Trying to Cut the # of Majors

Duke University is getting rid of its BA in Economics and moving to a BS only, a change that adds two hard math courses to the requirements for majors. A Constrained Vision posits that it might be a way to get rid of too many majors. In fact, the article in the Chronicle says that the Political Science people aren’t happy. Most of their teachers are part-time or on leave. What are they going to do with more majors?

Okay, first let me say that this fascinates me because at the junior college I teach it, the number of students enrolled in a subject determines who gets the teachers. So if you have 1000 people in math and 4000 people in English, English will get four times the money math gets to hire teachers. Obviously this isn’t working at Duke.

Second, let me say, that as a North Carolinian, though it was long ago, I have always been told that Duke is the Ivy League of the South. (Kind of like Rice in Houston.) What the heck are they doing with an entire department that is mostly “part-time or on leave”? Does that sound like high quality education to you? It doesn’t to me.

Then there’s the fact that the Economics department is probably cutting their majors. Why would anyone want to do that? Well, if you get the same number of teachers despite how many folks you have in class, I guess that cutting the number of folks in class is better for the teachers. Now all the poli sci department has to do is find some way to change their major that will scare off the students and then someone else will have to work with the limited faculty/growing student population at Duke.

My mom’s always pushed having the boys go to Duke. I don’t think that’s likely any more. Why would you knowingly send someone into a school that has departments that are mostly part-time or on leave? I mean the junior colleges are mostly part-time, but everyone knows you’re not getting a great education there (or if you are it’s an accident/miracle). The private college I taught at in West Texas had NO adjuncts. No one was there part-time. Everyone was full-time. Duke is a private college. Why would anyone want to pay private school tuition for the same education you can get at a junior college?

Sometimes it makes me wonder what the universities are thinking.