Students respond to academic program terminations at ASU

Students respond to academic program terminations at ASU
Sterling James Hunter is a music education student. (Source: WALB)
Sterling James Hunter is a music education student. (Source: WALB)
Terrell Mitchell is a senior music education student. (Source: WALB)
Terrell Mitchell is a senior music education student. (Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany State University students are weighing in about new changes to some of their academic programs.

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved a request from ASU officials to terminate 15 programs earlier this week.

If you walk into the new state-of-the-art music facility at Albany State University you'll likely find music students hard at work.

"I want to teach at the high school level. And maybe pursue my graduate degree," explained music student Terrell Mitchell, a senior at the school.

On Thursday, Mitchell and Sterling James Hunter were practicing their senior pieces. They are both on track to graduate with a bachelor's degree in music education, one of the 15 programs the university terminated.

"Everybody, of course, is nervous, but it's nothing but a name change," explained Hunter. That's what he said his professors have been telling him.

"Instead of being a Bachelor's in Music Education, it will be a Bachelor's in Visual Performing Arts with a concentration in music education," explained Mitchell.

In a statement about the termination, ASU officials said the university will continue to offer degree programs in education, science and art. It said the programs have been streamlined to give students clearer paths.

While the name change may be true for programs like music education, it's unclear how many programs will be flushed from the school.

The university statement also said terminated associate degree programs had no students enrolled and the bachelor's degree programs had limited enrollment.

Students in the music program said they're not worried about being impacted, they hope they can pass the word along to their peers.

"Some of the freshman, they are just getting here so they may not understand, but being that I'm a senior in the program I'm able to help out my fellow comrades and let them know everything is going to be alright," explained Hunter.

Senior leadership at the university agreed to sit down with WALB on Thursday for clarification, but canceled, saying they can't comment until the transition team from the Board of Regents is here.

Charlie Sutlive, the vice chancellor for communications and government affairs at the Board of Regents said that while these programs are changing it doesn't affect current students enrolled in the majors.

He said the university system implemented a "teach out" system, where remaining students in the program can continue to finish their degree but new students won't be able to switch into those degrees.

The termination of the programs are part of a system-wide effort.

Four-hundred and twenty-nine programs were terminated across the state.

Sutlive said it comes from a study the University System of Georgia has been doing for the past couple of years.

The system was finding many programs were declining. Some of those programs have simply moved under a different umbrella or taken a new name.

Sutlive said the intention is to create new academic programs in the future.

"Part of this is that if you eliminate these degree programs, you can redirect resources for new degree programs that quite frankly are evolving with the times, with work force needs," explained Sutlive.

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