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CEDAR FALLS | Once threatened by budget cuts at the University of Northern Iowa, some stalled degree programs have risen anew.

Broad academic cuts in 2012 eliminated 22 undergraduate majors, 20 minors and 16 graduate programs. But some were just suspended, meaning new students couldn't enroll, or departments were instructed to make changes to curriculum.

Last week, the Faculty Senate approved changes to the bachelor of arts in philosophy which was directed to restructure the year of the cuts.

Restructuring could mean reducing requirements, replacing unpopular courses or ramped-up marketing of a program. In the case of philosophy, faculty senators were impressed the program is marketing to students exactly what they can do with their degree after they graduate.

"It's just a very, very creative and I think smart, strategic way to restructure a major ... when you’re faced with the kinds of headwinds that so many humanities majors have been faced with in the last few years," said Scott Peters, a political science professor on the senate.

The provost, the university president and Iowa Board of Regents still have to OK the final proposals.

The need to trim programs came after a steep slide in state funding, from $98 million in 2009 to about $75 million in 2012.

State dollars account for approximately half of UNI's general education budget while tuition pays for the rest. About 90 percent of the student body are resident Iowans who pay less in tuition than nonresidents.

UNI also cut the undergraduate French majors, French minors and a French teaching graduate program in 2012.

But Julie Husband at the department of languages and literatures said a revamped French minor will return.

"We thought about models that would be sustainable and work with different organizations to make it a great experience for students," she said. "And there was a lot of support from vocal music, which has a real need for access to French classes."

Beginning in the fall of 2014, the department plans to offer a new, interdisciplinary French minor. Students will be able to take up to six hours of French-related coursework studying French culture, philosophers and artists.

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"It's designed to be flexible and combine well with other majors on campus," Husband said.

Many department heads have used the word "flexible" to describe curriculum changes made as a result of this restructuring initiative.

"That's what students want," said Paul Shand, acting head of the physics department.

The department lost its professional science masters degree program during the program reduction; the bachelors of applied science and bachelors of science degrees in physics were at one time on the chopping block.

Instead, the department merged the two undergraduate degrees into one bachelor of science in physics, which had its first run in the fall.

Shand said though the cuts caused a lot of grief, they've tried as much as possible to produce a positive outcome.

"Nothing has been lost; in fact, lots of things have been gained," Shand said, adding that the new program accommodates a greater variety of career options.

Students can take a business or biomedical science track, incorporating coursework from a variety of academic areas.

Admission to the master's program in women and gender studies, which was suspended in March 2012, was also restored in April.

That's because the university identified job opportunities for program graduates in women's shelters, victim service agencies, homeless shelters, hospitals and churches, Michael Licari, the associate provost of academic affairs, had said.

The bachelors in geography was also restructured and opened to students in fall of 2013. Small changes were made to the masters in geography for the fall 2014 semester as well.

"Those changes were geared toward helping students make better choices for specific career goals," said Patrick Pease, geography department head.


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