Fort Lewis College athletic training students returned to school Monday to find their major is on its way out.
The major requires students to take introductory classes before being accepted into higher level professional courses. Students who have been accepted into the higher level courses can still earn a bachelor’s degree in the major, but they have to graduate by spring 2018.
“What we had was a perfect storm of issues that hit Athletic Training,” said Mitch Davis, FLC spokesman. “They weren’t meeting the (Colorado Commission on Higher Education) requirements for graduates, our faculty member (Carrie Meyer) was moving after this semester, and the accrediting body for the program will soon require a master’s degree, which we couldn’t justify investing in given the present number of graduates in the program, the need for new facilities and the need to hire new faculty.”
The CCHE requires that 10 students per year or 20 students over a three-year period graduate for a major to be viable. The athletic-training major graduated seven students in 2015 and 17 over the past three years. FLC would be required to offer a master’s degree in the subject by 2022, because bachelor’s degree recipients will not be eligible for certification by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education after that.
Meyer presented the situation to the FLC Faculty Senate on Wednesday, where she decried both the decision, which was made over winter break, and the process.
“Students were sent the notification late afternoon Monday,” she said, “I find it very concerning on both a personal level and at a faculty level that key stakeholders were not consulted, and procedures were not followed. I think the exaggerated emergent factor in the conversation is not completely accurate.”
Meyer said she, Maureen Brandon, dean of the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, and Carol Smith, associate vice president for enrollment management, had been meeting nonstop with students to help those who were working toward the major figure out how the change will affect them. Students needed to determine whether they should transfer to another school, change majors or be among those who will attempt to graduate with the major during the final years of the “teach-out.”
“It’s even impacting freshmen in my classes,” history and environmental studies professor Andrew Gulliford said. “They’re asking ‘Why should I stay here? Maybe my degree will disappear next.’”
Curriculum changes at FLC generally follow a process, evaluation by the Curriculum Committee, made up of faculty, and approval by the Faculty Senate before being forwarded to the provost for an administrative approval. Elimination of majors requires a vote by the Board of Trustees.
Provost Barbara Morris called the decision a suspension because of a personnel situation, not a termination, which sophomore Sarah Williams found to be word parsing, because the effect is the same. She’s still trying to figure out what she is going to do.
“I’ve always thought it was a contract between Fort Lewis College and its students that if a major was in the catalogue when they enrolled as freshmen, they could graduate in that discipline within four years,” exercise science professor Cathy Simbeck said. “Don’t we have requirements to honor that with students?”
Sophomore Emily Jones agreed with that sentiment.
“My dad’s an assistant dean at the Air Force Academy,” she said. “He was really angry when he heard about this and said this isn’t how you do it.”
Meyer’s resignation was the key trigger in making the decision so quickly, Morris said.
“It’s a tenure-track position and requires a PhD.,” she said. “How could we justify bringing someone in for that with these numbers?”
The Faculty Senate will consider a resolution in its meeting in two weeks asking for there to be a pause on the decision and some time for analysis on the Athletic Training program as well as restoring shared governance to return control of curriculum at FLC to faculty.