UAF School of Management suspends Economics major

The UAF School of Management is suspending their Economics degree for undergraduate students due to continued budget cuts. The Economics degree is the smallest program accounting for only five percent of the School of Management's students. Josh Hartman/ Sun Star

The UAF School of Management is suspending their Economics degree for undergraduate students due to continued budget cuts. The Economics degree is the smallest program accounting for only five percent of the School of Management’s students. Josh Hartman/ Sun Star

Josh Hartman / Sun Star

The UAF School of Management ceased admitting undergraduate students to its Economics program, due to continued budget reductions. Students currently enrolled in the economics program will be “taught out.” Classes supporting the major will be available until they graduate.

The choice to suspend the program was made by Mark Hermann, dean of the school of Management. He was looking into whether the School of Management should make cuts to all of its programs equally or to a few specific programs.

Economics is the smallest program, with Economics majors making up a little over five percent of the total majors in undergraduate and graduate programs, according to Herrmann

“It is our most vulnerable program and, given the financial difficulties that we face, I did not consider it fair to accept new students to the program whose future is uncertain,” Herrmann said.

It is unlikely that the university will gain any significant, additional funding, according to The Capitol Report written by Chris Christensen, Associate Vice President for State Relations.

“I find it ironic that we’re in a budget crisis and we’re cutting an economics program,” Coleman Smith, a Petroleum Engineering major and a member of the UAF club Students Who Enjoy Economic Thinking, said. “Especially since I know Economics majors provide a huge job force for the state.”

Smith thinks it might be more effective to look into restructuring other programs rather than economics.

“Personally, I’ve definitely learned a lot from our Economics program here that I wouldn’t have learned elsewhere and it gave me a good perspective on how things work in the real world,” Smith said.

Sherri Wall, an Economics Professor, has been teaching with the School of Management for ten years and has watched the program grow from seven Economics majors to the current 29.

“I think that universities pretty much across the board have Econ. programs,” Wall said. “It will be a little strange not to have an Economics program.”

These thoughts are echoed by Joe Little, graduate program director and associate professor in the School of Management.

“It would certainly make it an odd coincidence that we’d be a major research institution without an Economics program,” Little said.

Another student, Taylor Davis, a Biological Science major, hopes to have classes and a good program to get a minor in Economics.

“I’m very sad that we’re at this point,” Little said. “It’s difficult to comprehend what it means for a student five to ten years from now, and that weighs very heavily on me… I appreciate hearing what [the student’s] hopes are and why they study economics, that’s why I love teaching. If I have to leave UAF I’ll always value very much the time that I’ve had here.”

For the time being, some Economics classes will still be taught by the School of Management. Among classes that will remain are Principles of Economics and Intermediate Economics. These classes will allow future undergraduate students to get Economics minors. Future graduate students will also have classes to take to complete their degrees, according to Little.

The most recent data suggests there are 29 undergraduate Economics majors and 12 graduate students. The Economics minors are not tracked, according to Little.

Due to the announcement, there have also been a number of Economics students decide on switching majors and potential students deciding on not coming to UAF, according to Little.

These classes and the graduate program have the possibility of being suspended in the future, according to Herrmann. They will be reviewed with financial stability as a criterion in the Fall of 2016 and conclude in the Winter.

“Our [graduate] students are being placed into high demand jobs, our students are pursuing grant funding and publishing their work, our graduate program is very very strong,” Little said. This allowed the graduate Economics program to not be reviewed just yet.

One detriment for graduate students is that they won’t be able to get teaching assistant positions, which provide them with social and educational skills, according to Little.

“It’s unfortunate but it’s necessary,” Matt Walker, an Economics major, said. “Especially in the fiscal environment we’re in.” He also praised the School of Management for creating a great and accredited program despite its possible future.

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