must be able to identify with the human consequences of their activities, of their work, because what they do concerns humans”, a added Merriam.
She compared it to the movie “Jurassic Park,” where scientists recreated what turned out to be deadly dinosaurs using DNA, “but no one thought, ‘Is that a good idea? They did not take the necessary steps to follow up – the impact on individuals. This is the piece that is missing if you do not have the humanities available.
Laurentian English teacher Ernst Gerhardt said his own son, now in grade 12, had planned to attend Laurentian, but wanted to study math or physics, so he is now considering Ryerson, McGill. or Queen’s.
“I started to wonder what kind of university we are,” he said.
Laurentian professor Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde, an environmentalist, said university administrators “can say that there may not be philosophy programs, but they teach philosophy, but there is no more philosophy. philosophers here. So who is teaching them?
Haché acknowledged the current “uncertainty and angst” – the university recently secured an extension of the judgment creditors process until the end of January – but said the school is at “a time of transformation and of determination to make our university strong and sustainable for the future. “
GRADUATE PROGRAMS CUT BY LAURENTIAN
List of discontinued English language programs:
BA 4 years Simultaneous teaching (Primary-Junior)
BSc 4 years Simultaneous teaching (Primary-Junior)
BFA – Music
BFA – Musical Performance
Civil engineering (first 2 years)
Simultaneous training – Year Pro (Primary-Junior)
Major restoration ecology
Radiotherapy – Michener
Web data management
Workplace and workplace studies
List of discontinued French-language programs:
Law and Politics
Education – intermediate / higher
Francophone literature and culture
Nursing care – Boréal
Outdoor adventure leadership (FR)
List of discontinued graduate programs:
Master’s degree – History – essay
Masters – History – thesis
Master’s degree – Sociology – essay
Masters – Sociology – thesis
Master – Experimental Psychology
Master’s degree – History – essay
Masters – History – Thesis
Masters – Human Sciences
Master’s degree – Physics
Master – Sociology – essay
Master – Sociology – thesis
List of discontinued programs offered by federated universities:
Folklore and ethnology
Women and Gender Studies